THE SALVATION ARMY TAKES MOBILE HELP CENTER TO SAN DIEGO'S FORGOTTEN
IN THE BACK COUNTRY OF EAST COUNTY
Coffee mug in hand, Bonnie Stone clambers into The Salvation Army's new back country motor
home, stirring up some dust as she heads out on the dirt roads to help some of the neediest and
most neglected folks in San Diego. Descanso, Guaytay, Pine Valley, Mt. Laguna, and Campo
are a few of her destinations. Four days a week she pulls up beside shacks, trailers, modest
homes, and schools with her right hand volunteer Betty Allen to hand out diapers, baby wipes,
school supplies, blankets, clothing, personal hygiene products, food, and hope. Bonnie and
Betty each bring a warm smile, a listening heart, and abundunt resources. During the holidays,
they will deliver toys and a Christmas meal in a box.
"These are the forgotten, basically," says Stone, "I am amazed how many individuals and families are living
in the back country, needy, neglected and isolated. They are living in spaces I didn't know that people
could live in! There are a thousand children out there. We're trying to gather information on how many
seniors there are in the back country, alone and hungry for a good meal."
Martha* has muscular sclerosis and is on disability benefits,
but she says she could not make it through the month without
help from The Salvation Army. 'I love The Salvation Army, "
she confides, "even though I have very little, when I pass a
Red Kettle, I ALWAYS put something in."
*(not her real name)
Helping the folks in the back country isn't new to The
Salvation Army; it's something the Army has done for
20 years, most recently from an office in Pine Valley.
It became clear that some of the neediest seniors,
families, and individuals couldn't get to Pine Valley.
Many don't have a car; those who do can't afford gas
for a 50 or 60 mile drive. So The Salvation Army raised money for a 31-foot Fun Mover van with a 96" by 113" cargo
area, perfect for storing goods and meeting with clients to provide counseling and case
management. There's even a refrigerator, so The Salvation Army can transport and
distribute fresh produce.
The back country is an area of 2,500 square miles composed of the rural commmuniites Descanso,
Guatay, Pine Valley, Mt. Laguna, Campo, Jacumba, Boulevard, Potrero, and Tecate.
Last Year, The Salvation Army distributed 2,028 emergency food boxes to needy families and 90
Christmas boxes. Vouchers to help with gas, furniture and clothing were given to 125 families. The
army also provided 1, 584 new books to children, new coats to 57 children, and Christmas toys to
With the new van, The Salvation Army can reach out to more of the neediest and most neglected
children, families, and seniors of San Diego County, offering physical, emotional, and spiritual
support efficiently and effectively. The Salvation Army, Doing The Most Good in the back country.
Jack Gates and his cameraman went to the homes of these people in the isolated areas. He
interviewed them about their lives and how the Salvation Army was of assistance to them.
The story was then featured on Channel 4 News. The community was informed of the situation
and The Salvation Army was recognized for once again helping people in the community.
In the above photo, Channel 4's Tod Lilburn shoots footage of The Salvation Army's
back country mobile unit in Descanso for Channel 4's San Diego Insider.
Information from the Sierra Del Mar Divisional Headquarters website: