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New executive director takes the helm at Empty Bowls Monongalia

MORGANTOWN — There are some recent developments at Empty Bowls Monongalia. 

Brian Diller

The nonprofit, arts-based organization committed to raising money to alleviate hunger in Monongalia County and promote art education., which began in 2007, welcomes new executive director Brian Diller.  And, with the help of the community, the organization was able to award 24 agencies in the county with 100 percent of the funding that was requested. 

Diller has been involved with Empty Bowls Monongalia for six months. 

He was born and raised in Charleston, but had moved to Nashville, Tenn., where he was a professional guitarist for 14 years. 

After his children were born, Diller went back to school and earned a master’s degree. From there, he began running several nonprofit organizations in Nashville.  Diller was involved with 32 programs to help fight hunger. He had even partnered with Empty Bowls in Nashville for an event.

After moving to Morgantown, Diller was looking for employment and had seen an advertisement about the opening.

He had liked the concept of Empty Bowls after partnering with the organization in Nashville, so he contacted Empty Bowls Monongalia’s Board of Directors and was later hired on as the new executive director.

“I may not be able to solve hunger, but at least I’ll be able to make an impact on it,” he said. 

This year, Empty Bowls Monongalia was able to award 100-percent funding to its partnering agencies. 

Empty Bowls Monongalia has been working with 24 organizations in the county, some being food pantries, meal programs, and backpack programs that supply school kids with food for the weekend. 

Each of the organizations that partners with Empty Bowls fill out an application and are asked about their monetary needs for the year. 

Empty Bowls was able to fully fund all of the agencies who applied, which isn’t always the case. 

“This year has been unbelievable,” Diller said.  “Considering the economic climate created by the pandemic, we were able to fully fund these organizations.”

To help raise money for the agencies that partner with Empty Bowls, the organization hosts several fundraising events throughout the year. 

Diller said each of the fundraisers that Empty Bowls has held have been very successful, even in the height of the pandemic. 

“We’ve been very blessed,” he said. “That is a testimony to the generosity of the folks that support our organization and Monongalia County.” 

Some of the agencies partnering with Empty Bowls have no paid-staff members and are volunteer-based; one agency has only a single employee.

With the help of the community and businesses, Empty Bowls Monongalia raised $152,300.

“I’m very impressed by the generosity of the citizens of Monongalia County,” Diller said. “Each of the organizations we are working with are doing brilliant work. … We like to give as much as we possibly can.”

Empty Bowls Monongalia’s primary fundraiser is its annual Soup and Bread Luncheon held every February. Throughout the year, artisans and others in the community paint bowls. This event invites guests to sample soups from local restaurants and take home a painted bowl as a reminder of those whose bowl may not be full. 

This fall, the organization is planning to host a Fall Fun Raiser, which will include fine dining, music, and live auctions offering a variety of items. 

Empty Bowls Monongalia’s mission is to provide resource and broker assistance to Monongalia County agencies supporting individuals and families threatened by food insecurity. The organization aims to increase public awareness of hunger, food insecurity, and other related issues. It is an advocate for Arts Education and is a powerful service-learning project for students of all ages. 

For more information about Empty Bowls Monongalia and upcoming fundraisers, check out the organization’s website and on Facebook @emptybowlsmon.

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