2019 Berkeley Walk to Feed the Hungry summary of events
The day was sunny and warm, and so were our hearts, as the group of 65 walkers spilled out onto the sidewalk in Berkeley, California. We had filled the lobby of Dharma College, our host site for the start of the Walk, with the folks who had registered online, but also with dozens of people who simply came to register on site that morning. Folks came from as far away as Ukiah, a 6 hour drive, and from all over the San Francisco Bay area. Some came with their kids, babies and teens, and others came with their fellow seniors. And they came with their Dharma friends, whose practice spanned a great many Buddhist traditions. Having reminded them of the three joys of giving that the Buddha taught, I invited Wangmo Dixie, the Director of Dharma College, to address the group. She spoke of her appreciation for Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, and the many ways in which he brings the Dharma into the world. Then we set out on our Walk.
Unfurling the banners, we walked along Shattuck Avenue through downtown Berkeley, making our way past the shops and later past the university, to arrive at our second host location, the Berkeley Buddhist Temple. Despite the fact that the main temple building was closed due to recent, serious water damage, they welcomed our entire group with smiles, generous hearts, and Japanese tea sweets. It was here that we heard a presentation by Susan Carson of the What If Foundation. She shared about the sadness of violence and other difficulties of life in Haiti, and about the joy of thousands of meals served everyday to students who would go hungry without the support of Buddhist Global Relief. Then John and Tara, the Minister’s Assistants, helped us close by chanting the refuge in the Triple Gem.
At our third stop on the Walk, the Berkeley Zen Center, the gate stood open when we arrived. We were warmly received by folks who had prepared beverages and snacks. The walkers gathered in the grassy courtyard to hear some encouraging words from Hozan Alan Senauke, the Vice Abbot, who stood on the steps of the meditation hall and spoke about providing the requisites of life for everyone. He encouraged anyone who was curious to go into the zendo and have a seat. I closed our sharing by reading the moving letter from Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, who reminded us that we too were helping to meet the challenges of hunger and poverty around the world.
As we walked the last leg of the event along Martin Luther King Jr. Way, returning to Dharma College, folks honked their horns in solidarity. This felt like a reminder that every part of the Walk to Feed the Hungry has a benefit: remembering those who are hungry, raising awareness and responses in ourselves and others, and raising funds to address suffering as directly as we can. This year’s Berkeley Walk to Feed the Hungry has raised over $11,000 due to the participation and generosity of many.