It was hard not to feel the joy, fellowship and overall positive spirit today as hundreds of guests packed into the Omni Dallas Hotel to savor a bowl of soup for the 5th Annual Soup’s On luncheon, put on by The Stewpot Alliance and benefiting The Stewpot and their new project, 508 Park. Started in 1975 by the First Presbyterian Church downtown, the mission of the The Stewpot is to “offer a safe haven for homeless and at-risk individuals of Dallas, providing resources for basic survival needs as well as opportunities to start a new life.” This is accomplished every day by not just providing meals to the homeless of Dallas, which they do every day in cooperation with The Bridge feeding up to 1500 people a day, but to provide programs to help participants get back on their feet through job and housing assistance, medical, dental and mental care, youth programs for children, and much more including an ever growing art and education program that will soon expand to their new space at 508 Park that will house an art gallery, studio, community garden, music space and educational venue bringing people of all cultures, faiths and beliefs together through dialogue. I had a chance to attend the luncheon as a guest of The Stewpot Alliance and was proud to hear that in the past 5 years, as this luncheon has raised $1 million for The Stewpot. A volunteer at The Bridge, member of The Stewpot Alliance and big supporter of The Stewpot it was also incredibly gratifying for me to hear that as of July 2012 over 5 million meals had been served to the homeless of Dallas.
Though great work was being done today, there was also a lot of fun as the talented students of the Booker T. Washington Varsity Choir group greeted guests with a performance, followed by Chef-Chair Brian Luscher, Owner of The Grape, gathering many of his best chef buddies together to create innovative and impressive soups for the crowd. I had a chance to try both a bowl of Chef Brian’s very famous and creamy good Mushroom Soup as well as a divine bite of Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek Chef Bruno Davaillon’s Oxtail and Green Farro Soup with Foie Gras Cream. Other offerings came from Chef Janice Provost of Parigi, Chef Jason Maddy of Oak, Chef Keith Hanks of Capital Grille, Chef Jason Weaver of the Omni, Chef Abraham Salum of Salum as well as an offering from his Komali Chef Anastacia Quinones, and many more.
Keynote speaker, Author Wes Moore, spoke of his story growing up in a single parent home with a strict widowed mother who sent him, at one point a very problematic child, to military school to ensure he would travel down a safe path to success, and another young man who grew up in a similar single partent home, in the same neighborhood of Moore’s childhood home in Baltimore, who also shared the same name. “The Other Wes Moore“ had a very different path to adulthood, as outlined in Moore’s New York Times best selling book, taking the dark path to armed robbery and now living out the rest of his life in jail without parole. The constant that Moore noted was that each were truly a product of their environment living up to the expectations society laid in front of them, his now friend, the imprisoned Wes Moore was told that he would never amount to much as a child, and he lived up to that expectations. Today’s speaker also lived up to the expectations his father and widowed mother had for him, graduating from of John’s Hopkins, becoming a Rhodes Scholar and decorated military hero. The story is to show that if you empower people to believe in themselves, they can succeed. This is the work The Stewpot does every day.