Find yourself in nature: SFYAD returns to nature at Point Reyes National Park!

The long weekend on Memorial Day was slightly different for the Buddha’s Light International Association (BLIA) San Francisco Young Adult Division (SFYAD).  SFYAD organized a 3-day meditation retreat at Point Reyes National Park.

Since Point Reyes has limited communication signals, the group was very focussed during the retreat.

Under the leadership and guidance of Venerable Miao Zhong and the event committees, the group successfully completed a 3-day retreat.On the first day, Selene Chew, President of SFYAD, led the group with a prayer before setting off to Point Reyes. Qiulin Peng, the organizer of the retreat, planned many activities for the group. Among these were several hiking trips, picnic, making meals together, cooking competition, bonfire, and most importantly, meditation sessions and discussion. During these activities, we made new friends, memories, and understood each other better.The group bonded very naturally, and everyone helped each other out with responsibilities such as cooking, washing, and packing.

During the meditation sessions, Venerable Miao Zhong led us to understand the benefits of meditation for both our physical and mental health.We experienced both indoor and outdoor meditation. We learnt several breathing techniques to aid us in rejuvenating ourselves, releasing stress from our bodies and minds.We learnt to anchor our focus point on a single object, be it the sound of the birds, water, or our breath. The venerable also gave us several questions to investigate throughout the day. They were “What does it mean to have the whole world within you?” and “What is the difference between water and wave?”  At the end of the day during the bonfire, the Venerable led a discussion about these two questions, and encouraged us to practice our realization after the retreat.

Many of the participants gave very positive remarks about the retreat. Many enjoyed the Tomales Point Trail hike on the last day, cooking competition, the mediation, and bonfire. Everyone enjoyed the cooperative nature of the group, especially during the cooking competition. One of the participants said “Everyone is helpful and cooperated. It is simple yet fun and happy when everyone is trying to help. When everyone is involved, those chores become fun.”.

To sum up the experience of the whole trip, participants learned more about themselves during the retreat. New friendships and great memories were formed. Through being in nature for the 3 days, we learnt more about the nature of our minds.

Text: Winson Yang, Edited: Venerable Miao Zhong; Photos: KeeHeng Tiow, Katrina Chak, Selene Chew


BLIA SFYAD Sorts Medical Supplies at MedShare

On April 8, sixteen SFYAD members volunteered at MedShare’s Western Region Distribution Centre in San Leandro. MedShare is a leading nonprofit charity organization that distributes medical supplies and equipment from hospitals which would otherwise end up in landfill to countries in need. MedShare has delivered medical supplies worth over $150 million to 97 countries since it was founded in 1998. It was ranked 5th by Charity Navigator on their Top Ten Highly Rated Charities Relying on Private Contributions in 2011.

Volunteers arrived at MedShare’s warehouse at around 1:00 pm. After a  brief introduction by the staff, the volunteers sorted out the donated medical supplies, which included catheters and medical kits, into appropriately labeled boxes. Expired supplies were then discarded, and the remaining supplies were counted and boxed for delivery. SFYAD completed its goal of sorting and packing within 2.5 hours.

A young volunteer named Katrina found her experience volunteering for MedShare to be interesting and rewarding as it was the first time she had come across an organization that provided something that is so basic and often taken for granted by everyone. She said, “If organizations like MedShare didn’t exist, many more people in third world countries will die due to unsanitary conditions and lack of proper supplies to aid those in need of medical attention. To us, a broken heart monitor may seem useless, but when refurbished it is gold to those who do not have the luxury to buy a new one.”

MedShare addresses the critical issue that over 10 million children in the developing world die every year due to the lack of access to basic healthcare. They do so by working with hospitals, manufacturers and distributors by collecting and redistributing medical products to countries in need. For more information on MedShare and opportunities to volunteer with them, visit

Text: Prateek Yadav & Ian Miley; Photos: Kee Heng Tiow



BLIA SFYAD (Buddha’s Light International Association – San Francisco Young Adult Division) is a young adult Buddhist group affiliated with Fo Guang Shan, San Bao Temple. We focus on providing a fun atmosphere for young adults (< 35 years) to contribute to the community and learn about Buddhism. We engage with local communities through social services such as volunteering at Food Banks, Homeless Shelter, Nursing Homes, Habitat for Humanity, etc., and also organize buddhist classes, retreats, meditation classes, etc.

No prior buddhist knowledge is required, everyone of any background, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion can join the discussion!



Subscribe to our newsletter: 

[Dec 2016] Food Bank Volunteering & Winter Clothing Drive

[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:

  1. Separating the sweet snacks from the salty ones from a huge stack of mixed snacks.
  2. Packing these items into small boxes weighing around 9 lbs.
  3. 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

2015 03.12 Interfaith

2015 03.15. 皈依

2015 01.24. New Year Banquet