Yeonsook Park's Family Volunteer Story
Nestled in the back of Dosol Nanum Farm is a teahouse made of recycled containers. This is a special place that brings neighbors and travelers together. Tea service is truly an experience of the Buddhist ethic of “Bosi,” unconditional, boundless service to others. The tea is made of flowers, tea leaves and produce grown on the farm by Yeonsook Park and her family; her two children, her husband and now her in-laws and grandchildren. The peaceful space is adorned with various flowers used in the teas like chrysanthemum, marigold, mugwort and perilla frutescens.
The origins of Mrs. Park’s life of family service can be traced to an experience during the Asian Banking crisis. It was a challenging time for many families. Mrs. Park was making a delivery on behalf of her husband to a hospital. She met an old woman who had traveled from the country to the hospital in Daegu seeking treatment for her severe back pain. In her hand were a few crumpled 10,000 Korean Won. The doctor was breaking the hard news to her that her condition was very serious and would require expensive treatment.
Seeing this, courage welled up from somewhere deep in Mrs. Park. Without thought she pleaded with the doctor, “Please heal her. I’ll add money to cover her expenses.” Her courage set off a miracle. Others in the waiting room came forward to also contribute to the old woman’s treatment. Moved by these strangers’ hearts, the doctor agreed to pay for the difference in the old lady’s treatment. The old woman broke down in tears as she thanked everyone in the waiting room. She lived alone, estranged from family during the financial strains of the times, and yet, something drew these strangers together to care for her. For Mrs. Park the experience set her off on a lifelong pursuit of service to others.
She has helped disabled citizens at the Daegu City Welfare Center, supported North Korean defectors in their resettlement, and provided tea at hospitals. She received the Daegu Mayor’s Award for her volunteerism.
But, the Dosol Nanum Farm and Teahouse are particularly special. They were built and are maintained by the Park family, now going on to three generations. Together they cultivate the land, and share the vegetables and teas with people in need, neighbors, and passerbys. Even in the midst of COVID19 restrictions, her family has found creative ways to serve, bringing neighbors together for New Year yut game and sharing vegetables and tea from her farm. The farm and teahouse are the Park family’s labor of love to their community and world .