Shinnyo-en Members Come Together in the Manhattan Training Center to Serve Others by Participating in The Six Billion Paths to Peace Service Night
Contributed by Jenny Friedman, Executive Director, Doing Good Together
The Manhattan Training Center was bustling in late January as more than 60 New York Shinnyo-en Temple members gathered to make everything from blankets to bookmarks for those in need. The evening, called The Six Billion Paths to Peace Service Night, was the very definition of hands-on service, providing all the materials needed to complete six separate service projects on the spot.
The January 29 event began with a hot, nutritious buffet dinner generously provided by Shinnyo-en Foundation. After explaining why service to others was so integral to Shinnyo-en teachings, Reverend Eitaro Hayashi introduced the event organizers, who included Ineko Tsuchida of Shinnyo-en Foundation, Jody Kennedy and Irma Tumas, educators in the White Plains (N.Y.) City Schools, and Jenny Friedman, executive director of the Minneapolis-based nonprofit Doing Good Together. Together with the New York Temple members were two representatives of the Foundation’s partner organizations: Libby Hollahan, Executive Director of the White Plains Library Foundation and Gary Scharfman, Director of Fundraising of the United Way of New York City.
After dinner, all participants were invited to circulate among six “stations” to make their projects. The activities targeted a range of needs and included:
- Assembling toiletry gift bags for Ronald McDonald House of Greater Hudson Valley, which provides a home-away-from-home for families with critically ill or traumatically injured children.
- Creating embossed bookmarks for teens through the White Plains Public Library.
- Putting together winter survival kits for victims of Hurricane Sandy through Coney Island Gospel Assembly.
- Creating cards to cheer children struggling with a life-threatening disease through the organization Send Kids the World.
- Creating placemats to cheer the recipients of City Meals on Wheels in Manhattan, one of the country’s largest meals-on-wheels programs, providing nearly 2 million meals to over 17,000 elderly New Yorkers each year.
- Cutting and tying no-sew fleece lap blankets to be donated to seniors through City Meals on Wheels.
Participants were extraordinarily creative, hard-working — and efficient. In less than an hour, the group had assembled 50 warm-weather kits and 100 hygiene kits, and created dozens of bookmarks, cards, placemats and blankets for those in need of assistance and comfort.
The group then gathered for a few moments of reflection. Friedman emphasized that families have many simple ways to make “giving back” a habit in their lives. Participants all received a giving jar to help them begin their own tradition of charitable giving. They also received a grocery bag to take home, decorate, and use to collect items to donate – perhaps non-perishables for their local food pantry, or socks for a local homeless shelter.
Following the service event, the winter survival kit packages were sent to Pastor Connie Hulla of the Coney Island Gospel Assembly, whose team distributed them door-to-door to the neediest, as well as coordinating distributions of food to the hungry.
Despite the lower level of her church being decimated by Super Storm Sandy, Sister Connie rose to the forefront of relief for all of Coney Island turning her church and parking lot into a relief center that has been active 24/7 since the storm.
Thank you so very much for your wonderful huge box of love. Thank you for all of the kind thoughts and the gifts that help warm the heart and the body. We are very appreciative and will never forget your arm of compassion extended to people you may never know. Every kit is appreciated. It is noteworthy to mention that as I looked over the contents in the box I was touched by the love and care that went into this project. The enclosed letters brought tears to my eyes. God bless you. – Connie
In addition, the service night participants received a resource booklet by email that highlights dozens of local and national service opportunities. Friedman emphasized that no matter what your age, interests, or degree of free time, there is a way to weave a focus on kindness, compassion and service into your life.
The Six Billion Paths to Peace Service Night was a success because it let participants experience the satisfaction of selflessness in a setting of a “helping carnival.” The open-heartedness was palpable, and everyone left energized by the hard work and warmth that unfolded that cold January night.
The next service event will take place in Boston on Saturday April 13th from 2:30 to 5:00 PM. If you would like more information about these events, please contact Ineko Tsuchida at 415-777-1977 or firstname.lastname@example.org.