A letter from Sam and Maria Johnston

We opened Hand in Hand with a simple mission to promote the development of all people from the most basic and often overlooked levels to higher levels of self-actualization.

Prior to Hand in Hand, I attended business school and would have gone down your conventional finance path had it not been for my late brother, Nick.

There are moments in one’s life that carry such weight, such gravity, that they shift the paradigm of your entire perspective. For me, that was the passing of my brother Nick and also, the kindest person I’ve known. 

His passion for people and equality ran far deep, and, if you spent any time around him, you’d see it through true acts of kindness. 

We were walking across Balboa park one afternoon when we passed by a homeless man. Nick stopped, made eye contact and said, “Hey man, how’s it going?”  

He had nothing material to offer. No money or food, but to this day, I remain convinced the innocent and seemingly insignificant conversation made a significantly larger impact. Within moments, the hardened face of the man softened. 

The truth is, that could be anyone in your life. 

My brother passed away in 2017. Losing someone is always gut-wrenching but I am forever grateful that his memory motivates me daily to use Hand In Hand as a vehicle for affecting change in a way I know he would be proud of for everyone in our community.

This philosophy of accessible care for all is universal, steadfast and unwavering. And, I believe that it is this mission that will keep Hand in Hand growing for the entire community, our clients and team.

– Sam Johnston

It’s easy to dismiss poverty when it isn’t directly affecting you, your family and your country. But this was the daily reality in my country, Honduras. 

However, I learned at a young age that everyone has the ability to make a difference if they tried and this was further ingrained in me through my upbringing. 

When we were growing up, my dad and I used to go to the community to provide food to as many people as we could. The smiles we received were so powerful and reactions, heartwarming. 

As I grew older though, I learned that there were illnesses that weren’t so easy to detect, and these were also some of the illnesses that would leave the most vulnerable members of our community behind. 

Back at home, especially back then, there wasn’t the same understanding and thus care for mental health. 

But I truly believed, and still do, that people are good at heart and have the power to change their lives if they are provided the right environment and support.

And that is what Hand in Hand is for me. 

Together, with my team, we can offer that unconditional love, care and support for those who need it most, to give them the strength and hope to change their lives.   

– Maria Johnston