Written by Penny Liu
Edited by Adriana DiBenedetto
Volunteers from Tzu Chi’s Southern regional office in Houston have visited Wellsprings Village Inc. since 2014. Located in Houston, Texas, Wellsprings provides a transitional residence program for women, offering safety and support to help homeless and abused women heal and regain their independence. Volunteers’ lasting friendship with the women’s center began after a Taiwanese woman who was struggling with depression was transferred to the facility to help her transition back to the general community. In the beginning, volunteers only visited the woman to provide emotional support. Later, volunteers approached the center’s management regarding meetings with other residents, and a monthly event was approved.
Volunteers often encouraged the residents to read a few Jing Si Aphorisms, and performed songs in Sign Language or played games. With each visit, volunteers also provided the center with cleaning supplies or personal hygiene products, such as laundry detergents, dishwashing detergents, toothbrushes, toothpaste, soaps, and shampoos. When the COVID-19 pandemic began to shut down businesses in March of 2020 and affected the center’s finances, these items soon became extremely short at hand. When the center’s manager reached out to Tzu Chi for assistance, volunteers responded swiftly, bringing cleaning supplies and providing the residents and staff with masks, sanitizers, and more essentials.
Before Thanksgiving, a volunteer named Jennifer An began contacting other volunteers to discuss what could be done to bring a little joy to the residents for Christmas. Volunteers at first suggested gifts like hats and candies, but ultimately decided that a book of Jing Si Aphorisms would be perfect. In a time of such upheaval, the expressions of wisdom and peace would serve as a lasting way to calm one’s heart and mind, and give residents spiritual support. Volunteers also provided disposable face masks to help protect them against the highly contagious virus. On December 9th, 2020, three volunteers packed the gifts with love, and on December 16th, five volunteers loaded the gifts and additional care packages containing instant rice and noodles into their cars.
After volunteers carried all the packages to the office at Wellsprings, volunteers were deeply moved to see that the manager, Ms. Valerie, had prepared an award — Wellsprings’ annual Humanitarian Award. Later, as volunteers readied to depart, Jennifer showed Ms. Valerie and Monique the way to say “thank you” in Sign Language. Full of gratitude and love, everyone wished each other happy holidays and expressed hopes for a brighter year ahead.