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Spokane man crafts 300 cutting boards for refugee families

Ron Johnson delivered a new batch of his custom-made maple & walnut cutting boards in July. Each of his one-of-a-kind boards will be given to newly arrived refugees as they start their lives in Spokane.  

Ron started making cutting boards four years ago. Since then, he’s crafted more than 300 of them, and now those cutting boards live in the homes of families all over the city. 

“There was a little blurb in the bulletin that advertised the needs that World Relief had, and there were a whole bunch of things they needed. One of them was a bunch of cutting boards, and I thought, ‘Well, maybe I can do that.’” 

Ron and his wife moved to Spokane from Seattle after retiring from their careers in the public school system on the west side. During a recent move in town, Ron lost a lot of space in his woodshop. Luckily, the cutting boards were small enough that Ron could still manage the production in his new space.  

According to Ron, the cutting boards didn’t arise from any “great original passion” for refugees, but now the subject is near and dear to his heart. 

“I was thinking about something I could do with the tools I had and what skill I had that would be helpful, that would do something for people. Once I got [to World Relief] and saw what was going on, it just seemed like the right thing to do.” 

Though the project started from a retirement hobby, Ron says its something he can continue to do, even during a national quarantine. 

“I enjoy thinking about providing something that’s useful for somebody and maybe has a little beauty attached to it.” 

Katherine Bell-Hanley | 9/30/20

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