Thirty-seven years ago, John Anderson was a homeless cocaine addict in San Diego weighing just 130 pounds, and set to die young. He wandered into a rescue mission very much like the Richmond-based Bay Area Rescue Mission, where he found his faith and achieved sobriety.
“God touched my heart, changed my life,” Anderson said.
Anderson is now president and CEO of the Bay Area Rescue Mission (BARM), which provides food, shelter and supportive services to those in need. And on Tuesday, as he does every year at this time of year, Anderson felt grateful to have the opportunity to pay his good fortune forward by holding BARM’s Community Thanksgiving Meals Sharing event, a decades-old annual tradition.
Held at one of BARM’s facilities at 200 Macdonald Ave., the event hands out free “Boxes of Hope” packed with turkey and other Thanksgiving food items for the community’s less fortunate. BARM was set to help 750 families this Thanksgiving, largely due to the support of donations from local corporations, businesses and concerned individuals, Anderson said.
“These ‘Boxes of Hope’ will help those who often have to make the hard decision of shortchanging other critical needs or putting a traditional Thanksgiving meal on their table,” Anderson said.
As it does every year, the event reminds Anderson of the days so many years ago when he was homeless and hungry during the holidays. Wandering into that rescue mission and receiving help “played a key role in what motivates me to reach out and help others today,” he said.
The Bay Area Rescue Mission was founded in 1965, and now is the largest privately funded multi-service organization in the Bay Area. They offer emergency services and long-term recovery programs and services to people needing and wanting to change the current life circumstances and become their best selves and get their lives back on course.