WINTHROP — More than 200 hand-painted bowls sat waiting on a table Saturday afternoon for the big event in the Winthrop Barn.
In just a few hours, they’d be filled with gourmet soup made by one of the Methow Valley’s best chefs, and later taken home by a patron of Room One — a nonprofit Twisp organization that promotes health and wellness and connects low-income residents with social services.
The bowls might find their way to the hands of the person who painted them this summer, before they were glazed and fired and stored for this October fundraiser.
Or they might be selected by a stranger and end up in a kitchen with other hand-painted soup bowls from years past.
Saturday marked Room One’s fifth annual Soup Dinner, a two-part fundraiser that starts in the summer, when community members are invited to paint a bowl for a donation. Then, in October, the dinner is held, and bowl painters or others come to select their favorite bowl, and enjoy an evening of fine food, an auction and entertainment.
Many show up early to be sure to get the bowl they want. The event usually sells out.
Even in this recession, organizers were hoping to raise about $30,000, which is one quarter of Room One’s annual budget.
At least 60 volunteers donate their culinary talents, artistic abilities and time to set up and clean up the event. And that’s not counting about 100 people who painted bowls that weren’t slated for auction.
Executive director Karissa McLane said Room One — named for the room in the Methow Valley Community Center where it was once located — has always relied on local donations, fundraisers and private grants.
She said 13 years ago Room One founders realized that the valley is so remote, its low-income residents were having a difficult time accessing social services, so they started a resource and referral center.
“We’re in kind of a unique position because we don’t get any state or federal funding, and that’s always been difficult,” she said. But now, looking at the many social service organizations that are having to scale back their services after losing state or federal funding, she’s almost relieved to be putting on another fundraiser, instead of worrying about what she’ll do during the next round of budget cuts.
“At this point, it’s actually been beneficial not to have government funding. We haven’t suffered any of the drastic cutbacks in services like some other organizations, although we have experienced the ripple effect of that,” she said.
McLane said the state Department of Social and Health Services and Okanogan Behavioral HealthCare used to send staff to Room One to meet with Methow Valley clients, but their budgets no longer allow for that.
Still, other social services, like Family Planning and Woman Infants and Children (WIC) still have an out-station at Room One where they can meet with clients.
“The other thing we’ve done is created our own programming to fill in where there’s gaps,” McLane said. Those services are generally aimed at reducing domestic violence, improving the health of children and parents, and improving life skills for young adults.
They include a long list of activities including an exchange of baby items for parents in need of baby clothes or other goods, a winter coat rack, and fresh produce from the Red Shed, a group that gives organic vegetables to low-income residents.
Five different support groups meet there, ranging from breast cancer support to suicide bereavement.
Room One also brings classes in sex education and healthy relationships to Liberty Bell High School and the Methow Valley Independent Learning Center.
“And, we have our connections with all these different agencies, so we can connect people to the resources they need,” McLane said.
The annual soup dinner is always held in October, and Room One combines fundraising with raising awareness on domestic violence issues.
And although the evening is designed for fun and pleasure, there will also be a serious and educational aspect. McLane planned to show “Monsters in the Closet,” a short video about the impact of domestic violence on children.
K.C. Mehaffey: 997-2512