MEET "Mama Cat"
Navy Wife-Retired, Mother,
Grandmother, Great Grandmother, Humanitarian, Activist
PotBangerz is a movement for love, care and community borne from the vision and person of Cathy Daniels (also known as Mama Cat) in response to the largely young people of color who led this movement. Mama Cat and her crew, whom she lovingly named the “PotBangerz”, began to cook meals and provide snacks to keep the movement going and to build community among those who were marching and working for change in STL.
That movement within the movement has continued to grow and evolve under Mama Cat’s leadership. One thing Mama Cat noticed during those early days of activism is that as they were out in the streets, they began to meet and get to know people who lived on the streets.
In response, Mama Cat coordinated with various local organizations and good people to acquire resources to share a hot meal and quality snacks (along with comfort items such as toiletry packs, socks, hand warmers, gloves, hats and blankets) once a week with our most vulnerable citizens, those who are unhoused. They had from 50-150 encounters per week depending on the weather and the need.
As relationships developed between the volunteers and the community they served, it became devastatingly obvious that most of these men (and women) were the now-adult and forgotten children of mental illness, neglect and multi-generational traumatic stress. They are surviving on the streets and in vacant buildings in a society where functional is expected of them, when dysfunction is all they have ever known.
Doing this work of direct service and care among unhoused people has brought the PotBangerz organization squarely into the structural injustice of how this region disregards the lives of the poor and marginal. Importantly, we see that the violence that destroys lives and plagues our unhoused family are integrally connected. As a society we aggressively fund violent approaches to “public safety” (such as militarized and predatory policing), yet allocate pennies on the dollar to keep unhoused members of our community safe.
As such, PotBangerz has discerned that our work is always double edged.
Firstly, we share love with our unhoused family and seek to keep them safe.
Secondly, we fight like hell for them against any and all challenges they face. (From finding options for transportation and shelter, to demanding change in our city, county budgets and policies for unhoused people).
Belonging to PotBangerz is a matter of following Mama Cat’s example of love and service in the community, and being open personally to the transformation that sharing such love and being in community always requires.
As Mama Cat often says, “we are PotBangerz - we bang revolutionary pots, and the revolution is love.”
She is with the people and believes that when you "Feed the Body, you Feed the Spirit."
Cathy Daniels is an honor graduate of Culinary Institute of St. Louis at Hickey College, disaster service volunteer with the American Red Cross for 2 years deployed to natural disasters across the country, "Women In Leadership" Urban League Award recipient, St. Louis Blues Community Play Makers Award recipient, and a member of the Injustice Anywhere National Benevolent Association.