By San Jose, USA Center Relief Team (Originally in English)
Upon hearing Supreme Master Ching Hai’s loving instructions to remember individuals in need during the cold winter months, with financial assistance available as needed, our Association members from the San Jose Center in northern California, USA quickly began to help. We visited four homeless communities along Coyote Creek in Silicon Valley, and held a winter relief event for the less fortunate at The Salvation Army’s San Jose Temple Corps Community Center. With US$13,408 contributed from our Association members, we purchased and distributed a total of 210 sleeping bags, 64 blankets, 304 warm jackets, 600 pairs of slacks, and 250 pairs of gloves, and also served 450 vegan meals. The recipients were touched by God’s divine love and repeatedly said, “Thank you. God bless you.”
In cloudy, cold and rainy conditions, we traveled on foot to the first homeless community where approximately 50 people were living under tarps and in tents along the creek under an expressway bridge (Photo 1). We brought sleeping bags, blankets and winter clothes to their shelters and also offered them fried rice, chow mein, vegan patties, cookies and drinks packed in eco-friendly containers. At the other communities, when we parked our vehicles along the road (Photo 2) the people became excited and came out of their shelters. In addition to accepting the supplies for themselves, some took extra food and clothing back to their friends who were too ill to come out. Many people asked us who we represented, and we were happy to tell them that Supreme Master Ching Hai had lovingly requested us to help provide warmth to those in need in our area. The recipients then thanked Her sincerely and one man, a former artist, sang a spiritual song about divine love to express his joy and appreciation. We cheered for the joyful, devoted singer, as his song touched our hearts and souls.
We then went to The Salvation Army Center in downtown San Jose which had a kitchen and small dining room (Photo 3). Through prior arrangement with the Center’s manager, we served approximately 250 hot, nutritious vegan dinners to the residents, staff and volunteers. After dinner the residents received sleeping bags or heavy jackets, as well as socks, hats and gloves in colorful gift bags (Photo 4). The manager and staff were delighted that we served the food (Photo 5), as they got a much-deserved rest from cooking and enjoyed the plant-based meals.
After conversing with the financially stressed residents, our love and respect for the people grew as they shared their life stories and demonstrated their noble spirit. We found that many of the homeless were animal lovers with companion dogs and cats. One man, named Bao, had eleven cats and three dogs. He loved them so much that he kept them even though he had to buy all their food. We later brought some vegan dog food from Loving Hut and gave it to the compassionate caregiver. In another community, a lady had a six-month-old puppy that she kept because it reminded her of a longtime companion dog that had passed away. All of her neighbors also cherished the darling pup. In another neighborhood we met a homeless man named Kevin who was carrying two small puppies in a shopping basket (Photo 6). He loved them so much that he carried them everywhere he went.
Contrary to the common notion, most homeless people do not beg for money or food. In fact, we met several who supported themselves by recycling aluminum cans, glass bottles and metal. Their efforts also helped to keep the streets and other public areas clean. Jason, a man who had to move out of his apartment, told us he worked diligently every day to earn money by recycling (Photo 7). He used a bicycle to carry a large tank for collecting cans and bottles, thus making enough money to buy food for himself and his wife. On the day we met him, Jason was happy to have a healthful meal and requested another meal and jacket for his wife. He told us that the couple lived in a tent along the creek and enjoyed nature and the freedom of not having to pay rent. He also said that happiness and love were the most important things in life. In another creek-side community, we met a man in his early fifties and his wife. The man works part-time as a construction worker, takes the bus to work, and earns enough to support himself and his spouse.
We were also impressed by the self-reliance and resourcefulness of people such as sixty-year-old Patrick, who lives in a tent with his daughter (Photo 8). Patrick uses a propane stove for cooking, and car batteries to provide energy for lighting (Photo 9). He has a TV and VCR in his tent and said that they are also able to heat water for bathing. Thus they keep themselves hygienic, and also help keep their surroundings clean out of a love for nature.
We are grateful to Supreme Master Ching Hai for giving us this opportunity to serve our fellow human beings and discover their humility, self-reliance, and love for nature and animals. May Heaven’s blessings forever be with such noble, courageous souls.
Expenditures by Supreme Master Ching Hai and Her International Association
for Cold Weather Relief Work in San Jose, California, USA
|Blankets, sleeping bags, tents, jackets, beanies, gloves, socks, plastic bags||10,900.34||A|
|Food and beverages||2,507.50||B|