“Today, the Betty Kwan Chinn Day Center is hosting an open house from noon to 4 p.m. to celebrate its first anniversary. And there is much to celebrate: hundreds upon hundreds of lives improved, by offering Eureka’s homeless and impoverished a hand up instead of a handout.”
Editorial: Betty Chinn’s lifelong dream pays off, in lives improved
A year ago this week, Betty Chinn — the closest thing Eureka has to a living patron saint — began a new experiment on the corner of C and Seventh streets.
Today, the Betty Kwan Chinn Day Center is hosting an open house from noon to 4 p.m. to celebrate its first anniversary. And there is much to celebrate: hundreds upon hundreds of lives improved, by offering Eureka’s homeless and impoverished a hand up instead of a handout.
The day center building, purchased by Catholic Charities with $500,000 donated by Fortuna native and Santa Rosa businessman Henry Trione, was extensively renovated by a team led by local developer and Betty Kwan Chinn Homeless Foundation board member Kurt Kramer. The foundation’s budget for its first year was about $220,000, part of which was contracted to go to Catholic Charities to pay for the center’s two paid employees, as well as administrative support and grant writing services.
As we detail on today’s front page, over the past year, the center has:
• served more than 1,200 clients;
• offered 400 clients on-site supportive services;
• assisted about 20 children on a regular basis with learning skills and socialization;
• and moved 11 of its program participants into housing and 13 into jobs from April through June alone.
Not a bad start for a philanthropist’s lifelong dream. Even more inspiring when you consider that it’s the culmination of a dream hatched from a nightmare.
Born into a life of relative privilege in China, Chinn at the age of 7 lost her home, her family, her childhood, even her voice to the violence of the Cultural Revolution, as enduring four years of persecution, torture and poverty left her mute and living day by day in a garbage dump. After walking 1,600 miles to escape to Hong Kong, she journeyed thousands upon thousands miles more to the United States, eventually moving to Eureka, regaining her voice, marrying, and raising a family along the way.
For most people, escaping the nightmare would have been enough. But for decades, Chinn made it her life’s mission to help out the least fortunate among us — bringing food to the hungry, clothes to the cold, and hope to the streets of Eureka.
It became her dream to do even more. Teaming up with the nonprofit Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Santa Rosa, Chinn asked the community to join her in the culmination of her life’s work — a one-stop services center that would help break the cycle of homelessness.
The Betty Kwan Chinn Day Center, at the corner of C and Seventh streets in Eureka, is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information or to find out how to donate, visit bettychinn.org/day-center/ or call the center at 707-407-3833.