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Pearls of Wisdom: Dan Johnson

May 30, 2018


Dan Johnson remembers talking to an excited Mark Milligan in 1994, because he had secured the rights to the Bridge Communities name for the organization he had started.

“Since that time, Mark had been very persuasive in trying to get my wife Jeanine and I involved as program partners at First United Methodist Church,” says Dan. “Six years ago, we did become mentors. Since that time, we’re now with our third family mentoring, and it just continues to be a very rewarding experience.”

“Mentoring is certainly an interesting process,” he continues. “I remember back at our first mentor class before we started, that it was suggested to us that we’ll learn every bit as much as we try to teach our clients. That is certainly proved out to be the case. It’s been very interesting, now that we’re mentoring our third client, how we tend to stereotype who might be in the situation that would need our help through Bridge. Each one of our clients have been very different people, coming from very different circumstances.”

“But I think one of the most significant elements of mentoring is really just being there,” Dan adds.  “It’s a matter of being present, listening to the client and building trust, so that over time they have a comfort level in sharing anything that’s on their mind, so we don’t get lost in the details of budgeting, but we also deal with a lot of the trauma that they’ve experienced. The only way that they feel comfortable in discussing that is if there’s been trust that’s been built in the relationship over a period of time.”

Dan thinks the best thing about Bridge Communities, is providing an opportunity for people who are in a stable living environment, to help those who aren’t. “It also provides those involved with Bridge as mentors, as we are, to gain a better understanding of what people in those circumstances are going through and how fortunate that we are to be able to help them through that process,” he says.

For the next 30 years, Dan thinks the future is bright for Bridge. “Certainly, the organization that is in place now is very strong,” he says.  “It has a group of people who are very passionate about what they do. I can’t imagine that Bridge won’t be successful for another 30 years, given the foundation that’s been built to this point.”

Dan’s direct message to Mark is, “I appreciate your passion. I appreciate your commitment to making this program into what it is today. And I will say congratulations to you for your persistence, that over the course of about 25 years, you kept telling me, ‘Someday, Dan, we’re gonna get you involved with Bridge.’ And maybe it took longer than you would’ve liked, but it’s very much a pleasure to be involved now and to be a part of the program. I can understand now how you’ve been so passionate about it over all these years.”

Thank you to our 30th Anniversary Committee volunteers Lisa Sallwasser and Geoff Bevington, and to our 30th Anniversary Media Sponsor Compass Mortgage!


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