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 has been the fundraising, building and now 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.
Around the Country
In 1991 Acharya Durga Das established RIVER FUND NEW YORK which has grown tremendously over the years and now serves over 100,000 people per year!
Kashi’s ashram in Atlanta, Kashi Atlanta, has a weekly feeding program called STREET MEALS. 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.