Growing up in poverty in a Jewish family in Brooklyn, NY, Ma’s first teachers were the homeless people in Coney Island. It was there that she was taught “There are no throw away people.” She learned to live life fully and gained respect for all humanity.
Ma Jaya has always quoted Neem Karoli Baba as saying, “Serve God’s children. Share, feed everyone, and never, ever have a dry heart.” She has taken this to heart by infusing all Kashi’s communities, teachings, and activities with this premise of helping others.
At Kashi over the years separate 501(c)3 organizations have been established to administer different aspects of our service work. THE RIVER FUND was established in 1990 to organize the AIDS work we were doing in Florida, visiting nursing homes, hospices, hospitals, and running our own respite house, the River House. In the last 10 years this has morphed to include work in Uganda and India as well as Feed Everyone, Kashi’s local hands on service project.
Kashi’s most recent dream to come true was the fundraising, building and operation of BY THE RIVER, a 41 bed affordable housing for low income seniors, located adjacent to Kashi. This project offers frail elderly seniors 62 years and older, their own private room with bathroom in a communal house where the kitchen, dining and living areas are shared with the other residents. Frail elderly means lacking in two activities of daily living. Rent is based on a sliding scale depending on income, at either 30% or 50% of the median income for Indian River County. In 2013 By the River changed hands. It is currently owned by Florida Housing Finance Corporation and operated by Taylor Made Services, however residents frequently come to Kashi for meals and Kashi members still volunteer their time there.
Around the Country
Kashi’s communities around the country have service programs which are run by dedicated volunteers. If you are live near or visit any of these places, do contact them to give a helping hand.
Kashi’s ashram in Atlanta, Kashi Atlanta, has a weekly feeding program called STREET MEALS. In New York Acharya Durga Das runs the impressively successful RIVERFUND NEW YORK, feeding hundreds every week. In Los Angeles, there is a feeding program called UNDER THE BRIDGES AND ON THE STREETS which takes food to the homeless where they are on the streets.