|Charity | Medicine | Education | Humanistic Culture
Tzu Chi provides financial, spiritual, and other services in times of need. Tzu Chi has more than 20 community programs as well as disaster relief services. Volunteers reach out helping hands and assist needy people in their local communities as well as in other countries.
Family services include short-term and long-term support. Volunteers assist around 2,000 needy families in the United States annually. Among them, some have been cared for continuously for more than a decade.
Emergency Disaster Services
Tzu Chi provides assistance to disaster survivors, where volunteers deliver emergency cash and relief supplies within days of a disaster. Tzu Chi assisted survivors during the 1992 Los Angeles riots, the 1994 Northridge earthquake, the 9/11 attacks in New York, the 2003 Southern California wildfires, Hurricane Isabelle in 2003, Hurricane Charlie in 2004, Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Yucca Valley and Esperanza Fires in 2006, Alabama Enterprise Tornado, North Texas Flood, South Lake Tahoe Fire, Brooklyn Tornado, Minnesota Flash Flood, Ohio Flood and Southern California Wildfires in 2007, Arkansas Tornado and the Midwest flood in 2008, and American Samoa Earthquake/Tsunami in 2009. As an example, in June 2008, Tzu Chi distributed over 2 million dollars of emergency cash, eco-friendly blankets, and daily necessities in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
International Disaster Relief
Group Home Visits
Tzu Chi U.S.A. began its first international relief efforts in Mexico in 1994. Since then, volunteers have provided humanitarian aid in Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Columbia, Guatemala, El Salvador, Peru, Mexico, Bolivia, Haiti, Chile and the Pacific Islands. In 2002, U.S. volunteers traveled to Afghanistan to provide relief aid. In 2008, U.S. volunteers traveled to Sichuan, China to assist with earthquake relief work.
Tzu Chi volunteers regularly visit neighborhood convalescent homes and senior homes. Volunteers also regularly visit numerous long-term care facilities across the U.S., such as the Ronald McDonald House in Minneapolis, MN, Los Angeles and Pasadena, CA, Falls Church, VA, Baltimore, MD, Washington DC and many others.
Services to the Homeless
Services to the homeless is a weekly or monthly program where Tzu Chi volunteers serve meals to the homeless and provide blankets or clothes in various metropolitan areas such as New York, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Phoenix, Chicago, Cleveland, St. Louis and Honolulu. Each year, more than 20,000 homeless friends receive assistance from Tzu Chi.
Happy Campus Program
The Happy Campus Program includes a series of projects such as reading to children, providing school supplies and books, tutoring, weekly food distribution, long-term care and various other services for children attending school. The program helps to inspire students to learn and reduce dropout rate, as well as minimize pre-teen/early adolescent problems.
Tzu Chi Scholars
Each year, a group of outstanding high school graduates from around the country is chosen to receive scholarship from Tzu Chi. Each scholarship recipient is awarded $1,000, which is applied toward his/her college tuition.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance
Distributions & Holiday Care Packs
The VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program offers free tax assistance to low- to moderate-income people who cannot prepare their own tax returns. Tzu Chi volunteers receive training to help prepare basic tax returns in communities across the country.
On a periodic basis, Tzu Chi provides daily necessities, school items and care packs for the holidays to families of low socio-economic status, as part of Tzu Chi’s regular distributions and Holiday Care Pack program.
Tzu Chi provides medical services to people in need, regardless of nationality, ethnicity, socio-economic status and religion.
Buddhist Tzu Chi Low Cost Clinics
The Buddhist Tzu Chi Low Cost Clinic, located in Alhambra, California provides low cost medical services, acupuncture and dental care for low-income families and people without medical insurance. The Low Cost Clinic in Honolulu is open during evening hours to provide medical care. These clinics deliver quality services to 12,000 patients annually.
Tzu Chi Community Clinic at South El Monte
The Tzu Chi Community Clinic, located in South El Monte, California is a primary health care facility which provides outpatient general medical and women’s healthcare services at reasonable costs to individuals and families in the area. The Community Clinic is dedicated to responding to community needs, particularly those of low income patients.
Tzu Chi Alternative Medicine Clinic
The Tzu Chi Alternative Medicine Clinic, located in South El Monte, California, is devoted to providing natural health care. Through the use of acupuncture and herbs, the Alternative Medicine Clinic strives to integrate the best medical knowledge of both the East and the West to meet the treatment and prevention needs of patients.
Tzu Chi Dental Community Clinic The Tzu Chi Dental Community Clinic, located adjacent to the Community Clinic in South El Monte, California opened in March of 2008. The Clinic strives to provide respectful clinical care and low cost dental services to low-income families.
Tzu Chi Community Clinic at Wilmington
The Tzu Chi Community Clinic at Wilmington, California provides respectful dental care and low-cost health services and health education to residents in the community, as well as dental services to those with limited financial ability.
Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA)
TIMA is made up of more than 8,600 medical professionals worldwide who volunteer their expertise and time to provide quality medical services both in their own communities, whether urban or rural, and worldwide. In the United States, TIMA has chapters in 22 cities. Worldwide, TIMA chapters are also found in 14 other countries. During a major disaster, TIMA volunteers provide medical services to those in need in an effective, respectful and compassionate manner.
Medical Outreach Programs and Health Fairs
Through medical outreach programs and health fairs, TIMA medical professionals provide free services to people in remote and impoverished areas, promoting community health and wellness through consultation, seminars and preventive education events.
Mobile Dental Vans
Mobile dental vans are located in Alhambra, New York, Fresno and Milpitas. They provide free dental services during outreach missions as well as dental care to local low income area elementary schools. Each of the four mobile vans is equipped with portable dental chairs, digital X-ray machines, and sterilizing equipments, making them each a full dental clinic on wheels.
The Tzu Chi Free Clinics and its volunteers and doctors organize support groups for people who suffer from cancer, diabetes, or are undergoing dialysis. These groups meet regularly to facilitate a forum where patients and family members can exchange their experiences.
Preventive Education and Services
Tzu Chi is dedicated in providing preventive education and services. Examples of services provided include setting up H1N1 vaccine POD (Points of Dispensing) sites and providing flu shots, following up on migrant farmer chronicle patients, providing dental and medical services at homeless shelters, as well as sponsoring wellness events and healthcare seminars. TIMA dentists and volunteers have been providing education on oral dental hygiene at school districts that have benefitted more than 32,600 students as of year 2010.
Tzu Chi’s education mission emphasizes “kindness, compassion, joy and selfless giving,” which are the “Four Immeasurables” under the Buddhist teachings. Tzu Chi Education U.S.A. aims to promote character education in the United States, emphasizing the values of gratitude, respect and love.
Tzu Chi Great Love Preschool and Kindergarten
The first Tzu Chi Great Love Preschool and Kindergarten in U.S.A. was set up in Monrovia, California, in September 2006. It provides the community with a quality bilingual education program for children and their families. The goal is to nurture children’s potential, provide diversified hands-on experiences, and enrich their learning by connecting school, family, and the community. Tzu Chi Great Love Preschool and Kindergarten provides a rich and nurturing environment where children are free to plan, explore, and create. Through teachers’ role modeling and practicing in daily life, children build up positive character assets in a loving and caring environment. In 2008, the second Great Love Preschool and Kindergarten was established in Dallas, Texas. More schools will be established in different parts of the U.S. in the near future.
Tzu Chi Great Love Elementary School
The Tzu Chi Great Love Elementary School opened its doors in 2010. The opening of this school is a new milestone in Tzu Chi USA’s long-term efforts to establish a complete education system from preschool to higher education.
Tzu Chi Academy
In April of 1994, the first Tzu Chi Academy was founded in Los Angeles, California. Tzu Chi Academy is a weekend school that offers Chinese language lessons, and teaches words of wisdom from Dharma Master Cheng Yen (Jing Si Aphorisms). The students are encouraged to take part in volunteering activities to encourage healthy development of the mind and soul. There are currently twenty Tzu Chi Academies in the U.S. In 2004, the campaign on collecting used books for children in South Africa was launched. In 2009, a campaign on collecting stationeries and school supplies for children in Haiti was launched.
Character Education in Local Elementary Schools
Tzu Chi’s unique character building classes have been incorporated into Lytle Creek Elementary School’s bi-monthly curriculum starting from February 2007 in San Bernardino, California. Local volunteers and staff of the Tzu Chi Education Foundation not only devote their time to support and help in the classroom, they also play an important role in developing lesson plans based on the students’ different learning styles. In spring of 2009, a program to promote character development was created as requested by the principal of Bing Wong Elementary school in San Bernardino. Once a year, more than a hundred students from local schools come to Tzu Chi U.S.A. Headquarters in San Dimas to attend a one-day camp. The program allows students to learn through various instructional strategies and hands-on activities.
Community Education Program
Every Tzu Chi branch office serves as a spiritual cultivation ground, and some offices also serve as a community education center. A wide variety of courses are provided through Tzu Chi’s community education program, including the Art of Tea Ceremony, Flower Arrangement, Chinese Calligraphy, Vegetarian Cooking, Yoga, DIY Soap Making, Basic Home Maintenance, and parent-child programs.
Tzu Chi’s humanistic culture is the essence of Tzu Chi volunteers’ experiences. The mission of humanistic culture takes on the responsibility of communicating the core values of Tzu Chi, promoting humanistic values as well as documenting the footprints of love and compassion. These tasks are accomplished through publications, TV broadcasting, websites, and translations.
Da Ai Television
Da Ai TV Station was founded in 1995. It broadcasts true stories of love and kindness to rekindle people’s compassion and to inspire people to do good deeds. With advancement in broadcasting technology, the American audience can now watch Da Ai programs through cable, satellite and IP TV on the Internet.
Tzu Chi U.S.A. produces a weekly program called “US Tzu Chi 360,” which is broadcasted on Da Ai TV and available for viewing online or via Podcast. The program documents touching stories in the Americas that inspire love and compassion.
The first issue of the Tzu Chi World U.S.A. magazine (Chinese version) was published in 1990. The magazine covers Tzu Chi’s various activities held throughout the U.S. and touching stories experienced by Tzu Chi volunteers, and how they bring out the principles and spirit of Tzu Chi’s founder Dharma Master Cheng Yen. In several cities, articles from the magazine were published in local newspapers to tell the story of Tzu Chi.
The first issue of the English language quarterly “Tzu Chi U.S.A. Journal” was published in 2002. The journal has since become an important gateway to Tzu Chi news for non-Chinese readers.
To better serve the multicultural landscape of the United States, Tzu Chi U.S.A. has formed a network of translation volunteers across the nation. They diligently translate volunteers’ touching stories, news and Tzu Chi’s spirit into English, Spanish, and Chinese.
Book Donation to Libraries
Books and periodicals published by Tzu Chi, especially in the areas of Buddhism and the humanities, are available at more than 120 public libraries throughout the U.S., including the Library of Congress, university libraries, and community libraries.
Tzu Chi U.S.A. Website
In 2007, Tzu Chi U.S.A. launched its English website at www.us.tzuchi.org, reporting on major Tzu Chi news and events from across the United States, throughout Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean and Pacific islands. The website also contains special reports, videos, vegetarian recipes, as well as spiritual articles.
In 2010, Tzu Chi also increased its accessibility online, on venues such as iTunes Podcast, YouTube and Facebook, as well as through subscription-based e-newsletters.
Jing Si Books & Cafe
Since 2002, Jing Si Books and Café have opened their doors to visitors at the US Headquarters in Los Angeles and at local offices such as New Jersey, New York, Dallas, Houston and Chicago. In addition, there are Jing Si Cafés in over 20 cities, offering selected publications on-site. Starting in 2010, an online store has been launched for online purchases.
Each location holds collections of Tzu Chi publications, including books written by Dharma Master Cheng Yen and other books published by Tzu Chi, as well as magazines. Each Jing Si Books and Café also carries CDs, DVDs, and lines of eco-friendly products, such as tableware and clothing items. These eco-friendly clothing items are made from PET bottles recycled by Tzu Chi volunteers. This is a part of Tzu Chi’s efforts to protect our planet and to promote the concept of “Coexist with the Earth.”
Environmental protection is an important initiative of Tzu Chi, and it is a part of Tzu Chi volunteers’ daily life. Besides actively promoting and engaging in recycling work, volunteers regularly participate in activities such as street sweeping, park cleaning, and adopting a park or beach. Working with local community residents, Tzu Chi volunteers engage and motivate others and put in motion a cycle of love and kindness.