Janelle Monáe brings Wondalunch to Watts with help of local orgs, Rep. Maxine Waters

The singer partnered with the congresswoman to feed families hit hard by COVID-19

Janelle Monáe is pictured at a Wondalunch event in Watts, California, in July 2020. Credit: Tina Sampay

Singer, songwriter and actress Janelle Monáe brought her Wondalunch to Watts last week, in partnership with local organizations and congresswomen representing the Watts district.

CNN political commentator Angela Rye was also in attendance with Democratic Reps. Maxine Waters and Nanette Diaz Barragan.

“Not only are we fighting to survive as a people and dealing with the trauma of losing our people, we are also dealing with people not being able to eat because of COVID-19,” Monae said outside of Ted Watkins Park in Watts.

“This is just to say hey, there is no stigma around needing help. We all need help. I need help. I also understand that my privilege is different,” the “Make Me Feel” singer continued. “I’m not in the same boat as lets say, a single mom with kids who is an essential worker and just got laid off. Knowing that, how can we show up for each other? It’s the least we can do.”

Read More: Janelle Monáe to live-stream performance in support of small businesses

Monae thanked those she partnered with for the Watts Wondalunch event, including the Isaiah Project, all the Wondalunch volunteers as well as the Leela Project. The Hidden Figures actress said that their commitment is a testament to the fact that it will be people, not politics, who will save others. 

“We are out here with the Social Justice Institute along with so many other community organizations just doing what we can with what we have,” said Dominick Verrett, executive director of the Leela Project. 

Dominick Verrett is pictured at a Wondalunch event in Watts, California in July 2020. Credit: Tina Sampay

“We brought two 26-foot refrigerator trucks packed with produce–clean healthy food for the community. It’s packed top to bottom and ready to go,” he added.

Verrett, who grew up in South Central Los Angeles, sais that the primary focus of the Leela Project is mentorship for at-risk youth, especially those in the foster care system. When the coronavirus pandemic hit, the Leela Project re-focused their efforts and resources to provide food to families hit the hardest by COVID-19.

“We did an event a couple weeks ago in Compton with the Social Justice Institute and we got a call saying that Wondalunch wanted to collaborate,” said Verrett. “It’s a no brainer when it comes to them they are great people. They have the same heart we have.”

Verrett says that hunger has no expiration and the Leela Project is committed to doing what they can for marginalized communities. 

Samantha Barretto was among the volunteers who helped distribute food in Watts. Barretto says she volunteered at the Wondalunch event because it is important to her how she balances her time and she wants to make sure that she gives back.

In addition to being a Beverly Hills-based real estate agent, Barretto also stars in Love and Listings, which airs Monday nights on VH1.

Rye and Waters could be seen at the Wondalunch event helping volunteers deliver food in a contact-less method. Families drove up in their cars and waited for boxes of food to be placed in their trunks and passed through their car windows. 

Rep. Maxine Waters, Angela Rye and Janelle Monáe are pictured with volunteers at a Wondalunch event in Watts, California, in July 2020. Credit: Tina Sampay

“It is important for us to be here today in Watts to demonstrate our love through service to this community. Our community is going through so much right now, so this is just an expression of love to say we see you, we love you, we want to make sure you are fed, we want to make sure you are well,” said Rye.

Community members were also able to walk up and grab produce and food. Boxes of hand sanitizer were distributed free of charge from Congresswoman Barragan.

“I started my career here in Watts and I have moved on, but I have never forgotten about the people,” said Waters. “There are people who live here that have pre-existing health conditions who are vulnerable to the pandemic. I also know that people have lost their jobs.”

“Not only do I fight in Congress, passing the Cares Act and the Heroes Act, but it is important to be out here interacting with the people so they know that somebody is thinking about them,” she continued. “We are not only interacting but we are working. We got our gloves on, we got our mask and I’m getting my muscles tightened up lifting these boxes.” 

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