FAIRFIELD — Edward Campbell was apologetic when James-Michael Johnson stepped into Campbell’s bedroom at the Mission Solano Bridge to Life Center.
“Don’t mind the (Pittsburgh) Steelers stuff,” Campbell said. “I’m a Steelers fan.”
Johnson, a 2007 Rodriguez High School graduate and linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs, graciously accepted Campbell’s confession.
“I’m really a football fan,” Campbell went on to explain.
“I am, too,” Johnson assured him.
Johnson autographed the T-shirt Campbell was wearing. But Campbell wasn’t changing his NFL loyalty. A Steelers fan he would remain, he said.
Ron Marlette, executive director of Mission Solano, and Raymond Courtemanche, operations director, escorted Johnson and his father around the facility Monday morning. Marlette and the younger Johnson would pair up later in a golf tournament benefitting Mission Solano.
Last Thanksgiving, a fair amount of poultry was pilfered from Mission Solano. When the younger Johnson heard about the missing birds, he took to Twitter with a pledge to help replace them.
His Twitter followers followed suit and donations began pouring in from across the country, Marlette said. The purloined poultry was replaced.
“We got double the number of turkeys,” Marlette said.
Johnson said he couldn’t let the opportunity to help pass by. Thanksgiving is his favorite holiday and he knew he would be gathered, with plenty of food and family, in Kansas City to celebrate the day.
He was pleased so many people stepped forward to help, Johnson said. The impact of his Tweet didn’t hit home until he saw it on the news in Kansas City, he added.
On Monday, Johnson got to see firsthand the work Mission Solano does. He was impressed and particularly touched by staff member Linda Wells, who willingly shared her story.
“I was an addict for 30 years,” Wells told Johnson. “I was in prison for 12 years. When I got out, the first night I slept in a car because I didn’t have anyplace to go.”
Someone told her about Mission Solano. That was three years ago.
Wells has reunited with her family and should be off parole in the next month.
“She went through a lot,” Johnson said. “It’s good to see her come back from 12 years in prison.”
Johnson got the biggest welcome in the veteran’s building, where he was asked for autographs and shook hands.
Marlette could barely finish Johnson’s name when the men began to crowd around Johnson and pose for pictures with him.
“These guys were waiting for him,” Marlette said. “When I dropped his name, everything kind of dropped after that.”
He met a 2-month-old baby in the women and children’s building. Johnson also got to visit a family unit and the kitchen.
Johnson offered praise for the work being done at Mission Solano.
“It’s a good foundation here for people to turn their lives around,” he said.
“We’ve worked hard to get it where it’s at,” Courtemanche told him.
A young boy staying at the center followed Johnson most of the tour. The two threw a few passes to each other, using the football Johnson had autographed.
The professional football player ended his Mission Solano visit by autographing almost 20 color photos for the youths who use the organizations services.
Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.