Firefighter and Philantropist Vishal Narayan Is Feeding The Unhoused With Nonprofit Organization: Good Karma Los Angeles
Vishal Narayan is a firefighter in the Los Angeles area and recently founded Good Karma LA, a nonprofit organization that helps feed the homeless population in Los Angeles.
He and the Good Karma LA team are building a mobile food delivery service focusing on delivering food on the streets at night when all the LA City & LA County food banks & shelters close.
Vishal shares his insights and inspiration behind developing Good Karma LA in the midst of a global pandemic and his goals for the future.
What do you hope to change with your work & success?
I hope to have a built-in kitchen in our food truck by 2022. My end goal with the organization is to build a community center; I know that will take a bigger team and sometimes, but I hope to start fundraising by 2023.
What was the inspiration for the development of Good Karma LA?
The inspiration for Good Karma Los Angeles all started at a young age when I would go to work with my dad on his truck. As we drove along his route, we would see the same unhoused (homeless) people, and that led to my dad bringing them home-cooked meals.
Around January of last year, as I would drive home from work, I also began to notice the familiar faces of the unhoused near my home. It became frustrating to watch these people living on the streets and not being able to do anything about it. Drawing inspiration from the childhood experience I had with my dad, that guided me to provide the unhoused with meals as well. It really was a full circle. This led to the development of The Good Karma Los Angeles Org.
My dad had a dream to build an orphanage for children in India; we’re not there yet. We are starting in LA for now. This year, I was able to buy a used food truck for The Good Karma Los Angeles in hopes to build this truck to feed the homeless with it.
How is the community benefiting from this?
The Skid Row community specifically, is benefiting every week with 300 warm meals and water bottles. So far, within 25 weeks, The Good Karma Los Angeles has distributed over 10,500 warm meals and water bottles, 3,500 bags of chips, 2,600 face masks, 1,600 hygiene kits and socks, 1,000 blankets, 500 face shields, 200 beanies, scarves, and gloves, 100 sanitizer bottles and teddy bears, 30 sweatshirts, 8 walkers, and 2 wheelchairs.
Most importantly, we are able to provide community engagement. It is really fulfilling to see the same faces every week and consistently build personal relationships with them.
What is a current challenge for you and how would you approach it?
Currently, I find it really challenging to raise funds for the nonprofit due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and not being able to host events. Hopefully, with the help of the government, we are able to get a grant, which will help us install a serving window on our food truck ‘Karma’ and as a result, help us stay safe during our weekly meal distributions. As for now, we are heavily relying on social media to help spread the word and raise awareness.
How do you prefer receiving feedback?
If anyone has any feedback, I want them to email me or reach out to any of our social media platforms and send me a direct message.
What was one thing you did that exceeded your expectations when you began developing TGKLA?
When I started developing TGKLA I had no idea I would have the team that I currently have. My team is filled with a wide range of talented individuals; I have an attorney, insurance agent, social worker, certified public accountant (CPA), registered nurse (RN), just to name a few.
The Fox Magazine is all about inspiration, what/who inspires you the most?
My most recent inspiration would have to be Nipsey Hussle. He was always giving back and working hard to revitalize his community. Being the Founder and President of The Good Karma Los Angeles I have to work all day, every day.
My team is amazing and I have a very small paid staff, but at the end of the day everything still comes down to focusing on the process and trusting in the hard work, which has led to living by the Mamba Mentality inspired by Kobe Bryant.
What does success mean to you? What are your rules for success?
Success, to me, is being healthy with the basic amenities in life. I like to follow a minimalist mindset. Shelter for me and my family and knowing that my loved ones are well taken care of is good enough for me. I sacrifice a lot to be successful; it takes a lot of discipline and good mind and body habits.
I’ll be working every weekend until 2022 as a fireman to advance my career and Wednesdays are now set aside for our meal delivery day for Skid Row.
What’s something people would be surprised to learn about you?
Not a lot of people know that I am a wildland firefighter. When it comes down to work, I am very serious, but I also know how to have fun outside of work.
What is your favorite or original innovation-related motto, quote, or words to live by?
A motto that I live by is by The Granite Mountain Hotshots “Esse Quam Videri” which means “To be rather than to seem.”
Connect with Vishal & Good Karma LA!