Founder Acharya His Divine Grace
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

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Inspired Vaishnavis Establish Vaishnavas C.A.R.E. in Delaware
By Taravali Devi Dasi   |  Jul 14, 2023

Bhaktin Sherri, Bhaktin Jenna, Bhaktin Staci. Background courtesy of Min An.

The Vaishnavas C.A.R.E. project continues to expand as a new chapter has formed at ISKCON Delaware, USA. In April 2023, two of the three Vaishnavis who started the local Delaware Vaishnavas C.A.R.E. team attended the official “Art of Caring for Vaishnavas” seminar that took place at ISKCON Philadelphia, presented by Sangita Devi Dasi. Bhaktins Jenna and Sherri were inspired by this much-needed service and formed a team with Bhaktin Staci to assist devotees during their times of need.

Bhaktin Jenna has been drawn to supporting others in difficult circumstances for most of her life. She performed with a dance group at nursing homes during her childhood and became a physical therapy assistant and a massage therapist, supporting patients recovering from illness and injury and suffering from chronic pain. After being introduced to the Krsna consciousness movement nearly two years ago, Jenna became drawn to the Karuna Care mission through their grief support groups and the Vaishnavas C.A.R.E. project. She was very driven to learn how to support others through end-of-life care. After attending the Vaishnavas C.A.R.E. workshop in Philadelphia, she had the honor of assisting her grandmother at the end of her life, applying her newly developed skills.

Bhaktin Jenna and Bhaktin Sherri present at a Sunday Love Feast in Delaware.

Bhaktin Sherri, who attended the seminar with Jenna, shared her personal realizations, reflections, and thoughts on this vital service, “Since I was a child, the mystery of death has always fascinated me. I spent many years reading about it, contemplating it, and being aware that it is something we will all have to experience. This realization fueled my spiritual seeking, ultimately leading me to Krishna consciousness,” She continued, “The death of two close friends of mine in my teenage years, in addition to the suicidal death of my grandfather years before, became my first experiences of heavy grief and loss. These losses shaped my spirit and created a deep well of empathy for anyone struggling with the loss of a loved one.”

“This past April, I helped my father in his passage from this world to the next and was up close and personal with the dying process. I was with him as he took his final breath; this experience forever changed me. After this, I have felt a calling to serve devotees in times of suffering and loss. I have felt a voice inside telling me to take action and to be present for others. I think it might be Krishna pointing the direction forward to me. This led me to attend the Vaishnavas C.A.R.E. seminar, where I connected with two other ISKCON Delaware devotees on the same service path.”

They have since started their own Vaishnavas C.A.R.E. team at ISKCON Delaware and presented a talk in May to their congregation about their experience taking the Vaishnavas Care training and exploring empathy. Their presentation titled “Exploring Compassion and Empathy: the Important Moments and Everything in Between,” informed attendees of the mission and services of Vaishnavas C.A.R.E., ways to show compassion with those in crisis, and what empathy actually looks like in action.

“I find inspiration in this service because I am aware of how deeply personal and transformative a loved one’s death can be. Not only for the dying person but for that person’s loved ones as well,” Sherri said, “Being able to provide comfort for others during such a huge life passage feels, to me, like the ultimate way I could serve Krishna and my community.”

Sherri has been a devotee for three years and is a member of the ISKCON Delaware temple. She is a full-time library assistant at the University of Delaware, a mother of one, leads a monthly women’s sangha program, is an appointed Vaishnavi Ministry representative, and is a co-host of “YogaSimha Meditation,” a weekly yoga program in Newark, DE. She also loves cooking vegetarian food and exploring art.

The third ISKCON Delaware Vaishnavas C.A.R.E. team member, Bhaktin Staci, said, “As a former birth doula and massage therapist, I saw how important non-medical support is for birthing families. When my sister passed away from cancer, I made the connection that both birth and death are transitions that need support. This all started my interest in end-of-life care,” She continued, “After my sister passed away, I took a massage course specializing in working with cancer patients and the terminally ill. I tried shifting my practice to this population and worked with a few cancer clients and one client who was at the end of his life.” 

“My life took a pivot, and I no longer practice massage or this type of work as a career. However, that didn’t diminish the spark this type of care gives me. I’m looking forward to taking the Vaishnavas C.A.R.E. workshop.”

For more information about Vaishanavas C.A.R.E. or how to start a team for your local devotee community, please visit their website or email them.