FEMA Voluntary Agency Liaisons Visit Tzu Chi Greater Washington D.C. Region

Greater Washington D.C.  |  July 24, 2023
Volunteers introduce the philosophy and history of Tzu Chi to FEMA Voluntary Agency Liaisons. Photo/Wendy Tsai

Written by Wendy Tsai
Translated by H.B. Qin
Edited by Patrick McShane

As an active National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD) relief organization, Tzu Chi USA is an essential partner of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and has worked closely with the agency for 25 years to assist community residents in need during and after disasters. Tzu Chi USA’s efforts have not gone unnoticed either, with NVOAD recognizing many of the efforts Tzu Chi has performed over the years for those in need. 

Tzu Chi USA’s Greater Washington D.C. Region held its first meeting with FEMA on May 22, 2023, led by Debra Boudreaux, the CEO of Tzu Chi USA. The meeting was held to foster greater collaboration and coordination to help more people in times of disaster.

Tzu Chi showcases some of its sustainable innovations – like the warm eco-blankets and foldable beds volunteers provide to survivors during relief missions. Photo/Wendy Tsai
FEMACorps Voluntary Agency Liaisons and Tzu Chi volunteers sit together and discuss the possibility of follow-up cooperation. Photo/Wendy Tsai

Among the visitors were seven FEMACorps members. FEMACorps is an AmeriCorps and FEMA partnership program. Together, the group was engrossed in deep, thought-provoking dialogues regarding various projects and previous areas of cooperation for three hours. The FEMA Youth Group Voluntary Agency Liaisons were also given a detailed introduction to Tzu Chi’s philosophy and development, as well as an overview of the charitable activities it undertakes, and the materials used for disaster relief. 

Tzu Chi volunteer Siang Ying Goh showed off the unique, eco-friendly DA.AI Technology blanket made entirely from recycled materials, which Tzu Chi distributes during disaster relief efforts. She also introduced DA.AI Technology to the young volunteers, sharing, “This blanket for disaster relief is made from 67 plastic bottles.” 

The meeting is relaxed and warm, with Tzu Chi volunteers performing songs for the guests. Photo/Wendy Tsai

Debra Boudreaux, CEO of Tzu Chi USA, also introduced the special table and chairs used in emergency relief, adding, “When you sit down, the chair can support your weight; turn it over, and you can also place babies safely inside.” 

The FEMACorps Team remarked that Tzu Chi’s innovation had been an eye-opener for them. One team member Nataniel Borrero, said, “Many people think that discarded plastic bottles are useless, but Tzu Chi has managed to make such brilliant products. I think you are a very creative and passionate organization.”

Tzu Chi volunteers give each FEMA youth group voluntary agency liaisonl a parting gift. Photo/Siang Ying Goh

After the groups got to know each other better, Tzu Chi USA and FEMA proposed more possibilities for cooperation in programs of common interest, such as Tzu Chi Youth members (Tzu Ching’s) participation in community service, disaster relief coordination, assistance to underrepresented communities, climate change response, and spiritual care.

FEMA youth group voluntary agency liaison and Tzu Chi volunteers take a group photo at the end of the event. Photo/Wendy Tsai

We look forward to more discussions and more collaborations in the future, to provide greater service to those affected by disasters, as well as to help those who are suffering, and to find mutual supporting power to help each other accomplish our mission.

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