Ganga Stone, who survived on odd jobs in Manhattan till she found that her life’s mission was to convey free home made meals to bedridden AIDS sufferers on her bicycle, then expanded her volunteer corps of cooks and couriers into an everlasting group referred to as God’s Love We Ship, died on Wednesday in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. She was 79.
Her dying, at a well being care facility, was confirmed by her daughter, Hedley Stone. She stated a trigger had not been decided.
In 1985, Ms. Stone was promoting espresso from a cart on Wall Avenue and feeling unfulfilled. She got here to the conclusion, she later instructed The New York Instances, that “if my life weren’t helpful to God in some direct approach, I didn’t see the purpose in residing it.”
However whereas volunteering on the Cabrini Hospice on the Decrease East Aspect, she had an epiphany. She was requested to ship a bag of groceries to Richard Sale, a 32-year-old actor who was dying of AIDS. When she realized that he was too weak to prepare dinner, she rounded up buddies, who agreed to convey him sizzling meals.
“I had by no means seen anybody look that unhealthy,” she recalled. “He was ravenous, and he was terrified.”
Legend has it that when she returned to the neighborhood with meals tailor-made to Mr. Sale’s dietary wants, she ran right into a minister, who acknowledged her. When she instructed him what she was doing, he replied: “You’re not simply delivering meals. You’re delivering God’s love.” (In one other model of the origin story, Ms. Stone stated she was brushing her enamel when she envisioned “We Ship” indicators on restaurant storefronts.)
“It’s the right factor — it’s so nonsectarian it’s unimaginable to misconceive,” she instructed The New Yorker in 1991.
The fledgling group — made up of Ms. Stone and some buddies, together with her roommate, Jane Ellen Finest, with whom she based the group — started by delivering meals, home-cooked or donated by eating places, to largely homosexual males who had been too incapacitated by a then-mysterious illness to buy or prepare dinner. They left their orders on her answering machine.
Not everybody needed a gourmand meal.
“One man needed a can of Cheez Whiz and saltines,” Ms. Stone stated.
Within the first yr alone, 400 of their shoppers died.
Because the epidemic unfold, the group attracted publicity and assist from non secular teams, authorities companies and celebrities. (Blaine Trump, the previous spouse of former President Donald J. Trump’s brother Robert, is the vice-chairwoman.)
This yr, God’s Love We Ship, with a funds of $23 million, hopes to distribute 2.5 million meals to 10,000 individuals within the New York metropolitan space who’re homebound with varied ailments.
Ingrid Hedley Stone was born on Oct. 30, 1941, in Manhattan and raised in Lengthy Island Metropolis, Queens, and the Bronx. Her father, M. Hedley Stone, a Jewish immigrant from Warsaw who was born Moishe Stein, was a Marxist who was an organizer for the Nationwide Maritime Union and later its treasurer.
Her mom, Winifred (Carlson) Stone, a daughter of Norwegian immigrants, was a librarian (she established the library for the Nationwide Council on Growing older), who suffered from Lou Gehrig’s illness when Ms. Stone was in her mid 20s.
A graduate of the Fieldston Faculty within the Bronx, Ms. Stone studied comparative literature at Carleton Faculty in Minnesota and attended Columbia College’s Faculty of Normal Research, however by no means graduated.
Her eclectic résumé of jobs included driving a cab and dealing as a morgue technician. She was employed as a waitress on the Manhattan nightclub Max’s Kansas Metropolis, the place she met Gerard Hill, an Australian busboy. They married in 1970, however she left the wedding after 13 months, and the couple divorced in 1973.
Along with her daughter, her survivors embody a son from that marriage, Clement Hill, and a sister, Dr. Elsa Stone.
A self-described radical feminist, Ms. Stone was steered by her yoga teacher to the non secular teachings of Swami Muktananda. Within the mid-Seventies, after sending her 6-year-old son to dwell together with his father, she launched into a two-year retreat to the swami’s ashram in Ganeshpuri, India. She cleaned laundry, washed flooring and went 9 months with out talking. The swami named her Ganga, for the Ganges River.
When she returned to New York, Ms. Stone resumed her composite profession till the mid-Nineteen Eighties, when she was impressed to begin God’s Love.
She retired because the group’s govt director in 1995 and was succeeded by Kathy Spahn. The following yr, Ms. Stone, who taught programs about dying, revealed “Begin the Dialog: The Ebook About Loss of life You Had been Hoping to Discover.” She lived in Saratoga Springs.
“I’ve all the time been interested in working with dying individuals, because it appears to me that there’s no extra necessary second in a human life than that one,” Ms. Stone instructed The New Yorker. “Every thing else can go badly, but when that second goes properly, it appears to make a distinction, and I needed to make a distinction in these moments for individuals.”
She added, “My sense of my very own function in life was to share with individuals what I do know concerning the deathless nature of the human self, however you’ll be able to’t consolation individuals who haven’t eaten.”