Chinn Day Center to ‘lift up’ Eureka’s homeless

By Eduardo Madrigal
Flapjack Chronicle Staff

Local philanthropist Betty Chinn is excited right now. If all goes according to plan, in spring 2013 a new day center for the homeless will be opened in the corner of 7th and C Street in Eureka.
The day center is a joint effort between Betty Kwan Chinn Homeless Foundation and Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Santa Rosa.

Chinn, who works with several local organizations such as Humboldt State clubs, local churches and other charity organizations, is known to run a busy schedule every day from 3 a.m. to 10 p.m..
“We don’t see as much of each other as we used to,” said Betty’s husband Dr. Leung Chinn, 75, retired physics professor from Humboldt State who helps her every day. “But it’s okay. We are both doing what we like to do.”
The Chinns find themselves performing their charitable service alone for the most part even though there is a large pool of willing volunteers. But Chinn described herself as “picky” when it comes to receiving volunteer help.
“It’s because of my name being out there,” said Chinn. “They only want to volunteer because of my name. I want them to volunteer because they have a passion for the poor. That’s more meaningful for a volunteer.”
Catholic Charities shares this passion.
Chuck Fernandez, executive director of Catholic Charities, believes Catholic Charities and the Betty Kwan Chinn Homeless Foundation will be successful because they share the same mission.
“Love, hope, dignity, respect, we have the same values and I believe that’s why we can see eye to eye,” said Fernandez. “I trust Betty completely and I know she trusts us.”
The charity partnership consists of the Betty Kwan Chinn Homeless Foundation contracting Catholic Charities to hire professionals to provide management and operations of the day center and provide case management, workshops on domestic violence, parenting and employment.
“We will provide systems and processes for her,” said Fernandez. “Betty can’t do this forever, if she can’t be there for the people one day, we’ll make sure to have somebody there that can.”
Betty Chinn will continue using what Fernandez call, her “remarkable street outreach” to do what she does best.
“She is so spontaneous and in the moment, we won’t stop that, we want to continue that and support her,” said Fernandez.
Betty Chinn will continue to make and provide meals and take homeless children to school. But she will also keep an eye open.
“If I see somebody who is willing to change I’ll direct them to the center,” said Chinn.
Fernandez sees this partnership as a great milestone for Catholic Charities which has had to renovate and transform throughout the years by pointing out which programs help them to better reach their goals.
“We have seen how giving someone an income helps them move forward so we have improved our employment program,” said Fernandez. “Every month we help 15 to 17 homeless people get a job.”
By changing aspects, their philosophy has also changed throughout the years.
“We changed our philosophy, first it was giving them a bed and a meal, now it is giving them a hand up to help them move forward,” said Fernandez. “We have had to let people go because they did not follow our philosophy. Giving somebody a four-wall room does not help them to move forward.”
Betty Chinn agrees that a system is needed to help people leave homelessness.
“I feed them, I love them, I clothe them, I shower them and I make them look like a human being, but I cannot lift them up without a program,” said Chinn. “But Catholic Charities has the program, and that is why we are going in that direction right now.”
Fernandez acknowledged that not everyone wants or needs help.
If you can’t help them move forward, because not everybody wants to, we strive to at least give them dignity and respect,” said Fernandez.
Lynn Khoury, ex-trucker who lives behind a parking lot in Eureka, has heard about the new day center but also believes it’s not for everyone.
“Not all of us want to leave,” said Khoury. “I’m kind of here on purpose. I was a truck driver and I got tired. I just wanted to live a simpler life. I like living outdoors but there are people who want to get off the streets who aren’t here by choice.”
Robert Freeman, 73, retired, who lives in the neighborhood, was optimistic about the day center.
“Some say it will bring more homeless,” said Freeman. “I think it will do the opposite by taking them off the streets and giving them a place to be.”
And that is what the day center is all about.
“We have to start where the client is,” said Fernandez. “It’s not about me or the case manager. We have to meet the homeless client where he or she is.”


Behind the pink ribbon

Diover Duario
Flapjack Chronicle
With Breast Cancer Awareness month behind us, leaving our clothes and football less pink for another year, perhaps it’s a good time to reflect on what it means to don the pink ribbon. Marathons, fundraisers and pink accessories aside it’s essential to keep in mind that to be “aware” means being informed.
The California Cancer Registry and the American Cancer Society estimate that 85 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in Humboldt County alone. While the rate of breast cancer diagnosis is similar to the rest of the state, the death rate in Humboldt from breast cancer is higher than other counties in California with 25 estimated to die from the illness by the end of the year.

The Humboldt Community Breast Health Project is a grassroots organization that aims to help those who are facing cancer diagnosis or are concerned about the possibility of breast or gynecological cancer by providing information and support specific to each client’s needs.
HCBHP actively helps those concerned about breast cancer whether it be community outreach through potlucks or fundraisers, financial assistance to those who need treatment or providing a support group composed of survivors.
These volunteers are essential to the organization says Gale-Zoellick explains.
“There’s nothing like having someone who’s traveled the cancer journey before you telling you ‘I’ve done it you can do it too’,” she says.

Rose Gale-Zoellick, executive director of HCBHP, says it’s unclear why the death rate for breast cancer is so high in Humboldt County but they plan on submitting a grant to the California Breast Cancer Research Program early next year and coordinating with the California Center for Rural Policy (based in HSU) to look at who these women are and what can be done to reverse the near thirty-percent mortality rate.

cancerOne of the biggest concerns women have about breast cancer prevention is when to start getting mammograms. Though doctors and clinics suggest varying ages to start (between 40 to 50 years old) the truth is that women as early as their 20s, however uncommon, can have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Gale-Zoellick encourages women to get a mammogram at any point that suspicion or symptoms such as lumps arise.
Early detection of breast cancer exponentially increases chances of survival exponentially especially if discovered before it spreads to the lymph nodes.
Breast cancer can affect both women and men (approximately 1 in every 100 diagnoses is male) from any type of community. While the United States is fortunate to have so many national organizations dedicated to research it is vital that rural areas have groups such as the HCBHP that keep up to date information to effectively provide support to the local community. In a way it is in remote communities that information is most crucial as specialists qualified to perform breast cancer operations can be found more often than not closer to metropolitan areas.
So, while buying pink ribbons, wristbands and sports gear provide much needed funding to national efforts in raising awareness, it’s important to remember that accessibility is still a major issue when it comes to health services even for breast cancer. For organizations like the Humboldt Community Breast Health Project it’s the right donations and dedicated volunteers that allow them to provide support and information to people often hundreds of miles away from the closest gynecologic oncologist.

Mending the marsh

By Rebekah Staub
Flapjack Chronicle

Sweet blades of green grass stab towards the sky as geese call out in their muddy home. Healthy fish swim easily  through salty passageways that offer nutrients. Critters of all types explore and develop in a spacious wetland full of opportunistic life. This vision of a marshy paradise is the goal of Humboldt Fish Action Council’s ongoing project to restore tidal influence to the Arcata Marsh.
grassThe project will reestablish the salt marsh ecosystem by building up levees and getting the land flooded again. Restoring the wetlands is crucial to the survival of a huge bird population, fish, salt grass and many other animals.
Former California Conservation Corps worker Larry Hand focuses his attention to working on restoration projects such as this one.
“There’s a lot of habitat loss throughout the area; especially on the coast,” Hand says. “People are building on and draining wetlands. To restore some of the wetlands is paramount to the survival of the huge population of birds that used to come in here.”
Ducks and geese aren’t the only creatures desperate for a new home. The upcoming salt marsh is a critical component to salmon because they undergo a huge psychological change as they come out of saltwater and into freshwater. Current dams make the transition abrupt and stressful.
“What we’re trying to do around Humboldt Bay is create a habitat that provides a very shallow gradient from saltwater to freshwater,” says HFAC nursery manager Susanne Isaacs.
HFAC operative Doug Kelly has been working to get channels of fish running through Arcata for a long time. In 2005 he took out a dam that was put in for city water in 1945. In 2007, he removed another culvert and replaced it with a bridge. Culverts are covered channels that cross under roads and take out water from the marsh.  Last year Kelly took out a culvert once again.
“I’ve opened up 5,000 feet of habitat for fish to spawn in,” Kelly says. “They haven’t been in there since 1945.”
Another issue that salmon encounter is an invasive plant called reed canary grass. The grass grows on the bank and into the waterways where fish can’t navigate through it.
“This grass grows out and kind of chokes the channel off,” Kelly says. “We haven’t taught the fish to be able to pull it out themselves.”
Volunteer efforts have been made to eradicate the invasive species and implant native plant species. The native plants will influence the ecosystem when it comes time for expansion, and the loss of reed canary grass minimizes the effort fish have to do to live.
Contractor Paula Golitely has been on the paperwork side of the project. One of the reasons the project is taking 10 years, she says, is because they have to make sure they don’t flood any private land or the highway nearby.
“There’s a lot of work that’s been going on upstream all through these years,” Golitely says. “Hopefully when these tide gates go and this levee is breached we’re going to have a lot of habitat for fish and other critters to hang out in.”
Next year the plan is that the levee will be breached and there will be an amazing outreach of habitat for wildlife of all sorts to claim.
“We’ve just expanded their living quarters,” Hand says. “It’s a very significant project for the expansion of the Arcata sloo here.”
What was once a decimated mud land will soon become a grassy utopia for webbed feet and scaly fins alike.
“It’s a great habitat here,” Hand says. “It’s like a new condominium for the fish and also the wildlife.”

Reproductive health services at HSU

By Troi McDonald
Flapjack Chronicle

A third of pregnancies occurring in the world today are unintended. Abortion, among many others, is a way to deal with these unplanned pregnancies by the deliberate termination of a human fetus. This is the first choice presented to most young women who do not wish to hindrance their ability to receive an education today.

Within the Humboldt State University Health Center, lies an area specifically for women entitled the Women’s Health and Preventative Center, which provides services to cater specifically to the female body. Annual exams including: PAP smears, breast exams, evaluation and treatment of gynecologic problems, contraceptive choices including: birth control pills, male and female condoms, emergency Contraception (“The Morning After Pill”), pregnancy testing, screening and treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STI’s); HIV testing and the Family Pact card which allows women, under financial restrictions to afford these services free of cost.

Research shows many college women face reproductive health issues every single year. According to a 2008 study, about 20 percent of women will have an abortion by the time they are 25. It’s hard to determine exactly how many of those abortions occur in college-age women, but some studies suggest as many as 45 percent. Although this is an effective way of eliminating a pregnancy to help a young woman who isn’t financially or mentally stable to take care of a child, there are many other options that are presented to college women who face these situations and are, in most cases, offered and covered by the college.

Information regarding abortion, mental care and health care on the Humboldt State University campus can be found at the Student Health Center. Mary Grooms VanCott, HSU Director of Student Health services, explains abortion as being very common among young college women, but never really mentioned among students for personal reasons.

“We offer an array of services to women who find themselves in such predicaments and we treat them accordingly,” VanCott says. “If we cannot accommodate, we will refer the student to appropriate off-campus services.”

HSU Art major Shannon Townsend, 18, speaks of her stance on abortion and the health center.
“I feel that if you don’t like it, don’t do it,” she says. “Everyone is open to what they believe.” She continues to speak about her on campus experiences. “During HOP, there was a required workshop about the health center, Planned Parenthood and all the services offered to the students on campus. I learned a lot.”

HSU Chemistry major Ebed-Melech, 18, gives a male perspective on the topic. He equates abortion to the taking of a human life. At the same time, he understands the aspect of choice.
“For those who need it, I’m glad its available to them,” he says. “As a male, I actually don’t know much about what services are offered here on campus but from what I hear, the resources are within reach and its important for those who need help, to access it.”

College health programs have evolved considerably in the past years. Issues that affect today’s university or college student most likely include tobacco use, alcohol and other drugs, sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy, contraception, infectious illness, eating disorders, and vaccine-preventable diseases. The health issues which affect students’ success are often attributed to behavior and can be most corrected by the academic community in which they reside. It is important that these services be promoted throughout the campus and that all students be aware of these resources.