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!



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.

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!

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