Dan Johnson: Building Community by Helping Others
Dan Johnson, of Danny's Meats, is nominated for Patch's Person of the Year. Here's why.
For Dan Johnson, helping members of the community is like helping family. It’s all about family, community and coming together to make the area more like it used to be – a close-knit community that helps each other when times were tough.
Johnson is a stand-out in the Caledonia community for a number of reasons.
He, along with friend Ray Stibeck, remodeled a house from top to bottom for HALO’s transitional program, which helps people get back on their feet after being homeless. He also held a fundraiser/awareness day for HALO.
The two have also served a community Thanksgiving meal for the past three years. This November, they served about 1700 people.
Also, Johnson, as owner of Danny’s Meats, helps fill Christmas baskets and other charity baskets for area churches and organizations.
When asked, Johnson says that he does it because the need in the area is great and because it’s what he was taught to do.
“We probably have one person every day who comes into our store looking for help,” he said.
“You can’t help everybody, there’s such a great need, but if people coming together with other people, we can all do a lot,” he said.
Part of Johnson’s motivation in his charity efforts is to bring the area back into a closer knit community, like it was when he was growing up.
“There was such a feeling of community. We’re still a large, small town but it’s more segmented, disconnected,” he said.
One of the ways he is doing this is with the Thanksgiving meal.
“The goal is to bring people together, without boundaries, millionaires, average people and people who need help. On that day, everybody’s equal, regardless of their circumstances,” he said.
“That meal is a bright spot that shows the community still likes to get together, cares about each other,” he said. Another example is the Scott Family fundraiser, with which he also helped.
“It just feels good giving back to the community,” he said.
“It’s all about people coming together and getting things done.”
Another part of Johnson’s motivation is family. On that first Thanksgiving meal he and Stibek hosted, Johnson recounted how his mother, who always seemed to be helping people when he was a kid, was excited by the event.
“My mom looked around the room full of people, grabbed ahold of my arm and said, ‘This is what it’s all about.’ That meant a lot to me,” Johnson said.
“It’s all about family. I see a lot of people who don’t have any family. But we’re just one big family here. You can’t solve all the world’s problems but if you have a good family base, it helps,” he said.