Buchanan Art Center donates more than $1,500 to RAM

BUCHANAN — Over the weekend, the Buchanan Art Center celebrated both its artists and the community.

Saturday, the BAC hosted its annual members’ exhibit, showcasing the work of more than 30 member artists from the Michiana region. At the same time, the center donated $1,560 to Redbud Area Ministries.

The donation comes from BAC’s annual Empty Bowls fundraisers, where community members and artists create bowls to be sold to support RAM. Typically, the bowls are sold during a soup dinner fundraiser, but the event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, the BAC hosted an outdoor sale earlier this year to raise funds for RAM. The weekend’s donation adds to an earlier contribution from BAC to RAM from its Empty Bowls workshops hosted in early March.

“That’s just from the adult pottery at the art center, we still have the [school-aged] students’ work yet,” said Cathy Tapia, an instructor at the BAC.

Typically, Tapia said the BAC raises between $4,000 and $5,000 for RAM through the Empty Bowls fundraiser. While this year’s donation was smaller than in years past, Tapia said she was happy that the BAC could give anything to RAM — especially as this year would have marked the 25th annual Empty Bowls fundraiser.

“We were very excited about how much we raised,” Tapia said. “We expected to raise a few hundred dollars, and we made $1,5000. I’m really glad that people showed up.”

Saturday evening, Tapia, along with Danielle Wilborn, executive director of the BAC, presented the $1,560 check to Jan Nowak-Walters, executive director of RAM. Nowak-Walters accepted the check with a smile on her face, as she excitedly thanked the BAC for its donation.

“Holy moly,” she said, holding the oversized check in her hands. “You guys outdid yourselves. This is going to help a lot of people.”

Redbud Area Ministries is a nonprofit organization that serves the greater Buchanan area with a food pantry and other financial assistance. Nowak-Walters said the majority of the BAC’s donation would be earmarked to help area residents pay bills — a need that has become more prevalent due to COVID-19 related job loss.

“People are really getting pinched to keep their services on,” Nowak-Walters said. “This donation is really going to help people keep the lights on, keep the gas on. … There is definitely a need.”

Nowak-Walters said she was grateful for the BAC’s donation, adding that donations from organizations such as the BAC and Buchanan residents enable RAM to help those in need.

“I don’t think this would happen like this anywhere else,” she said. “This community is so incredibly responsive, so attuned to supporting their neighbors and those who are in need. I’m fortunate to be here. I’m fortunate to lead RAM, but RAM really belongs to the community, because they support it.”

During Saturday evening’s celebration, Wilborn said giving back to the community— and organizations such as RAM — is built into the BAC’s mission.

“We are the Buchanan Art Center, so without Buchanan, we don’t exist,” she said.

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