On behalf of His Eminence Avikrita Vajra Rinpoche, Sakya Monastery, and Marici Fellowship volunteers, we would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Monastery members and all the many donors who helped bring warmth, shelter, and food to the growing houseless community in Seattle.
Through the Marici Fellowship’s Caring By Sharing “Warm Nights” campaign, your donations, along with support given by neighborhood groups, volunteers, and Waypoints Outdoor company, enabled us to provide the following to local underhoused persons in our community:
- 200 sleeping bags
- 210 pairs of socks
- 85 pairs of gloves
- Camp stoves
- 56 canisters of propane
- Hats, hand warmers, tents, and tarps
Carloads of food donations for Tiny Village communities were also offered. These donations consisted of items like instant oatmeal, hearty soup, chili, individually wrapped string cheese and cheddar cheese snacks, instant rice pouches, soup packs, peanut butter, bottled water, sugar-free Vitamin Water, cases of shampoo/body wash, feminine hygiene products, and so much more.
Due to the pandemic and unexpected sweeps (clearing out) of tent encampments in December, we were forced to change our plans and step up our response time. Originally expecting to deliver needed items on January 9, we realized this would be too late to help those losing their camps just before Christmas. So we quickly formed volunteer teams, who raced through the Capitol Hill neighborhood looking to track down people from the local encampments that were swept. Then teams went to Denny Park, the University district, Lake City and Ballard. Finally, on January 9th we delivered three carloads of food donations to local Tiny House Villages.
This was an amazing example of “Compassion in Action!”
Our greatest wish is that actions like this would not be necessary in a modern and well-off society like ours. However, this is an incredibly challenging time for everyone, and especially those without permanent shelter. The City continues to sweep tent encampments, breaking up the only stability and community this vulnerable population have. Many are forced to abandon their friends, much of their camp gear, and their possessions. This is especially harsh and dangerous in the middle of winter and the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Marici Fellowship will continue its efforts to reach out to these communities by getting to know them, helping to procure essential items, cooking hot meals, and educating ourselves and the community on how best to support and be allies to our houseless and underhoused neighbors. Through continued donations and support we can continue to put compassion into action for the benefit of all beings. We thank our participants, supporters and organizers for this fantastic event!
From Noah in the U District:
"It felt good to be able to find the folks around the u district, particularly those outside of established encampments. Seeing their excitement about certain items was useful. Also just chatting normally, joking around (albeit masked & from 6+ feet away). A good time putting the dharma into action.
"I felt like we were able to adapt to the unprecedented circumstances surrounding the event of this year. Last year was more centralized & about gathering as a group, whereas this year we were able to meet the needs of the community in a more distributed manner. I'm excited to see what other opportunities will arise in 2021 as we continue to serve."
From Greenlake Team Marianne and Kunzang:
"The prominent aspect of the day was the personal connections, and compassionate conversations we were able to have while passing out needed items, and serving hot chocolate, tea and coffee."
When one person they were talking to was asked the question, “What is the best thing we can do to help?” the answer was “Love us, know we are here.” There was one person there that was so happy to speak Spanish with Kunzang. "His story was heartbreaking. He talked about the fact that someone, presumably a nearby resident of Greenlake would come by every morning at 7:00am and slice up his tarp/tent. This is a familiar story from another person living in a tent in a different area. It is heartbreaking but not unusual, sadly many local residents feel a great deal of hostility toward houseless communities."
Elizabeth and Joshua in Ballard:
Elizabeth was able to pass out needed items, and also to have deep conversations with people living there. She saw one young woman that was pregnant and it really hit home for her, what this situation must be like, to be carrying a baby and not have permanent shelter, what will become of them, and will they be able to stay together, this last thought was the most worrisome for her.
Joshua helped deliver food to the Tiny Village pantries and took his volunteer work home with him: taking Marici bags with useful items, and handing them out to a local shelter in his community.