Written by Lulu Yin, Grace Wong
Edited by Qihua Luo
Translated by Ariel Chan
Edited by Andrea Barkley
The end of the year is the time when American families gather together in their homes to celebrate the holiday season. However, due to the economic downturn and rising unemployment, the number of unhoused people is increasing in San Francisco, California. According to the Point-in-Time Count data released by the San Francisco City Government, there will be 7,774 unhoused people in 2022, reaching the second peak in 20 years.
Since December, San Francisco has experienced heavy rain, and the temperature has dropped. As a result, unhoused people with insufficiently warm clothes or protection huddle to find shelter where they can, making it a distressful sight.
On December 3, 25 San Tzu Chi San Francisco Branch volunteers came to Mother Brown’s Dining Room in Bayview Hunter’s Point. They distributed to more than 400 unhoused people in the rain, bringing them a festive holiday atmosphere.
Braving Wind and Rain to Bring Care
Bayview Hunter’s Point neighborhood has the second-highest unhoused population in San Francisco, with 1,115 unhoused individuals. Mother Brown’s Dining is the largest homeless shelter in the community. Since the pandemic outbreak in 2020, the number of unhoused people in the center has increased from 250 to 430. Every day at 5:30 in the evening, the center provides free dinners for those in need and registers those who will stay for the night.
Each unhoused person gets a place to sleep and must leave the shelter before 7:00 the following day. Among them, 170 of the unhoused were housed and isolated at a trailer park home at Pier 94 because they were diagnosed with COVID-19.
Tzu Chi San Francisco Branch volunteers thoughtfully prepared sleeping bags, backpacks, hats, gloves, socks, and vegetarian spring rolls for them. Then, early in the morning, they distributed a total of 450 care packages at two distribution locations.
Pier 94 is located on the outskirts of Bayview Hunter’s Point. There is little to no traffic, and the area is difficult to maneuver through during inclement weather. A gate separates the Pier from the rest of the site. Tzu Chi San Francisco volunteers recalled that when they came to Pier 94 to distribute winter clothes for the first time in 2021, the unhoused were very excited because they hadn’t seen other people for a long time.
Volunteers brought their love and charity to them again, as promised this year. Everyone was thrilled and kept wishing Tzu Chi volunteers “Happy Holidays.” The community workers were even more grateful and touched by the fact that Tzu Chi volunteers came to distribute regardless of the weather.
Sometimes people find themselves in life events they cannot control. However, if someone respectfully presents gifts with generosity, then hearts may see the light in the darkness. Tzu Chi San Francisco volunteers are like a bright light, bringing compassion to the unhoused. Tzu Chi volunteers count their blessings from seeing hardships and will cherish every moment even more.