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Outreach Activities

Outreach activities at City Center include cooking and distributing meals to formerly homeless people; providing dharma books, pen pals and meditation classes for prison and jail inmates; activities with families in transitional housing; and bringing meditation and stress reduction classes to people in rehabilitation facilities, senior housing and jail. We  provide memorial services for those who have died in residence hotels. Zen Center also offers meditation training for the staffs of these organizations and for other community groups. We welcome volunteers for the following outreach activities. See below for details.

  • Food offerings
  • Activities with children and families
  • Zen Center Prison Program
    • Prison correspondence
    • Meditation and yoga in jail
  • Other outreach activities

Contacting Us

Book Sale

The proceeds from City Center’s biannual book sales go to support Zen Center’s outreach activities to prisoners, to families in transition, to those in rehabilitation facilities, and other venues. The next sale begins May 1, 2015. Please come browse in the lobby and donate what you can.

Holiday Food Drive

As we have done over the past several years, Zen Center will be cooperating with the San Francisco Food Bank by sponsoring a food drive at City Center.

A barrel for donations of nonperishable food will be in the lobby from mid-November through the end of December. (Donations in glass bottles and jars are discouraged.)

Food Offerings

The Zen Center Outreach Department, supported by volunteers, currently brings meals to residents of the Richardson Apartments in Hayes Valley. The residents of the apartments are formerly homeless individuals who have conditions (physical or psychiatric) for which they require assistance to live independently.

If you are interested in helping, please contact the Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator, Jeffrey Schneider. He may be reached at either 415.354.0379 or by email.

Activities with Children and Families

Zen Center organizes field trips and other events for children and families in neighborhood transitional housing. Volunteers with ideas, energy, transportation, talents, and/or planning skills are warmly invited to get involved. Contact the Outreach office via email or at 415.354.0379.

Zen Center Prison Program

Prison Correspondence: We match prisoners who wish to discuss their Buddhist practice with volunteer pen pals. You need not have learning in Buddhist scholastics; merely a compassionate heart, a wish to be of service, and about half an hour a month. All mail comes through the Zen Center office and you may, if you wish, choose a pseudonym to protect your anonymity. In addition, we have a fund which allows us to send Buddhist books to prisoners at no cost to the pen pal. Guidelines, a sample first letter and on-going support are provided. We also coordinate efforts with Gay Buddhist Penpals, supplying books and forwarding mail. If you are interested in sharing your practice with an LGBT prisoner, please contact www.gaybuddhistsangha.org/prison-outreach/.

Meditation and Stress Reduction in Jail: We visit the San Francisco jail on a regular basis bringing meditation and stress reduction practices to the incarcerated. This requires a commitment to a couple of hours at the jail at least twice a month. We are very interested in teachers of yoga or tai chi; especially women and people of color.

If you are interested in the Prison Correspondence Program or the Yoga and Meditation in Jail Program, please contact Outreach Coordinator Jeffrey Schneider via email or at 415.354.0379.

Sitting & Discussion Group for People in Recovery

Mondays 7:30 - 9 pm

This is a drop-in group for those interested in exploring the connection between Buddhist teaching and practice and recovery work. See our Meditation in Recovery web page for more information.

Other Outreach Activities

We currently offer meditation and stress reduction classes at the Richardson Apartments, West Side Apartments (a residential facility for retired people), Walden House, Fr. Alfred’s (a residential rehabilitation facility connected with St. Anthony Foundation), Age Song, and Lighthouse for the Blind. We have offered trainings for staff at Henry Ohloff House (a residential rehabilitation facility) and Kaiser’s Chemical Dependency Recovery Program. We have also participated in the staff retreats of some of the above organizations. In addition, Zen Center also participates providing meals as part of the Winter Shelter Program of the SF Interfaith Council and the Gubbio Project.

We are very interested in creating and strengthening ties with local organizations and welcome inquiries.