Interagency is one of few places community members of Havasu City, Ariz. have to turn to when they have hard times, lose a job, are unable to pay the rent or electric, have a debilitating illness, or need a safe place to stay in the middle of the night when running from domestic violence. Interagency searches to see if they would qualify for any federal, state or county funding. However, there are many who do not qualify to receive these services and they were falling through the cracks. The Caring for Havasuvians In Need United Project (CHIN-UP) was organized to meet the need and rescue these individuals during their emergency and give them a hand up before their life became even worse.
CHIN-UP is innovative and looks for creative ways to meet community needs. Manufacturers’ coupons are used to fund the program. By starting a “grass roots” operation, including churches, service organizations, schools, senior centers, the homebound and other individuals, a coupon campaign was started to raise funds for the needy. The organization cuts, sorts, stamps and hangs manufacturers’ coupons on the corresponding product in the four recruited supermarkets. When the consumer purchases the product with a coupon on it, the “cents-off” goes to C.H.I.N.-L.P. to aid those in need. There are no paid volunteers and all the money stays in Havasu.
When a person goes to Interagency for help, they are carefully screened. It they do not qualify for any other program, CHIN-UP steps in to help them. Money is never given directly to individual, but instead goes to the electric company, landlord, or another creditor after carefully checking the situation. This help is given on a one-time-only basis so that people do not become dependent on the program and are able to remain self-sufficient.
Through the last 10 years, CHIN-UP has raised in excess of $380,000 and helped more than 5,500 needy individuals, which is a measure of their success. Through this achievement many others are attracted to volunteer their time and energy to CHIN-UP. The group has created a Procedure Manual that is regularly requested by those who are amazed at the program and want to replicate it in their hometown or another state.
Churches regularly add this activity to the Ladies group programs to set aside a month or two, or a whole year donated to working with CHIN-UP. Many churches and organizations have a drop-box in their buildings for people to drop off their coupons each week. A private school volunteered to help, as did the Honor students at Lake Havasu High School. CHIN-UP volunteers served cookies and punch to customers at Food City, Bashas and Smith’s supermarket on a Saturday to say thank you to the customers for shopping there and buying the products which have the manufacturers coupons stamped with the CHIN-UP logo. Mayor Melanie Grinstead-Hanak signed a proclamation naming May 7, 2002 as CHIN-UP Day in honor of the volunteer organization’s 10-year anniversary.