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Betty Kwan Chinn Receives AARP’s Highest Volunteer Award

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Betty Kwan Chinn of Eureka, California is the recipient of the 2023 AARP Andrus Award for Community Service in California. This is AARP’s most prestigious volunteer award that recognizes a community-minded person age 50-plus who exemplifies the motto of AARP’s founder, Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, “To serve, not to be served.” The award is given annually to one Californian in honor of their outstanding volunteer service.

Chinn, founder and executive director of Betty Kwan Chinn Homeless Foundation, received the award on Thursday, January 11, 2024. Chinn, who herself has experienced the trials and tribulations of homelessness, has gone above and beyond to provide for those most in need in her community. She has helped the homeless—including the mentally ill, disabled veterans, runaways, and drug abusers—since the 1980s. She won the 2008 Minerva Award and used the $25,000 grant as seed money to establish a bathroom and shower for homeless community members. U.S. President Barack Obama awarded her and 12 others the Presidential Citizens Medal on August 4, 2010, at the White House. Since then, Betty Kwan Chinn has opened a Day Center and multiple shelter programs to support her community.


In the words of her award nominator, “She respects all those she serves…she is not afraid to walk into the bushes of homeless encampments to bring hot coffee in the morning, always smiling and nonjudgmental…this wonderful woman is an inspiration to us all.”

As the award recipient, Chinn received a $1,000 donation from AARP to the Betty Kwan Chinn Homeless Foundation. The inspirational work led by Betty Kwan Chinn is an important reminder for us to give back to our community as we enter the new year. To learn more about Chinn and her work, visit

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