Written by Gina Shih
Translated by Hong (Ariel) Chan
Edited by Andrea Barkley
Although the Port of Los Angeles is one of the busiest seaports in the world, it is also one of the most polluted. And many residents in nearby Wilmington, CA, and San Pedro, CA, experience poor air quality.Because of their proximity to the port, residents are exposed to pollutants released by the constant stream of ships and trucks moving into and out of the harbor. As a result, many of these residents suffer from respiratory diseases. Air purifiers can sometimes offset some aspects of respiratory illnesses. However, high-quality air purifiers can be costly, especially for low-income families.
The Tzu Chi Medical Foundation and their long-term partner, Harbor Community Benefit Foundation, HCBF, worked together to send 150 sets of air purifiers to local low-income families who had family members with respiratory disease. On the afternoon of July 24, 2021, Tzu Chi Medical Foundation and HCBF held a donation ceremony at Tzu Chi Wilmington Health Center.
Ed Avol, a Board Member of HCBF, shared that when they received the proposal from Tzu Chi Medical Foundation, they quickly finalized the decision: “For both parties, it was simply a good opportunity to serve the community, so we provided funds to support this project. Thank you, Tzu Chi, for coming to us and finding ways to help the family and the community.”
Avol emphasized that HCBF, working in collaboration with the Tzu Chi Medical Foundation, is a powerful union. Together, both organizations promote community public health successfully. For example, when coronavirus broke out, HCBF funded and sponsored the Tzu Chi Wilmington Health Center to purchase pandemic-protective masks, hand sanitizers, and other materials distributed to low-income residents and daily-paid workers in the community for free.
The Tzu Chi Medical Foundation has served the Wilmington community for more than ten years. It understands the health needs of residents and addresses them with love, respect, and medical expertise. It also knows the importance of inviting other organizations to work collaboratively to increase collective effectiveness. Only in this way can low-income communities be served more comprehensively.
Sure enough, there is collective power, given that there is an aspiration. In addition to HCBF, Tzu Chi volunteers received praise from air purifier manufacturers.
“As soon as the manufacturer of (the air purifier) learned that Tzu Chi Medical Foundation has been committed to providing residents with free or low-cost medical and charity services for many years, they generously said, ‘Okay! We will donate 100 units.'” volunteer Chengjun Wang said gratefully.
In the end, the donation effort raised 150 air purifiers and 300 replacement filters, which each household can use continuously for up to 18 months.
Because the air purifiers were large, volunteers distributed them in a drive-through method. Every household also received hand sanitizers, masks, bamboo banks, and vegetarian lunches.
Maria Olimpia, who goes to the Tzu Chi Community Clinic to pick up fruits and vegetables every month, often cannot sleep well at night because of asthma attacks. But she said, “For emergencies, I have oxygen at home.” On this day, with the help of Tzu Chi volunteers, she put a brand-new air purifier into her car. “I applied for an air purifier from Tzu Chi and didn’t expect it to be approved. I’m fortunate. God took care of me!”
Cooperation and unity between various organizations are more potent than a single entity alone. Therefore, with other health organizations, the Tzu Chi Medical Foundation vows to work hard to bring health and happiness to under-resourced families.