What started with a simple invitation for a few homeless people to watch the Super Bowl together in New York City turned into a party.
And it just kept growing.
Super Soul Party, a nonprofit founded by filmmaker and social media influencer Meir Kay, will be hosting Super Bowl parties in 35 cities when the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams meet on February 13. Parties will be held at locations from Washington to Los Angeles, Bozeman , Montana, to New Orleans.
All inspired by a conversation Kay had with a homeless man who just wanted someone to talk to him.
Kay said of the Super Bowl: “It was kind of like, ‘Oh my God, this is like an unofficial holiday in America. “People without family or friends feel even more lonely. So how can I help with that?”
Kay hosted her first party in 2017, inviting the homeless in the neighborhood. A year later, people asked Kay how they could help, so parties were held in both New York and Los Angeles. Interest grew rapidly. Kay founded the nonprofit to better organize to meet the needs and find corporate sponsors.
“I never thought of myself as a founder of a nonprofit,” says Kay: “I just thought, ‘I’m a video person, a filmmaker.’ But it’s really through people saying, ‘Hey, how are we going to get involved?’ I just stepped up. ”
Super Soul Party has five sponsors to help cover the cost of parties this year that are more than just food and football. Guests can get a haircut from the barber, dress up and a toiletries bag. Mental health counselors and people who can help with housing and employment have also been added.
Kay said food and watching the game are important.
“We can then get to know people’s deeper nature, to build them back up,” says Kay. “And so the bigger picture from day one is really bringing connection to those who don’t have it so they can move on and rebuild their own lives.”
Super Soul Party works with existing nonprofits. The expansion beyond New York was made possible through volunteer coordinators connected to homeless shelters and other groups in their own town.
Erika Harsanyi of Orlando saw one of Kay’s videos from an early party and wanted to throw one in her city. She also often felt helpless as a nurse at the Level One Trauma Center in Orlando as she witnessed the homeless need more help than the emergency room could provide.
Now Orlando is about to host its first party of about 500 people expected at Exploria Stadium, a space large enough to feel safe in these COVID-affected times. Harsanyi said the Super Bowl offers homeless people an experience most people take for granted.
“We don’t think how lucky we are when it’s something that … maybe they’ve never been able to experience,” Harsanyi said. “And to be able to provide that resource, that’s a really great opportunity. I hope we can agree to make this an annual routine. ”
Country star Mickey Guyton will sing the national anthem at Super Bowl LVI. R&B hitmaker Jhené Aiko, gospel duo Mary Mary and the Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles will also perform at the pregnancy ceremony.
Carlton Bussey, 57, has attended several parties in New York. A case manager for the mentally disabled, Bussey now works in a men’s shelter after facing substance abuse issues that left him homeless. in a period of time. He says the parties bring a sense of normalcy.
“You feel like you belong in something good,” says Bussey. “People don’t pay much attention to the homeless, you know?”
Kay has big dreams of continuing to grow the nonprofit’s reach with more events held throughout the year. But he also sees them sticking to major sporting events like soccer’s upcoming World Cup.
“I see people wanting to be more connected through the pandemic and people wanting to give what they can,” says Kay.
Nothing speaks to your heartache like watching your favorite NFL team take the lead in the Super Bowl.
https://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/sports/super-bowl-2022/nonprofit-uses-super-bowl-parties-way-help-homeless/3133838/ Nonprofit uses Super Bowl parties as a way to help the homeless – NBC10 Philadelphia