We're well into our 15th year of serving food on Skid Row, in downtown Los Angeles and we've served over 730,000 meals! Thank you to all of our supporters!

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Ray Castellani was born in Albany, New York on February 13, 1933. Shuffled around through various homes for boys (orphanages), at seven years old, Ray's Grandfather, an Italian immigrant, took him in. In Ray's most vivid memory, Castellani plotted a run away from the  home. He made it to his Grandfather's house and went running to the basement door. He banged and banged until his Grandfather answered the door, picked him up and said in his broken English, "No one is going to take you anymore, Sonny Boy." Living in the basement with his grandfather in a nursing home run by his grandmother,  Ray grew up learning the skills of fine woodworking. His grandfather was Ray's truth, a man of strength and conviction.

Castellani's grandparents managed to get him enrolled in The Albany Academy for Boys in 4th grade. He received a fine education but because of his mobility before the fourth grade, he could not read or write well. In high school at the Academy he excelled in sports and was granted an athletic  scholarship. He remained on at The Academy graduating in 12th grade, but still to this day,has low reading skills.

Education and a loving grandfather though could not squelch Ray's pain of being tossed around. Turning to alcohol at 7 years old, he soon progressed in drinking at by 14 he was stashing whiskey in his room. Drinking plagued Ray's life until he was 36.

After high school, Castellani pursued his dream of becoming an actor for about a year. Then, inspired by John Wayne, he joined the Marines and was honorably discharged after three years of service. Then, moving to New York, he sought an acting career for another three years, performing in plays, doing television shows, repertory companies, etc. 1959 brought Ray to California with a wife and one child. The next ten years brought a vast array of television shows (see acting pictures), three more children and the escalation of alcoholism. By 1966, drinking had progressed to a point where he stood outside of 20th Century Fox not knowing what show he was on, let alone the lines for the day.
In 1969, steeped in fears and self delusion, incapable of working, amassed with sores all of his body, gaunt, separated from his wife and children, Castellani held a bottle of Gin in his hands and said, "Please God help me. I don't want to drink this." Since that moment Castellani has never touched alcohol again. He believes it was his cry of despair.
Two years down the road, he began to act again, although much of his talent had dissipated. He began acting classes again at 40 years old, and it took 12 years to see the talent arise again, during which time Castellani survived by painting houses, making furniture and doing odd jobs.
Able to act once again, Castellani did hundreds of TV shows. His acting career pinnacled in 1981 when he got a major part in a Broadway play, On The Waterfront. The play never got off the ground and Ray's heart was broken.
Still doing several shows, his spirit was no longer in acting. Not knowing what he was to do with his life, he got in his truck and drove throughout the West, asking God what he was to do. As the "idea" or calling of feeding people on Skid Row grew stronger, he drove farther North and farther East until the feeling was so strong he could not fight it or deny it. It brought him back.
In 1987, not ever having served food to anyone, let alone homeless people on Skid Row, he went to a Church and asked to use their kitchen. In a simple but powerful gesture, he was handed the keys. He went to a neighborhood bakery for rolls, and then to friends for peanut butter and jelly. At 3:00 am on December 5, Ray went to the kitchen and personally made the sandwiches. Delivering them later that day, Castellani felt honored to be used as an instrument of "His" will and  he was humbled by the entire experience. " It truly was, and always is," Castellani says, "about giving for the purity of giving and asking nothing in return."
The education of his life began on that day.