Licking County Chapter
The Byron Saunders Foundation
P.O. Box 171
Newark, Ohio 43055
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Licking County Chapter Board:
Donna Perkins and her husband, Terry, are life long residents of Licking County. They have both served on numerous community boards and have participated in the local school systems.
Donna has a degree in childhood education and a business background in real estate, construction and insurance. She is passionate about children and understands the importance nutrition plays in the development of a child. As soon as she heard that the Byron Saunders Foundation wanted to expand into Licking County, she was all in. She currently serves as the Vice President of our Board and is dedicated to helping families right here in her county seat. In her professional life, Donna serves others and one of her core activities is focused on feeding local children.
“My parents were always helping others while we were growing up, and always stressing the importance of volunteering to help your neighbors and your community,” said Donna. “It’s just in our DNA. Life is about making your community a better place, and it begins with one child, one person, one family.”
I believe in the power of kindness and that acts of compassion nurture a stronger, more sustainable community. No one should know wanting, especially on the holidays. My personal philosophy is in alignment with Byron Saunders Foundation’s mission to be of assistance to those with the greatest need. I am grateful to be involved with an organization that brings families and communities together.
“Those who have the privilege to know have the duty to act, and in that action are the seeds of new knowledge.” Albert Einstein
In the past year, I have moved and taken a position in licking county. I am excited to be a part of this wonderful organization, to help others, especially during these difficult times. I have worked with the Byron Saunders foundation in the past through food drives and I looked forward to working toward the goal of giving back to local families in need during the Thanksgiving holiday.
My wife, Lee, and I have been residents of Licking County since 1976, so Licking County is our HOME. All three of our kids graduated from Newark High School and all three still live in Licking County. Our entire family has been, and is, involved with various organizations which give back to the community and help people. So when I learned that the Byron Saunders Foundation wanted to start a chapter in Licking County I quickly “signed up”. I have always enjoyed starting and growing groups, especially ones in the service arena.
Having helped organize and taken 13 trips down to the Gulf coast after Katrina to rehab houses damaged by that disaster, I learned first hand how important having a home where families could gather was. And since our family has always had family meals on holidays the philosophy of of the Byron Saunders Foundation of serving meals to families to have in their homes just made sense.
Glad to be a part and come and volunteer.
My name is Christine Benintend and I have lived in Pataskala for the past 14 years. I grew up in Johnstown, Pennsylvania where I can remember, as a young girl, praying each night that everyone in the world would have enough food to eat. I don’t know why that particular issue was so important to me or what my understanding of world hunger and food shortages were at that age. I did know that my mom and grandmothers were amazing cooks and my family always had plenty to eat. That made me feel safe and cared for and I wanted that for all little kids.
As I got older, I found opportunities to volunteer to help people by joining the Columbus Jaycees where I met my husband, Larry, at my very first meeting. Larry had a passion to help others like I had never seen before, and soon he and I were volunteering at the Mid-Ohio Food Bank Warehouse together, repackaging bulk foods for distribution to families. It was one of our favorite things to do.
Larry became critically ill a few years after we got married. He had a rare blood disorder which caused numerous strokes and resulted in a number of brain surgeries. At one point, we were told he would never walk on his own or even be able to dress himself again. That person clearly did NOT know Larry. It took years of hard work and determination, some amazing doctors, and a ton of prayers, but he recovered to about 95%, experiencing only some vision loss.
Larry had retired during his illness and was looking for something to do during the day. We found a medical transportation company who had paired with the Mid-Ohio Food Bank and would transport clients there to volunteer. After Larry’s first shift in the Food Pantry he was giving the employees helpful suggestions for improvements that could be made to the layout of the Pantry. By the end of his second shift, he was everyone’s favorite “personal shopper” because he was so fun to talk to and helped everyone take their food items out to their cars. This amazing man who had been so critically ill, became the shift supervisor on Friday afternoons at the Food Bank Pantry. I could not have been more proud.
In May of 2017, Larry was tragically killed in a car accident returning from a dental cleaning. I have found that honoring him helps me with the grief so almost everything I do is done with him and his passions, in mind.
When Brian asked me to be a part of the Byron Saunders Foundation I felt like this was something I could do that would really honor Larry. It wasn’t until Brian and I met to discuss the Foundation and the Licking County Chapter that Brian relayed a story about Larry helping him with a food drive in the past. Larry and I knew Brian from Church but I had NO IDEA Larry had actually been a part of the Byron Saunders Foundation before he and I met…. what an honor it is to now be a part of it too!