September 1, 2005 — Lowell Bennion was fond of telling friends and neighbors, “Show up in your grubbies on Saturday morning . . . I’ll put you to work.” Those who knew Bennion, a former University of Utah administrator and the founder of the Bennion Teton Valley Boys Ranch, 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 University of Utah’s Lowell Bennion Community Service Center, named in the humanitarian’s honor, will remember him by hosting its second annual “Legacy of Lowell Service Day” on Saturday, Sept. 17, from 8 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. Admission to the event is a non-perishable food item or items.
The event will be low-key and simple, like Bennion, and will begin with a continental breakfast and information session at 8 a.m., on the west patio of the University’s Union Building, 200 S. Central Campus Dr. (1595 E.). Bennion Center student directors will be on hand to answer questions about Bennion Center programs as well as to distribute bandanas. At 8:30 a.m., participants, who are urged to wear working clothes, will board shuttles and travel to the Utah Food Bank, located at Salt Lake Community Services Council, 1025 S. 700 W., where they will sort and package food for distribution to needy individuals along the Wasatch Front. At 11:15 a.m. participants will be shuttled back to the University where a luncheon will be held at 11:30 a.m. in the Crimson View, formerly the Panorama Room. The program will feature a short video on Bennion, followed by a simple lunch of soup and bread. Two awards will be presented at the luncheon. The Dan Wendleboe Continuous Community Service Award will be given to Lis Jacques, an art and chemistry student, in recognition of her volunteer work in the community. Cynthia Bourne will receive the Chelsea Hale Creative Community Leadership Award for her service work that has impacted local, national and international communities. Both awards were founded in memory of former Bennion Center student leaders.
Last year’s event attracted 150 participants-community members, U students and administrators and friends and alumni of the Bennion Center. Volunteers bagged more than 55,000 pounds of food in just under three hours.
Called the “patriarch of Utah volunteerism,” Bennion taught in the U’s Sociology Department, directed the U’s LDS Institute of Religion and was associate dean of students at the U. At age 64, he retired from academia. In 1977, while serving as director of the Community Services Council, he founded the Utah Food Bank.
Bennion’s service on numerous 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.
Marshall Welch, current Bennion Center director, notes that the purpose of the Sept. 17 event is to give participants a snapshot of Bennion and his commitment to service by mirroring one of his Saturday morning projects. “And, of course, we want to energize current, past and future student volunteers, leaders, alumni and donors to carry on his legacy and the work of the Bennion Community Center through community service.”
Karen Hale, chair of the “Legacy of Lowell Service Day,” says “This is a great chance for students and faculty to roll up their sleeves and work together on a project that benefits the entire community.”
For more information on or to RSVP to attend the “Legacy of Lowell Service Day,” call 801-585-0017 or visit http://www.sa.utah.edu/bennion/. Those planning to participate should RSVP by Sept. 12.
The Bennion Community Service Center at the University of Utah partners with community agencies to provide meaningful volunteer opportunities for University students, faculty, staff and alumni, while educating them about social, cultural and legal issues. The Bennion Center offers 110 service-learning courses each year and sponsors more than 40 student-directed programs. Each year nearly 6,000 Bennion Center volunteers donate more than 150,000 hours of community service to a variety of projects.