CHICO, Calif. - The Tzu Chi Foundation held a Buddha Bathing Ceremony for Camp Fire survivors at the Chico Masonic Hall on East Avenue on Sunday.
The first chapter of the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, known as Tzu Chi USA, was established in Alhambra, Calif., in 1989.
It all began when Stephen Huang, a wealthy American businessman seeking personal guidance, visited Dharma Master Cheng Yen in Taiwan. The meeting changed his life.
There he met a gentle nun who had created a powerful organization, and who was able to realize one seemingly impossible dream after another, solely for the benefit of others. Huang was so filled with awe and admiration that he became a disciple and vowed to bring the spirit and mission of Tzu Chi to the United States. He did just that by making Tzu Chi USA the first chapter of Tzu Chi overseas.
Tzu Chi USA began by mobilizing volunteers, then hosting “tea parties” where they could share their thoughts, experiences, and joy of volunteering. The events drew supporters and quickly inspired the creation of additional chapters. Today, Tzu Chi USA has 60 offices and facilities throughout the U.S., with volunteers and donors working tirelessly to make a difference in their communities.
Their journey includes the mission of serving others unconditionally and sowing seeds of love and kindness in the Americas.
In 2012, Hurricane Sandy struck the East Coast, and Tzu Chi distributed $10 million in immediate relief aid to the victims.
Tzu Chi USA was recognized as National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) Member of the Year in 2013, and received the Champions of Change Award from the White House.
CLICK HERE to find the website of the Tzu Chi Foundation.
Hundreds of people came to participate in the ceremony, which commemorates the Buddha's birthday. The ceremony involved water and flowers. Each person was able to bless the Buddha and be given a flower to represent peace and harmony.
The gathering also provided an opportunity for those who receieved financial gifts or blessings from Tzu Chi volunteers after the Camp Fire to return their bamboo banks with small change that will be used to help people in future disasters.
The blessing for the participants were many. Some people sat quietly, some cried, and some sang along with the Tzu Chi volunteers. They received blessings of food and a lucky red envelope with symbolic grains of rice an a Tzu Chi commemorative coin.
Tzu Chi member Sherry Shih said, "Our Master always encourages people saving the small change.. and can help others."
"A hundred percent of the survivors... really appreciate... and they really want to return it and help others," Shih continued.
The Tzu Chi Foundation held a similar event Saturday in Concow.
Many who have received assistance from the Tzu Chi Foundation Buddhists also remember the gifts of blankets that they received in the early days of the Camp Fire evacuation.