Written by Yung Shih Huang
Translated by H.B. Qin
Edited by Patrick McShane
During the pandemic, Durham Rescue Mission (DRM), a long-term shelter for the unhoused, saw an increase in the number of residents it served. Currently, about 22 school-age children are at the center, according to Lynny Sutherland, the shelter’s Volunteer Director. In addition to helping those in need of housing, the center supports nearby churches and helps disadvantaged families in the community.
With a new school year upon us, the Tzu Chi USA Greater Washington DC Region’s Raleigh Service Center launched a stationery drive to help the Durham Rescue Mission’s residents and families in need. Volunteers hoped that the stationery supplies collected for the children at the shelter and their families could help them be as prepared as other children when school starts in the fall. With a school bag full of supplies, the children will be ready to succeed in their studies.
Founded in 1974, Durham Rescue Mission is the largest and oldest long-term homeless shelter in North Carolina’s Raleigh area. It offers temporary shelter for anyone experiencing housing difficulties, as well as people with drug and alcohol addiction and violence-affected women and children. It also provides food, vocational training, and assistance in finding long-term housing for low-income or vulnerable people. Tzu Chi has collaborated with the organization to care for those in need in the area since 2021.
“This year (2022) is just the beginning. Tzu Chi will make sure that this meaningful program continues.” That was what Tzu Chi volunteer Zhixing Chen said this time last year when Tzu Chi Raleigh Service Center conducted the first stationery drive for the Durham Rescue Mission. As promised, Tzu-Chi collected 15 types of stationery this year, such as pencils, erasers, notebooks, and folders, filling 51 school backpacks under Chen’s leadership.
This year, the team did the stationery sorting and packing work at the home of volunteer Chiu Yueh Hung. In the afternoon of July 8, everyone arrived as scheduled, and there were many familiar faces. Like last year, volunteer Yijun Chen brought her two sons, Zilong Xiao and Ziyang Xiao, to help. Though the boys were young, their determination to help others was the same as the adult volunteers. They were dedicated to helping sort and organize the stationary.
Yijun Chen said that by participating in Tzu Chi’s activities, the two boys learned how to cooperate with others on a team and cultivated a kind heart to help others. Volunteer Kehua Chen also participated in the stationery sorting activity last year. As she observed everyone pack the brand-new stationery into new school backpacks after sorting, she felt Tzu Chi’s heart of respect and kindness for the aid recipients.
Volunteer Qin Zhang has a passion for helping others. Although it was a long drive from her home, she overcame many difficulties to come to the site to help. Volunteer Zhimei Wang is always ready to help others and participates in many of Raleigh’s charity events. She was constantly bending over and focusing on sorting the donated stationery. Looking at the neatly arranged school backpacks, the volunteers imagined the smiles of the children receiving them. Everyone felt a deep appreciation for the opportunity to serve and joy in helping students succeed in school.
Lenny Sutherland, who received the stationery on behalf of Durham Rescue Mission, said that Tzu Chi Raleigh Service Center often comes to care for the residents, so much so that they feel like family. Because of the dedication of the Tzu Chi Raleigh Service Center, the residents feel the warmth and care from the community, which forms a positive energy in the region and shows everyone that there is love in the world.