Holidays are a Time for Reconnection – But what about those who have no Friends or Family?

Candlelight Vigil

The shoes of those who died homeless and alone on the streets of San Diego this year. We will honor them in our annual Candlelight Vigil.

As we plan for our annual Candlelight Vigil, my thoughts turn to the homeless men, women and even children, who die alone on the streets each year here in San Diego. The lonely souls who, for whatever reason, lost touch with friends and family, and were not able to find a way to make a better life or survive in this world on their own.

This November, we expect to serve 1600 – 1800 Thanksgiving dinners to San Diego’s homeless and hungry. But our Thanksgiving meal here at the Mission is about more than just a warm meal. It’s about bringing a bit of companionship, joy, hope and smiles to those who have nowhere else to go. We play joyful music, encourage guests to share stories and provide a sense of reconnection.

One of the primary advantages for homeless men and women, who make the commitment to participate in our 12 month recovery program, is the ability to channel that positive energy into reconnecting broken relationships.

Last week, I received a letter from the family of a man who recently stayed with us here at the Mission. My heart sank when I learned the man had passed away. Even at the young age of twenty-two, his body was too worn down from the abuse of living on the streets.

Homeless Meal

Even just one meal, and chance to connect with others in a safe environment, can bring hope to someone living alone on the streets of San Diego.

Even just one meal, and chance to connect with others in a safe environment, can bring hope to someone living alone on the streets of San Diego.

However, his family thanked us for rehabilitating him enough to give him the positive energy and strength to reconnect with them. They were so thankful to be reunited in his last days. The family enclosed a donation for $22, in honor of each year of his life. Every donation is important, no matter the size!

This holiday season, as you make time to share a Thanksgiving feast, laugh and reconnect with family and old friends, please take a moment to remember those who don’t have a warm bed, meal, or even a friend to sit beside. Your continued support of the San Diego Rescue Mission helps provide a place for those lonely soles to rest their weary heads, enjoy a warm meal and even share a smile.

Herb Johnson
Herb Johnson
President/CEO

Feed the Need or Fix the Problem?

Daycare

As grateful as I am for the hot meals, clothing, showers and safe shelter you help provide for the children each evening, the fact that we are not permitted to provide services for them during the day is a terrible worry. A day care center would be a real blessing.

When I think about sharing blessings, my mother and grandchildren come to mind. (I visited both on a recent trip to Boston to see our five children and their families.)

As I cleaned the moss from my mother’s headstone and left some of her favorite flowers, I thought of her tremendous care and concern for others, and how blessed I am to be carrying on that legacy.

Later that afternoon, spending time with my grandchildren, I reflected on how their lives are so very different from those of the children whose only home is our Emergency Shelter, Nueva Vida Haven.

As grateful as I am for the hot meals, clothing, showers and safe shelter you help provide for them each evening, the fact that we are not permitted to provide services for them during the day is a terrible worry.

A day care center would be a real blessing, and I ask for your prayers and support as we move forward to create that wonderful option for these most vulnerable families!

Homeless

People who are hungry and homeless need more than a meal. They need shelter. Clothing. Job training. And most of all, they need life changing programs that will not only address the causes of hunger and homelessness, but work to overcome them!

This brings me to my next point, and a question that many ask themselves when considering helping the homeless. “Is my donation helping to feed the need, or will it actually fix the problem?”

In the next couple of months, your mailbox will be filled with requests from all kinds of organizations asking you to “Feed hungry people at Thanksgiving.”

We think that’s wonderful. But, why just at Thanksgiving? And why just food? People who are hungry and homeless need more than a meal. They need shelter. Clothing. Job training. And most of all, they need life changing programs that will not only address the causes of hunger and homelessness, but work to overcome them!

Addiction, hunger and homelessness can be fatal. Your support provides the year-round, all-day-every-day food, shelter, Christian care and counseling that saves lives. Your gifts bless men and women with the ability to transform their lives through our residential recovery programs. Your gift today to San Diego Rescue Mission will do so much more than feed the need. You will help fix the problem. Thank you!

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Herb Johnson
President/CEO

Your Gift Makes a Difference in the Lives of San Diego’s Homeless & Hungry

Well Wish

YES. Your gift does make a difference! It will make a difference to a mother and her children who would otherwise be living in their car on a dangerous street.

“Is my gift really important?”

“Will it really matter if I don’t make a gift to the Mission today?”

Yes! It most certainly will.

It will make a difference to a mother and her children who would otherwise be living in their car on a dangerous street. It will make a difference to a homeless woman released from the hospital with no one to take her in. It will make a tremendous difference to hundreds of men, women and children who depend on the Mission for food, shelter and hope!

Though we didn’t have much growing up, my mother used to tell us that everything we have is a gift from God. As we give faithfully to others of our time, our talents and our treasure, we make an impact on the world to His glory.

Because of your faithfulness, people are blessed. They are fed and sheltered and their lives are changed forever.

YES. Your gift does make a difference!

Herb Johnson
Herb Johnson
President/CEO

300 Homeless Boys and Girls Need Back to School Supplies. Will you Donate?

School Supplies

For families who are homeless due to abuse or hardship, even the purchase of paper, pencils, pens and crayons is a near impossibility. You can help provide school supplies and other vital services for homeless and at-risk children.

Last year, 280 boys and girls whose only home is the Women & Children Center Nueva Vida Haven here at the Mission received backpacks full of school supplies, thanks to the generosity of donors like you.

Sometimes, students think we’ve made a mistake because these backpacks are brand new and full of unused supplies. When they find out that everything is “theirs to keep” and not a “hand me down,” they are overjoyed!

Right now, we’re working hard to provide backpacks filled with supplies for as many as 300 boys and girls – including everyone from pre-K toddlers to high school students.

So I’m writing to ask if you could:

1. Purchase a NEW backpack
2. Fill it with supplies listed below
3. Sign or initial the enclosed bookmark
4. Drop off the backpack and bookmark at the Mission before August 31

Drop Off Instructions:
Please drop off school supplies at 120 Elm Street, San Diego 92101. Please put items in a sealed bag or box and labeled “Back To School Wish Lists”.

Or, if you’re short of time, make a donation, and we’ll buy and fill a backpack for you.

Thank you for caring,
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Herb Johnson
President/CEO

Project Backpack Shopping List

Beyond Meals & Shelter – We’re Helping Homeless Gain Confidence to Begin a Healthier, More Stable Existence

Nueva Vida Haven

Our Nueva Vida Haven Emergency Overnight Shelter for women & children is the only walk-in after-hours shelter in San Diego.

Here at the Mission, we are seeing an increase in San Diego families needing our help. And according to a recent survey, children represent 60% of people sheltered as a family. This latest stat was no surprise to me as I’ve seen our emergency overnight shelter at or near full capacity each night, with waiting lists for both our Women and Children’s Center and Men’s Center.

In the next 60 days, we will prepare and serve nearly 100,000 meals and provide more than 22,400 nights of shelter. But basic food and shelter is only the beginning to recovery. As part of a 12-month residential recovery program we also provide mental health and substance abuse therapy, educational classes, vocational training, Bible study and the constant determination needed to create a healthier, stable existence.

I am very proud of our recent graduates. On July 12, twenty-one formerly homeless men and women successfully completed their year-long recovery program here at the Mission – this would not have been possible without the generosity of the San Diegans who continue to support the Mission and our programs. Thank you!

Graduates July 2013

Meet the most recent graduates of our 12-month residential recovery program

Legoland

A generous family has donated $5,000 to provide some incredible trips for our mothers and children!

While the men and women in our residential programs are receiving this critical therapy and training to help them maintain a healthier existence, the children are also benefiting from the generosity of San Diegans. One local generous family has donated $5,000 to provide some incredible trips for our mothers and children! Our little ones had a ton of fun at LEGOLAND just a few weeks ago…(for many it was their first time at a theme park!). And a special trip to SeaWorld is planned for the end of this month.

Two other very generous local families also donated funds to purchase two new large passenger vans for our residents. Special thanks to them and the generosity of Drew Ford who has helped to provide all our residents with safe, clean, and comfortable transportation!

 

Drew Ford

A big thank you to Drew Ford and two very generous local families for helping us purchase 2 vans for our residents.

SDG&E is another company helping the San Diego Rescue Mission this Summer. Through a special program, they have helped us to obtain a new chiller – replacing our 40+ year old air conditioning system. The new system is more efficient, better for the environment and helps us keep costs down.

Earlier this month, some of the men, women, children, and quite a few veterans who were staying at the Mission joined our staff on the roof top to watch the 4th of July fireworks. As they sat quietly watching the brilliant display to celebrate our country’s independence, many were reminded that they have their own celebration of independence to be proud – independence from domestic violence, addiction, hunger and hopelessness.

God bless you and your families with a safe and relaxing summer, and thank you for giving hope to the men, women, and children at San Diego Rescue Mission!
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Herb Johnson
President/CEO

When Giving is a Way of Life

Volunteer Group

So many of you who support our work here at the Mission are like my mother – a person for whom giving was a way of life.

My mother was always looking out for other people. She had a wicker basket in the trunk of her car that she would fill with clothing she would buy at the local thrift shop and then donate.

She would embarrass her children by asking for dented cans and outdated baked goods at the local grocery store to take to the local shelter. And she didn’t just back up the car and drop everything off – we would be there for several hours as she visited with guests!

So many of you who support our work here are like my mother – a person for whom giving was a way of life.

In this idyllic corner of the world, with year-round sunshine and swaying palm trees, you see those who are homeless and hungry and in need, and you reach out to help them.

Through your fellowship and the grace of Jesus Christ, we are changing lives here in San
Diego County – one person at a time.

Thank you for all you do!
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Herb Johnson
President/CEO

What a Difference a Meal Can Make

I had planned to read the following story at our Spring Graduation Ceremony. Unfortunately, we ran out of time, so I promised I would post it here:

Just $1.67 feeds one hungry San Diegan. Please help us meet the challenges ahead in 2013.
Your gift will keep bellies full and spirits high. Your support encourages men, women and families, devastated by lost jobs, abuse, and addiction, to begin new lives here at San Diego Rescue Mission. You can Donate now to “pay it forward” for only $1.67 per meal!

Just $1.67 feeds one hungry San Diegan. Please help us meet the challenges ahead in 2013. Your gift will keep bellies full and spirits high. Your support encourages men, women and families, devastated by lost jobs, abuse, and addiction, to begin new lives here at San Diego Rescue Mission. You can Donate now to “pay it forward” for only $1.67 per meal!

Just $1.67 feeds one hungry San Diegan. Please help us meet the challenges ahead in 2013.
Your gift will keep bellies full and spirits high. Your support encourages men, women and families, devastated by lost jobs, abuse, and addiction, to begin new lives here at San Diego Rescue Mission. You can Donate now to “pay it forward” for only $1.67 per meal!

God Led Me To You

The man slowly looked up. This was a woman clearly accustomed to the finer things of life. Her coat was new. She looked like that she had never missed a meal in her life. His first thought was that she wanted to make fun of him, like so many others had done before.

“Leave me alone,” he growled.

To his amazement, the woman continued standing.

She was smiling – her even white teeth displayed in dazzling rows.

“Are you hungry?” she asked.

“No,” he answered sarcastically. “I’ve just come from dining with the president. Now go away.” The woman’s smile became even broader.

Suddenly the man felt a gentle hand under his arm. “What are you doing, lady?” The man asked angrily. “I said to leave me alone.”

Just then a policeman came up. “Is there any problem, ma’am?” he asked.

“No problem here, officer,” the woman answered. “I’m just trying to get this man to his feet. Will you help me?”

The officer scratched his head. “That’s old Jack. He’s been a fixture around here for a couple of years. What do you want with him?”

“See that cafeteria over there?” she asked. “I’m going to get him something to eat and get him out of the cold for a while.”

“Are you crazy, lady?” the homeless man resisted. “I don’t want to go in there!”

Then he felt strong hands grab his other arm and lift him up.

“Let me go, officer. I didn’t do anything.”

“This is a good deal for you, Jack,” the officer answered. “Don’t blow it.”

Finally, and with some difficulty, the woman and the police officer got Jack into the cafeteria and sat him at a table in a remote corner. It was the middle of the morning, so most of the breakfast crowd had already left and the lunch bunch had not yet arrived. The manager strode across the cafeteria and stood by the table.

“What’s going on here, officer?” he asked. “What is all this. Is this man in trouble?”

“This lady brought this man in here to be fed,” the policeman answered.

“Not in here!” the manager replied angrily. “Having a person like that here is bad for business.”

Old Jack smiled a toothless grin. “See, lady. I told you so. Now if you’ll let me go. I didn’t want to come here in the first place.”

The woman turned to the cafeteria manager and smiled. “Sir, are you familiar with Eddy and Associates, the banking firm down the street?”

“Of course I am,” the manager answered impatiently. “They hold their weekly meetings in one of my banquet rooms.”

“And do you make a goodly amount of money providing food at these weekly meetings?”

“What business is that of yours?”

“I, sir, am Penelope Eddy, president and CEO of the company.”

“Oh.”

The woman smiled again. “I thought that might make a difference.”

She glanced at the cop who was busy stifling a giggle. “Would you like to join us in a cup of coffee and a meal, officer?”

“No thanks, ma’am,” the officer replied. “I’m on duty.”

“Then, perhaps, a cup of coffee to go?”

“Yes, ma’am. That would be very nice.”

The cafeteria manager turned on his heel. “I’ll get your coffee for you right away, officer.”

The officer watched him walk away. “You certainly put him in his place,” he said.

“That was not my intent. Believe it or not, I have a reason for all this.”

She sat down at the table across from her amazed dinner guest. She stared at him intently. “Jack, do you remember me?”

Old Jack searched her face with his old, bloodshot eyes “I think so – I mean you do look familiar.”

“I’m a little older perhaps,” she said. “Maybe I’ve even filled out more than in my younger days when you worked here, and I came through that very door, cold and hungry.”

“Ma’am?” the officer said questioningly. He couldn’t believe that such a magnificently turned out woman could ever have been hungry.

“I was just out of college,” the woman began. “I had come to the city looking for a job, but I couldn’t find anything. Finally I was down to my last few cents and had been kicked out of my apartment. I walked the streets for days. It was February and I was cold and nearly starving. I saw this place and walked in on the off chance that I could get something to eat.”

Jack lit up with a smile. “Now I remember,” he said. “I was behind the serving counter. You came up and asked me if you could work for something to eat. I said that it was against company policy.”

“I know,” the woman continued. “Then you made me the biggest roast beef sandwich that I had ever seen, gave me a cup of coffee, and told me to go over to a corner table and enjoy it. I was afraid that you would get into trouble. Then, when I looked over, I saw you put the price of my food in the cash register. I knew then that everything would be alright.”

“So you started your own business?” Old Jack said.

“I got a job that very afternoon. I worked my way up. Eventually I started my own business, that, with the help of God, prospered.” She opened her purse and pulled out a business card. “When you are finished here, I want you to pay a visit to a Mr. Lyons. He’s the personnel director of my company. I’ll go talk to him now and I’m certain he’ll find something for you to do around the office.” She smiled. “I think he might even find the funds to give you a little advance so that you can buy some clothes and get a place to live until you get on your feet. If you ever need anything, my door is always opened to you.”

There were tears in the old man’s eyes. “How can I ever thank you?” he said.

“Don’t thank me,” the woman answered. “To God goes the glory. Thank Jesus. He led me to you.”

2013 Challenge Gift – A Special Opportunity to Make Your Gifts Go Even Further!

Herb in WCCWe are “a nation of givers.” More than 70% of all Americans make donations to non-profit organizations – the highest percentage of any country in the world! Amazingly, the average amount given per family is more than $1,000 per year.

This generosity certainly benefits the Mission, where more than 93% of our support comes from private individuals, some of whom have been our partners in ministry for over 30 years.

Today, we have an opportunity to make these gifts to even further.

The Mission has received a $25,000 Challenge Gift. If we can match it with an additional $25,000, we will have $50,000 to provide meals, shelter and other lifesaving services this summer and beyond!

To enable us take advantage of the tremendous blessing this Challenge Gift offers, I would ask that you prayerfully consider making a special gift by June 31.

God bless you for your care and compassion.
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Herb Johnson
President/CEO

A Celebration of New Beginnings at the Mission

A Celebration of New BeginningsSpringtime at the Mission not only marks a time to prepare for one of our biggest holiday meals, Easter, but a time to celebrate new beginnings- and in this month’s case, a brand new life!

Meet our newest resident here at the Mission. Because of the continued support of our donors, this little girl has a safe and stable place to come home to and thrive while her mom finishes up the year-long residential recovery program.

When hunger ends, life really does begin. And that statement couldn’t have rang more true at this year’s Easter Meal, where we were able to provide hundreds of home-cooked meals for those who might otherwise have no food, companionship, or celebration this holiday.

Writing of new beginnings, we recently announced our new Mission Catering service available to churches, organizations and individuals.

Holiday Meals VolunteersThis new program not only provides an additional revenue stream to the Mission, but helps our residents gain valuable knowledge and experience needed to acquire employment in the culinary field.

A few other exciting new things happening this year include expanding our Thrift Store offerings by seeking a new location. We also have a new partnership with the Fish, Food, Feel Good organization which will donate fresh fish and seafood product to the Mission. The kids’ playground has a new shade structure made possible by Over the Hill Gang association. And finally, under the new Green Initiative Program, the Mission continues to improve savings by changing all light bulbs, installing sensor light switches and reducing paper usage.

On behalf of everyone here at the Mission, I thank you for your continued support of our critical life-changing programs. Because of you, we are able to celebrate another year of new beginnings here at the Mission!

Herb Johson
Herb Johnson
President/CEO

Miles Away, Yet Right Next Door… Boston is on our Prayer List!

MedalsMy heart goes out to the people of Boston, my home for over fifty years, and home to twelve of my Grandchildren!

Immediately after the events unfolded, I reached out to the President of the Boston Rescue Mission, letting him know that they are on our Prayer List.

As he described the horrific acts of violence at the finish line, and how his friends and family were coping with the tragedy, he concluded his email with the following inspirational statement:

“Our hope comes in many forms. In this time of sorrow, I pray and hope for healing, for courage, for the peace and the goodness that still surround us all.”

An important reminder, that in spite of this horrific event, there is still good in this world, and the act of few should not overshadow all the good that the rest of us are accomplishing.

Stay Strong. God Bless,

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Herb Johnson
President/CEO