After serving 20 years of time in a correctional facility in Washington State, Michael Florez was “released with $40 and the clothes on your back… No, I.D, no birth certificate, no social security card.” Having so little to go on upon his release, Michael was pointed in a direction that eventually led him to Tzu Chi.
Learning of Michael’s situation, Tzu Chi Seattle volunteer Angela Wan was determined to help. Over time, they struck up a unique friendship that gave him a new sense of purpose, leading him to run Hunger 3.0, a Tzu Chi Seattle-supported program that donates fresh produce and groceries to those who’ve re-entered society.
The impact has been substantial, says Michael: “Hunger 2.0 we ran for 30 weeks, 1,000 pounds of food a week.” This translates to 30,000 total lbs. of food obtained from food banks in Seattle. It also means hundreds of dollars saved a month on groceries for a person trying to restart their lives.
But, the savings for the formerly incarcerated aren’t just about the money. According to Michael,
“I’ve been out 644 days, but every time I see one of my brothers and sisters, it’s like it’s my first day out. I see… the fear and the hunger in their eyes.”
For him, fresh food, including actual fruits and vegetables, was a game changer: “I know when I got fresh stuff and then I was having that bad day, it brought hope and it brought happiness. And then allowed me to get re-centered and have strength to finish that day.” “Truly,” he emphasizes, “the food truly is that much.”
Watch the video and ensure Tzu Chi can continue to operate life-changing services like this in Washington and beyond at donate.tzuchi.us/sanjose.
Plus, see more videos like this, featured in Tzu Chi USA GivingTuesday 2022 Charity Concert, at video.tzuchi.us/series/givingtuesday-2022-charity-concert.