Crowned with a magnificent skyline, Chicago stands majestic along the shores of Lake Michigan, poised to welcome the world; and as one of America’s top three global cities, it is a proven host. The brisk breeze that builds off the lake and sweeps through this Illinois metropolis has earned Chicago the nickname “Windy City”; and that makes it a wonderful base for Tzu Chi, whose mission is to spread seeds of compassion far and wide.
The seed of Tzu Chi USA’s Midwest Region Chapter was planted here in 1993, as volunteers began conducting nursing home visits, providing community services, and offering spiritual cultivation activities. Our family of volunteers and supporters grew as the scope of activities increased, and by 1994, when we were upgraded to Midwest Regional Office, we were providing medical consultation, running a free clinic, and operating Tzu Chi Academy Chicago as well. Our aspiration to find a permanent home was fulfilled in 2007, when we purchased property in Darien, a suburb of Chicago. Our heart is now set on establishing a base in downtown Chicago too.
The Midwest Chapter is at ready with disaster relief in the region. Our first mission was in May 2004, when we helped victims of tornados in Davis County, Indiana. In 2008, we helped victims of the flooding in Cedar Rapids, which has been called “Iowa’s Katrina”. The Midwest endures recurring tornados and flooding, and in the first seven years since then, our volunteers provided relief during 22 flood and 20 tornado disasters in Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, Indiana, Minnesota, and as far south as Kentucky. We offer cash cards, supplies, hot meals – and beyond charity, a helping hand and plenty of kinship and love to lift spirits.
Closer to home, we attend to the needs of the homeless, work in collaboration with shelters, cook hot meals, donate blankets, and more. Our community outreach helps individual cases, such as new immigrants or those suffering from medical issues, and our volunteers give comfort in nursing homes. On the medical front, we offer seminars, consultations, and free flu shots. And in terms of education, Tzu Chi Academy Chicago and our community education programs cultivate a humanistic outlook, while our scholarship program for high school students gives direct financial assistance and inspires a passion for volunteering. The seeds of love are spreading far and wide, here in Windy Chicago.