Santa Fe Living Treasures ‚Äď Elder Stories
Honored October, 2015
Christine Johnson has earned the well deserved title “stealth volunteer” given when she was chosen one of the 10 Who Make a Difference. Selfless, kind, compassionate, Christine has dedicated her life to helping others. As a nurse, teacher, activist, organizer, and community volunteer, she has touched the lives of many.
Christine the daughter of a Baptist minister, grew up in racially segregated NC where she and her family experienced discrimination. Her passion for justice is rooted in the early days of the civil rights movement, when she attended marches and demonstrations with Dr. ML King Jr.
She worked as a Commissioned Officer nurse in the US Public Health Service under the United States Surgeon General. Christine came to Santa Fe in 1982 when she was assigned Assistant Director of Nursing at the Indian Health Services Hospital. She continued her nursing career teaching nursing at the Santa Fe Community College. Establishing a warm rapport with and respect from her students, years after their training, her students continue to seek out her counsel and advice.
Christine has not only served on community boards but is a hands on volunteer. She is an inexhaustible fundraiser. Her commitments include leadership roles in the local NAACP, Food for Santa Fe, and Esperanza and serves the arts community—ushering for the Santa Fe Desert Chorale, the Santa Fe Women’s Ensemble and the Sangre De Cristo Chorale. She’s helped prisoners through her participation in the Kairos program. She has worked in many different capacities in the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande, which includes all of NM and much of West Texas. Locally Christine is actively involved in St. Bede’s church; one of her many contributions there is with the Dreamer Project that helps immigrants seeking citizenship. A church newcomer immediately feels welcome and embraced when Christine takes them under her wings. She reads to kids in the schools, and often chaperones on field trips.
Christine helps organizations review and update their employee policies and benefits—for example, as a volunteer with AARP NM’s Health Issue Team, she offers a clinical and practical perspective to the language in proposed legislation as AARP evaluates bills to determine what their position will be.
Her concern and care for individuals in the community is limitless. Wednesdays are set aside to visit the sick and shut ins. As a liaison between patients and doctors, Christine offers friendship and moral support to those in the hospital and nursing homes. How reassuring it must be for ill friends to have Christine take them to doctor appointments, interpret the medical information and advocate for the help they need. If a friend has surgery, Christine will spend the first night in the hospital with them to ease their anxiety and give additional care.
Sustained by her deep faith, Chris has always believed her life work is to care for her family and for the many people who are and will become her friends
When it is time to celebrate, it is done with gusto; when it is time to mourn, it is done with dignity; when it is time to just be, it is time to just be. Christine shares all of this in the deepest and most touching way possible. She makes sure people have someone in their life when it is most needed. No judgements or mandates, just pure love that embraces you and keeps you where you need to be in any given moment or in any given situation.
“Whatever I do,” she says, “it’s because it’s important for struggling people to know that other people care about them, and that God loves them.”
Story by Nancy Dahl
Photo © 2009 by Genevieve Russell