Monday, February 7, 2011

Bethany Bowl

SOME INFORMATION REGARDING THE BETHANY BOWL

WHEN AND HOW WAS THE BOWL STARTED?
The Bethany Bowl came about in 1999 as a mission suggested by Sally Donaghy and Pat Seivwright. The idea was approved by the Outreach Board and subsequently by the Trustees. The first meal was offered in October of 1999 with seventeen people in attendance and continued for some time on one Tuesday each month. As time passed and need grew greater, a second Tuesday was added and today, the meal is served every Tuesday including the fifth Tuesday of which there will be four in 2011.

HOW MANY PEOPLE DOES THE BOWL SERVE, AND WHO DOES IT SERVE?
From an early, average attendance of 45 people, the average attendance in 2010 has grown to 125 with occasional jumps to 135. The all time high was 182 on a fifth Tuesday. The Bowl is open to all who come with no exceptions. Although many of the attendees are regulars, a number are transients and some attend only on the last two weeks when their funds are low.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO OPERATE THE BETHANY BOWL?
It takes roughly $6,000. per year to operate the Bowl depending on attendance and specific needs. However, not factored into this amount are the many donations of sugar, fresh eggs, cheese, vegetables, desserts, napkins, cups and much more that come to us on a regular basis from a variety of sources. Nor does it take into consideration the gifts from our generous community partners such as NECI, The Manghi’s Bread, LaBrioche, and the Red Hen Bakery. These regular donations help to keep the operating cost down. We also keep a well stocked pantry of general needs such as tomato sauce, apple sauce, baked beans, tuna fish, mayonnaise, salad dressing, etc. In addition, two of the head cooks have never requested reimbursement for items purchased on their assigned day.

WHERE DO THE FUNDS TO OPERATE THE BOWL COME FROM?
When the mission was first proposed in 1999, the question of monetary support was the greatest issue. Where would the money come from? It was decided not to request funds from the church’s general fund but rather to rely on donations. In the early years, the volunteers met all costs. Interesting enough, today the majority of funds to operate the Bowl do not come from within the Bethany congregation. There are at the most 20 members of Bethany Church who support the Bowl with periodic donations usually in the amount of ten to fifty dollars. A few give regularly but most give, as they say, “when they have a little extra”. The large majority of donations come from people who are not members of the church but may have attended worship services occasionally or in one instance a local business. These individual gifts have ranged as high as $2,500. In addition, a donation jar is put out each Tuesday. Our guests have asked us to do this, and they take great pride in being able to give a dine, a quarter, a dollar. They tell us that they don’t want to be made to feel poor. Those who can give more, do so. This jar brings in approximately $1100. - $1300. yearly. As indicated above and to their incredibly generous support, two of the five head cooks never ask for reimbursement of the items that they purchase to create a meal. Others often make in-kind donations. Other sources of income have been derived from donations made in memory of deceased individuals not all having been former Bethany members.