Carolina Panthers safety Jeremy Chinn has launched The Jeremy Chinn Foundation to support families and individuals impacted by homelessness in the Greater Charlotte Community. The foundation works in partnership with local agencies and nonprofits to give families struggling to support themselves with access to items they need but cannot afford, like beds, winter coats, school supplies, cleaning products and more.
Mike Kaye, Charlotte Observer
November 24, 2022
When Jeremy Chinn arrived in Charlotte in 2020, the Carolina Panthers safety couldn’t help but notice the homeless population around uptown.
The Fishers, Ind., native had a family member who experienced homelessness, but he had never seen such a widespread problem before.
“Back home, that’s not something you really see a lot,” Chinn told The Charlotte Observer recently. “It really kind of impacted me.”
Seeing so many people in need of the help, Chinn started the process of creating the Jeremy Chinn Foundation. On Nov. 1, the foundation hosted its inaugural event following a $12,000 donation from UnitedHealthcare.
The foundation’s coat giveaway was held at St. Johns Church, and Chinn helped distribute around 160 coats to mothers and their children who are part of the Charlotte Family Housing community. And he didn’t stop there.
“We were truly expecting him to come in, say a few words, do a photo-op thing – and it was the exact opposite,” said Elizabeth Kurtz, Chief Housing Resource Director of Charlotte Family Housing. “He jumped right in with the families. He was handing out coats, he was talking with the kids – he made their night. He made each of those kids, and each of those moms, feel so special and so seen in an amazingly genuine way.”
According to Chinn, his personal experiences with homelessness involved a family member who passed away before the launch of his foundation.
“I had a family member that was homeless, struggled with homelessness,” Chinn said. “She reached out to me – and I would send money and things like that – but ultimately that didn’t help her situation. So now, my long-term goal is to really help homeless individuals get back on their feet. ... A lot of the time, it’s hard for those people to get a job. Usually, you don’t even have a social security number, identification and things like that.”
Chinn also was inspired to launch his foundation after witnessing former teammate Christian McCaffrey’s work with his charity. McCaffrey’s foundation, which aides healthcare workers and servicemen and women, provided an example for how Chinn could help the homeless families in Charlotte.
“It was something that hit home, personally, to him, too,” Chinn said of McCaffrey’s efforts. “So, I just felt like that was something I could connect to. My foundation affected me personally.”
Chinn’s plans for his foundation intersect with Charlotte Family Housing’s mission. The charity, founded in 2011, looks to empower working families who are dealing with homelessness as they try to become more self-sufficient.
Single mothers and their children make up 96% of Charlotte Family Housing’s network, according to Kurtz. Chinn’s coat giveaway was meant to help around 175 moms and children in attendance. Since the event concluded, social workers have continued to distribute coats with roughly 300 being given out throughout November. As Nov. 15, nearly all of the coats had been handed out to families in need.
And while the coats were important to the families, Chinn’s empathy, time and attention at the launch event meant just as much to the attendees.
“He was so sweet,” Kurtz said. “His message was ‘I know how hard it’s been and anything I can do to help out, I want to do.’”
Chinn said he felt like he had a responsibility to serve the community that has supported him through his three-year career. Chinn said the giveaway was just the beginning of a bigger mission for the star safety.
“This is something that is important to me,” Chinn said. “I feel like people find time for things that are important.”