Written by Pinhau Qiu
Translated by H.B. Qin
Edited by Andrea Barkley
On February 2, 2023, a Lunar New Year Gala dinner took place at New York City Mayor’s Eric Adams residence, Gracie Mansion. At the invitation of Winnie Greco, Special Advisor to the Mayor and Director of Asian Affairs, Tzu Chi Northeast volunteers helped prepare the all-vegetarian dinner for the celebration. This event was the first time the Mayor’s office invited Tzu Chi USA to the residence.
This year’s gala dinner was attended by about 600 guests, gathering together most of the prestigious local Asian figures in New York. Tzu Chi volunteers prepared spring rolls, taro balls, vegetarian sushi, and rice cakes for the guests, among other delicacies. The resident chef was impressed by the skill and ingenuity of the volunteers.
Connection With the Mayor of New York City
Tzu Chi Northeast and New York City Mayor Eric Adams first connected in 2016, when Adams was Brooklyn Borough President. Because of Tzu Chi’s impact on the community over the years, his assistant, Winnie Greco (now Special Advisor), invited Tzu Chi to pilot the first free vision clinic in Brooklyn in 2019. At that event, Adams was the guest of honor at the opening ceremony of Tzu Chi’s DaAi Vision Mobile Clinic units.
As a vegetarian himself, Adams began to promote vegetarianism in New York City after he was elected mayor in 2022. So after Special Advisor Winnie Greco invited Tzu Chi to prepare a vegan meal for the 2023 Lunar New Year event, Tzu Chi immediately took the opportunity and began to prepare for the celebration.
At the dinner, Adams visited his “old Tzu Chi friends” in the kitchen. He expressed gratitude for Tzu Chi’s support of the vegetarian diet promotion. For Tzu Chi Northeast, this occasion was a new milestone in promoting the vegetarian diet in the Greater New York area. It increased the exposure of Tzu Chi’s vegetarian diet initiative, introduced more organizations and communities to Tzu Chi USA, and laid the foundation for future cooperation with the New York City government.
Blessings for All
At the end of the event, Tzu Chi volunteers presented “blessing bags” to departing guests. Despite the cold weather, volunteers gave sincere Happy New Year wishes to each attendee.
Tzu Chi Northeast volunteers, who worked tirelessly during the entire gala dinner, felt satisfied. Because of their efforts, more people were exposed to vegetarianism, learning that vegetarian dishes can be appetizing and fulfilling. For Tzu Chi volunteers who spend much of their lives promoting plant-based diets, this event was a great success.