BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (WCCO) — Twice a month, WCCO-TV gets to do something pretty fun — surprise someone who’s helping others. This week’s Making a Difference award is going to Ron Johnson who volunteers his time at a non-profit that helps people transition out of poverty and homelessness.
“This is high quality,” said Johnson, a retired high school teacher as he helps Desiree Pedersen pick out furniture for her new place.
When WCCO showed up at Bridging, an organization that help people furnish their homes, Johnson thought he was being filmed for a story on the non-profit.
But midway through the shoot, WCCO’s Amelia Santaniello lets Johnson know the real reason they were there: to present him with the Making a Difference award.
Within seconds, he handed the $500 check, from WCCO and American Equity Mortgage, over to Bridging founder Fran Heitzman.
“Well, you know where that money’s going,” said Johnson. “Bridging, all the way.”
Johnson taught for more than 30 years at Bloomington Kennedy High School. When he retired, he started volunteering at Bridging. Twelve years later, he’s logged more than 3500 hours.
“When good people get together and do good things, then good things happen,” said Heitzman. “Good things happen here every single day, because of good people.”
Johnson is one of those good people. His friendly personality sets clients and fellow volunteers at ease.
“He’s funny,” said Executive Director Sara Sternberger. “He always has a little quip as you’re coming through.”
Johnson can’t imagine spending his Wednesday and Thursday mornings anywhere but Bridging.
“This is a place where people who like to give to others come. And then there’s nice people who don’t have it as fortunate as us and they need some help,” he explained. “And we can give it, and they’re as nice as anybody you wanna meet. So, it’s a win-win, totally, every day.”
Paula Engelking, Producer