Tzu Chi USA Unites With Los Angeles County Officials to Provide Care to Unhoused

National Headquarters  |  December 28, 2022
Tzu Chi USA volunteers distribute warm winter supplies to unhoused people. Photo/ Jennifer Chien

Written by Jennifer Chien
Edited by Yingying Lee, Andrea Barkley

Tzu Chi USA has a long-term and close cooperative relationship with the Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis’s Office. On December 22, 2022, Supervisor Solis’s invited Tzu Chi to join the community event for the unhoused. The event, which took place right before Christmas, was a collaborative endeavor between government departments and community charities in Los Angeles. The goal was to provide medical and community support for the unhoused in the LA area. Tzu Chi Medical Foundation dispatched a DaAi Ophthalmology Mobile Clinic to provide eye examinations and glasses for unhoused people.

Agencies Help Unhoused Celebrate the Holidays

Attendees wait in line to receive winter supplies. Photo/Jennifer Chien

The Tzu Chi Education Foundation collaborated and coordinated this annual festival event for unhoused people. Executive Director Debbie Lee said, “The planned exhibition booth presented Tzu Chi’s four major services: charity, medical care, education, and humanities. The unhoused received blankets and Jing Si aphorism bookmarks, and we also provided preliminary screening services for their eye care.”

Solis invited nearly 30 government departments and community charitable organizations to expand the festivities so that the unhoused receive basic needs. They were gifted winter clothes and sanitation supplies. Additionally, they enjoyed a sumptuous holiday meal while festive music played.

Charity organizations provide a variety of convenient and portable items to help unhoused people in their daily lives. Photo/Jennifer Chien
This secluded park is where some unhoused call home. Photo/Jennifer Chien

Every Wednesday morning, the Los Angeles County Superintendent Hilda L. Solis’s office sets up in the Whittier Narrows Recreation Area parking in South El Monte, providing the unhoused with bathing and hot food services.

One attendee named Henry Myles Chia said, “In 2012, I worked with my nephew in wedding and shop photography. But life changed, and I have become what I am now.” Henry, who was quite talkative, has been unhoused for years. He further said, “The economy has not been good for the past few years. Many small businesses have closed down. It is tough to find a job. After the pandemic, more people have become unhoused. I come here every week for assistance. Although you (Tzu Chi USA) are new to the group today, I have seen you in other places in the past.”

Although I have not been in contact with you (Tzu Chi volunteers), I know you. You offer a lot of unhoused people with ophthalmology and dental treatment, and they get glasses right away, which is amazing! You are a very efficient group.

Warm and Friendly Medical Service

With a warm blanket and a touching quote from the Jing Si Aphorims book Tzu Chi volunteers sincerely said their wishes at the beginning of the year-end festival, hoping that people in distress would have a fresh start to the new year. 

Debbie Lee, CEO of Tzu Chi Education, said: “Tzu Chi has been deeply involved in the community for a long time, and we are delighted to cooperate with Los Angeles County and provide services to the unhoused before the New Year.” 

She continued, “This time, we [Ophthalmology Daai Mobile Clinic] provided about 200 unhoused with eyesight services and hope to cooperate with the community again to bring them a warm festival.” 

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department also provides regular medical care for the unhoused. Matt Coppes, Sergeant Los Angeles County Sheriff, explained that the primary purpose of the Los Angeles County Police Department here is to publicize relevant services provided by the community to help them improve their life prospects: “We want them to know that the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has a drug recovery shelter. We want unhoused people to know that we’re here to help them.”

Real and Enthusiastic Help

Many of the attendees were grateful for new clothes. Photo/Jennifer Chien
Tzu Chi volunteers help unhoused people answer their questions at the booth, and tried their best to provide assistance in all aspects. Photo/Jennifer Chien

Eina Anderson, a Los Angeles County Health Services nurse, said, “Los Angeles County has a mobile diagnosis and treatment vehicle. This is one of the clinics we set up [for the unhoused]. We come here monthly to provide them basic health care and medical services.”

Lier Xue, an energetic Tzu Chi volunteer, has been busy serving this transient community. She is happy to have this opportunity: “We hope to bring love to all unhoused people and hope everyone is healthy.”

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department provided meals for adults and children. Photo/Jennifer Chien

During the brief contact, attendees felt the genuine care of Tzu Chi USA volunteers. May this warmth accompany them through the cold winter. Tzu Chi volunteers hope to help the poor and sick and help those in distress gain the opportunity to have a brighter future.

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