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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Excerpt from Frontline Today Newsletter , July 1996
When the Editor of Frontline Today asked me to write something about reaching 500,000 meals served, I procrastinated a few weeks - trying to find prolific words with profound and deep meaning. Much to my dismay I could not come up with anything. I have not the ability to put into words the magnitude and the overwhelming feeling I have inside my heart.
Most of us have seen the Rose Bowl filled to capacity on New Year's Day. Take one moment and visualize it and multiply it by five. Five hundred thousand meals. These meals were served in an area known as Skid Row, downtown Los Angeles, on the streets - not protected by buildings or fences.
The learning process was not easy. And yet, the learning took place.
Looking back over the years since 1987, I see thousands of faces. I see the hands that reach for our meals. I see those dark streets at night with the fires. I see the hopeless, the helpless. I see the strong and the weak. I see the wounds of the body. I see the sickness. I see the the agony. I see the dead. I have seen mankind bleed. I have seen mankind cry out for help. I have seen the despair of the human soul. I have touched, held, and rocked many people that will never see the dawn of a new day. The learning process did take place. The ability for me to feel with such passion; to hear the cries with such clarity; to sense my fellow man with a purity that runs so deep; to see the cleanliness of the ragged clothed being; to know the true meaning of purity; to comprehend honesty to its' fullest; to enter the world of unselfishness, free of any wants; and to know love.
I thank my God for allowing me to be his instrument. I thank my wife who stood by my side. I thank all the people who gave to this powerful display of God's will.
In February Frontline and Ray suffered a great loss - the tragic and very untimely death of one of our beautiful volunteers, Josh Randell. The following is an obituary written by Ray about this young man, a "Humanitarian in Training" as Ray would call him.
Frontline will be forever indebted for your service to mankind - for your love - for your dignified caring for the people of the streets of Skid Row, downtown Los Angeles - for your purity of thought - your uncomplicated measure of unselfishness - the enduring hours you have put in at the kitchen for the sole purpose of giving with no return so as not to compromise your values. When I told you to peel each egg with love, you looked at me inquisitively. I explained it one more time; a smile came to your face and the connection was made.
At age 15 you have touched so many. You have shadowed the hopelessness, the despaired, the tired, the weak, the strong, with your entity of compassion.
You have crossed the final pathway that will endure eternity. As each of us take our step, your hand will guide us to meet the master.
No one ever wins in a tragedy, and yet they occur everyday throughout our world. No city or town nor village ever escapes the Holocaust of tragedy. It is what it is - the darkest of the dark, the sorrow beyond compromise.
The imagery never ends. The devastation of the soul, the wound without healing. There is no place on Earth one can go to escape this never ending light of darkness.
An open letter of thanks from Ray Castellani
Frontline will surpass 600,000 meals to the residents of Sid Row, downtown Los Angeles. What was only to be a few meals served has gone into another dimension. A dimension where love, compassion, understanding superceded the obvious of serving food. It was dictated to me in 1987 not to solicit any money, nor receive any compensation for what I was to embark on. Thinking it was only going to be a few days out of my life, I was obedient to the calling. Had I known it was going to consume 11 years of my life and still going, it might have been a different story. Yes, it would have been a different story. A miracle has taken place, an unexplained happening, a phenomenon if I may. The principles by which Frontline is guided, purity, honesty, unselfishness and love prevail. At times, most arduous with so many people to answer to. I want to thank each and every person for helping me to fulfill the calling I had in 1987, for it was not only my calling but each person that has given with their love, their support for the betterment of our society.
Frontline has over 650 people that support in a financial way on a regular basis. Such a small populous, such a mammoth job - Frontline running since 1987, the food given out-inestimable, the thousands of people that are involved, the children in the schools, the churches, the synagogues -
Please stand tall my dear friends. You have all been a part of a true miracle. I am not out to reach one of you that has given, but all of you that have given. If I had the ability to touch the heart of each, I would. Allow my spirit, my love for humanity, my cries of despair, my agonies, my joys, my tears, my smile, my triumphs, my loses - allow them to be with you. Please allow me to walk with each of you for the rest of your life as you have walked with me during my life.