Home / Blog / Volunteer Spotlight: Joe Schoech

To celebrate our 50th year, Karmé Chöling has dozens of pictures hanging around the house that evoke the spirit of people who used to live here. 

One of my favorites is of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, the Nyingma master, blessing a little boy at Karmé Chöling, presumably in the Shambhala Shrine Room. Rinpoche’s face, to me, conveys amusement and curiosity. There’s something I just love about this picture.

I wondered aloud, during tea time, if anyone knew who the little kid was. A housemate told me, yeah — that’s Joe. 

“Joe in the kitchen?”

Yes,  Joe, who who lived here for four years with his family beginning in 1980. Since then, Joe’s returned several times to volunteer.

“KCL is a place that’s dear to me, and I think summer here is so verdant and bucolic. It’s just a bit magical and beautiful here in the summer.”

Twenty years ago, on one of his many returns, Joe worked in Karmé Chöling’s kitchen with its current head chef, Jason Taylor. 

“Jason basically taught me how to cook,” said Joe, who has served Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche and his family as machen, or personal cook.

“I like going in the kitchen and playing sort of a cooking show game, without a menu, seeing what we’ve got and figuring out what to make — it stretches your imagination.”

Among his Karmé Chöling memories is being an audience to some of the best ghost stories he’s ever heard. One of the parents was apparently a master of spooky narratives.

He told me one story called “Hail Gazoomba.” Does anyone reading this remember it? If so, that tree is still “RIGHT HERE.” We’ll point it out on tours of the land, when you come visit for the 50th anniversary in June.

All of us, especially our taste buds, are happy to welcome Joe back home. Stop by for dinner one of these nights and see for yourself.




  1. Ruth Holmes Whitehead says:

    That’s a wonderful story. If we have a copy of this photo in the archives here in Hfx, I will see it added to our file. Thanks so much for posting.

  2. Great article!
    We (Joe’s family) were on staff from late 1980 to 1984. In other words, Joe is 10 years older than you think

    Editor: Corrected! Thanks!


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