As 2014 came to a close, the Shinnyo-en Chicago temple in Elk Grove Village hosted its third annual Family Service Event. Having outgrown the space at the temple and in anticipation of many community members participating, the event took place at the nearby Rainbow Falls community center. People gathered on a pleasantly “warm” (although cold for the Californians from the Foundation!) December day to give back to local organizations. As veterans of these events, Shinnyo-en members quickly made their way through the six donation projects.
In an hour and a half, teams tied together 18 fleece blankets, setting a record for the number of blankets made at one of these events! Colette Young, Volunteer Coordinator at the Kenneth Young Center shared stories from those who received our handmade blankets in the past and graciously spent the afternoon with us. Volunteers whizzed through packing up 24 senior care kits for Humanitarian Service Project, helping poverty-level senior citizens who have limited access to transportation and few, if any, family ties. Kits included full-sized toiletries and thoughtful letters from volunteers who packed them up.
Hidden artistic talents emerged from volunteers who decorated birthday bags, and placemats. The birthday bags were stuffed with everything needed to throw a party for a child of WINGS, which serves and supports homeless and abused women and children. The placemats were donated to the Caring Place program of the Christus Victor Lutheran Church, located just around the corner from the Chicago temple. The program provides caretakers a respite from their everyday responsibilities of caring for a loved one.
On another table, volunteers enjoyed getting into the holiday spirit by decorating 30 wreaths for home-bound senior citizens who receive meal deliveries from the DuPage Senior Citizens Council. We also made 50 activity kits for children who visit their parents or grandparents at the Ascension Alexian Brothers – Residence Hospice and learned from representative Pat DiMaria about her work there.
At events such as these, the Foundation aims to bring as many of our local partners together to enjoy time with our Shinnyo-en community in a spirit of service and to learn from each other. We invited Rev. Dr. Beth Collier, Coordinator Chaplain of Alexian Brothers, to share a short video and her experience at the Lantern Floating Hawaii. Beth was one of the Foundation’s guests who attended the lantern floating last May, and it was a treat for us to use this gathering as a way for Beth to share her impressions with a wider audience.
The event would not have been possible without help from core leaders of the Community Character Coalition of Elk Grove (CCC). CCC is a grantee of the Foundation whose mission is to build character, the core of community strength through a variety of annual programs and community projects. This past week, Shinnyo-en Foundation was awarded a Certificate of Recognition for its ongoing support and for demonstrating Good Character at the monthly CCC meeting. Temple Manager and the newest addition to the Foundation’s Board of Directors, Rev. Fumio Ishizaka, accepted the award along with temple staff, Marianne Okubo. We were pleased to hear that CCC would like to integrate the Family Service Day into their calendar of official events in 2015! Thank you, CCC, for the recognition and for being a partner in service!