By Noelle H. Lowery
What do you get when you mix children, an active and engaged business community and eager volunteers? A recipe for a creative and successful fundraising event known as Souper Bowl Marco.
On Sat., Feb. 1, 2014 — the eve of the National Football League’s Super Bowl Game — the Second Annual Souper Bowl Marco will be held at Mackle Park to raise money for the Leadership Marco Scholarship Fund. This event sells one-of-a-kind soup bowls hand painted by local students and fills them with an amazing array of soups from Marco area restaurants. A bowl pre-sale event will be held on Fri., Jan. 31 from 4:30-8PM also at Mackle Park. During last year’s inaugural event, some $11,000.00 was raised through the sale of more than 800 soup bowls.
While the event is hosted by the Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce’s Education Committee, it is truly a community wide effort, says Jada Shigley, this year’s event chair and director of reservations at the Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort. Shigley and the members of the Chamber Education Committee — event Co-chair Desiree Buehlos, Sandi Reidemann, Donna Niemczyk, Nancy Carrington, Barney Halashack, Mindy Gordon and Lisa Meurge — have worked tirelessly to enlist a small army of Marco Islanders to paint, clean, glaze and fire more than 1,000 soup bowls, as well as 10 local restaurants to serve their delicious fare and a host of local businesses and residents who lined up to sponsor the event.
Leadership Alumni and Tommie Barfield Elementary School Prinicpal Dr. Jory Westberry believes the event is a perfect example of how a community can pull together for a great cause. “Strong relationships between the schools and community foster understanding and reciprocal support,” she explains. “On Marco, we all work together ideally to make the entire community stronger.”
Mindy Gordon, reaction manager for the city of Marco Island Parks and Recreation Department, agrees: “It shows how the community comes together as a whole no matter what is going on in the world. We stick together, and follow through till the end.”
Take the creation of the bowls. It started with Barney Halaschak and the team at the Marco Island Center for the Arts’ Clay Guild providing support and direction on the type of greenware (unfired potter) and glaze to be used to make the bowls. Halaschalk helped explain the creative process to teachers and students at TBE, Marco Island Charter Middle School, Marco Island Academy and Lely High School, along with Mackle Park program participants, who then painted and decorated the greenware that would eventually become the bowls.
Finally, Halaschak worked with a special group of Leadership Marco alumni affectionately dubbed “the Bowlers” to clean, glaze and fire the bowls to complete the students’ richly colorful and lustrous works of art. “Donna Niemczyk came up with the idea of asking our Leadership Marco alumni to help, and the Bowlers were born,” Shigley says. “Donna and Barney organized a training session at the Clay Guild for the Leadership Marco alumni to attend…The Bowlers really made it happen getting the bowls glazed and fired this year well ahead of schedule.”
According to Halaschak, every Friday throughout the late summer and early fall, a group of up to eight Leadership Marco alumni would join him at the Clay Guild to factory process the bowls that had been painted by the students. This included unpacking countless boxes and gingerly unwrapping carefully bubble-wrapped bowls the schools sent to the art league. Then cleaning and waxing each individual bowl to protect the students’ signatures. Finally, after another cleaning, the Bowlers and Halaschak put the bowls through a two-day kiln firing process, resulting in some amazing and useful works of art.
“There were a lot of steps involved,” notes Halaschak. Still, he adds, it was well worth the effort: “If everybody would think about what talents they have and how they can share them, the world will be a better place. I wanted to do my part.”
The community effort also pays dividends to Marco Island high school students when they get the opportunity to win a scholarship from the Chamber and Leadership Marco to help cut the ever-increasing costs of a college education. “Raising money for scholarship funds for deserving local students in our community is so important,” Shigley emphasizes. “Last year was my first experience with actually going through the scholarship applicant and interview process. These kids knocked my socks off with their accomplishments and goals. It’s amazing opportunity to meet these kids and hear their stories and help them fulfill their dreams.”
1. Petit Soleil
2. CJ’s on the Bay
3. Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort
4. Big Cypress Culinary
5. Red Rooster 6. Philly Grille
8. Mango’s Dockside Bistro
9. Joey’s Pizza & Pasta House
10. Joe’s Hideout
* Costco will be providing bread to go along with the soups.
• Coastal Breeze News • Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort • Marco Island Eagle • Kiwanis Foundation of Marco Island • City of Marco Island Parks and Recreation Department • Marco Island Center for the Arts/Clay Guild • CJ’s on the Bay • Law Offices of William G. Morris • Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida • The Print Shop • Marco Island Florist • Island Paradise DJ Service • MI Historical Society • Marco Island Clothing Co. • Iberia Bank • Tom and Lori Wagor • Marco Movies • Walgreens • Costco • Collier County Public Library • Bedtime Bundles • Marco Island Water Sports