On August 4, Chinese-immigrant Betty Chinn and 12 other nameless U.S. citizens received the 2010 United States Presidential Citizen’s Medal from President Obama at the White House, which honored their selfless services.
Started in 1969, the Presidential Citizen’s Medal honors those who have performed “exemplary deeds of service” for their country and fellow citizens and is one of the highest honors a president can ascribe.
Obama complimented this year’s recipients for their moral and selfless sacrifice. He said that none of them asked or applied for this award; instead, they were nominated by men and women all across the country whose lives they may have touched. “Only when we look out for one another can we all move forward together,” he said, this is the spirit of America.
Out of the 13 medal recipients, Chinn was the only Asian. When receiving the medal, she thanked and congratulated Obama on his birthday and said, “I pray every day for Obama.”
Obama smilingly replied, “That is exactly what I need.”
Chinn told The Gospel Herald that when she was growing up in China there was church in her village and both of her parents were devout Christians. Her father was a dentist learned under Western education and her mother was a doctor. Ever since her childhood she realized the principle of helping others, she said, which were taught by her Christian parents.
During her childhood, she lived through the Cultural Revolution in China and was greatly traumatized, which left her homeless. After immigrating to United States, she silently lived out love and compassion, silently helped the poor in the last 24 years. With the salary earned from work at her children’s school, she has helped hundreds of homeless people.
In the beginning, Chinn would drive to places in search of the homeless people living under bridges, beside the railroads, and even in the bushes to give them food. Most of these people are mentally-ill, veterans, run-away youths, and drug-users. She has been serving in this field for around 15 years. On September 2006, with the help of many, she raised $40,000 and purchased a blue mini-truck equipped with heating system, so she can serve others while meeting the standards of the United States health department.
Chinn’s acts of kindness don’t end here. When she delivers the food, she would try to understand about the needs of these homeless people and help them in any way she can – found housing for teenage mothers who has just given birth to a child at government-funded locations, connect mentally-traumatized veterans with their families, bought a grass cutter for a homeless person and gave business referrals, enabling him to become self-sufficient.
In 2008, Chinn received the California First Lady Maria Shriver’s 2008 Minerva Award and a cash prize of $25,000 that comes along with it. With this fund, she partnered with the Society of Saint Vincent De Paul in Eureka, California, to help fund the shower project of adding three shower stalls and a laundry facility for the homeless. Her compassion has touched many people; businesses and individuals have started donating money and food to her, and many volunteered to help her.
For more information about Betty Chinn and her services, visit her website: Betty Chinn's Homeless Fund.