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Bennion Center Honors Namesake with Community Service


This year’s Homecoming Week at the U kicks off not with the usual song and dance that typify Homecoming, but with a large-scale service event honoring the “patriarch of Utah volunteerism,” Lowell L. Bennion.

The Lowell Bennion Community Service Center, named in the humanitarian’s honor, began on the optimistic note chanted by its students, “Ain’t nothin’ to it, but to do it” and invites volunteers to celebrate Bennion’s legacy the way he would want-with service.

The fifth annual Legacy of Lowell Service Day will take place Saturday, Sept. 20 from 8 a.m. to noon at Parkview Elementary, 970 S. Emery (1170 West). The event is free and open to the public.

Volunteers will meet at Parkview Elementary and be transported to one of five service sites throughout the community where they will assist in literacy tutoring, home repair projects for seniors, environmental restoration, food delivery or assembling dental kits. The event will include breakfast and will be followed by a Community Service Awards luncheon at Parkview Elementary (see below for a complete list of service locations).

“The annual Legacy of Lowell is a vital way for our alumni, community partners, students and board members to connect with friends of Lowell’s and the rich legacy he has provided,” says Linda Dunn, Bennion Center director. “This year’s Legacy of Lowell culminates a year of celebration for the center’s 20th anniversary.”

Bennion enjoyed a long and notable history with the U. He taught in the sociology department, directed the LDS Institute of Religion and was associate dean of students. At age 64, he retired from academia. In 1977, while serving as director of the Community Services Council, he founded the Utah Food Bank.

His service on various community boards was instrumental in charting the direction of many state and private agencies. He received numerous awards and honors throughout his life, including, in 1989, being named as one of 100 “Most Caring People in America,” by the Caring Institute, in Washington, D.C.

Those who knew Bennion were well aware of his service to the community-and his penchant for mobilizing them to assist in philanthropic projects, which included visiting widows, supporting social justice issues, working with students and gathering and delivering food to the hungry.

The annual event in his honor was created to educate students about his commitment to service and to energize students, alumni and the public to carry on the work of the Bennion Center through community service. The five service sites were selected to capture the range of service to which Lowell L. Bennion was dedicated:

Parkview Elementary
Literacy tutoring for neighborhood children and parents in partnership with University Neighborhood Partners (UNP).

Utah Food Bank
Sort food boxes and/or deliver food to the elderly in partnership with the Utah Food Bank.

Services for Seniors
Home repair projects for the elderly in partnership with Community Services Council.

Sorenson Unity Center
Assemble dental kits in partnership with IHC/4th Street Clinic.

Bend-in-the-River
Tree planting, help with restoration and fall preparation in partnership with Tree Utah.

The Bennion Center’s annual Community Service Awards, The Dan Wendelboe Continuous Community Service Award and The Chelsea Hale Creative Leadership Award were established in memory of two Bennion Center students, Dan Wendelboe and Chelsea Hale, who personified Bennion’s commitment to service through their work at the Bennion Center prior to their deaths.

Ranked third in the nation and recognized internationally as a leader in engaging students in service to their communities, the Bennion Center involves more than 7,800 volunteers annually, providing more than 250,000 hours of service in the community. With each volunteer hour currently valued at $19.51, Bennion Center volunteers provide in excess of $4.8 million in service to Utah communities each year.

To RSVP, call 801-581-4811. For more information on Lowell L. Bennion or the Lowell Bennion Community Service Center, visit http://www.bennioncenter.org/.