Sunset Heroes: Pauline Chin and Sunset Community Cleanup

Author: susan

Celebrating Sunset Heroes: People who have kept our community strong through the pandemic and beyond.

Cleaning up the west side of San Francisco is a family affair for Pauline Chin, the founder of the Sunset Community Cleanup group. “My sister belongs to a Richmond cleanup group,” Pauline says, and when she saw that group’s efforts, “I thought, why don’t we do this in the Sunset?” So she posted on the NextDoor social network, asking if anyone wanted to join her in a trash pickup day in the neighborhood. “Right away, we got about 120 people,” Pauline says.

For years Pauline was a nurse at UCSF, and the drive to help people stayed with her even after she retired. “The nurse in me always wants to help people,” she says, which means that even before the pandemic, she was active in volunteer efforts, including a knitting group that’s made thousands of hats for the needy, and mask loop “ear savers” for caregivers.

When the coronavirus crisis hit, Pauline had to rethink how the SCC worked, as “getting hundreds of people together wasn’t safe.” Instead, she moved to proposing days in which people would work independently, choosing streets and blocks to clean up using trash pickers and safety vests supplied by Eva Chang with SF’s Graffiti Advisory Board and Department of Public Works. “I really have to commend Eva and DPW for everything they’ve done to help us with our cleanup work,” Pauline says. “Eva has delivered so many [trash] pickers and vests in the past year.”

As the city opens up (“get vaccinated as soon as you can,” Pauline urges everyone reading), she’s hoping to broaden the SCC’s efforts. The week of April 22, Earth Day, Pauline is planning smaller-group cleanup efforts, in which groups of ten will target specific streets. But even if you can’t participate that week, “you can still clean your own block any time,” Pauline says. To join the Sunset Community Cleanup group, just send Pauline an email at