What originated as a personal volunteer project to provide food and supplies to those experiencing homelessness has turned into a weekly event that serves between 75 and 100 people each weekend.
Potluck for the Homeless is held every Saturday at two locations — the Lowe’s parking lot on West Broad Street and Abner Clay Park.
Cheryl Costello Landrum created the event along with an initiative called “Potluck for the Homeless — Danny’s Hope” three years ago. According to a memo she wrote, she never expected the event to become as popular as it is now. She posted event schedules on Facebook and received more responses each time.
“We knew that the Potluck for the Homeless was not just a one-time event … but we had no idea how [many more events there would be],” Landrum said. “Here we are almost three years into this adventure and the potluck is not just existing, it is thriving.”
Landrum’s memo describes the story behind the group’s name. “Danny’s Hope” was inspired by her older brother, Danny, who had schizophrenia and lost contact with his family. His experience inspired Landrum to begin feeding projects for people who are homeless.
Every Saturday, volunteers bring homemade food and set up tables with meals, fresh fruit, water bottles and snacks. Potluck for the Homeless also provides donated winter clothing and sleeping bags. Even on the coldest days, many different stations filled with foods and other supplies are set up adjacent to Lowe’s.
Kisha — a woman experiencing homelessness who declined to provide her last name — and two other men ate and waited for supplies to be distributed during one of the weekend events.
“It makes a difference and helps a lot of people,” Kisha said. “I am waiting on the sleeping bags and coats and shoes.”
The larger portion of the event takes place at Abner Clay Park. After Monroe Park closed down, people experiencing homelessness and organizations that aid them transitioned to Jackson Ward. Organizations including Food Not Bombs also feed those affected by homelessness on the weekends at Abner Clay Park.
Vanessa George, a Potluck for the Homeless volunteer, serves food at a table typically filled with a variety of food and drinks, including casseroles, beef stew, crackers, apples and bottles of water.
“When you have an event like this it’s kind of like you recognize you are a person and we see you,” George said. “I just know they are a human being and this is just a transition. [They] are often invisible to us as we live our daily lives and today they are visible and we recognize them.”
The next Potluck for the Homeless will be held Dec 1.