Debra and Ralph Johnson

Ralph and Debra, married 20 years, have volunteered for 15 years with Building Forever Families, five years with Salvation Army, and two years with Merica House. As co-presidents of the Advisory Council for the Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center, Debra and Ralph work in the community with residents seeking to overcome substance abuse and learn employment skills.

Debra serves on the board of Merica House, a non-profit that supports adults with developmental disabilities to live on their own in a group setting. Ralph also uses his background in naval architecture and oceanography as a volunteer with ABET to accredit Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering programs for colleges and universities nationwide and abroad. Lastly, their work with Building Forever Family has led to caring for children in the foster system, and the adoption of three children. One special cause they support is “Comfort Cases for Foster Children”, a program that collects new suitcases and personal items for children moving from foster home to foster home, often with only a garbage bag to carry their life’s belongings.

Penelope A. “Penny” Gross, Mason District, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, said “Ralph and Debra Johnson don’t just talk the talk; they walk the walk. Ralph and Debra are consummate volunteers, always seeking to identify needs and help those less fortunate in our community. Their hearts are huge, but they always seem to have room for one more, or two more”.