This has never been a job. It’s always been my Mission.

It was 2003 when I first started volunteering at San Diego Rescue Mission. From the start, I knew this was a strong organization; but its impact was little known in the community.

Providing new shoes and hope during a Samaritan’s Feet event.

It wasn’t until San Diego Rescue Mission moved to a new building in Bankers Hill that the community took real notice. Shortly after the move, I joined the board of directors and went on to become Board Chair. I put my energy into stabilizing and growing the staff, working with neighborhood associations and working more closely with the San Diego homeless community and its providers. Today, I am proud to say, the community now realizes our impact!

When I became CEO and President, the Rescue Mission had 5 or 6 programs to help our homeless population – today we have 11! And each of these programs is continuing to grow.

One of the biggest accomplishments in my 15+ years with the Rescue Mission happened during our 60thAnniversary Celebration in 2015, when we raised funds to expand and enhance the Nueva Vida Haven Emergency Overnight Shelter for Women and Children. This meant we could finally get the mattresses off the floor and the women and children into new bunks. We replaced floors, redid the walls, and expanded the entire space to include more beds, storage, better bathrooms and a quiet room, so kids could focus on their homework.

Getting the mattresses off the floor. Before and After photos of NVH Emergency Overnight Shelter for Women and Children.

Another important accomplishment, that I could not be more proud of, is the opening of our Licensed Children’s Preschool. Now, entering its 3rd year, we are able to see our preschoolers successfully move on to Kindergarten. And I’m so happy to share that their new schools have reported “no deficiencies”. This is critical to helping break the cycle of homelessness from the start. As many studies have shown, kids who start school behind, never catch up. And that leads to drop outs and eventually homelessness.

The 2nd Avenue Transitional Housing program is another major program we recently added. This multi phase transitional housing program is now able to accommodate a diverse group of individuals by offering two tracks; one focused on finding and maintaining employment, and the other finding alternate routes for client’s with disabilities to be active and resourceful within their greater community. This program is critical is helping formerly homeless men and women heal previous barriers to independence and work towards self-sufficiency.

I’ve also witnessed the After Care program grow into a huge success. It took us a while to figure it out – but today, we have a high-level, full-time, dedicated After Care Coordinator who is keeping in constant contact with more than 800+ alumni. We’ve learned from experience that some of our graduates are more successful, with close contact for 1-2 years after they leave the Mission. Ongoing communication and assistance with job training, housing, and support is critical to permanent change.

I started the Recuperative Care Unit (RCU) over 7 years ago and have watched it grow and change to meet the needs of clients referred to us by our partner hospitals. We were able to convert some extra space, and provide more services to homeless men and women newly released from the hospital yet still requiring medical attention. Today, the program offers up to 32 patients a safe and supportive environment, as well as meals, oversight of medical treatment, and follow-up care.

Another big change in San Diego Rescue Mission history happened just last year when we were able to move the executive team to a building across the street. This significant move not only allows for more office and living space, but more space for education and training. In fact, 35% of our new building is dedicated to classrooms. This enhanced classroom space paved the way for a relationship with San Diego Community College. Last month, instructors from SDCC started teaching 2 classes – and we are looking to increase those classes to several more. In fact, that will be one of the focuses of our upcoming June 17 celebration – raising funds for scholarships, classes, computers, and training materials to help further grow this program which not only serves homeless individuals, but any San Diegan in need.

35% of our new building is dedicated to classrooms benefiting all San Diegans in need.

Another important accomplishment happens each Fall when hundreds of young “friendraisers” and fundraisers join together to serve the community and to educate themselves and the public about ways to help homeless. In the years I’ve been at San Diego Rescue Mission, I’ve seen our signature event Sleepless San Diego become a bigger and bigger impact in our community. As a result, it has connected us with important groups such as the Military, Community Colleges, and City Government.

Working to inspire the next generation of young fundraisers and volunteers during Sleepless San Diego.

And finally, I am most proud of the executive team I’ve helped put in place. We have such strong players here, and because of this, I am confident that they (along with your help) will strive to ensure each of our programs continue to thrive and help our entire community stay healthy and whole. In fact, along with personal, direct contact with our clients, (and the amazing food we have here!) this dedicated and inspirational staff is what I will miss most when I retire.

This has never been a job for me. Having the ability to change people’s lives in a Christian environment has always been a mission, MY Mission!

God Bless,


Herb Johnson

How to Inspire Giving

giving to homeless

Our children, our neighbors, our community is watching – will you inspire them to give?

I didn’t grow up in a big house. But every Thanksgiving, my mother filled it with people. And when she ran out of room at the table, she would send food to those neighbors who had a little less luck that year. She made sure nobody felt deprived, and everyone felt loved.

Although my mother has passed, I continue her tradition of including extra families at my Thanksgiving dinner table. Each year I find one or two families at my Church who need a lift, and invite them to join me for a warm holiday meal, comfort and conversation.

And of course there is also San Diego Rescue Mission’s annual community Thanksgiving meal, where we open our doors to the hundreds of homeless San Diegans who are alone and hungry this holiday.

During our holiday meals, clients from our Residential Recovery Program make themselves available to share stories about how San Diego Rescue Mission has helped turn their life around. And there is no better spokesperson to encourage the homeless to take part in the critical services we offer than the individuals who have been personally helped by our programs.

I stay at the front door for the full 3 hours of our annual Thanksgiving meal to say “hello” to each person who walks through the door. Many, I can tell, have already had a few too many adult beverages, and others are missing shoes and in need of fresh clothes. The difference between those who have been in our program for even just a month, is drastic compared to those fresh off the streets. Those in the program have sobered up and cleaned up. I feel so blessed to be able to offer these individuals a chance at a new life, new hope.

homeless on thanksgiving

The difference between those who have been in our program for even just a month, is drastic compared to those fresh off the streets.

Just as my mother influenced me, the passion and feeling to give to others is often inspired by those around us. I was reminded of this again while working with the Over the Hill Gang to collect material donations for our Thrift Stores. As I sat with the group, watching the last of the donations get dropped off, and ready to get picked up and taken to our Thrift Stores, a little girl decided to join us and sell lemonade to the neighbors. “Well that sounds like a good idea,” I thought as I got up to buy a glass. That’s when I learned that this little girl was selling lemonade to raise money for San Diego Rescue Mission. I was shocked – what are the chances!? What a remarkable coincidence.  That’s when I learned that she is the granddaughter of one of our largest donors.

As that little girl proved, it doesn’t take a huge house and a great job to give.  Anyone can do it. Just last month, during our Sunday night Chapel Service, I had the opportunity to witness another act of selflessness.

During our Men’s Center Chapel Service, which is also open to the public, a worn and weathered homeless man walked through the door, without any shoes.  Upon seeing this, one of the younger men in our program immediately got up and went to his room. A few minutes later he came back with a pair of shoes, and not just any pair of shoes, it was his best pair of shoes. He offered them to the homeless man, who was so, so grateful.

meals for homeless

It doesn’t take a huge house and a great job to give. Anyone can do it.

Our children, our neighbors, our community is watching. And our acts of giving (no matter how small) influence others. We are all so busy around the holidays, and it’s so easy for many of us to get caught up in the perfect table setting and beautiful table cloth. When really, the holidays should be a time to give thanks, include and praise others.

I feel so blessed to be able to have so many join us at the dinner table this holiday season, and doubly blessed to have the support of our donors, volunteers and the community to help make it happen.

Thank you and God Bless to you and your family,






Herb Johnson

How would you feel if your child started the school year 3+ years behind everyone else?

helping homeless kidsIt’s that time of year again – back to school. For most San Diego kids, it marks a time for new school clothes, shoes, backpacks, a fresh set of school supplies and a chance to reconnect with old buddies and meet some new ones. But for homeless kids, starting school comes with a whole set of uncertainty and stressors. Besides the tattered clothes, and shoes that may be too big or too small, most homeless kids don’t show up to school until the first grade. This puts them almost three years behind the other kids, who were able to attend preschool, or have a stable enough home address to last through Kindergarten.

Three years behind when they start 1st grade. Then, assuming they are able to keep a consistent home address and stay in the school, they are still behind when they move on to 2nd grade. And so the cycle of homelessness is already starting. They are not given a fair chance from the start.

That’s why our Children’s First Initiative is so important to our community. And with community support, we hope to further expand many of the programs here – such as doubling the size of our licensed Preschool by the end of the year. By expanding our Children’s Center Preschool, we will be available not only to children in our WCC, our yearlong recovery program for women and women with children,  Transitional Housing Program, but also those staying in our Nueva Vida Haven Emergency Overnight Shelter.

healthy eating for homeless kidsSince we opened our Children’s Center just 2 years ago, I am touched by how many people have taken the care and interest in making San Diego Rescue Mission a stable and caring home for the children.  It was only 24 months ago, when most of the toddlers who would come to us, already had rotting teeth from all the sugar drinks their mothers fed them. They had no interest in eating vegetables or even a piece of fruit. The men in our Residential Recovery Program, who were working in the kitchen, saw the unhealthy eating patterns of the kids (and mothers) and set out to make a difference. The men started by making animals out of fruit – first a bird out of cantaloupe balls, and then a watermelon whale … then moved on to making the veggies fun! Suddenly, the kids started to eat. The same kids, who wouldn’t touch a piece of fruit or vegetable 24 months ago, were now enjoying a healthy diet.

As we move into this new school year, with high hopes and expectations, I want to thank everyone who has supported us these past couple years and beyond to make this happen. But our work doesn’t stop here. My goal is to expand our educational services to help even more kids in San Diego. In fact, my goal is to double the size of our Children’s Center. This means we are seeking money and support to rehab our space to include 1600 square feet of classrooms, and acquire more educational tools (tablets, textbooks, art supplies). Most importantly, we need to add to our amazing Preschool staff so we can maintain the effective ratio of 4:1 student : teacher ratio! And each year, we want to continue to provide even more homeless kids with new clothes, sneakers, and backpacks full of fresh school supplies. Let’s work together to help all of San Diego’s children feel safe, secure and confident as they start the new school year.

We are grateful for your generous support of our children.

God Bless,

Herb Johnson

Herb Johnson





Let’s take a “Whole Body” Approach to helping formerly Homeless Men become Better Fathers

Helping Homeless Men This weekend, five formerly homeless men will be participating in the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon. They are working hard to overcome difficult life circumstances, from addiction to abuse to extreme poverty. Not long ago, these men were so close to giving up all hope, when they found their way to San Diego Rescue Mission. It will be such an incredible accomplishment to see them cross the finish line on Sunday!

Over the past 60 years, San Diego Rescue Mission has grown into so much more than a “soup kitchen” or “homeless shelter”. We believe in a true whole body approach to healing and transformation –and to do that right, it takes building stronger relationships with the community and organizations that can lend additional expertise and experience.

In addition to building closer ties with Up and Running Again (the organization helping to train our clients for the upcoming half marathon), we’re also building closer ties to Family Health Center, now located directly inside the expanded San Diego Rescue Mission. Together, we are starting to provide critical health services with fewer boundaries between the two organizations. This means more screenings for homeless and poor men who would otherwise have no access to such services. Services include screenings for cancers, diabetes, high blood pressure, TB testing, more complete dental care and more.

San Diego Rescue Mission clients up and running

Most of our clients never thought running a marathon was possible.

And as most of you know, I’m a firm believer that spiritual health goes hand in hand with physical health. That’s why I look forward to our annual Samaritan’s Feet event – a powerful and restorative time of service and prayer. I invite you to come and serve our brothers and sisters at San Diego Rescue Mission by washing feet, praying over them and fitting them with a new pair of shoes and clean socks on June 2 from 5:30-9PM and June 3 from 6:30-11:00AM. You can learn more about the event, and watch a powerful video about how this service impacts the men at

When the body and soul feel strong and healthy, a person can start to really grow. That’s why I’m so excited about the continuing adult education classes to be offered at San Diego Rescue Mission. Last month, we moved our administrative staff into a new building to provide additional space for more programs in GED training, PC 1000, tutoring courses by junior colleges, parenting classes, and a new computer lab to help students get the training they need to find jobs in today’s market.

Samaritan’s Feet

Spiritual health goes hand in hand with physical health. I invite you to come and serve our brothers and sisters at our upcoming Samaritan’s Feet event.

Building a person back up from ground zero goes beyond a hot meal and shelter. Many men experiencing homelessness need to be shown how to live in a healthy way. They need to learn how to break habits that may have been passed down from their own fathers.

Teaching ways men can nourish their bodies and minds in a long-term way is the path to a more wholesome man. And a more wholesome man makes a much better parent, father, brother, son – and we all benefit from that.

God Bless,

Herb Johnson

Herb Johnson



Vision 2020 – A Look ahead for San Diego Rescue Mission

providing education for san diego's homeless

I believe education is the biggest item in a person’s tool shed to make positive lifestyle changes. That’s why we are making education such a huge component of our long term vision for helping those in need.

The incredible generosity of our San Diego partners during our 60th year of saving lives helped pave the way for some exciting changes in the years ahead. You may have heard me say that San Diego Rescue Mission is much more than “3 hots and a cot”. And now, we are in a position to provide even more services to those experiencing homelessness, unemployment and poverty here in San Diego.

We are currently in the process of moving our entire executive staff to a new building across the street. The move will allow us to gain 7300+ square feet of space which will include classrooms and educational programs. This additional space will make room for more programs in GED training, PC 100 and parenting classes, outpatient therapy, and a new computer lab to help students get training they need to find jobs in today’s market. We’ll also offer tutoring courses for junior colleges and work with local educators on providing additional courses as necessary. This additional space will also allow us to expand our educational services beyond current clients, and to the San Diego public in need.

I believe education is a valuable item in our client’s inventory to make positive lifestyle changes. That’s why we are making education such a huge component of our long term vision for helping those in need.

providing education for a better life

My 2020 vision is to provide more opportunities for needy San Diegans to get back into the system. It will get them access to a foothold in a better job and that can provide a better life.

Through my 10 years working at San Diego Rescue Mission, I’ve discovered that about 90% of the people who come to us for help are products of some sort of childhood trauma. When you don’t have a stable childhood, it’s easy to get forced out of the system, and then the path to a high school diploma gets more and more difficult. My 2020 vision is to provide more opportunities for more San Diegans into get back in the system. Get them easier access to tools that can provide a better life, and a pathway in a better job. I want these educational programs to lift people up spiritually and emotionally. Its longer term nurturing combined with spiritual guidance that will give people the confidence to make positive changes in their lives.

Another big change: I’m back on the National Board of the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions (AGRM) for a three year term. This provides San Diego with an opportunity to have our voice heard within an organization that makes critical decisions regarding homelessness on a nationwide level. In fact, we just attended a meeting in Washington DC to discuss increasing tax benefits for large donors and other critical policies that will benefit Rescue Missions and the work we do.

Thank you again to all who supported the San Diego Rescue Mission during our 60th year of saving lives. Your donations have paved the way to make our visions for the future of our life saving programs.


God Bless,





Herb Johnson

A Humbling San Diego Tradition: 60 years of Thanksgiving Meals at the Rescue Mission

Thanksgiving for San Diego Homeless

Our annual Thanksgiving meal always draws the largest crowd of homeless San Diegans – and continues to be the biggest wake up call for all of us here at San Diego Rescue Mission.

The 3,000 miles between my 5 children and 12 grandchildren (who live in Boston) feels extra distant around the holidays. We try our best to connect through Facebook photos of the grandkids dressed up in their holiday best and my wife Carol and I will Skype with our grown, married children. We all know family visits will have to wait until summer and spring time, as there is much work to do here at San Diego Rescue Mission each holiday season.

But although I feel separated from family during this time, I realize how blessed I am to have a loving + supportive family. That is something not to be taken lightly.

I’m especially reminded of this at the beginning of each holiday season when San Diego’s most broken and lost souls wearily walk through our doors. Many of them separated from their families permanently. Others cling to hope that the separation is temporary; as they try to get the help and healing they need.

san diego homeless

For 60 Years, our Thanksgiving meal provides more than temporary comfort from the streets, it’s a time to provide hope + support to San Diego’s most vulnerable, and let them know that there are services available that can help.

Each year, we serve three annual congregate meals (Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas). Our annual Thanksgiving meal always draws the largest crowd of homeless San Diegans – and continues to be the biggest wake up call for all of us here at San Diego Rescue Mission. This group of homeless men, women and children truly mirror the depravity of living on the streets. They are alone. They are vulnerable. And no matter the weather, there is always a few with literally nothing but the clothes on their back – not even shoes, or socks! When I ask what happened to their shoes, the answers are always the same. They were either stolen, or they simply can’t remember where they left them.

When these lost San Diegans sit down at our Thanksgiving table, they are greeted by a staff member, volunteer, or most often, a current Rescue Mission client who is in the process of rebuilding his/her life. The contrast is always quite striking when we see a current client speaking with a new visitor. Surrounded by great food, deserts, live music and compassionate company, hope starts to build in these broken souls.

Thanksgiving meal for homeless

Surrounded by great food, deserts, live music and compassionate company, hope begins to build.

Just when I start missing my own family and wondering why I didn’t make the holiday trip to Boston, I realize this Rescue Mission family also fills a big part my heart. Whether it’s the 130+ staff, amazing volunteers, 400 clients living in the building, or one of the thousands who come by for a warm meal, it just takes one conversation with one of these broken souls, one smile from one of these homeless kids, one look from a weary-eyed abandoned mother, for me to realize I’m exactly where I should be. I am humbled in their presence. This is God’s work.

As we humbly celebrate our 60th year of serving Thanksgiving meals to San Diego’s homeless, I hope you all are able to spend time with people who fill your heart and touch your soul this holiday.
On behalf of the entire San Diego Rescue Mission Family, God Bless.





Herb Johnson


A Blessed Evening Paves the Way to Real Change at NVH Women + Children’s Emergency Overnight Shelter.

San Diego Rescue Mission event

Nastaran shared her experience and vision for change during our 60th Anniversary Event. I simply supported her discussion with some visuals and further explanation of needs. From there, an incredible amount of compassionate support came in.

It’s truly a work of God when you see the convergence of people with the right skills, resources, desires and needs all come together for a common goal.

The purpose of our recent Casino Royal 60th Anniversary Event was to embrace our beginning, which started in a poker hall, and to share the stories and history of San Diego Rescue Mission since 1955.

When I took the microphone on Saturday, August 8 at the magnificent San Diego Yacht Club, among longtime friends, staff and supporters, I had a speech prepared, and decided not to read it. Instead, I spoke from the heart, about something that has deeply troubled me for years…the Nueva Vida Haven Emergency Overnight Shelter for Women and Children. And that’s when the blessing happened. Supporters walked up to me and handed me a few checks. Others verbally pledged the funds necessary to help fund the furniture needs of the shelter. In about 12 minutes, we had raised more than $135,000 for Nueva Vida Haven. I was moved.

But I realize this incredible support didn’t happen simply because of me, standing in front of a crowd, sharing a vision and hope. This was an outpouring of generosity by caring individuals with a desire to see change. In fact, the whole conversation about NVH that evening was started by Nastaran Ghomi.

Emergency Overnight Shelter

Most people tour the Women + Children’s Emergency Overnight Shelter during the day. However, Nastaran spent the night, and saw first-hand what an evening is like for homeless women + children at NVH. “I understand what I have to do now,” she said.

I met Nastaran about a year ago when she and a group of talented individuals we like to call the “Rooftop Ladies” threw a fundraiser on our behalf. Afterwards, Nastaran said, “ I would like to help.” That’s when I invited her to tour the San Diego Rescue Mission. During her tour she was immediately drawn to the Emergency Overnight Shelter.

In the months following, Nastaran, an award winning Architectural Designer, decided to prepare a design to renovate the shelter, and asked to come back and see NVH once again. This time, she decided to spend the entire evening so she could experience what a night in the shelter was like first-hand.

Seeing the 65-70 women and children, babies and teenagers, women with mental health issues and alcoholism, all together trying to get washed up, eat dinner and go to sleep brought her to tears. The entire night was intensely emotional. The following morning, Nastaran tore up her original design plan, and started a new one.

“I understand what I have to do now,” she said. That’s when she involved her architecture firm, the Community. A Design Collective ( to design a better space for the women and children. The new design will not only get the women and children up off the ground (many currently sleep on mattresses on the floor) but will also allow for more privacy and segregation of groups. Moms with babies and teens trying to do their homework will have more privacy. And children will be more separated from the single women that many have mental health issues or problems with alcoholism. The new design will not only be functional, but include more of what these women and children need– dignity and love.

Nastaran shared her experience and vision for change during our 60th Anniversary Event. I simply supported her discussion with some visuals and further explanation of needs. From there, the compassionate support came in….. more than $135,000 worth of support! And because of the incredible blessing that night, I have given my staff the green light to proceed with the work. We are officially moving forward with the redesign of the Nueva Vida Haven Women + Children’s Shelter!

Thank you to all who attended the magnificent night at San Diego Yacht Club. It was truly a convergence of an incredible group of people, sharing compassion, generosity and faith.

God Bless,





Herb Johnson


A Benefit to all of San Diego: Children’s First Initiative

Overnight Emergency Shelter for Women and Children

Part of the Children’s First Initiative includes the redesign of our Emergency Overnight Shelter to increase capacity, privacy, and get beds off the ground.

You’ve heard me talk about the importance of breaking the cycle of homelessness from the start. Homeless children tend to have delays in development and they suffer from anxiety, emotional distress, and toxic stress. Their unstable, under nourished and often abusive environments put them at a disadvantage right from the start, and perpetuate the cycle of homelessness.

That’s why I’m putting so much emphasis on our new Children’s First Initiative. When we work together to get homeless children (and their mothers) the help and support they need to live confident, secure and healthy lives, we all benefit.

I’ve been aggressively meeting with groups, businesses and supporters like you, to help secure funding for three important elements of this initiative.

Children's Center for Homeless kids

I’ve been waiting to see a playground for the little ones since I became CEO over 9 years ago. And this month, it became a reality!

First, we’re working to expand our new Haven of Hope Preschool to accommodate more preschoolers. Our goal is to increase the number to 30 children. Currently we have 11 children (2 – 5 years old) in our program. There is a waiting list to get in, so we plan to expand to care for even more disadvantaged youth. Part of this expansion also includes the addition of an age-appropriate playground. The original playground at San Diego Rescue Mission was designed for kids ages 6-12 and we needed funds to get it retrofitted for preschool aged kids. This is something I’ve been waiting a long time to see. In fact, I’ve been waiting to see a playground for the little ones since I became CEO over 9 years ago – and this month, thanks to the generous support of numerous donors, it became a reality! I hope you will join me at the Grand Opening of the Children’s Center this month, where you’ll have a chance to see the new play structure and take a tour of the Haven of Hope Preschool (RSVP at

Emergency Overnight Shelter for homeless women + children

The second part of our Children’s First Initiative is the redesign of the Nueva Vida Haven Emergency Overnight Shelter for women and children. Many nights, it is maxed out and very crowded. We see 25-40 kids there every night and for kids living on the streets, this becomes their life. Due to the current set up, there is no privacy, no place for the kids to get their homework done, and due to space issues, many of the mattresses are on the floor.

We were blessed to meet designer Nastaran T. Ghomi and the NGT Group  who have offered to redesign the entire space pro bono. This whole experience has been eye-opening. Someone out there must have been praying for this, because honestly, we didn’t even know that some of these new types of furniture and possibilities of creating space with little budget existed. Our goal is to have the newly designed Nueva Vida Haven Emergency Overnight Shelter completed by the end of the year.

women and children’s transitional housing program

The space is ready for our new women and children’s transitional housing program – we just need to secure the additional funding to staff it, and open early!

Finally, we are getting ready to open the new Transitional Housing program for women and children. We’ve been operating the Men’s Transitional Housing Program for about 9 months now, and the Women’s Transitional Housing has been up and running for one year.

It’s important to provide a feeling of “normal” for the women and children going through such transition. So, we’ve worked hard to make the new Transitional Housing space feel like home. We’ve rehabbed our entire 2nd floor for this project, added a sitting room, computer room, space for marriage and family therapy, and meal service. It’s going to be quite a unique stock of housing! The new space is ready – now we need to staff it. With the right funding, we can open before the originally scheduled September date.

I feel so blessed that our Children’s First Initiative is well on its way. Because when children feel safe, confident and secure, it benefits all of our futures.

God Bless,



Herb Johnson

No longer a Soup Kitchen… San Diego Rescue Mission further expands critical, life-saving Programs to San Diegans in Need.

Thank you to everyone who joined us at Le Dimora last month to kick off our 60th Anniversary year of saving lives! In case you missed it, below is a transcription of Herb Johnson’s presentation sharing news of expansion projects and how you can help further fund these critical programs.

Children's Center for homeless

Our new Children’s Center keeps preschool-aged kids off the street, and gives them the attention they need to succeed.

“First, I’d like to talk about our plans for the new Children’s Center. The mission of the Children’s Center is to get more children off the streets and give them the attention they need to succeed. We will expand this program by adding more children into our program. You heard me talk about a four-to-one ratio; I think we’re down to three-to-one now. It’s amazing the amount of bodies we’ve had to put in there. It cost us way more money than we ever expected. Younger children can now be in school where they learn to be integrated and to network with other children, while the moms can get parenting skills, counseling, education, and support.

This year, we also need a more age appropriate playground. The playground that was built for the Center was built for ten year olds- and that playground we built cost us half million dollars to put in. So we’ve got to retrofit. We’ve got the design work. We’ve got a wonderful design engineer with us, John Pyjar, who is doing all the work for free. But that’s another thing that’s going to cost us a lot of money and we have to fund that.

help for homeless mothers

We already have a transitional housing program for men. The next step is transitional housing for mothers with children.

Next, as most of you know, we already have transitional housing programs for single men and women. Our next step is transitional housing for mothers with children. It’s in our budget, but it’s not budgeted until September. And the demand is so high that we are trying to raising money (with the Children’s Initiative) to open it early. It’s cleaned up and ready to go, we just don’t have the money to staff it. Pray for us that we can get a spring or an early summer opening. All of those decisions are budgetary.

So let’s talk about some of our financial goals. If you look on our website you’ll find out that we’re a twenty million dollar engine. This is not a soup kitchen anymore; this is a major industry in San Diego. This year I’m going to raise- with the help of my wonderful staff – $1.2 million, in addition to the $20 million, and we’re going to do that by finding a ‘Circle of Sixty’ for our 60th year anniversary. Each one of those individuals are going to give us someplace between $10,000 and $25,000 dollars. On the initial pledge, the minimum amount of $10,000 dollars for the ‘Children’s Initiative’ will give us $600,000. We already have donors lining up now that are going to match all of those gifts and give us a million, too. But I never do things in a small way, ask anybody.  My goal was closer to $2 million, and we already have twelve donors who have signed up.

What’s next?  Starting this year on the last Tuesday of every month I’m going to be doing ‘Board Room Breakfasts’ for folks like you to come in, talk to us about what’s going on in the business.  It’ll last about an hour or so, we’ll give you a great tour, and as usual for the Mission we’ll feed you really well.
Part of the 60th celebration is two other big programs, which by the way, we’ve already hired all of the people necessary to put on.

original san diego rescue mission

The Card Room where we served our first meal to San Diego’s homeless 60 years ago – and inspiration for this year’s Casino Royal themed 60th Anniversary Celebration happening August 8, 2015.

So let me tell you about this first event we’re going to do.  It’s August 8th at the San Diego Yacht Club, and we’re going to have a ‘Casino Royale’. So you’re saying, ‘Gambling and the San Diego Rescue Mission!  What’s up with that?’ Well, the original San Diego Rescue Mission was in a card room in east San Diego. That’s where we started.  That’s why we’re doing the Casino Royale.  We’re going to have the best event!  We’re going to take over the San Diego Yacht Club (except for the owner’s area)  and it’s going to be the best thing that happens there this year, don’t miss it!

Our 60th Anniversary celebration is not going to include a gala.  Everybody else gives galas, and I’ve been to a half dozen of them in the last six months, and by eight o’clock everybody is yawning and ready to go.  Well, Ray McKewon is going to provide the music, and it’s going to be an unbelievable event, I guarantee it. Get your tickets early on this one. It will be held at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel + Marina on November 7th, and let me tell you, this is an event you don’t want to miss!

On behalf of the 130 staff (130 unbelievable staff!) we thank you so much for your continued support, and helping to make this 60th Anniversary year one to remember!”

The Importance of Taking Pause… A Time of Reflection + Awakening, as we move forward into our 60th Year of Saving Lives.

Pastor Loggins

Last month, we closed down our thrift stores, stopped our trucks, and paused programs at the Mission for 3 uninterrupted hours, so that all staff could be immersed in a deep water tank of spiritually driven energy with the help of Pastor Loggins.

It is a challenge to find enough time to get things done. And often, when we hurry through our days, it’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day tasks and forget to look at the big picture. The big picture of why we are here, and doing what we do.

This has been a year of significant growth and staff changes here at the Mission. We’ve added new faces, welcomed some familiar ones back and we’ve elevated some long time staff to new positions. As we enter this 60th year of saving lives, I feel that our staff is stronger than ever. And to help power this engine of passionate individuals, we took an uninterrupted moment in time with Pastor Loggins and author/Servant Leader, Ken Blanchard to reflect on why we do what we do here at the Mission – and what this important work means for our community.

The purpose of this “Spiritual Awakening” exercise was to help the entire staff at the San Diego Rescue Mission relax, take a deep breath,  and to move forward operating  not only out of their own intellect and emotions, but from deep within their hearts and the words of the gospel.

These uninterrupted hours were such a magical time for staff. I believe this experience will help power our engine well into our 60th year and beyond. I encourage other Rescue Missions to bring this type of spiritual awakening to their staff!

As we move into this 60th year of service with renewed energy, we will not only continue our expansion of programs, but also take time to recognize and empower this passionate staff. In fact, we recently launched a new Staff Spotlight blog to share their stories with the community. I recommend you take a moment to read our first post about James Pope, Director of our Men’s Center.

Card Room

The Card Room where we served our first meal to San Diego’s homeless 60 years ago – and inspiration of this year’s Casino Royal themed 60th Anniversary Celebration happening August 8, 2015

We also have many great events planned this year to help celebrate you, the San Diego community, who has helped support our critical life changing programs over the years. We hope you’ll mark your calendars and plan to join us for these fun events. The first is happening August 8, 2015 at the San Diego Yacht Club. It will be a Casino Royal theme – in memory of the card room where we served our first meal to San Diego’s homeless 60 years ago. We are also in the process of planning the final details of our 60th Anniversary Jubilee, scheduled for November 7th.  We’ll be posting more details about both of these upcoming events to our Facebook Page as they become available.

As we move into this 60th year, we are feeling inspired, empowered and energetic. And we hope you take a moment out of your busy day to reflect, center and listen to your heart – and encourage others in our community to do the same. Because after all, there truly is no Rescue without YOU!

God Bless,





Herb Johnson