LOS ANGELES (CBS) — It took him 25 years and a lot of perseverance but on Sunday, 79-year-old Ray Castellani served up his 1 millionth meal to the needy on Skid Row.
CBS2 and KCAL9 reporter Cristy Fajardo was there for the low-key but touching moment. There was a cake, but little fan fare.
Castellani and his volunteers work from the back of his van. Their delivery method might be modest, but the work is yeoman.
Castellani remains humble. “It was orchestrated for me to do it,” he says, “from God, whatever you want to call it.”
To shouts of “We love you Ray,” he delivers his van load of food but offers more than that. He gives people dignity and hope and a smile. “They are human beings. They just want to be treated like human beings.”
Every Sunday, he does just that.
These days, he and his volunteers are handing out sandwiches, like tuna. But up until 2010, when he lost his kitchen, he was cranking out hot meals. Soup, spaghetti, ravioli.
Even he has trouble believing it’s been 25 years. “Twenty five years of my life!? Arrrgh,” he says with a laugh.
To the people he blesses with his kindness, through his non-profit, the gratitude is evident. They thank him, kiss him, hug him as much as they can … before Ray clearly gets a little uncomfortable being lauded over. “I don’t come here to feel good,” he explains, “I just give. Period. I give from the purity of my heart.”
One man, down on his luck, speaks for many when he says of Castellani, “This man is like a father to me. I love you, man.”
A humble Castellani has a simple message. “The world could change in a minute if everyone cared about somebody else, for just a minute.”