Written by Pinhau Chiou
Translated by Ariel Chan
Edited by Janet Li and Patrick McShane
Tzu Chi USA Northeast Region welcomes a new team member! In late November 2023, four Tzu Chi volunteers from New York spent two days traveling over two thousand kilometers to bring back the newly renovated Tzu Chi Dental mobile clinic from an Indiana factory. Tzu Chi USA CEO, Debra Boudreaux, and Tzu Chi USA Medical Foundation Executive Vice President, Steven Voon, flew from California to New York to cheer on the team and bless the 12th Tzu Chi Da.Ai mobile clinic in the United States. They hope the Tzu Chi Dental mobile clinic will contribute to safeguarding the health of those in need, while also serving a broader and farther-reaching purpose in the future.
Four Volunteers Drove Over Two Thousand Kilometers to Pick Up the Vehicle
Driving a brand-new Tzu Chi Dental mobile clinic from Indiana to New York is no easy task. The journey was nearly 1140 kilometers (about 710 miles) each way, and the vehicle itself is 35 feet long which makes it challenging to control at high speed. Four Tzu Chi volunteers from New York completed this feat in just two days. The coastline of Taiwan is approximately 1200 kilometers, meaning Tzu Chi volunteers completed the equivalent of two round-the-island driving trips within two days.
On November 27, 2023, Tzu Chi volunteers Jinghua Chen, Yanping Gong, Zhekai Gao, and Pinhau Chiou set out from New York in the morning, passing through New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. Around ten in the evening, they arrived in Wakarusa, Indiana. They covered a total of 1142 kilometers during this journey which took them 12 hours. That night, they rested at a hotel near Wakarusa.
On November 28, the four went to the Mobile Specialty Vehicles factory in Wakarusa to pick up the vehicle. Seeing the professionally transformed, brand-new Tzu Chi Dental mobile clinic for the first time, Tzu Chi volunteers were very excited. Under the guidance of factory personnel, they immediately inspected the condition of the vehicle.
In the presence of the brand-new 35-foot dental mobile clinic, volunteers were excited but also felt the pressure of driving such a large vehicle. Tzu Chi volunteer Jinghua Chen said, “It’s an honor to drive such a big vehicle, but it’s also a challenge. We studied how to drive back to New York smoothly, hoping that the Tzu Chi vehicle can serve more people and ensure that more people have healthy teeth.” Tzu Chi volunteer Yanping Gong felt a greater sense of responsibility: “The responsibility is significant because it’s the first time we’re driving such a large vehicle, almost the size of a bus. The journey back is so far, so we naturally have to be cautious.”
Well-equipped Facilities, Just Like a Professional Dental Clinic
Corey Ryman, Vice Operations Manager of Mobile Specialty Vehicles, thoroughly introduced the features and equipment of the dental mobile clinic to the volunteers. He expressed hope that this medical vehicle could help Tzu Chi serve more people.
The following day, on November 28, Tzu Chi volunteers, undeterred by difficulties, embarked on the journey home. After a 12-hour drive, they successfully returned to New York around 11 pm, temporarily parking the brand-new Tzu Chi Dental mobile clinic at the Tzu Chi East Long Island Office.
Tzu Chi Dental Mobile Clinic to Benefit the Community Next Year
On the morning of November 29, the outdoor temperature was around freezing, but the excitement of New York Tzu Chi volunteers was undeterred. They stood outside in the cold, to excitedly welcome the arrival of the Tzu Chi Dental mobile clinic, singing welcome and blessing songs. Tzu Chi USA CEO Debra Boudreaux and Tzu Chi USA Medical Foundation Executive Vice President Steven Voon, who flew from California, came to cheer and bless this newly added dental mobile clinic.
Tzu Chi USA CEO Debra Boudreaux said, “Seeing such a good medical vehicle in front of us makes me truly grateful for everyone’s efforts and dedication.” Dr. Richard Yang, from the Tzu Chi International Medical Association in New York, thanked all volunteers for their work securing the Tzu Chi Dental mobile clinic, hoping that the vehicle would serve and benefit the people in the New York area next year.
In 2019, the Tzu Chi USA Northeast Region launched two Tzu Chi Medical Ophthalmology mobile clinics for the first time, serving vulnerable people in the New York area without eye insurance. Now, the 12th Tzu Chi Medical mobile clinic has arrived in New York, bringing dental health protection to local people without dental insurance and low-income families, helping Tzu Chi’s medical services to reach wider and farther.