(Dominic Chavez/Globe Staff file photo)
It's not easy keeping a non-profit agency afloat in a sagging economy; it takes some creativity.
At the Haley House Soup Kitchen, the secret is in the soup.
The Haley House, which runs a soup kitchen and a bakery cafe and other programs, recently opened its doors for its annual Souper Bowl Sunday event, started four years ago to raise money for its services to the homeless.
This year's event, which raised funds for the soup kitchen, was the most successful to date, organizers said.
Souper Bowl IV featured a seven soup line-up at the Haley House Bakery Café in Dudley Square. For $30 admission, guests were presented with handmade ceramic bowls donated by students from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design’s ‘Clay for Change’ program.
Guests moved from station to station, as volunteers from programs including The Food Project and Cuisine en Locale ladled their homemade soups into each distinctive bowl.
“Delicious, ” said Joyce Stanley, as she cradled a bowl of kale soup, hoping to take some home later. Stanley said she came by to show support for the soup kitchen.
“Only for you, Joyce,” said Carol Kong, the Haley House operations director, who volunteered with the non-profit organization in 2007 and decided she couldn’t stay away. “It’s the most (business) we’ve done,” she said of the 2012 Souper Bowl.
In 2005, Bing Broderick, Haley House's business and marketing director, was approached by the Boston Localvores, a grassroots organization that offered to produce an event at the Haley House Bakery Café where empty bowls would get filled with local soups.
The event has grown, with Haley House now collaborating with local groups such as Cape Ann Fresh Catch, Robinson's Farm and Iggy’s Bread for ingredients for the soups.
“It’s not just a fund-raiser,” said Broderick. “It’s a friend raiser.”
Carole Brennan, who has lived next door to the Haley House for seven years, beamed as she spooned her Scotch Broth soup.
"If all of Dudley felt like the Haley House, I’d be happy. It’s nice to have a place where you walk in, and people know your name," she said.
The Haley House also works to create jobs and provide housing and job-training for men and women who face significant barriers to employment.
Rod Owens lived at the Haley House in 2003 and had worked as a sous chef in the soup kitchen. He came back to serve his root vegetable lentil soup at the Souper Bowl. He has worked in kitchens all over the country, he said, and was just back from a cafe opening in upstate New York.
“The Haley House is so much a part of what has helped me become who I am,” he said. “I believe in their mission. . . I know what community is about, and that’s vital.”
This article was reported and written by Northeastern University journalism journalism instructor Lisa Chedekel (email@example.com), as part of collaboration between The Boston Globe and Northeastern.