Tzu Chi Midwest Tornado Relief: Reaching Out in Bowling Green

Midwest  |  February 24, 2022
After multiple tornadoes impact the U.S. Midwest, a single mom of four in Bowling Green, Kentucky, faces several challenges following the disaster. Photo/Yue Ma

Written by Yue Ma
Translated by H.B. Qin
Edited by Adriana DiBenedetto

On Christmas Eve in 2021, Tzu Chi USA’s Midwest Region volunteers conducted a relief distribution in Bowling Green, Kentucky, a city that had been hit hard when multiple tornadoes impacted the U.S. Midwest on December 10–11. On February 11, 2022, Tzu Chi volunteers revisited Bowling Green to provide further love and care for families.

Via the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)’s Facebook page, a local community resident named Chelsey Ellis had reached out to ask Tzu Chi for assistance. Her husband had passed in an accident, and as a single mom, she’s raised four children by herself. In December of 2021, her home was tragically destroyed by the storms.

She needed $93 for her child’s medicine, but no one would give her this help.

Chong Hsieh, CEO of Tzu Chi Midwest Region

Tzu Chi volunteers listened attentively as Chelsea described the situation. She and her children moved back to her mother and stepfather’s place after the family’s home was devastated. The small mobile home had then accommodated six people.

There, Chelsea’s mother, covered by an eco-friendly blanket provided by Tzu Chi, lay in bed asleep. She didn’t know there were visitors; she had cancer and could not continue to receive more chemotherapy.

When she obtained the cash card from Tzu Chi, Chelsea tearfully expressed that she never truly expected to get help. She also brought a Maitreya Buddha statue from her room and showed it to Tzu Chi volunteers, seeing firsthand how the power of universal love really does make a difference.

A single mom of four temporarily resides with her mother and stepfather in their mobile home after the disaster. Photo/Yue Ma

Among the families Tzu Chi visited in Kentucky was another single mom and her daughter. “Her daughter’s father disappeared after the baby was born, and they had no place to live after the disaster,” explained a volunteer. At present, the two are temporarily staying in a hotel, but their savings would soon run out without aid. Tzu Chi volunteers quickly provided cash cards to help the family meet their immediate needs.

Tzu Chi visits a family temporarily staying at a hotel to provide financial relief after a tornado struck their home. Photo/Yue Ma

Before leaving Kentucky, volunteers also trained Kevin, a local community resident, as a Tzu Chi volunteer. Kevin’s home was in the hard-hit city of Mayfield, KY. He’d taken on the role of a volunteer during Tzu Chi’s tornado relief work in December of last year, and fully embraces Tzu Chi’s philosophy of great love. With this, Kevin readily vowed to call upon more local volunteers to assist Tzu Chi in the upcoming distribution on February 26–27, 2022, in Dawson Springs, Kentucky, another hard-hit city.

Tzu Chi, you will be my lifelong friend!

Kevin, Mayfield Community Resident & Local Volunteer
The essence of the Tzu Chi spirit is founded on gratitude, respect, and love without limits. Moved by compassion, local community members are inspired to serve their neighbors, and lift each other up in these challenging times. Kevin, a resident of Mayfield, vows to call on more local volunteers to assist in another winter tornado relief distribution. Photo/Yue Ma

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