GWC Quarterly Meeting, “Serving the Community Through the Arts”, at Greenwood Soup Kitchen, May 16, 2023

GWC members and guests enjoyed a very informative quarterly meeting on May 16, 2023 at the Greenwood Soup Kitchen, located on Phoenix Street. Attendees were greeted and treated to a variety of refreshments.

Rachel Strayer, Vice Chair of GWC, welcomed everyone to the program portion of the meeting which was entitled “Serving the Community Through the Arts”. After her welcome and introduction of new visitors, she invited Debra Coleman from the Programs & Education Committee to introduce the first speaker, Norm Fawcett, chairman of the Board of Directors of Greenwood Soup Kitchen. Norm described the history of the Soup Kitchen and where it stands today. Operating since 1987, the Soup Kitchen has moved several times and is now housed at the United Community Care Center. It serves around 75 hot meals each day, Monday-Saturday, for an average of 20,000 meals annually. Immanuel Lutheran Church provides lunch on Sundays. Anyone can enjoy a meal regardless of their circumstance. There is a “no questions asked” policy. The Soup Kitchen relies totally on community support and has an $80,000 annual cash budget. Their largest fundraising event is Empty Bowls.

Debra Coleman then introduced Barbara Warner who is with the Greenwood Area Studio Potters (GASP) and chairperson of the Empty Bowls fundraiser. In 2009, GASP members wanted to have an event in which they donated bowls to the soup kitchen and then sold tickets to have soup served in those bowls as a fundraiser. The first event raised $6,000.  This idea has evolved into a yearly fundraiser and continues to sell out each year. Members of GASP begin creating bowls in April/May and make approximately 900 bowls each year. The Greenwood County Medical Alliance also helps by arranging for the soup to be donated by local restaurants. The Medical Alliance also provides all desserts. For the fall fundraiser, the soup kitchen sells 550 tickets, some being take-out and some for dining in. All monies raised are pure profit since everything is donated. The Soup Kitchen made over $36,000 in 2022! Empty Bowls will be held this year on October 18-19 and tickets go on sale the day after Labor Day. Tickets may be purchased by calling Norm Fawcett at 864.227.3421.

After a question-and-answer session, Lisa Smith made book presentations to the speakers to thank them for their presentations and their dedication to helping the people of Greenwood. Books given in honor of speakers are donated to the Greenwood County Library Children’s Collection.

Deb Maschoff, Co-Chair of the Membership Committee, next introduced a new idea on how to “get the word out” to the community when speaking about GWC. The committee developed a business card with talking points on it which offers suggestions on how to share the good things that GWC does, and which can help start a conversation with others.  The more the word is spread about how GWC helps our community, the more we can grow our membership. GWC currently has 148 members, with one new member joining us at this meeting!

In closing, Laura Bachinski, Chair of the Programs & Education Committee, described the responsibilities and activities of the P&E committee and asked for anyone interested in helping that committee to please contact her. She then thanked the speakers and the Social Committee for the lovely evening and offered a special thank you to Norm Fawcett for allowing GWC to use the Soup Kitchen as the meeting venue.