Four projects to vie for Toledo SOUP grant March 8Written by Joel Sensenig | Managing Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
Not many places offer the chance to eat unlimited soup and salad while simultaneously supporting an organization that will benefit the community. Toledo SOUP offers just that opportunity.
The volunteer-led initiative raises money for community-minded organizations by providing a platform for them to “pitch” their ideas to a captive audience. Attendees — after paying $5 at the door — eat bread, soup and salad and vote for their favorite organization, with the winner taking home all the cash raised at the event. Additional funds are raised through donations, a raffle and bake sale.
“We have really come a long way in helping to grow support of these small community projects,” said Kelly Thompson, president of Toledo SOUP. “Some of them … they’re essential for their communities. Maybe not the entire city, but for the small community they’re in.”
Toledo SOUP, which began in 2012, hosts several sessions each year, with finalists selected by a panel of judges.
The next Toledo SOUP is 5 p.m. March 8 at Toledo School for the Arts, 333 14th St. This year’s presenters are: Silke Goudos of 419 Tales; Gretchen DeBacker of Sisters in Law; Dee Brown of Delightful Art With Dee’s Art With a Heart program; and Sandy Sieben of Toledo Youth Pages.
419 Tales is a bi-monthly podcast dedicated to collecting and archiving stories about life in Toledo.
Sisters in Law is a group of female attorneys who volunteer their time to provide legal advocacy and mentorship to young mothers at Mom’s House.
Delightful Art with Dee is a new nonprofit art gallery that provides local artists with a positive and encouraging venue in which to display and sell their work.
Toledo Youth Pages is a prevention tool for at-risk youth that provides information on health care, social services, criminal justice and rights and responsibilities.
On her gofundme.com site, Goudos wrote, “Our beloved metropolis is packed with flavor and history, which deserves a platform. I’d like to provide that platform by developing a podcast dedicated to revealing the characters, personalities, and gems of Toledo; an adventure in mining the depths of our fair city for the stories of its inhabitants. I hope to capture this through great interviewing techniques as well as competent, high-quality sound processing and editing. These recordings would be digitally archived. … Essentially, by using this podcast as a mirror of Toledo, I hope to further the burgeoning movement of pride in this place we call home.”
In her SOUP proposal, DeBacker, founder of Sisters in Law, said, “What all of the research tells us is that it is more likely than not that when a single woman has a baby, she will be in poverty for her and her child’s lifetime. Breaking the cycle of a lack of education, poor support systems, living conditions and minimum-wage employment is difficult. Mom’s House offers a model that works. It is a model that provides all of the necessary support for a young mom to stay in school and work, all while her child is being cared for and prepared to start school.”
When discussing the potential impact of SOUP funding, DeBacker said, “[It] is huge! We have already started this program without any funding. Mom’s House funding, as with any nonprofit, is always very tight. This money will allow us to get supplies, provide transportation and materials for our activities with the moms. All of the attorneys will still be 100 percent volunteer.”
In discussing her mission, Brown said, “The ability and opportunity to create your own art can bring a very deep fulfillment within one’s self. Art With A Heart will be providing the opportunity to create, to many who have none. We are raising funds to provide a great variety of free art classes such as drawing, painting, sculpture and found object art to those in life that have been left behind and often ignored.
“People such as veterans, the disadvantaged, disabled, and also the children and older adults living in homes they cannot call their own,” Brown said. “And our desire is also to help special learners such as the autistic, people with Parkinson’s just like my father, and even some that need help with translation such as the wonderful deaf community.”
Sieben, one of the coordinators for Toledo Youth Pages, said, “With SOUP’s support, the Toledo Youth Pages will be distributed to Toledo high schools, libraries, and community centers. … This is an incredible opportunity for us to collaborate with community members, share our skills and resources while learning from others in the community.”
Thompson said the simplicity of the SOUP model is an effective way to help improve the community.
“The impact of the kindness, the generosity, the donations of people really goes toward helping these projects get off the ground,” she said. “It’s just cash in their hand.”
Chefs from throughout the region are making soup for the event, while Country Grains Market in Sylvania is donating the bread. Chefs participating are Alex Sutphin of Ciao Bella Ristorante Italiano in Port Clinton, Pam Weirauch of Pam’s Corner in Toledo and Aaron Hensley, of Bier Stube’s House of Eats in Toledo.
About 150 people attended the last SOUP event in October, raising $1,278 for winner Soul City Boxing and Wrestling. Thompson expects about 200 people at the March 8 event.
“Each time we do this it gets a little bigger,” she said. “[SOUP] is something that’s an example for other people in the community. Come out, enjoy yourself, eat as much as you want, and watch people present these ideas. … You can’t get more grassroots than that.”
For more information, visit www.toledosoup.com.