January 18, 2011

Bowls and bowls of compassion

Cindee Tanuma, executive director of the Community Caregivers of Greater Derry, unpacks the most recent shipments of donated ceramic bowls for the organization’s annual Potter’s Bowl charitable event. 
Union Leader Correspondent
Bowls donated by Auburn artisan Glen MacInnis.
DERRY -- Cindee Tanuma loves preparing for the annual Potter’s Bowl fundraising event, which supports the work of her organization, Community Caregivers of Greater Derry.
There are artisans to contact for soup bowl donations and restaurants to tap for the promise
 of a dozen dazzling recipes to fill the countless bowls.
And there are tickets to sell, which is the easy part. They always sell out.
Beyond bowling for dollars, what Tanuma loves most about the nature of this event, to be
 held this year on Feb. 4 at Promises to Keep caterers, is that it is the perfect way to promote her organization because it brings out the best in everyone. 

“Everyone just loves the event, no matter how they are participating. Businesses and potters love to participate because it’s a great way to showcase what they do, and yet it’s affordable for them. It gives them exposure, allowing them to give something back to the community where, maybe otherwise, they wouldn’t be able to,” said Tanuma, who is executive director of the organization, which provides transportation, light housekeeping and respite care for the ill and elderly, and their families. 
Often people end up at the dinner just because someone invited them, and it changes their life. 
For example, last year Tanuma ran into Claire Renaud, owner of Costume Gallery costume shop. Always on the lookout for great silent auction items, she noticed an unusual handmade bag Renaud was toting, fashioned from actual dollar bills and accented with silver dollars. 
“She asked me if I’d donate one to the silent auction that’s part of the Potter’s Bowl. At that point, I didn’t know anything about Caregivers — I didn’t even know it existed. But I said, ‘Sure.’ I loved the idea of the Potter’s Bowl, even without knowing what it was and decided to attend. I even invited a bunch of my friends, so there were 10 of us there together last year,” said Renaud. 
Not only was it a great night out, but Renaud learned about the important work that Caregivers does in the community. 
“This summer my mom, who lives in Brattleboro, Vt., had six strokes and she needed 24hour care. I wasn’t able to get home to do my share to help her, but she made a full recovery. She still has people visiting her at home on a regular basis, and it occurred to me that even though I can’t be there to help her, there were so many good people who aren’t related to her out there helping her, and I could do that here for someone else’s mom,” said Renaud. 
She e-mailed the Caregiver’s office and started volunteering as a driver for clients in need of rides to and from their doctor’s appointments. 
“I have found it so rewarding — it’s been wonderful,” Renaud said. “I believe people should give back if they’re able. These people are so grateful for the weekly ride I can give them, and I leave with my heart full every time.” 
Another residual effect has been the generosity from local artisans, including Glen MacInnis of Auburn, who has been donating his trademark bowls to the event for years. 
“When they first approached me years ago to donate bowls, I had no idea what it was all about. I used to invite them to come to my studio and take whatever they wanted — I always had some bowls with minor imperfections around that I was happy to give them. What I didn’t realize is that people were eating soup from them — I was giving them some very large bowls, which I later learned they would auction off and, I guess, get a good amount of money for,” MacInnis said. “I had no idea I was such a hero until a few years ago when I finally learned what the bowls were actually being used for.” 
Finally, Tanuma said the event would not be possible without the generosity of local chefs, who always come through. 
“For a $30 ticket, you can have all-you-can-eat soup in a one-of-a-kind bowl, and you get Panera Bread breads and dessert — how can you beat that?” Tanuma said. 
This year’s participants, potters and soups include:
 Amphora Restaurant — Greek lemon chicken rice; Coach Stop Restaurant and Tavern — cream of broccoli; Gourmet Grille — potato leek; Janie’s Uncommon Cafe — chicken noodle; Windham Junction Country Store & Kitchen — Irish Claddagh cream of potato/cabbage soup; Pinkerton Tavern — crab and corn chowder; Rig-A-Tony’s — Italian wedding soup; Sabatino’s North — pasta fagioli; T-Bones — roasted tomato basil; Wrap Shak — lobster bisque. 
Potters: Tom White Pottery; Wiley Hill Mudworks; Bruce Haber; Rock Garden Pottery; Nutfield Pottery; Pinkerton Academy art students; Rock Pond Pottery; Mark Hutton; NH Potters Guild/Steve Cunliffe; Kimball Union Academy Students; The Studio Gallery; Glen MacInnis; Rachel Normington; Ola Lessard and Friends. 
For tickets or information, call Community Caregivers at 432-0877 or find them online at www.comcaregivers.org. 

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