QUIET HERO: Johnny Johnson, 64, Grass Valley
The group I volunteer for: FREED’s Fix-It Program.
What I do for the group: I do small health-and-safety-related repairs and home modifications for seniors and people with disabilities to enable them to remain in their homes.
How I got involved: I saw an article in the newspaper where FREED was looking for volunteer handymen. I said, “I can do a few things.” Three years later, I’m still here.
Why I think this group’s work is important: I strongly agree with this program’s goal to help keep people in their homes, living independently, as long as possible.
The best thing that ever happened to me on this volunteer job was when: I was assigned to help a young man who had multiple sclerosis. He could no longer get into his shower to bathe so I installed several grab bars. When I was finished, he just beamed. The next day, I returned and built a small ramp. When I asked him if he’d had a chance to use the shower, he said, “It worked so great, I took THREE showers.”
The rewards I get from this volunteer job are: Just that: seeing the reactions of the people when you see what they can do that they couldn’t do before.
Other volunteer jobs I’ve done: I served as a referral agent for community services for employees at McClellan Air Force Base. This program was sponsored by United Way. I’ve also been the adult project leader and/or community leader for the Meadowlarks 4-H Club for over 15 years. I was president of the 4-H program for Nevada County for many years, and I was on the Nevada County Fair Board for eight years. During this time, I designed and built the original sheep arena with my son-in-law, and I also helped design and build the 4-H food booth at the fair grounds. I am also a volunteer for the Sheriff’s Office.
I’ve lived in Nevada County since: 1959.
I like living here because: I’ve been here so long and I know so many people, it just seems like home now.
The most important job that faces us as a community: We need to come up with low-income housing and places for young working people to get a start, so they don’t have to leave the county to make a living.
I think volunteerism is important because: Without volunteers, a lot of things would go undone. But, really, I think the volunteer benefits, too. Just doing a simple thing like putting in grab bars for that young man made me feel better than it did him.
“Quiet Heroes” appears each Thursday. If you know of a volunteer who is a quiet hero, call The Union newsroom at 273-9561.
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