For Bert Benedick, volunteering is not something that he really has to weigh or consider. For him, volunteering just comes naturally. It is as much a part of life as getting up in the morning and getting dressed – it is just something you do without question.
“It is something that was instilled in me when I was kid,” Benedick said. “My dad was a big time participant in charitable and political activities. I started tagging along with him when I was six. I guess I just continued on the tradition.”
Benedick, who lives in Albuquerque, has been named AARP New Mexico’s 2010 Andrus Award winner. The award is named for AARP’s founder Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus and is given to a volunteer who most exemplifies her example and motto of “to serve, not to be served.”
When asked why he chooses to donate so much of his time to volunteering activities, for Benedick it is more of a case of why wouldn’t he.
“I think you’ve got to give back to the community because there are people less fortunate than you – less fortunate not just in money but sometimes in health or other areas. In addition, as you make your way through life there are people that are constantly giving to you,” he said.
Benedick has long been an out of the box thinker. While working for Texaco Inc., he became one of the authors of the company’s wellness program – established about 1980 – long before such wellness plans were being discussed as good business sense. His plan first met resistance with the company’s human resource directors, who felt that any dollar not working was a loss to the company. However with some help from one of the higher ups, who realized that a healthy employee was a productive employee, they soon came around.
He has taken that same kind of determination to help people and improve their lives to his volunteer work.
Benedick has been a New Mexico resident off and on but moved back permanently in 1993 from Houston, Texas.
One of his first volunteer activities in Albuquerque was to start working with the American Cancer Society to bring the Relay for Life to Albuquerque in 1994.
“I lost my wife to cancer. The relay for life fund-raiser is the most successful and largest in the charitable world. We celebrate the survivors and the memories of those who are deceased,” Benedick said.
The relay annually takes place at the International Balloon Fiesta Park and goes from 6 p.m. on a Friday to noon on Saturday.
“It takes about 18 hours and the volunteers get to sleep in a tent,” he said with a smile.
Benedick’s volunteer work, however, doesn’t stop there. He is a volunteer leader for AARP. You can frequently find him at AARP’s information center in Albuquerque. Benedick is also a member of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, run by the city of Albuquerque. Additionally, he is the current president of the Kiwanis Club of Albuquerque, the largest club in the city with 162 members.
“I would encourage anyone and everyone to volunteer. People say they don’t have enough time or it takes time away from the family but get your family involved too. There is no excuse for not volunteering, he said.
Benedick has a daughter and son as well as five grandchildren and two great grandchildren, who all live in the Albuquerque area.
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