Tzu Chi Members Bring Gifts and Blessings to Veteran Tzu Chi Volunteers in Houston

Southern  |  November 6, 2022
Volunteers from the Texas Service Center visit senior Tzu Chi volunteers at home before the Chinese New Year. Photo/Sioubi Yang

Written by Jennifer Chien  
Translated by Hong (Ariel) Chan
Edited by Diana Chang
Edited by Andrea Barkley

During the Lunar New Year, as we welcome the new year, friends and family send greetings to each other in the traditional Chinese manner as a way for people to express their hopes and wishes for the future.

Tzu Chi Southern Region annually organizes “Year-End Blessings” activities at the branch. Volunteers and congregations are invited to celebrate the past year and make wishes for the new year. Volunteers also bring their heart-warming blessings to Tzu Chi volunteers who are elderly or unable to participate in activities. Everyone receives care in the Tzu Chi USA family.

Caring for Senior Tzu Chi Volunteers

Everyone cooperates to pack fruit baskets. Photo/Jean Hsu
Volunteers arrive at the regional branch office on February 6 to pack the New Year gifts for senior volunteers they will visit. Photo/Jean Hsu

Many Tzu Chi volunteers who were active in the past had to avoid going out to protect themselves from infection and following the stay-at-home order, which was a crucial pandemic prevention measure. As a result, most Tzu Chi volunteers over 80 stayed in their homes and had yet to come out to meet with everyone for an entire year. 

Although they can gather and greet each other spiritually through reading clubs or evening prayers, the volunteers still miss the senior Tzu Chi USA volunteers a lot.

Taking advantage of the arrival of New Year’s Day, volunteers started the year-end home visit project in early February. A handful of volunteers gathered at the regional branch on February 6 to prepare gifts for the eighteen senior Tzu Chi USA volunteers. In addition to a basket of fresh fruits, they prepared products from Jing Si Books & Cafe. They packed Jing Si rice, Jing Si noodles, Jing Si Instant Mix, Jing Si soap, and biscuits in gift bags. At the same time, they also called all the members to confirm a suitable meeting time.

Sioubi Yang, in charge of charity affairs, explained that the Chinese tradition is of great importance during the Lunar New Year, especially for family reunions. As such, Tzu Chi USA volunteers hoped to reunite with the rest of the Tzu Chi family during the New Year.

COVID-19 has postponed the opportunity for everyone to meet. Therefore, we decided to take care of several senior volunteers before the New Year and bring them a surprise so that everyone can have a Happy New Year.

Tzu Chi Volunteers Are Like Family

Meichu Lin (left) dresses up nicely and greets the visiting volunteers. Photo/Jong Wu

During the pandemic, the volunteers streamlined the visits by having groups of two or three people abide by the pandemic prevention regulations. They only put gifts in front of the door and greeted those quarantined from the pandemic at a social distance. 

Amy Wang, who saw visiting volunteers and hadn’t been out of the house for a long time, said happily, “It’s great to see volunteers come to visit and care. I’m so grateful that I also received a great gift. Although we did not go to Tzu Chi, we felt so moved to see that everyone still cared about us so much. Thank you.”

On the day the volunteers visited, Chilan Hsu was about to go out for her vaccine, so the volunteers rushed to greet her before she left. She was delighted to see a friend she hadn’t seen for a long time, and she frequently said thanks with her hands clasped together. The volunteers also saw Meichu Lin, who was recuperating at home but dressed up for the special occasion of Tzu Chi visits on that date. During the exchange, they learned that she was getting healthier with time. So everyone was happy as they encouraged and wished each other good health.

Before New Year’s Day (February 12), the volunteers had completed their visit. They confirmed that each of the senior volunteers was safe and healthy. They then finally were able to let go of their concerns. As the new year approaches, they hope the pandemic can end soon so the entire volunteer team can get together again soon.

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