Ukiah Dining Center Receives Tzu Chi’s Year End Blessing

Northwest  |  March 30, 2024
Tzu Chi Ukiah’s year-end blessing, volunteers invite students and parents from the community to participate and welcome the new year together.
Students from local schools learn about Tzu Chi and its value Bamboo bank adoption, Tzu Chi red envelope, gift packs, and magazines ready Photographer: Jiawen Cai

Written by Val Tseng
Translated by
Edited by Andrew Larracuente

This year’s Tzu Chi Northwest’s Year End Blessing on January 28th was held inside the spacious local community dining center, where hot meals are served to the unhoused. The event became a springboard for new volunteers and events as many of about 40 attendees were new families. In the morning, people learned about Tzu Chi’s local and national services as well as the global humanitarian efforts of awe-inspiring scale. At lunch, everybody savored vegetarian potluck dishes and a feast of Asian and American desserts. In the afternoon, some stayed for Tzu Chi’s monthly hot meal service for the unhoused at the same site. An earlier call to action led to new volunteers joining.

Youkaiya volunteers Xun Ruohui (right) and Shi Xinhong (left) have been caring for the community for many years.
During the year-end blessings, volunteers let everyone know Tzu Chi and make new friends to join the ranks of volunteers.

Honoring a couple’s (left) decade long contribution as Tzu Chi Northwest’s longest serving director, Duell and Josey, his deputy (left) Photographer: passerby, left original photo;  Jiawen Cai

Ukiah’s Roots With Tzu Chi Northwest

Long-time volunteer Linda (in uniform) sets up the lunch potluck buffet while others are engrossed in Tzu Chi end year review videos Photographer: Jiawen Cai

This year is Tzu Chi Northwest Region, Ukiah branch office 20th anniversary after first opening its doors on January 4th, 2004. Sister Susan Chen, the founder, was inspired by the Venerable Cheng Yen teachings and her vision at Tzu Chi putting compassion into action to relieve the suffering in the world. She had moved to Ukiah for her daughter to attend school at Instilling Goodness Developing Virtue Girl School for a Buddhist education at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. Her good friend, Mrs. Chang, who shared her passion, generously allowed the use of a downtown office space that she owned with her husband so Tzu Chi Northwest would have a home. Both had children attending the same school. The two friends then invited sister Josey Shun, who then brought brother Duell Parks. Brother Duell served as director from 2006 to 2009, while sister Josey from 2013 to 2023. 

After the end-of-year blessings, all participants had a vegetarian lunch together on site.
Students and parents in the Ukaiya community actively participate in Tzu Chi activities and will become a new force of volunteers in the future.

Josey (in uniform, left), Steven (bamboo bank donor) and his mom (right) Photographer: Jiawen Cai

Marching forward with renewed energy

The pandemic hit Ukiah and its Tzu Chi Northwest volunteers hard. Nestled in the countryside of California, 2 hours north of San Francisco and 3 hours away from Tzu Chi Northwest’s regional office, resuming its former glory would take much longer. However, new supporters also surfaced, as well as new opportunities for growth. Former Bay Area commissioners filled in empty roles, such as Shanghai-certified sister Jiawen Cai, who moved from Oakland and became the deputy director. Steven, a local student, brought his Tzu Chi Northwest bamboo bank to donate, while other students adopted new ones after hearing the story of the 30 housewives. Even a new volunteer application was received via Tzu Chi’s website from a Ukiah 11th grader.

This year-end blessing event marked a new start for all standing on the shoulders of giants who came before. The event closed with renewed energy and Venerable Cheng Yen’s blessings. Tzu Chi Northwest welcomes anyone to join in on the family-friendly Bodhisattva journey!

Qian Ying, Jesse (left), Bailey, Steven (right), Linda (in uniform) after the year-end blessing event packed dessert for the unhoused. Photographer: Duell Park.

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