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January 27, 2010 > Abode Services honors longtime volunteer nurse

Abode Services honors longtime volunteer nurse

Submitted By Carol Arata
Photos By courtesy of Abode Services

Abode Services recently honored Crystal Collins, 86, of Fremont, a longtime volunteer who has provided 20 years of dedicated service as the Nursing Supervisor at Sunrise Village Emergency Shelter through the Rota-Care Program. Crystal was recognized for her service at a recent meeting of Abode's Board of Directors where she was thanked for her generous support over the years.

Crystal developed and led a Volunteer Nurses Program that made a significant difference in the lives of thousands of local homeless adults and children living at Sunrise Village Emergency Shelter. Her contributions started with a determination that basic health screening must happen for every homeless individual entering Abode Services' shelters.

She organized protocols for medications and screening procedures and established a recruitment and training process for new volunteer nurses. In addition, through her leadership, Abode developed a process with the Rota-Care Clinic to screen all incoming residents for tuberculosis, with weekly PPD testing and reading. Abode Services' shelters are still the only shelters in the Bay Area consistently implementing this public health practice.

"We are deeply grateful for Crystal's service and wish to thank her for the many years of providing significant comfort to some of the most vulnerable individuals in our community," said Louis Chicoine, Abode's Executive Director.

Crystal's association with Abode Services (formerly Tri-City Homeless Coalition) began in the late 1980's, when local citizens and faith communities were looking at ways to help the homeless in the community. They started the Winter Relief Program which allowed the homeless to be housed at night in local churches four months out of the year. As a board member of Tri-City Volunteers, Crystal suggested that the Winter Relief Program staff be given an area to work during the day at Tri-City Volunteers. Crystal had volunteered as a Registered Nurse with the American Red Cross for 10 years, and when she was approached to work with participants in the Winter Relief Program, she jumped at the chance and began volunteering twice a week at the two different church sites that housed the program. At that time, families were housed together at one church and single adults at another.

Eventually the Winter Relief Program was moved to the St. Vincent de Paul building on Decoto Road in Fremont. In September 1989, Abode Services (at the time known as Tri-City Homeless Coalition) was formed and its first director was hired. The homeless program was growing so fast that Crystal started to recruit some of the nurses she had worked with at the Red Cross. She coordinated the nurses and divided their volunteer time at the different churches to work with families and single adults.

In 1993 when Abode Services' Sunrise Village Emergency Shelter was built on Brown Road in Fremont, the Sunrise Rotary Club financed the TB program. Two local doctors from the Rotary Club made this possible. On Saturday mornings when Tri-City Health Center's offices were closed, the volunteer doctors and nurses would open the office to the residents of Sunrise Village shelter. The doctors would administer the TB tests and within 48 hours the volunteer nurses would go to Sunrise Village and read the TB test results for the residents.

Crystal and her late husband Howard have always been great volunteers and supporters of Abode Services. In 1999, the first affordable housing site opened by Abode Services was named Howard Collins-BridgeWay Apartments in honor of Crystal's husband. Over the years Crystal continued to supervise and recruit over 25 Registered Nurses to volunteer at Sunrise Village Emergency Shelter.

After over 20 years of faithful and dedicated volunteer service, Crystal Collins, R.N. has retired and passed the medical bag to Susan Kimura, R.N., flight nurse for the Stanford Hospital Life Flight which is based on the roof of Stanford Hospital.

Jean Morgan, Community Outreach Director of Abode Services says, "It has been wonderful working with Crystal over the years. She has been a great advocate for the healthcare of the residents at Sunrise Village. I can remember many times when Crystal would purchase and donate different medical items that were needed by the residents. We will truly miss her great spirit and caring heart."

For further information about volunteer opportunities at Abode Services, visit

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