Issue 4, January 22, R4
Manava Seva is Madhava Seva
Everyone in the young adult group was inspired to start monthly Seva after Bhagawan’s visit last year. We wanted to do Seva to homeless people present in our area and assist them with job search. We began discussing about this and researched on areas that needed help, it was a difficult task since we were quite spread across the region and wanted a location that would work for all. However, we needed to begin somewhere and decided to start in August 2016. We agreed on meeting in the Santa Monica area where there’s a big shelter for the homeless, this would also be the first time for the group to meet face to face which was also exciting!
Our first visit – Santa Monica Shelter, Olympic Drive
We gathered on August 21st, 2016 at Santa Monica Shelter on Olympic Drive at 11am. During the first visit, we had approximately 40 lunch bags to hand out. We were blown away by seeing the number of people that needed food or some kind of help, the lunch bags were distributed within minutes!
It was so humbling to see how appreciative and kind hearted these people were. The sharing tendency amongst them touched us deeply. We witnessed how they would switch food, or even give it away. If they did not like something, they would kindly say ‘No thank you’ or place the item on the side for someone else to take.
The first visit was unbelievable and too short! We felt that we did not spend much time there and fell short with what we had. We decided to be better prepared from our next visit to this place. We also started exploring other areas to identify the volume of homelessness.
The volunteers at Santa Monica continued with their monthly Seva of serving food and hygiene kits. We explored Santa Ana and served people in the parks, driving from one to another. By Bhagawan’s grace, a lot of new volunteers started showing interest to the project. We were introduced to few individuals from San Diego who wanted to start this Seva at their place. From September onwards, we have three locations serving food once a month till date.
Santa Ana – Civic Center Drive
This area is very well known for homelessness, there will be at least 150 people - mix of men, women and children. It was heartbreaking to see these people living in very small tents. We were amazed to see how they always had smiles on their faces, they were simply happy to receive anything that was given. We are confident that Bhagawan will send us the right volunteers to do more in this location.
We started serving homemade meals to homeless and street-bound children at the Stand Up for Kids Center in San Diego. Few of our young adults, having worked with this center in the past, were eager to assist them. We started making burritos, pizzas, and other delicious meals, which was packed individually for each child. There would be around 40-50 kids every month. We would also take assorted desserts, snacks like fruit or nuts, and drinks.
We also supported kids who were diabetic or gluten intolerant by giving them sugar-free and gluten-free options. Most of these kids have never heard kind words spoken to them. They are at the age where there should be worried about their studies and not about their survival. It is very unfortunate that they are being overlooked by our society.
The person who has been benefited most by all these activities are the volunteers. All these experiences have made us realize how fortunate we are. We pray to Bhagawan to utilize us as instruments to spread love and reduce the sufferings of these people.