Betty Chinn is a woman who exemplifies how one person can BettySmiletouch the lives of hundreds of people whom the rest of the world has forgotten. Her purpose is simple: to show the homeless who live in her hometown of Eureka love, comfort and basic humanity.”

Every morning before dawn, she loads up her catering truck with an urn of hot coffee, piles on the doughnuts and heads out to make her deliveries. Hers is a special clientele: the homeless, the disenfranchised, the forgotten. They are often mentally ill, substance abusers, teenage runaways or veterans. They do not seek out shelters or come in from the cold; they prefer to hide. They live under the railroad, under bridges or in the bushes. At the moment they range in age from age 3 to age 82, but she’s seen them younger and older. Betty is one of the few people in their fearful world they have come to trust. No judgment, no lecture; just a cup of coffee and a taste of humanity to help them get through the day… [more]

See below for updates, read about Betty in the news, or find Betty on Facebook.

Mark your calendars for 6pm, May 15th
St. Bernard High School Gymnasium
Tickets available here

1619607_10100712054539090_48354004364636959_nAn “Evening with Betty” is a community fundraiser with a simple mission to raise funds for the daily duties and services of the Betty Kwan Chinn Homeless Foundation. Betty has immeasurably impacted Humboldt County as she provides a learning center, transitional housing, kids programs, street outreach, case management, commercial kitchen, stabilization services, and guidance into careers for the homeless, as well as many other support programs for the often marginalized in our community. All funding for Betty comes in the form of community donations and grants. This fundraiser will greatly help Betty and her staff continue to provide much needed services to ensure the welfare of our community. Food courtesy of Rita’s Margaritas & Mexican Grill!


Ways to Give

For over 30 years, Betty Chinn and her supporters have worked to serve people experiencing homelessness in Eureka and Humboldt County. We are grateful to all who have joined in supporting our work through offering prayers, volunteer hours, and donations. We look forward to continuing to make a difference in Humboldt County, knowing that we are supported by the love of our giving community.

We need the help from our donors on an ongoing basis. Whether you give during the holidays, dedicate a memorial gift, or remember us in your will, no monetary donation is too small, no gift unappreciated.

Gifts to join in supporting Betty’s work can be made by specifying a gift to the “Betty Chinn’s Homeless Fund” through Humboldt Area Foundation.
Go to:

Make sure to check the circle and specify “Betty Chinn’s Homeless Fund” where it says “To be added to a fund or program (enter a specific fund or program name or leave blank if unrestricted)”

All of your donations go directly to support Betty’s work which reaches out to those in need in our community.  If you have problems making an online donation, mail a check to:
Betty Chinn’s Homeless Fund
P.O. Box 736,
Eureka, CA
95502 .

We thank you for your donation today.

by Lisa Bethune, January 20, 2015

Wednesday, November 19, 2014, was forecast to be the beginning of several days of intense rain, with dire flooding forecast throughout the Humboldt county area. Betty knew that many of the homeless people she cared for lived in wetland areas that would most likely end up flooding. She went to each of the camps, and at each camp, the group decided who would stay and watch over the camp, and who needed to go to higher ground with Betty. When Betty was finished, she had 134 people that needed a place to stay.

At 5:00 a.m., Betty made two phone calls to former homeless people that she had helped get housing and jobs two years prior. She told them that she needed help, that she had a lot of people that needed housing during the storms, and she had no where to put them. They told Betty that they would see what they could do. They started making phone calls, and every hour they reported back to Betty, giving her addresses of other former homeless people that were willing to take people in, putting them up in either an extra room or their garage. By 11:00 a.m. they had found 40 places. By 2:00 they had found a total of 51 host families, enough to fill the need for all 134 people. One family took in seven people. When Betty objected, saying that was too much, the family told her, “Remember, this happened to us a year ago.” They set up their garage and put some of the people in there.

As Betty and others delivered people to homes from Fortuna to McKinleyville, she told each person that they had to follow the host’s rules. She told the hosts that if at any point it wasn’t working, they could call her and she would come pick the people up. Betty thought that this arrangement would be needed for about a week, but it ended up lasting for more than a month, as the rains continued.

During this time, Betty visited the different homes, offering to help the host families with extra food and money for utilities. Betty has always said that God knows what she needs and He provides it. Unbeknownst to Betty, St. Bernard’s school was in the middle of their first canned food drive for her, and the abundance of canned food they collected was delivered to her during this time, just when she needed it most.

While Betty checked on her clients, many of which have mental illness or medical needs, she noticed that many of their personalities and physical appearances had changed a lot while staying in a stable place. Betty was surprised to see that even if someone had a mental issue, they could stay in a house, help out and keep it clean. Most of these people had never lived a normal life, in a clean house. They had had no guidance in the past, growing up in very dysfunctional families. Her clients were being mentored in a way that only someone who had walked in their shoes could. Betty knew she was witnessing such great human love, one to another, for this to be able to happen.

The host families were also teaching them how to budget their money so they could stay off of the streets. The host families didn’t want to have to send these people back to the streets, so they started looking for ways to help them succeed. As of mid-January, 54 out of the 134 people that Betty first moved now have permanent housing. Through word of mouth, the host families helped them find a room to rent or share, and taught them how they can manage to pay the rent each month. The twenty that have chosen to leave were told by their hosts that they are always welcome to come back.

There is nothing more powerful than human connection. These host families used their own experiences to teach their guests. They told Betty, “I’ve been in that place and you pulled me out. Now it is our turn to pay it back.” We all have the opportunity each day to plant seeds of human kindness, and we will never know when or how those seeds will blossom. With all of the sadness that Betty sees on the streets every day, this experience has fed her soul and recharged her batteries. Our gratitude and blessings to everyone that opened their hearts and their homes to people in need. We are nothing without community. You inspire us all!

Open House Today

“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.”
-Eureka Times-Standard

Editorial: Betty Chinn’s lifelong dream pays off, in lives improved
Eureka Times-Standard

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 or call the center at 707-407-3833.

Needed right now:

  • WARM, weatherproof gloves: We need LOTS of these!  When your hands are cold, it’s impossible to warm up on these cold, cold nights!  Betty helps people whose hands are blue and stiff from the cold.
  • WARM jackets: For men, women, & children
  • WARM socks: Wool is best, but any dry socks are better than having to wear cold, wet ones!*
  • WARM sleeping bags
  • Insulating pads for sleeping on ground
  • Tents
  • Waterproof Tarps

* edit 2-12-2014: no more clothes needed at this time.
See our Needs page for how to donate. Thank you!

The Betty Kwan Chinn Homeless Foundation and Catholic Charities of Santa Rosa proudly announce the grand opening of the Betty Kwan Chinn Day Center! The public is invited to our Open House on Saturday, November 16, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Stop by and see our new facility on the corner of 7th and C St. in Eureka and learn about the different programs we will be offering to the homeless community. This has been a true community effort and we are so grateful!
FrontDoor DayCenter

Here’s the story, from The Eureka Times-Standard’s Thadeus Greenson:

Betty cuts the ribbon at the Grand Opening

Betty cuts the ribbon at the Grand Opening

The ribbon is cut, the Center is complete!


DayCenterInProgressConstruction was going at full speed today at the Betty Kwan Chinn Day Center. Outside, windows and siding are being replaced. Inside, drywall is starting to go up. If construction stays on schedule, the building should be finished before the end of October. Betty is very excited about the progress!