Tickets are selling fast for the 11th annual Empty Bowl Event at 6 p.m. April 11 at The Garten Verein in Galveston.

Don’t miss it — this year’s bowls are beautiful, and the finest restaurants in Galveston are cooking up delicious soups to fill those empty bowls.

The Empty Bowl Event was introduced at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Galveston 11 years ago. It is based on a project in which a teacher encouraged his art students to use their talents to address hunger. While developing their artistic talents, they also learned about serious problems affecting their community. It is a good approach that has been replicated across the nation.

Galveston’s Empty Bowl is fun, delicious and worthwhile.

Eleven years ago, I asked that the proceeds go to support the nutrition programs of The Jesse Tree. I knew The Jesse Tree was out there doing good work. I didn’t really know what or how it was doing it. 

I began to volunteer and discovered an entire network of extraordinary programs and projects — everything from delivering senior food boxes to the residents of Holland House, Gulf Breeze and The Oaks (in collaboration with The Galveston United Way and The Galveston County Food Bank) to refurbishing durable medical equipment for the uninsured.

What impressed me most was the kindness and caring and the fact they seemed to understand the food was only a first step toward solving much more complicated problems. 

Eventually, I joined the board of directors and was serving as president when Hurricane Ike hit the island. The Jesse Tree was up and running and helping people in no time, and despite losing the building on Market Street, The Jesse Tree has never stopped providing services on Galveston Island and across Galveston County. It offers food fairs, where families encounter health care education, enrollment and testing; social services and even voter registration. 

These remarkable events sustain working families that would otherwise not be able to pay the bills and could end up homeless. Seniors who receive food boxes know that it’s not only the food — it’s the visits and the connections with medical and social services that truly helps them. Many would not know about programs such as Qualified Medicare Beneficiary if The Jesse Tree didn’t bring it to their attention.

Recently, several people have asked me what The Jesse Tree is doing. We had maintained an office and warehouse at Mainland Medical Center in Texas City since 2002, but after the storm, it seemed prudent to move the administrative office there, too. Durable medical equipment, medical supplies, chronic conditions management and diabetes classes in English and Spanish all emanate from this site.

The Jesse Tree is doing a lot of good work. Here is your opportunity to help.  

I hope to see you at this year’s Empty Bowl Event, and I also hope that you will seize the opportunity to lend your ongoing support to an organization that truly makes a difference in people’s lives. We are inviting individual and corporate sponsors to underwrite a table of 10 so you can sit with your friends and enjoy this wonderful event.

Get your tickets online at, call 409-599-4847 or mail contributions to P.O. Box 575, Galveston, TX 77553.

Madeleine Baker, a retired physical therapist, introduced The Empty Bowl Event with The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Galveston in 2003. She and her team oversee the creation of 400 handmade bowls each year. The event generates funds for the nutrition programs of The Jesse Tree.  

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