About Tzu Chi:
Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation is an international non-profit, non-governmental humanitarian organization with four major missions: charity, medicine, education, and humanistic culture. The foundation also engages in international disaster relief, bone marrow donation, community volunteerism, and environmental protection. “Tzu Chi” means “compassion and relief.”
Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation was established in 1966 by the Venerable Dharma Master Cheng Yen with six Buddhist nuns and 30 housewives as her first disciples. Currently, the foundation has nearly 10 million volunteers and donors in 50 countries, and has provided relief in more than 85 countries. In 1984, Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in California. In 1989, the first Tzu Chi office in the U.S. was established in Alhambra, California. There are now more than 60 offices in the U.S. with over 100,000 volunteers and donors working to make a difference in their local communities.
Tzu Chi volunteers are active in programs such as family services, emergency disaster services, homeless services, school support programs, college scholarships, income tax reporting assistance, relief distributions, holiday care packs, free and low-cost medical clinics and outreaches, preventive health education, cancer support groups, character education curricula, community education classes, and production of positive, inspiring media. Tzu Chi also works with numerous other organizations to better serve local communities.
Tzu Chi’s unique approach to disaster relief includes delivering cash aid and emergency relief supplies directly into the hands of disaster survivors. Wherever disaster strikes, Tzu Chi is ready to provide relief to all, regardless of nationality, ethnicity, socio-economic status or religion. The guiding principles of Tzu Chi’s relief work are “gratitude, respect and love.” This is why Tzu Chi volunteers present relief supplies and cash aid to disaster survivors with both hands, bow to them, and smile or hug them sincerely.
Tzu Chi was the first organization to provide immediate cash aid to affected families within days after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Affected families received up to a thousand dollars each. In all, Tzu Chi gave two million dollars to 3,164 families.
After Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, Tzu Chi mobilized over a thousand volunteers to distribute four million dollars of emergency cash to 22,487 households. A fundraising campaign was held in more than 30 countries to raise funds to assist disaster survivors. Volunteers also held medical clinics in both Houston and New Orleans to treat those affected and driven from their homes by the storm.
On June 18, 2008, representatives from the American Red Cross and the Tzu Chi Foundation signed a memorandum of understanding at the Tzu Chi Humanities Center in Taipei to combine their respective strengths and cooperate in disaster relief operations, emergency preparedness and response, cross training, and other cooperative actions in the United States. In 2010, Tzu Chi was granted special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (UN ECOSOC). Tzu Chi is also a member of InterAction, as well as National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (National VOAD), which presented Tzu Chi with its Member of the Year Award in 2013.
In January 2010, Haiti suffered a devastating earthquake. Through the end of May, teams of Tzu Chi volunteers and medical personnel from the U.S. traveled to Haiti continuously and worked with local Haitian volunteers to provide immediate relief. Tarps, food and other supplies were delivered to 47,202 households, or nearly 200,000 people. Tzu Chi medical personnel provided medical and dental services to over 15,000 patients, and through Tzu Chi’s Food for Work program, 3,770 Haitians worked together to clean their neighborhoods.
Tzu Chi volunteers have continued to support Haiti ever since, nurturing local teams of volunteers who continue to care for their communities. Since many schools were destroyed in the earthquake, Tzu Chi rebuilt three schools for the Canada-based Sisters of Saint Anne, so that the dedicated Catholic nuns can continue educating the children and young people of Haiti. Completed in May 2013, the schools are steadfast reminders that love transcends borders, races, and religions.
In October 2012, Hurricane Sandy devastated the islands of the Caribbean and the coastal regions of New Jersey and New York, becoming the second costliest hurricane in U.S. history. Tzu Chi conducted dozens of major relief distributions in New York and New Jersey over the next two months, distributing almost 10 million dollars in cash cards to nearly 16,000 affected families.
Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), the strongest tropical storm ever to make landfall, struck the central Philippines on November 8, 2013. Tzu Chi collected donations from forty-six countries to help survivors, and U.S. volunteers experienced in international relief went to the Philippines to help carry out a cash-for-relief program, which provided emergency cash that helped tens of thousands of people to get back on their feet while cleaning up the disaster area.
Tzu Chi volunteers will continue to compassionately support their local communities wherever they live, and to reach out with love whenever disaster strikes. We invite you too to get involved and make a difference. For more information, please contact your local office.