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, retirees and homeless youth. 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.
Holiday Food Drive
During the holiday season, Zen Center will be hosting a food drive in collaboration with the San Francisco Food Bank. A large barrel in the City Center lobby is available to receive your donations of nonperishable food items. Donations of food will be accepted through December.
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.
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/.
Sitting & Discussion Group for People in RecoveryMondays 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), and at Larkin Street Youth Services. 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.