Invitees throughout the city streets accepted the printed invitation with genuine holiday cheer, sincerely thanked the volunteers and bid them Merry Christmas. The volunteers agreed that their decision to get on the volunteer list was worth its weight in holiday spirit and gold, especially after hearing inspiring stories told by some of the everyday superheroes.
At about 2 p.m., Herb Johnson, president/CEO of the San Diego Rescue Mission (SDRM) welcomed everyone into the dining room and thanked the volunteers. Tasty dishes were served by cheery volunteers while the very talented singers from Voices of Our City Choir entertained and the band New Beginnings queued their instruments to also share their musical talents and added to the festive atmosphere.
Engaging attendees, whose existences could be likened to heroes revealed on the big screen, were happy to tell their complex back-stories for their enthralled audiences of grateful guests to learn how the SDRM can help people, experiencing different types of diverse turmoil, set their lives back on a positive path with the help of the SDRM’s free programs.
As J.J. (names changed) told his story of growing up in a prevalent gang area and his recovery from horrific conflicts, The Marvel Superhero Dr. Strange’s story of a painful past, extensive healing and valiant battles with monsters for the benefit of mankind and a rewarding life might come to the listener’s mind as J.J. earnestly credited the SDRM for the positive direction of his life.
Then as K.D. told her story of a woman’s life on the streets, the repeated phrase of “Don’t be afraid!” in J. K. Rowling’s, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” might resonate as K.D. explained how her strong faith when facing huge obstacles, her choice to be of solid character while not afraid, the help of the SDRM and her diligent work finally saved her from the crumbling world that surrounded her earlier life.
Volunteers and SDRM staff continued to serve the guests with joy as the choir sang. Many people in attendance sharing stories, who were once alone and on the streets, now starting careers, continuing school or both; credit the hope, help and direction they were given to the Lord first, then to the tailored programs offered to them by the SDRM management and staff.
From the morning of Dec. 17, when I walked the streets to hand out invitations to the SDRM Christmas Dinner with the volunteer in groups, until after the dinner shifts of about 200 meals served at a time, when the guests exited the party, the SDRM’s prevailing respect for dignity and the words “with dignity” were in the forefront, as in the years since the organizations history began in 1955, for the unquestionably manner to treat people in all situations.
As the dinner guests, many with physical and mental challenges, shared their experiences on the streets, their gratitude for the SDRM’s dedication to dignity was unmistakable at this event. The everyday heroes I met throughout the day were those previously in devastating need and pain, deciding to get the help they need and do the work to help themselves and/or their families with the kind support of the SDRM.
The party continued as dessert was served then guests were hailed with wishes for a “Merry Christmas” as they were presented with gifts of toiletries for the adults and small toys for the children and invitations to consider joining SDRM programs were extended.
The guests were given information that explains how The SDRM helps homeless men, women and children rehabilitate by providing shelter, meals, physical, spiritual, emotional and clothing needs through the many programs. The SDRM also helps with substance abuse recovery, parenting training, money management, vocational training, employment preparation and yearlong in-house programs to hundreds of homeless people per year, all at no cost to those-in-need.
Citizens may still connect with the festive cheer for future community champions by joining the treasured volunteers/supporters and sending their end of the year gifts to the SDRM right now or by extending the program information to someone in need.
SDRM is a faith-based organization that does not receive government funding. SDRM’s rehabilitation services are made possible by donations only and any donated amount is especially valued now to help achieve the 2017 needs projections.
Herb Johnson is looking forward to being able to extend the SDRM’s new Educational Program to the San Diego population in need but must raise an additional $500,000 to develop the Educational Program with plans to offer career certification and GED certification curriculums to help people in the San Diego population in search of employment.
SDRM’s intricately well-developed programs are designed and strive to reach as much of the extensive San Diego homeless population as possible with the resources available. For client success videos, program information, volunteer needs and ways to partner and/or give, please visit sdrescue.org, SDRM, 120 Elm St., call 619-687-3720 (888) SD-RESCUE/(888) 737-3728 or mail donations to San Diego Rescue Mission, P.O. Box 80427, San Diego, CA 92138. The SDRM is a nonprofit organization qualified to receive tax-deductible donations.