College of Health Sciences and Human Services

CHE Receives Keys to New Building

Jacqui Smith (in white sweater) and Dean Rios-Ellis (checkered jacket) surrounded by the CHE outreach, housing navigation, and homeless services team.
We are about ‘growing our own’ to ensure that Monterey County has the workforce it needs to protect the health and welfare of its population.

November 1, 2020 -- Community Health Engagement (CHE), formerly the Chinatown Wellness Center, received the keys to its new permanent location at the beginning of the month. In partnership with MidPeninsula housing, CHE now occupies 2,250 square feet on the first floor of a new housing building in Chinatown. The new, innovative space is artfully designed to provide a myriad of services for the homeless and marginally housed community, as well as dedicate space for CHSHS students to participate in service in their field. With grant support surpassing $2 million, the new location reflects the dedication of the CHE team to the Chinatown community and serves as a shining beacon of wellness amid the hardships that the COVID-19 pandemic has presented for this vulnerable population.

On November 18th, Dean Britt Rios-Ellis visited the newly opened CHE facility at 21 Soledad in Chinatown, Salinas. The rapidly growing CHE homeless services, housing navigation, and outreach team has been working diligently through several projects to provide culturally and linguistically resonant, high quality services to the homeless throughout Monterey County.

“I am immensely proud and humbled by the work of Jacqui Smith, MSW, Drs. Maria Gurrola and Kai Medina-Martinez, and the dedicated staff and students. The CHE team has been facilitating access to COVID-19 testing, helping individuals receive temporary shelter, referring and navigating folks to needed health and human services, and helping folks find permanent housing, many of whom have not had a place to call home for a decade or more,” stated Dean Rios-Ellis. “The CHE team has expanded our reach far beyond the Chinatown area and is providing services in the Sherwood and Rico encampments, as well as those in Pajaro and other regions. It is a gift to know that our staff and students are safely making such a positive difference in the lives of folks whose plight often remains invisible to the majority, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“While we cannot have a grand opening at this time due to COVID-19 I want everyone to know that we will be working as hard as possible to mitigate this virus and keep everyone safe during this pandemic, regardless of their economic or social situation,” stated Jacqui Smith, the senior manager of the CHE facility and team. Ms. Smith, who received her Bachelor Degree in Collaborative Health and Human Services and her Master of Social Work from CSUMB, epitomizes the service driven nature of what CSUMB graduates mean to the Monterey County region.

Dr. Maria Gurrola, Chair of the Social Work Department and Principal Investigator on multiple CHE projects stated, “We are about ‘growing our own’ to ensure that Monterey County has the workforce it needs to protect the health and welfare of its population and I am so grateful that we are having such a positive impact through our projects in the new CHE facility.”