Due to COVID‑19’s impact across the nation, work hours plummeted and wages along with them, while most living expenses remained. As such, the pandemic has exacerbated challenges long faced by individuals around the country and put more Americans at risk of entering homelessness. To help community members who are facing homelessness, Governor Gavin Newsom organized emergency trailers so neighbors in need of assistance can take shelter during these extraordinarily challenging times.
Despite the lack of snow in Southern California as of November, the temperature had dropped significantly with a noticeable difference between day and night. Determined to help, Tzu Chi volunteers organized winter distribution events at two parks in Los Angeles County on two consecutive Thursdays, November 19th and 26th.
On November 19th, Tzu Chi volunteers went to Whittier Narrows Recreation Area in their fourth collaboration with Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis to serve the community. Tzu Chi volunteers set up twelve different booths in the park that day, and prepared warm clothing, DA.AI Technology’s eco-blankets, Thanksgiving lunch, mobile shower carts, flu shots, a COVID‑19 testing station, and resources regarding housing assistance, health insurance, and more.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis had graciously organized the event. She is a long-time partner of Tzu Chi USA, and has participated in such events personally to thank volunteers for their efforts.
On Thanksgiving Day, November 26th, 2020, volunteers organized at the San Gabriel River Trail at the Lario Staging Area to prepare for another winter distribution. Volunteers also set up booths to distribute eco-friendly blankets, scarves, gloves, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and other essentials.
Carol Daley is one of three co-founders of Foothill Kitchens and the individual responsible for inviting community residents to the distribution. Upon learning that Tzu Chi also provides medical outreach, including dental and vision care, Carol expressed her hopes for the future. “The neighbors in need here really need dental services because they have serious dental issues such as tooth decay,” she said. “I hope to cooperate with Tzu Chi in the future to provide free dental services for them.”
A Tzu Chi volunteer and chef named Chin Li Wan was recently discharged from the hospital. Upon leaving the hospital, he promptly resumed his online vegetarian cooking show, A Chef Comes to Your House, and took the initiative to join the distribution. “The pandemic has cost them their jobs,” he said. “We hope everyone will come to help so they can overcome this difficult winter. We also hope that the community can become stabilized.”
“Master Cheng Yen taught us that, whenever we have the opportunity, walk among the community,” said Wenfang Liao, another Tzu Chi volunteer. “There are people who have more suffering than us, and we should feel blessed to have the opportunity to be able to help others. In giving to the community, we should find great joy in our hearts.”
Across the nation and around the globe, Tzu Chi volunteers strive to bring benefit to communities that can empower the future. And when many take action together with unconditional loving-kindness, positive transformations can occur.
Written by Shuli Lo
Translated by Hong (Ariel) Chan
Edited by Diana Chang, Adriana DiBenedetto