Good Shepherd Fund was founded as a 501 (c) 3, non-profit organization in 1970, by Pastor Harold “Swede” Johnson. When asked why he was such an advocate for people living with disabilities, he often told the following story:
“I had an office with a big chair in it, and it was easy to sit in that chair and be pontifical. One day a couple came into that office to see me. I didn’t really know them. They’d had their first child not long before that visit. The doctor had told them that the child was mentally retarded, and that they should give him to a home and put the boy out of their minds, for there was nothing that modern medicine could do for him. The couple was distraught. They’d come to me searching for meaning, and answers. After hearing their story I did the most inexcusable thing; I leaned back in that big chair, and instead of being their friend and counselor, I said, ‘Well, you know, folks, this is simply God’s will.’
“I’ll never forget the look that man gave me as he stood. His was a countenance of rage and despair. He leaned in and said to me, ‘I curse your God.’ Before I could say anything, he stomped out of my office with his wife. I’ve been looking for him ever since. I wish I could find that couple, just so I could tell them how sorry I am for what I said…”
Swede spent the rest of his life dedicated to supporting people living with disabilities and their families. He was a prolific fundraiser and advocate, and raised millions of dollars for an array of charity organizations serving the disabled community. Pastor Johnson died in 2003, but his legacy lives on in Good Shepherd Fund.
Today Good Shepherd Fund serves hundreds of clients as trustee, administering Special Needs Trusts. The agency is the legal conservator/guardian of record for hundreds more across multiple States. Nearly 50% of all agency activity is facilitated “pro-bono,” thanks to the gifts and support we receive from so many who embody the Swede Johnson mission. And in the spirit of that mission, Good Shepherd Fund unashamedly seeks to be a friend and advocate first, a trustee and conservator second.
Swede never had the opportunity to apologize for his behavior, but through the lasting impact of that experience he literally saved many lives for decades. Here at Good Shepherd Fund, we continue onward in honor of the unnamed couple who started it all.
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San Jose, CA 95112