Written by Chen Yung Lee
Translated by Hong (Ariel) Chan
Edited by Diana Chang, Adriana DiBenedetto
The ongoing pandemic has brought forth countless challenges. Nevertheless, Tzu Chi volunteers continue to serve with the utmost attentiveness and care in Raleigh, North Carolina. Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in March of 2020, Tzu Chi volunteers have provided multiple donations of crucial medical supplies to aid the East Carolina University Physicians and the High Point Medical Center. Hoping to bring their care and support to more people in the community, Tzu Chi volunteers from the Raleigh Service Center reached out to Durham Rescue Mission (DRM).
Doing More for Communities Through Interfaith Collaboration
When DRM was first established in 1974, they provided support to 12 refugees, and through years of dedication, transitioned into a campus that shelters approximately 700 people per year. DRM strives to meet the needs of their neighbors with care and compassion by providing free shelter, meals, and clothing. The mission additionally provides safety and support for women and children who have experienced domestic abuse. To help revitalize hope and independence in the lives of the people they aid, DRM uses vocational training and job connections to assist individuals with applying their skills and finding paid jobs so they may return to the community with their own power.
The name given to Durham Rescue Mission’s shelter for women and children is the “Good Samaritan Inn,” and residents refer to this inn as home thanks to the warmth and belonging that the space exudes.
DRM also empowers residents through multiple opportunities that help residents establish group relations, like volunteering, running DRM’s second-hand items services, or serving in its kitchens.
Last December, Tzu Chi volunteers were moved upon witnessing DRM’s activities within the community. In response, Tzu Chi volunteers from Raleigh gathered new toys for children. This initial interaction allowed volunteers to understand the needs of the organization, especially during the pandemic.
Stacked So High
In April, the Raleigh Service Center re-launched a fundraiser for DRM’s activities. Tzu Chi volunteers either gathered food from home, shopped for food at supermarkets, or crowdsourced from relatives. The food gathered this time all came from the love and care of Tzu Chi volunteers and local Chinese and Vietnamese community members.
Jingyue Lin raised money for the event with support from relatives and friends. She was able to raise more than $800, and went to the supermarket to acquire 828 cans of assorted vegetable items and dozens of bottles of cooking oil. This wasn’t Jingyue Lin’s first experience similarly serving the community, however. She’s inspired friends and relatives to donate funds and supplies on several occasions to help others through the power of crowdsourcing.
Volunteers brought their gathered materials to Chiu-Yueh Hung’s home over time. Upon delivering all of the food items inside the garage, they worked together to inspect expiration dates, organize, and carefully pack the items.
Because the packing took place on a Friday, several volunteers took time off from their work or studies to complete the food donation in time. Yaomin Gao, for example, was fortunate to be able to take the day off, and Rongqin Lin used his lunchtime to help. After finishing, he hurried back to work. Zhimei Wang also came with her son, Shenghong Chen, to help with the organization and packing efforts. Even with his active schedule, Shenghong Chen readily came to document the mission.
After packing all of the food items and supplies into three vehicles, volunteers set off to Durham Rescue Mission. Lenny, DRM’s volunteer coordinator, graciously welcomed Tzu Chi volunteers when they arrived, thanking them on behalf of DRM. Lenny also enthusiastically explained how they plan to cook the food for residents. Then, with the collective efforts of Tzu Chi volunteers and multiple DRM volunteers, 1,545 pounds of food were loaded onto carts and delivered to the kitchen’s storage room.
While unloading, a resident who helped move the items to the pantry was interested in learning more about Tzu Chi, and inquired about the foundation’s origin. Another resident who helped transport the food was happy to see that they’d be able to add pancakes to the breakfast menu.
After signing off on the list of goods and supplies — which included over one thousand food items, including legumes, black beans, corn, tomatoes, olive oil, pasta, and rice — Lenny revealed that he’d been to Taiwan when he was younger. Volunteers also introduced Tzu Chi’s missions, and both parties experienced a wonderful moment of bonding. They planned to meet again in May to help DRM offer hot food services to residents.
Although Tzu Chi’s Raleigh Service Center and Durham Rescue Mission are a mere thirty minutes apart by car, their friendship has only just begun to blossom. And through our collaborative efforts, we’ll continue to serve and empower the community with love.