Potters dish out support for needy

November 10, 1997

Potters dish out support for needy


Staff Writer

Some of them crafted bowls for the dinner. Others simply ate from them.

All were making a contribution to providing free health care for the area's working poor.

For the third year, local potters threw support to the Community Free Clinic in Hagerstown by donating their work for the Potter's Bowl Dinner Sunday at Congregation B'nai Abraham.

The donation is for keeps - the diners got to take home their bowls after filling them with as much of the homemade soups as they wanted.


The dinner has sold out at 100 tickets every year since it started, said Carol Mendelsohn, who served as event co--chairwoman with Janet Shaool.

The size of the synagogue's hall has kept the number to 100 people and the proceeds to $3,500, Mendelsohn said.

Given the growing support by area potters and continuing strong interest in the community, organizers hope to expand the dinner to two sittings next year, she said.

The number of potters has grown from nine the first year to 14 this year, Mendelsohn said.

Donations for the annual art raffle have also grown - from one piece of artwork the first year to works donated by six artists this year, she said.

As in previous years, members of the B'nai Abraham Sisterhood and other volunteers made the soups and breads, topped off with desserts made by members of Trinity Lutheran Church in Hagerstown.

The event was the brainchild of Hagerstown potter Ben Culbertson, who got the idea from a similar benefit for the homeless in Vermont.

It seemed a natural for the Hagerstown area because of its high concentration of potters, said Culbertson, who said he had no trouble getting fellow potters to join in the effort.

"Everybody was really eager to donate and be a part of it," he said.

Culbertson's bowls have been an annual fixture at the event. This year, he's happy to say, three of his students donated bowls as well.

Culbertson said his wife, Gail Chapin, a midwife at the clinic, always pitches in on the serving end.

It's a great opportunity for the potters to help the community through their art while enjoying a new venue for their creations, he said.

"You get a room of people that truly appreciate the work. They're looking at them. They're admiring other people's bowls," said Culbertson, who is making a collection of wood-fired pieces he and his wife have used.

Hagerstown resident Susan Martz went with her old standby, chicken matzo ball soup.

"It's not something typical I eat and it's always very good," said Martz, who has come to the dinner every year.

"This is a wonderful community event, no question," said Martz, a social worker who volunteers with a support group for those who are HIV-positive.

A lot of those people would also qualify for the free clinic, she said.

"So everything kind of comes in full circle," Martz said.

Avis Serafini of Hagerstown did her part by making desserts for the dinner and getting friend Elinor McLeod to come eat with her this year.

"I just like the fellowship and the ecumenical side of it. It's a nice way to get together, meet all of these people and help," Serafini said.

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