Written by Elaine Chang
Translated by Diana Chang
Edited by Dilber Shatursun
Just before Thanksgiving 2020, the pandemic was set to intensify. Not only would it exasperate the nation’s months of anguish, but it would drive low-income households into further desperation. In an effort to help, Tzu Chi Greater Washington DC Regional volunteers joined forces with a local medical practice in Seven Corners, Virginia. Their goal: to get 75 households in need financial aid and fresh groceries before Thanksgiving.
Dr. LamSon Nguyen and his father, Dr. Tung Duc Nguyen, have been practicing pediatric medicine from the Pediatrics of Seven Corners for many years. Having served so many local families over time, the young Dr Nguyen was eager to work with Tzu Chi during a food distribution in front of his office in July. In the fall, Dr. Nguyen was ready to roll his sleeves up again.
In addition to Tzu Chi volunteers, eight doctors pitched in their efforts at the distribution, which took place a week before Thanksgiving, including Dr. Nguyen’s parents. The doctors sent word of the distribution to families in need, many who are of Vietnamese or Latin American heritage.
Wanting to ensure that language would be of no barrier, the team also invited volunteer translators for help. Doing so, translators were able to introduce Tzu Chi to care recipients, the story and concept of the bamboo bank, and share its vegetarian initiative, the Very Veggie Movement.
This pre-Thanksgiving distribution was in great part organized by Dr. Nguyen, who was enthusiastic about reuniting with Tzu Chi volunteers. He explained his connection to the organization: “at the beginning of the pandemic, our clinic was in short supply of PPE. Tzu Chi immediately provided it to help, so I got to know more about them.” But, Dr. Nguyen’s positive first impression didn’t end there.
Among the volunteers were Dr. Patricia Seo-Mayer, a pediatric nephrologist, her husband, Dr. Hylton Mayer, an ophthalmologist, and their daughter Mia. For many of our volunteers, including Dr. Nguyen’s, giving back was a family affair. Mia, a student at George Mason High School, was especially happy to help.
Other young volunteers included brothers Lucas and Nolan Nguyen. Together, they used their muscle to haul 37 pounds of food to each recipient’s vehicle. They’re both students from James Madison High School. The brothers volunteered at the event with their mother and expressed how meaningful their involvement felt.
Another among the medical professionals who volunteered were Dr. Carolia Saldarriaga Perez, a pediatrician at Neighbourhood Health and her husband, Sebastian Ochoa Gonzalez, an Allergy and Immunology Fellow at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. As Spanish speakers, their participation greatly helped when it came to registering Latino care recipients.
Once again, Tzu Chi volunteers worked with community partners like Dr. Nguyen to prepare, purchase, and deliver crucial necessities for 75 households. Though sourcing all the items was a challenge in coordination, the wheels of relief were a bit smoother during the second distribution in Seven Corners. Hopefully, the third time’s going to be the charm.