Written by Daphne Liu
Translated by Diana Chang
Edited by Ida Eva Zielinska
Weilin Wu, a New York resident, contracted COVID-19 during the pandemic. Thankfully, she did not require hospitalization. During the time she was recovering and in quarantine at home, several Tzu Chi volunteers took the risk to bring fresh fruits and vegetables to her each week.
The Tzu Chi volunteer Weilin spoke of is San San Chiang. Deeply touched by this attentive care, something Weilin had never experienced during her 40 years of residency in the United States, she told San San that the first thing she wants to do after recovery is to become a devoted volunteer herself.
True to her word, Weilin followed through, and now, the meaningful task of volunteering is part of her life. One of the activities she currently participates in is Tzu Chi USA Northeast Region’s regular distributions of fruits and vegetables in Flushing, a neighborhood in New York City’s borough of Queens.
Inspired to Give Back
Friday is the day that many Chinese residents in Flushing most look forward to, as that is when Tzu Chi New York volunteers distribute fresh produce at Tzu Chi USA Northeast Region’s head office. The residents’ fond dependence on this regular program has intensified since the pandemic began. With the economy widely affected and many jobs lost, more and more people require charity aid. Consequently, the locals arrive earlier each week, too; some begin lining up in wait as early as six in the morning.
Many neighborhood residents come to help out at these food distributions, intent on assisting those in need in their community. Now Weilin Wu has also joined their ranks. Although she retired a few years ago, Weilin is still willing to volunteer every weekend. She knows firsthand how it feels to receive Tzu Chi volunteers’ love and care; thus, she wants to support their aid efforts.
During the weekly distributions, Tzu Chi provides a variety of fresh produce such as green leafy vegetables, cabbage, bitter melon, eggplant, and so on. Weilin helps to sort and subdivide the food supplies before they are handed out at the distribution or delivered to those who can’t attend, as they were in her case while she was in quarantine.
Tzu Chi volunteer San San is touched by Weilin’s dedicated contribution while expressing some concerns as well:
Once the food supplies are ready, Weilin helps deliver them to seniors living alone. Among them, she visits Dingjun Wang, a 96-year-old professor and renowned writer, who, along with his wife, are her neighbors. For this couple and other elderly care recipients, such efforts make a world of difference during the pandemic, as they mostly stay confined to their homes for safety reasons.
May Good Deeds Keep Rising Like Dough
Beyond participating in food distribution efforts, Weilin Wu also felt motivated to fundraise on behalf of Tzu Chi’s missions. This venture can be challenging given all the current public safety constraints due to the pandemic. However, she found her path in doing so and, based on her skills, chose to raise funds by making and selling healthy steamed buns.
And, as Weilin watches yeast dough rise in the process, she happily visualizes a growing amount of good deeds arising in the community and more neighbors adding their time and effort to support Tzu Chi’s activities. She is also grateful for the new sense of purpose she has discovered. “This pandemic has given me a deep awakening that I can no longer play mahjong every day,” she explains.
Each week, Tzu Chi New York’s food distributions in Flushing help at least 200 families. Moreover, as this story beautifully illustrates, this ongoing program also plants the seeds of love in care recipients’ hearts, motivating some of them to act on it through community service.
By supporting Tzu Chi USA’s charity missions, you, too, can be part of this cycle of care.