Andre House Feeding Service: Phoenix, AZ
Sathya Sai Baba states selfless service is a way for one to recognize the inherent Divinity in all. He explains that to be selfless in one’s act of service is to acknowledge this truth: those whom we serve are not our inferior, or to whom we must show pity. Instead they are our equal, to whom we must show our love. He draws on the analogy of how, when the left hand is cut, the right-hand rushes to bandage it. Yet, this does not make the right hand any more superior than its counterpart. Ultimately, they are both parts of the same body. So too, carrying out service selflessly is to realize the oneness in all, that all humanity is one Divine body.
Sai Center members in the Southwest Region USA have slowly been awakened to this divine realization through a weekly service project at the Andre House that begun twenty-five years ago. The food service is jointly undertaken by volunteers from three local Sai Centers- Phoenix, Mesa, and Scottsdale- and the Young Adult (YA) group, with a different group taking turns to serve each week. The service draws about 20 volunteers each week, and occasionally members of the community join and pitch in to help. Depending on the time of year, there are anywhere from 400 to 700 people being fed each week.
The various volunteers come together in one unified spirit, bringing the ingredients to prepare and serve breakfast to the hundreds of homeless and underprivileged individuals, who so gratefully accept the serving of oatmeal, quesadillas, sandwiches, fruit and freshly brewed coffee. The indoor kitchen bustles with energy, as volunteers churn out hundreds of delicious quesadillas over the hot stove. Amid the noise of oven trays flying all around, the delicious aroma of coffee brewing wafts through the air. Other volunteers on the outside serve throngs of guests in the serving line. They carry on short, yet sweet conversations with the guests as the latter shuffle forward and receive their day’s breakfast. While those indoors pour their love into preparing the food, the volunteers outdoors share their love by warmly greeting and serving the guests like old friends from the neighborhood. No distinction of race or privilege is felt as the divine energy envelopes all into a feeling of Oneness. Sai Baba’s principle of “loving all and serving all” is reflected in every aspect of the offering being carried out at Andre House. Decades later, and thousands of miles away from India, the impact of that message of loving selfless service is still being felt and helps to enrich the lives of this particular community of individuals.