Outreach activities at City Center include distributing food to homeless people; providing dharma books, pen-pals, and meditation classes for prison inmates; working with families in transitional housing; enhancing cultural diversity within Zen Center; facilitating the formation of satellite sitting groups; and advocating for compassionate action on social issues. We welcome volunteers for Outreach activities. See below for details.
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. We also 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 is provided.
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, Walden House, Fr. Alfred’s (a residential rehabilitation facility connected with St. Anthony Foundation), and with the staff of 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.