Commemorating 26 Years at Tzu Chi Medical Foundation’s Annual Appreciation Dinner

Tzu Chi Medical Foundation  |  December 26, 2019
Celebration of 26th anniversary of TCMF

Written by Zong-zhen Ye
Translated by Yao-yang Tang
Edited by Monique Kuo

The Tzu Chi Medical Foundation hosted its annual appreciation dinner on December 14, 2019, for all those who’ve helped improve and advance its humanistic mission during the year! A drum show kicked off the event, lifting the spirits of attendees.

Volunteer physicians offered tea at each table, and attendees were touched by the gesture. Dr. William Keh, Tzu Chi Medical Foundation’s CEO, presented a speech on the services that the foundation offers, touching upon the permanent clinics, mobile clinics, domestic and international outreach, and the Healthy Community program. He also mentioned a new development: by joining hands, Tzu Chi Medical Foundation and UCLA established a center that offers both integrated traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and Western medicine, bringing 25 years of UCLA experience to serve patients hand-in-hand with Tzu Chi’s medical expertise.

Inland Tzu Shao Ensemble and volunteers

Six months ago, an internist named Ricky Chang learned about how UCLA offers integrated TCM and Western medicine. He pointed out that their goal was to use the UCLA experience to help more people through Tzu Chi’s system. He aspired to initiate a permanent teaching clinic at Tzu Chi El Monte to educate more patients and their families.  

Tzu Chi has been grateful to collaborate with Spencer Coats, director of Health and Wellness at the Los Angeles Downtown Women’s Center over the past two years as well. 

Tzu Chi Mobile Clinic has visited the center once per quarter to offer eye care and free prescription eyeglasses. Approximately 50 people join us each time for free services.  For women who are homeless and live with low vision, life can be quite difficult indeed… 

With no way to obtain something as crucial as eye care or prescription glasses, improving one’s life can seem an insurmountable task, and many are forced to live without such care due to financial limitations. With the help of Tzu Chi, however, these women have obtained a new sense of clarity, as well as the sincere love of volunteers through the care. 

Carl Badeau is the principal of an adult school in LA’s Evans community, where students come from diverse backgrounds, such as people from low-income households, individuals without a high-school education, and non-English speaking students. The school contacted Tzu Chi in November 2018. Our volunteers have since begun providing Mobile Clinic services to the school, such as the provision of free eyeglasses, pharmacological service, and dental care, for low-income students.

We are deeply grateful for all of our dedicated volunteers, staff, and partners! 

Appreciation to partners and donors

One such source of aid and encouragement, Sun Clinical Laboratory, has supported Tzu Chi Medical Foundation for over 20 years in our mission to provide medical care for people in need.

Clarence Yau is a coordinator for Tzu Chi’s mobile clinics. He first worked with Tzu Chi as an intern from the University of Southern California. He’s been part of Tzu Chi’s Mobile Clinic team for half a year now. During the banquet, he’d expressed his appreciation for the work done by volunteers. He sincerely believes that Tzu Chi Mobile Clinics were providing ophthalmological and dental services to the people who most needed the help, such as people who are homeless, women and children, and low-income households. 

“I cannot imagine how much love can drive you to wake up at 4 AM on a Sunday just to be able to catch the early bus to Bakersfield to serve people there after a whole week of exhausting work,” expressed Min Leu, one of the domestic outreach volunteer team leaders. “Maybe it’s the message of deep trust and appreciation from their eye contact with the patients can give us some hints. As for Tzu Chi, they spend thousands of dollars worth of resources for each event to help people who are less privileged. But what does it receive? Tzu Chi gets rewards too. In every event, there are always several patients that bring heavily loaded bamboo banks for Tzu Chi. I asked one patient who always brings a bank every time why he did that. He didn’t let me know why, and just said that “I will bring one for you whenever you come to help us.” I told him that his money is going to other people in need, just like himself. He was surprised to hear that, and was very happy that he, too, can help other people”.

Huang Han-qui and William Keh, CEO of Tzu Chi USA and  Tzu Chi Medical Foundation respectively, spoke upon the support that they have received from charitable organizations. Tina Hsing donated ten thousand dollars on the spot on behalf of the Panda Group to the Tzu Chi Medical Foundation. She urged people in the banquet to put their donations in the envelopes on each table, and her organization would match all their donations dollar for dollar. Many banquet guests excitedly filled their donations into the envelopes, knowing their love would be going to those who truly need the care. Huang and Keh were grateful for the support of the Panda Group.

Weng Gui-tang, Director of the Culture Center of Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Los Angeles, said that he was happy to take part in the 26th annual appreciation dinner. Approximately 400,000 individuals of Chinese descent visited our El Monte and LA culture centers each year, and he expressed that Tzu Chi has been one of his favorite organizations to work with.

Praying for the next year

The Mayor of West Covina, Tony Wu, Mayor of El Monte, Andre Quintero, Councilmember of San Gabriel City Council, Chin Ho Liao, and Jessie Leyva, a representative of Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, not only took time out of their busy schedule to attend at the appreciation dinner but also delivered truly poignant speeches at the event, and presented an award thanking Tzu Chi Medical Foundation for their work in the community. 

It was a night of gratitude, respect, and love, indeed! During the 26th annual appreciation dinner, attendees recounted what had occurred at Tzu Chi during the year, and looked forward to tackling the challenges ahead together. The appreciation dinner concluded as those in attendance prayed for peace in the world.