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.
Taking Actions to Prevent COVID-19 Among Communities
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?
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
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.
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!