TOWN OF KENT – Easter Sunday morning had a special meaning at the Chuang Yen Monastery in western Kent when the Buddhist Association of the United States presented a check for $5,000 to members of the Kent Volunteer Fire Department for its new ambulance slated to arrive by the end of the month.
The President of the BAUS, Ven. Bhikku Bodhi and the Abbot of the monastery, Ven. Hui Tsong, greeted Kent Fire Department Board of Fire Commissioners Doug Casey and Howard Carpenter along with the fire department’s Chief Justin Byrne with hearty handshakes and warm welcomes.
Outside the monastery
Bodhi said the monastery decided to make the generous donation to the volunteer group of men and women because “you are always here to protect us and care for our monks, staff and thousands of guests.”
Casey, a Putnam County Battalion coordinator and current chairman of the board of fire commissioners, thanked the BAUS for its generosity. “This gift will be used well to purchase equipment needed to not only assist the monastery but all of the residents of the Kent Fire District.”
Carpenter recalled a similar gift years ago when the fire department purchased a rescue rig in the 1980’s. “Then monastery founder, the late Dr. C.T. Chen, donated a substantial check to the fire service which was used to help pay for the ambulance. History has repeated itself and we are so very grateful.”
During a tour of the sprawling grounds, the hosts provided a brief history lesson of the Big Buddha, at 38 feet tall, the largest Buddha statue found in the western hemisphere.
When Bodi and Abbot Tsong were reminded about the visit of the Dali Lama to the monastery first in 1989 and a second time, a decade later, the two high priests smiled and said through an interpreter, “It’s time to have his Holiness return.”
Forty-five minutes later, the firefighters and priests parted company after Chief Byrne invited representatives of the monastery to join the fire department at an open house April 30 to officially welcome the new ambulance’s arrival.
The entire community has also been invited.