Providing Comfort + Joy to San Diego’s Lost, Least + Forgotten

helping homeless families

What a difference a year can make! Last Christmas, I met this family in our Emergency Overnight Shelter. Today, mom is in our Residential Recovery Program and her children were among the very first to attend class at our new Children’s Center!

I love the holiday season. Just ask any of my 13 grandkids, 5 adult kids, friends and neighbors. In fact, my house is the one that closely resembles the family home in Chevy Chase’s Christmas Vacation movie – almost 2,000 light bulbs, synced up and flashing to music! And in front of my home, I’ve set up a tall pole lined with blue and white lights, where I’ve perched a glowing star – my version of the Star in the East.

For most of us, home is a place of comfort, security and peace. But for most of the women and children who will come to San Diego Rescue Mission this holiday, home is a dangerous place. Many live with abusive mates or with those involved in illegal activity. At night they sleep in their children’s room with a locked door, never knowing who may walk into their home, and for what reason.

Thanks to your support, we’ve been able to provide warm meals and safe shelter for homeless families like this, keeping them off the streets and out of dangerous homes.

Just last year, during our annual Christmas meal, I met a women staying in our Emergency Overnight Shelter. Her husband was living under a bridge, and she was trying to care for her two young children. She was rattled and torn, and her young toddler was badly sunburned from trying to stay warm at Balboa Park all day.

Since that meeting 1 year ago, this woman has not only entered into our 12-month Residential Recovery Program, but her two children are among the first to enroll in our new Children’s Center! What a difference a year can make! And it all starts with a caring hand.

helping homeless

Let’s show them that we care even after the Christmas season has passed. We are their safety net when things get tough.

I didn’t come from a wealthy family. We never had money to go to a fancy department store or buy gifts. But we did give, whenever we could. We’d often make crafts from office supplies or terrariums from glass jars. And today, in my family, our gifts still consist of hand-made personal touches – whether I’m putting together my own hand-made wooden crosses or my wife is knitting a blanket or making jewelry. For us Christmas isn’t about fancy gifts, it is about showing you care. And that is exactly how I see our Holiday Meals here at the Mission. We go beyond a warm meal. We offer a personal touch, a smiling face, and yes, a small gift pack put together by volunteers.

I hope you’ll help me this Christmas season, and throughout the year, show the hundreds of men, women and children we serve each night that San Diego cares. And that we care even after the Christmas season has passed. We are their safety net when things get tough. And together, we can give the least, lost and forgotten the physical, emotional and spiritual support they need, long after we’ve taken down our Christmas Lights.

Wishing you and your loved ones a very blessed holiday,


Herb Johnson