Bringing PPE and Vegetarianism to Southern Nevada’s Salvation Army

National Headquarters  | September 29, 2020
Tzu Chi Las Vegas volunteers encourage representatives from the Salvation Army of Southern Nevada to adopt a vegetarian diet. Photo by Audrey Cheng.

Written by Audrey Cheng
Translated by Diana Chang
Edited by Adriana DiBenedetto 

The Salvation Army located in Southern Nevada serves 1,400 homeless individuals, providing an array of services each day. Some need a bed to rest their head upon, some need food, and some want to take a bath or receive a change of clothes. There are also those who hope to apply for financial assistance, and eventually have their own place to stay.

The Salvation Army staff members here help thousands of homeless individuals every day. If they’re not protected by a face covering or mask, they’re likely to catch the virus. I’m really grateful to the Tzu Chi volunteers for delivering PPE immediately after a phone call despite their own health and safety, so that we can keep the record of ‘zero infection’, thanks to Tzu Chi volunteers.

Nick Lenderman, Salvation Army of Southern Nevada Representative

Taking Actions to Prevent COVID-19 Among Communities

The owner of Chef Ching’s Kitchen, a local Chinese eatery, supports the efforts of Tzu Chi volunteers by promoting the Very Veggie Movement. Photo by Audrey Cheng.
Volunteers Tanya So (left), and Christine Fisk (right), pick up vegetarian lunch boxes. Photo by Audrey Cheng.

On July 16th, volunteers from Tzu Chi’s Las Vegas Service Center returned to the Salvation Army activity center, PPE and hot vegetarian lunch boxes in hand. The staff members and volunteers at the center took careful, preventive measures to reduce the chance of infection within the community.

Early that morning, Tzu Chi volunteers were divided into two teams. The first team went to Chef Ching’s Kitchen, a local Chinese eatery, to pick up the vegetarian bentos; the second team went directly to the Salvation Army’s activity center to prepare for the event, setting up the computers and projectors in advance.

Since Tzu Chi volunteers began promoting vegetarianism, Chef Ching’s Kitchen has been graciously offering vegetarian bentos to the volunteers at affordable prices, which has become a great means of supporting frontline workers.

When volunteers had driven past the location, they’d witnessed a few homeless individuals setting up tents under the bridge, and on the street under the shade of a building. Some were pushing shopping carts as they searched for shelter.

Tzu Chi volunteers kept them firmly in mind as Nevada’s summer heatwaves hit. The casino is air-conditioned, and the spot is a common retreat for summer sightseers. It’s not unusual for gamblers and travelers staying within the air-conditioned rooms to not realize how vicious the heat can become until one steps outside the casino again, but these are temperatures that the homeless population around the casino can not so easily escape from.

When Will There Be Another Medical Outreach Event?

During the hot summer days in Las Vegas, homeless individuals can only hide in the shade to escape from the blazing sun. Photo by Audrey Cheng.

Six years ago, Tzu Chi’s Las Vegas Service Center realized how serious the situation was for the homeless members of their community, and began planning medical outreach events at the Salvation Army’s activity center in Las Vegas. Since then, homeless community members could sign up to receive a pair of glasses, get a haircut, or see a dentist, all for free at Tzu Chi’s Medical Outreach events.

As the spread of COVID-19 continues across the nation, Tzu Chi volunteers also continue to send PPE. With love, Tzu Chi strives to reach all those most vulnerable located in the Las Vegas strip.

As the volunteers set up for another event, one homeless individual had noticed the volunteers in their signature uniforms of blue and white. They rushed forward and asked, “When will there be another medical outreach?” The volunteer was speechless, not knowing how to answer. The volunteer could only reply with, “We have to wait for the pandemic to end.” Prayers were silently chanted in their mind for the pandemic to subside soon, so that everything could return to normal.

PPE Helps Keep the Community Healthy

A Tzu Chi volunteer speaks to the Salvation Army staff members about the benefits of taking on a vegetarian diet. Photo by Audrey Cheng.
The staff members read the details of Tzu Chi's Very Veggie Movement. Photo by Audrey Cheng.

After the volunteers and staff members from the Salvation Army were all seated, Tzu Chi volunteers shared the benefits of taking on a vegetarian diet, and introduced the impact of Tzu Chi’s environmental missions. Participants were encouraged to eat vegetarian meals as part of Tzu Chi’s Very Veggie Movement.

Nick Landman also graciously accepted the donation of PPE on behalf of the Salvation Army’s Southern Nevada branch. The donation included 1,000 surgical masks and 75 face shields. Mr. Landman also thanked volunteers for the meal, happily approving of the vegetarian bento.

Ryan McDonald, the Homeless Services Coordinator at the Salvation Army of Southern Nevada, told us how staff members diligently serve the homeless population day in, and day out, so they applied for PPE from Tzu Chi to help uphold the health of the community.

Volunteers speak about the significance of vegetarianism to Ryan McDonald, who works for the Salvation Army of Southern Nevada. Photo by Audrey Cheng.
Salvation Army's staff members enjoy vegetarian lunches brought by Tzu Chi volunteers. Photo by Audrey Cheng.

Thank you very much for the masks you donated. Because of your donations, we can ensure that everyone who comes here will have protective equipment to use to protect each other's health.

Ryan McDonald, Homeless Service Coordinator, Salvation Army of Southern Nevada

Tzu Chi volunteers worked with the staff members at the Salvation Army to continue serving the homeless population during the pandemic, donating crucial PPE to help lower the number of confirmed cases in the community. While carrying out these preventive actions, volunteers also hope that through encouraging vegetarian lifestyle alternatives, individuals can become healthier, and so can Mother Earth.

Tzu Chi volunteers will continue to support and empower the communities we serve throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and you can assist us as we aid struggling families all across the nation. We’re calling for 500k donors to help us raise $5 million in charitable donations for our pandemic relief efforts. Every dollar counts, and in these challenging times, your selfless gift of $10 can help us deliver hope to those who can’t afford to feed their families, or provide essential PPE to individuals on the frontlines. If we can inspire 500,000 people to participate, we can reach $5,000,000 in relief!

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