The Aberdeen man


I have written in the past about people doing positive things around town that many may not be aware of. One of those people is Richard Johnson, founder of the Aberdeen Foundation. Richard will be moving out of the area soon to pursue new and bigger ways to be of service.


Richard spent the better part of 30 years in blue collar work; teamsters and construction trades. While he was working he was an avid reader of history and an observer of human nature. Jerry Lewis' Muscular Dystrophy campaigns really impressed him. Here was somebody doing significant work toward real help for people who needed it. One of those who would be helped was a young boy in Richardís home town who had MS.


Being influenced also by Albert Schweitzer, Martin Luther King, Jr. and others, even in his labor days he was doing what he could to promote help for the homeless or hungry, sometimes getting arrested for handing out fliers about shelters in areas where people didn't appreciate it.


After having back problems and being unable to perform manual labor anymore he came upon a less labor intensive way to make a living. He became a broker of credit card services to small businesses. Diving into it with his usual gusto he spent years doing cold calls and beating the pavement around LA to build up a client base. That hard work now pays off in giving him some free time to pursue direct help for those who need it.


He sees Jesus' message as being primarily about human rights, and all manner of injustice as having their roots in human rights issues. He also takes Jesus' directive to feed the hungry literally. One of the things I love about Richard is how he cuts through all the fluff. Many philanthropists spend their time raising money and building elaborate facilities and organizations. While Richard supports many of these efforts he always focuses on the human aspect, on the one-on-one helping of those in need. Jesus said feed the hungry, so that's what he does. For years he has provide food to anyone who needed it at a local park on Sundays.


A large portion of the money for his foundation comes out of his own pocket. There have also been fund raising events at the Elks Theatre the last couple of years that helped a little. Over those last couple of years the foundation has donated over $50,000 to the hungry, to individuals in need selected by a community group, and to support of other causes such as Jerry Lewis' MS campaign, Prescott Men's Shelter, Save the Children, the local TOPSI African AIDs project, and others.


From his studies of history he finds most of our recent international policies very disturbing. But his focus is primarily on helping America. Itís his way of being patriotic. When he says "America" he's thinking of the people. And when he says "patriotic" he's thinking of direct help of one person to another. To him, patriotism without that is hollow.


If you'd like to know a little more about him, his entire book, full of his own particular take on human history and the current condition, is available at his web site: www.aberdeenfoundation.org.


He's moving to Nashville to try to create bigger events to generate support for worthwhile causes. Their gain is our loss. Thanks, and good luck Richard. We hope to hear of big things coming out of your time in Nashville.