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April Volunteer of the Month Pearl Johnson

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

  • By: Psyche Philips
  • Organization: VLSP/HAP


Pearl Johnson, HAP Volunteer

1941-2006

One of BASF/VLSP's Homeless Advocacy Project's most loyal and beloved volunteers, Pearl Johnson, passed away in early February after a fatal injury in a biking accident. Since February 2002, Pearl generously donated her time to HAP every Wednesday and Thursday. Her cheerful presence, familiar face, and extraordinary competence will be greatly missed. HAP office manager Martha Garcia remembers her as "a person who was really alive, really interested and always full of energy. She was so faithful . . . very organized. When she got here our files were a disaster, and she kept everything so beautiful."

Born in a small town in North Dakota, Pearl moved to Michigan in her twenties, where she spent over 30 years as a teacher and then a librarian. She moved to California to escape the cold Midwestern winters and began volunteering at HAP shortly after her arrival in the Bay Area. Pearl loved living in San Francisco, partly because she no longer had to travel with holiday travel crowds, "her loved ones wanted to come visit her much more frequently in San Francisco," her son Ben remembers.

Pearl was fluent in German, an avid reader who preferred foreign films and thought-provoking cinema to Hollywood blockbusters. She loved the outdoors and regularly went on hikes in places all over the Bay Area and beyond. Pearl rode her bike almost six miles every weekend.

Pearl was always energetic and eager to help people. HAP Managing attorney Teresa Friend said Pearl's "dedication and contributions to HAP were tremendous."

Perhaps Martha Garcia puts it best: "She is irreplaceable."

In honor of Pearl's dedication and hard work, she will posthumously receive the Volunteer Legal Services Program's Community Service award for 2005.

Pearl is survived by her son Ben and daughter Patrice. They have requested that rather than sending cards or flowers, donations can be sent to the Homeless Advocacy Project, 1360 Mission Street, Suite 201, San Francisco, CA 94103.

The Volunteer Legal Services Program's Homeless Advocacy Project (HAP) provides free legal services and supporting social services to people in San Francisco who are homeless, or at serious risk of becoming homeless. HAP staff, together with legal and social services volunteers, help clients with a wide variety of issues, in the belief that a holistic approach to the client's situation is the most effective way to truly make a difference in a person's life.

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