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 cars, under bridges or in the bushes. At the moment they range in age from 3 to age 82. Betty is one of the few people in their fearful world they have come to trust. No judgement, no lecture; just a cup of coffee and a taste of humanity to help them get through the day . Betty Chinn organized a Community outreach program, where shipping containers (this is the new Village Center) were retrofitted into temporarily housing. It is indeed a very rare person that can wok with the clients listed above and be able to say “It has given me such joy to watch people transform their lives before my very eyes. It is magical! Our clients come to the village because they are tired of living on the streets. Life has beaten them down, and they arrive mentally and physically exhausted. It gives me such joy to watch them change, to see them become more focused about their lives.”
“To honor all of Humanity by providing direct responses to immediate needs and helping the destitute achieve the dignity needed to return to society as contributing members”
At the core of Betty Chinn’s mission to care for the homeless are her outreach efforts at known homeless encampments and local hotels operating on a month-to-month rental basis. Betty serves a meal and a hot cup of coffee to hundreds of people per day. Betty’s mission also extends far beyond providing food, as she also provides shelter, shoes, clothes, blankets, hygiene products, and other needs. For some school children, every day begins with a ride from Betty, first to the shower and then to school.
As she feeds them breakfast, Betty talks to them, and finds out what their particular need may be for the day. If they have to call a parent to let them know they are alive she arranges a phone card. If they clothes or a blanket or a tent, she’ll find someone to donate the items. If they are Veterans, she tries to arrange for them to get benefits. If they want a shower, she’ll drive them to the community shower the Foundation operates. And if the weather is particularly extreme, she will ask friends to donate a motel room to get a mother and her children out of the storm. And after she does all that, she goes to a kitchen where the real work begins... feeding dinner to roughly 200 people on the streets.
Her Devotion and love for the less fortunate, and her consistency in doing so. After the catering truck is loaded, off she goes, taking hot food and a whole lot of love to those who would otherwise go without nourishment for either body or soul. This is what she has done almost every day, twice a day, for over twenty years. The clients at new container Village are getting jobs, and getting up early in the morning to go to work. “When they make that decision to change, in just 90 days, it touches my heart more than anything.”
The $50,000.00 donation would mean continuing operation of Betty’s Village, a shelter program providing case management services for up to 40 of the most chronically homeless individual in Humboldt County. Case managers assist clients with employment readiness, housing searches, access to medical and mental health care, obtaining identifications, and access to substance abuse treatment. Residents are also served three meals each day which are prepared by Betty and her dedicated volunteers. Betty’s village is made up of retrofitted cargo shipping containers. Each 10 foot by 40 foot container houses four separate units that allow two people per unit. This money would likely primarily be used for staffing, facility maintenance, office supplies, and client needs. At this time, this program does not have a steady funding stream, therefore the $50,000.00 would be an invaluable asset to Betty’s operation. “After a year of hard work, the environment at the village feels different now. It is peaceful, and I am so proud of all of the clients for keeping our good neighbor policy a priority. I will continue to keep doing what I believe in, and doing my best to help the clients. It is so amazing to watch people change!”
Betty Chinn will say her greatest accomplishments are those that generally go unnoticed by most: The hundreds of people she helped off the streets last year, the runaway teenager she helped return home, the homeless she has helped reconnect with their support communities and the stranded souls she has helped bring attention to the needs of those she serves. Her future vision includes health care providers, social workers and career counselors all working together at a single point of engagement so that, whenever one of her clients decides it’s time to reach out for help, they have the tools on hand to better their lives.