Ed Johnson has been volunteering at Coburn Place for about two years through School on Wheels. A small-town Massachusetts native, he lives on the northeast side of Indianapolis and works as vice president of sales for THK America, where he’s been for 28 years. “He’s the kind of supporter who gives his whole heart and self to a mission – he wants to support in all of the ways, and with all the skills that he has,” says Coburn Place Donor Relations Officer Julie Henson.
How long have you been working with School on Wheels and what is your specialty?
I’ve been working with School on Wheels for seven years. I started at the Julian Center and worked at that location for a few years before I came to work at Coburn Place. It was through School on Wheels that I learned about Coburn Place. I can work with students on almost any topic, but math and science are probably my strongest subjects with my engineering degree. I love reading with the kids and playing games after their homework is done.
What do you like about working with School on Wheels?
It is great to work with the kids. I appreciate that – with the challenges they have to deal with – they still come to tutoring. It is great when you see them learn a new concept or piece of information. I love being part of that process.
Tell us about the students you work with at Coburn Place.
I been able to work with probably a dozen different kids while I have been at Coburn Place. It has been a great blessing to me to be able to work with them. I’ve known one student for two years. We don’t always work together, but when I’ve worked with him, he’s so easy. He’s smart and just a great young man. The last time we worked together, we were working on long division. School on Wheels came up with some training videos we used. I was so happy they are still doing long division the way I did when I was a kid. So much of math today is done differently and, to me, it seems harder and takes longer than the old-school ways.
What do you do in your free time?
I like to golf, play tennis, kayak, travel, bicycle and work in my yard. I’ve been fortunate to go to a church where I’ve been able to do lots of mission trips to Honduras, Dominican Republic and some parts of the U.S. I’m working with our youth group at church and participate in a boys teen covenant group that meets on Sunday nights.
Why do you think it’s important to support Coburn Place?
I believe strongly that everyone should do at least one service or volunteer activity. The world would be a better place if everyone gave back in some way. I have been blessed with good health and financial stability. These are gifts I believe we are called to share with others. The program at Coburn Place was such as encouragement to me. The work you do has such a long-term impact of the lives of the women and children that pass through there. The safety and security you bring to the families makes a huge difference. Coburn Place is one of about five or six organizations I’ve worked with over the years where I feel what I can give truly helps. The people at School on Wheels and Coburn Place genuinely care about the people they serve, and I’m happy to contribute time and money to such wonderful organizations.
“Ed has such a beautiful approach to philanthropy, and a powerful one,” says Julie. “He really believes in giving back to the community and leading through service. His work with School on Wheels has been transformative in the lives of the children he works with, and his financial support to Coburn Place ensures we are able to meet the most urgent needs for adults and children all throughout the year. We’re lucky to have him!”