[2016.12.17] SFYAD volunteers at Food Bank
The BLIA San Francisco Young Adult Division (SFYAD) participated in volunteering at The Second Harvest Food Bank at San Carlos on the 17th of December, 2016. This food bank aims to provide nutritious food to over a quarter million low-income people living in the Bay Area every month. During the holiday season, the food bank receives a considerably large number of food items as donation. As such, there is a large demand for volunteers to help sort and pack the food items before delivery.
SFYAD gathered a team of 21 volunteers in a cold warehouse on a Saturday morning for this event. Our team was assigned the following tasks:
- Separating the sweet snacks from the salty ones from a huge stack of mixed snacks.
- Packing these items into small boxes weighing around 9 lbs.
- Stacking the boxes neatly onto pallets. The boxes containing salty snacks were stored separately from the sweet ones.
The team packed a total of 1120 small boxes of food within a mere 1.5 hours. Our fast and efficient teamwork was recognised and praised by the manager. Selene, the President of SFYAD, found this morning to be a “meaningful experience and definitely a good exercise too!” Carl, the Vice President of SFYAD, noted the efficient communication and synergy of the team and said, “communication allows teammates to express what they are comfortable with working on and allows teammates to switch roles with each other for better team performance.”
Text: Prateek Yadav; Photos: Carl Ho, Katrina Hallie, Selene Chew
[2016.12.18] BLIA SF and SFYAD collaborate with ECS’s Next Door Shelter to distribute donated Winter Clothes to Homeless
It was a slightly different Sunday for volunteers from The Buddha’s Light International Association (BLIA) San Francisco Subchapter and Young Adult Division. For the first time, the volunteers distributed winter clothing to unhoused adults at the Episcopal Community Services’ (ECS) Next Door Shelter.
The Buddhist organization had been accepting winter clothes donated at Fo Guang Shan’s San Bao Temple (1750 Van Ness Ave) from the 4th Dec to 18th Dec. The response was overwhelming. Over the short period of 2 weeks, the temple had received approximately 500 pieces of clothes, ranging from coats and sweaters to scarves and pants. All thanks to the charitable devotees and neighbors from around the temple.
Venerable Miao Zhong had personally informed Suzanne Markel-Fox, the Vice President of Middle Polk Neighborhood Association. She’s also a resident of Marlo, a condominium located right beside the temple. Suzanne had graciously set up a collection station for the condo’s residents in the lobby. This helped contribute tremendously to the number of clothes collected.
Selene Chew, President of BLIA’s San Francisco Young Adult Division (SFYAD), also reached out to Diana Almanza, Site Manager at ECS’s Next Door Shelter (1001 Polk Street), to propose a collaboration to distribute the winter clothes to the people there. Diana gladly agreed. ECS is a non-profit organisation that serves the homeless and low-income men, women and children in San Francisco. ECS’s Next Door Shelter provides safe, 24-hour access to shelter for unhoused adults in the city. They serve 345 adults daily, of which many are suffering from substance abuse problems, mental health issues and chronic medical conditions.
On Sunday, 18th of Dec, 25 volunteers from the temple sorted and packed the clothes into different types and sizes in the morning. During the afternoon, the clothes were distributed in the shelter. A volunteer named Flora Xu was assisting the homeless people to choose clothes in the female sweater section. She described her experience as interesting and heartwarming when she discovered that the happiness brought to the homeless made her smile too.
Coats and large sized clothes were the first to be gone. Most of those who arrived later had to leave with only a scarf or a towel due to the lack of clothes in their sizes. Isaac Seetho, another volunteer, said, “Today highlighted how important coat donations are; something I didn’t really think about before. Like, most of the people didn’t care for the sweaters at all, which wasn’t quite what I expected. It was interesting to see the other side of clothes donation.”
The volunteers helped almost 100 unhoused adults find clothes that they needed. About 150 pieces of clothing were given out directly, and 100 more were donated to the shelter to help out other adults in need of change of clothes. The remaining clothes were donated to Saint Anthony’s at Golden Gate Avenue.
Text: Selene Chew, Edited: Prateek Yadav and Yen Ting Liew; Photos: Kee Heng Tiow, Selene Chew