At downtown block party, 'we are family' whether housed or unhoused

At downtown block party, 'we are family' whether housed or unhoused

DOWNTOWN – It was a celebration over the weekend for some St. Louisans who often go overlooked and underserved: the homeless. 

For the third year in a row, the PotBangerz, led by Cathy “Mama Cat” Daniels in partnership with Christ Church Cathedral, came together for the Neighbors United Block Party on Saturday, Sept. 28.

The organizations collaborate twice a year to host two different area service projects.

In an effort to “bless the block,” from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. the parking lot of Christ Church Cathedral, 1210 Locust St., was transformed into a one-stop shop for people who may not have homes but do have needs.

Free haircuts and massages, free personal hygiene products, live performances, clothing giveaways, free school supplies for children, free food, even workforce development opportunities were all on hand. 

More than 1,000 people were served a hot meal, thanks to Mama Cat’s “pot banging.” She said this was her way of “bringing family together.”

“We are family; and as an activist, if I’m going to sit down and say ‘black lives matter,’ I need to [not only] include every black life, but I need to include every life. That’s what this is about,” she said.

Daniels, a native of New York, is the founder of the PotBangerz, a movement for love, care and community. Mama Cat said her group was born after the Ferguson protests in 2014. She would cook meals and provide food for the activists on the front lines, fighting for justice and social equality.

Five years later, the PotBangerz are known for the work they do to help people living without homes. 

“This is us being the village,” she explained. “Today was about blessing the block.”

Mama Cat has garnered support from all over the city, including St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner.

“It’s important to support organizations that are really trying to bless the unhoused population as well as help the community in any way,” Gardner said, “and Mama Cat and the PotBangerz have been the organization that’s gone where most people don’t want to go.

“I appreciate her. We need to have more people like Mama Cat in the community doing this stuff. Anything I can do, I’m going to be there with her. I know she supports me, but I want to support her also,” Gardner added.

The dean of Christ Church Cathedral, the Rev. Kathie Adams-Shepherd, has worked with Mama Cat and the Potbangerz for the past three years to put on this event. 

“Our goal from the start was to get housed and unhoused neighbors together at a table eating good food, having fun and seeing each other as human beings rather than housed and unhoused,” Adams-Shepherd said.

According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, 5,883 people were homeless on any given night across Missouri in 2018.

For more information on Mama Cat and the PotBangerz, or to sign up as a volunteer, visit their website at www.potbangerz.org

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