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VOL. 127 | NO. 35 | Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Soup Sunday a Recipe for Fundraising Success

By Aisling Maki

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Thousands of Mid-Southerners poured into FedExForum Sunday, Feb. 19, to sample soups and desserts from more than 50 local restaurants and caterers during the Youth Villages Soup Sunday.

It was the 23rd year for the popular event, which raises about $60,000 annually for Youth Villages, a Memphis-based national nonprofit organization that provides a wide array of services, particularly for emotionally and behaviorally troubled children and their families.

The eclectic mix of participating restaurants included Huey’s, Bardog Tavern, Mosa Asian Bistro, Brooklyn Bridge Italian Restaurant and Paula Deen’s Buffet at Harrah’s Casino Tunica.

Soups included everything from B.B. King Blues Club’s Gumbo Ya Ya to Owen Brennan’s duck cassoulet to Jim’s Place’s chicken Florentine soup.

“There’s the best variety of soups you can ever imagine,” said Youth Villages’ longtime CEO Patrick Lawler.

Event-goers also sampled hors d’oeuvres such as lobster and shrimp bruschetta, artichoke and spinach dip with pita chips, Swedish meatballs, and blue cheese-stuffed bacon-wrapped dates, as well as desserts such as Elvis Presley gooey butter cake, brownies and bread pudding with vanilla sauce.

“It’s a lot of work. They have to make a lot of soup to serve thousands of people,” Lawler said. “It’s good exposure for the restaurants, as well, and for their signature soup.”

“It’s a lot of work. They have to make a lot of soup to serve thousands of people. It’s good exposure for the restaurants, as well, and for their signature soup.”

 –Patrick Lawler
CEO, Youth Villages


It takes more than 300 volunteers to pull off the event. They arrive at 5 a.m. to begin setting up tables.

The funds from this year’s event will directly impact Youth Villages Mentoring Program, in which mentors take their children off Youth Villages’ campuses for activities each month.

“Many of our young people don’t have families at all or don’t have families that can support them and provide a visit, take them out on a pass or just spend time with them,” Lawler said. “We have over 1,100 young people who have mentors and we have a lot of mentors here today with their mentees.”

Studies show that young people who have at least one consistent, caring adult in their lives are more likely to stay in school and avoid trouble with law enforcement, and are better-prepared to develop strong relationships with their own families than those without that positive influence.

Youth Villages is now preparing for its 30th annual 5K run April 21.

“We’re looking for volunteers,” Lawler said. “We need mentors. We have hundreds of kids at Youth Villages that need mentors that would really love to have one. We have a program to train the mentors, visit their young person twice a month – so it’s not a huge commitment. But it’s very important to our kids to have a responsible adult in the community who wants to help them through some of their difficult times.”

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