He threw a Super Bowl party for homeless New Yorkers. Now, his ‘Super Soul Parties’ are being held nationwide

Feb 10, 2022, 5:05 PM | Updated: Jun 8, 2022, 3:18 pm

(CNN) — The first Super Soul Party in 2017 was a largely impromptu affair, designed to make sure a few folks experiencing homelessness could watch the biggest game of the year in comfort.

Meir Kalmanson, dressed in Tom Brady’s New England Patriots jersey, invited men he met on New York sidewalks to a Super Bowl party he was throwing. Soon, the men who agreed were ushered into cars and whisked off to Manhattan penthouse bar 230 Fifth, where they had their own private seating area with food, Patriots T-shirts and access to several large TVs.

The party host, known as Meir Kay to his 308,000 YouTube followers, shared clips from the first ever “Super Soul Party” on his channel. Now, that initial event has grown from a small gathering of men Kay met that night to a nationwide chain of celebrations in 35 cities for residents living in homeless shelters.

The parties are places to eat and get haircuts, enjoy the most important football game of the year and form a community that hopefully, Kay said, lasts long after Super Bowl Sunday.

“We use the Super Bowl as a way to get people’s attention,” Kay told CNN. “But really what happens is the magic, when people are able to reconnect with themselves and with the community so that they’re able to rebuild their lives.”


How Super Soul parties started — and took off


Kay said that he noticed homeless outreach efforts tend to peak in New York during the winter holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, but when it comes to what might be considered the US’ biggest unofficial holiday — Super Bowl Sunday — he didn’t know of any game day parties for those experiencing homelessness.

So he threw his own. Though that fateful first party only had a handful of attendees, all of whom Kay invited earlier in the evening, the idea “caught like wildfire,” he said, and soon, volunteers were bringing Super Soul parties to their own cities. In 2020, there were 20 parties across the US.

Covid-19 threw a wrench in Kay’s plans for expansion — there were no Super Soul Parties in 2021. The lull only inspired him to go bigger in 2022, he said.


The parties keep growing in size and scope


Kay said he works with homeless shelters to invite attendees to their city’s Super Soul Party. On game day, volunteers transport partygoers from shelters to a “safe space” where the festivities are held.

“It would be easier to do it in a homeless shelter, but the foundation of these events is really to take people out of those environments,” Kay said.

There’s more to enjoy at the parties than a buffet and good company, too. In recent years, Kay’s parties have added resources for guests to “rebuild themselves from the inside out,” with mental health counseling and financial services.

Partygoers also have access to free clothing, hygiene kits and other essentials they can take home. There are barbers to give them a trim while they watch the game, too.

This year, the biggest event is in Orlando, with 500 attendees in Exploria Stadium, CNN affiliate WFTV reported, where the Orlando City Soccer Club and Orlando Pride play. Most other parties will see between 50 to 100 people attend due to Covid-19 restrictions, Kay said.


The work continues after the Super Bowl ends


While organizing 35 parties across the US is an achievement, Kay said he wants to throw a Super Soul Party in every state in the US next. He’s started hosting Thanksgiving dinners for residents of homeless shelters, too. And while in-person events are “where [Super Soul] thrives,” he hopes partnerships with local businesses and other organizations can keep the work going in the off-season, too — Kay said he’s working with some finance companies to organize virtual “financial freedom” classes and share them with shelters.

For all its growth — Kay said he “grew up with the mentality of ‘just go big'” — the purpose of a Super Soul Party is to impact the lives of the people it serves. One of the Super Soul Party moments Kay holds dearest happened the day after the Super Bowl — a man who’d attended a 2020 party was featured in a local newscast, where he was spotted by his adult son with whom he’d lost contact years earlier. The two reconnected, and the man moved in with his son and became an active member of his family and loving grandfather, Kay said.

Though the pandemic stunted the growth of Kay’s efforts, and planning Super Soul Parties isn’t without its challenges, moments like that remind Kay why he threw that 2017 party in the first place, he said.

“When things get hard and difficult, it’s like, ‘Oh, this is why we do it,'” he said. “This is why we put the work in.”

™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

J. Alexander Kueng, the former Minneapolis police officer who assisted in the fatal restraint of Ge...
Ray Sanchez and Brad Parks, CNN

Former police officer who helped restrain George Floyd sentenced to 3.5 years in prison

A former Minneapolis police officer who assisted in the fatal restraint of George Floyd was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison Friday for his role in the killing.
19 hours ago
U.S. Sen. Kyrtsen Sinema (D-AZ) speaks at a news conference after the Senate passed the Respect for...

Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema switches to independent

Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona says she has switched her registration to independent.
19 hours ago
Oranges lay on the ground near a tree after hurricane Ian hit V.C. Holllingsworth's, III, orange gr...
CURT ANDERSON, Associated Press

USDA: Florida orange crop down 36% after twin hurricanes

U.S. officials say Florida's seasonal orange production is forecast to be down 36% from earlier estimates, in part a reflection of twin hurricanes that battered growing regions.
19 hours ago
Questions surround negotiations for prisoner swap to free Brittney Griner...

Griner in ‘good spirits’ in US after Russian prisoner swap

Brittney Griner returned to the United States Friday and was reunited with her wife nearly 10 months after her detention in Russia made the basketball star the most high-profile American jailed abroad and set off a political firestorm.
19 hours ago
JIm Beam is selling hug-simulating pajamas for the holidays.
Mandatory Credit:	Jim Beam...
Parija Kavilanz, CNN

Jim Beam offers novel fix for holiday blues: hug-simulating pajamas

Bourbon brand Jim Beam is offering what could possibly be the weirdest gift for the holidays — hug-simulating pajamas.
19 hours ago
Patrick Giblin in an undated arrest photo. He portrayed himself to women as a wealthy romantic look...
Faith Karimi, CNN

A fake Romeo charmed over 100 women, then scammed them

Patrick Giblin was like the American version of the "Tinder Swindler" -- but without the private jets.
19 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
He threw a Super Bowl party for homeless New Yorkers. Now, his ‘Super Soul Parties’ are being held nationwide