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Unsung hero: Forty years of helping others

Selfless work: Unsung hero Carrolldon Benjamin (Photo by Mark Tatem)

Bermuda may be a small island but it is full of unsung heroes — inspirational residents who are making a real difference in their communities and improving the lives of others, without expecting any recognition or praise. In our regular feature, we celebrate the incredible achievements of the ordinary people who are doing extraordinary things.

Community service is a passion that comes from the heart, according to one local woman who has dedicated more than 40 years of her life to making a difference.

Carrolldon Benjamin, of Pembroke, volunteers with senior citizens across the Island and as a clerical administrator with Pride Bermuda.

She spends most of her time helping out at the charity on Point Finger Road, assisting with whatever they need, but the same goes for any other organisation that needs her help.

“I just put myself out there to organisations and offer my assistance,” Ms Benjamin said.

“I like to give of myself, so I can feel how they feel and what they feel.

“It’s an overwhelming feeling that I’ve made a difference, made an impact and that’s what it is all about.

“It’s not giving back — it’s giving of oneself,” she added. “To undergo adversity for others in need, and not wanting compensation or recognition, is real service.”

But Ms Benjamin, who worked as an accounts payable administrator for the Bermuda Telephone Company for 30 years, said that now she is retired she can fulfil her true passion: volunteering with seniors.

Ms Benjamin, who loves to write in her spare time, holds presentations at various senior homes, churches and other senior citizen clubs, often speaking about the seasons and holidays such as Christmas and Easter.

She said that while her life experience could help the youngsters she works with, she could also help to enhance the lives of seniors.

“It’s such a joy to put a smile on their faces,” Ms Benjamin said.

“At the end of the day the seniors have done so much, and I enjoy making them feel alive, making them remember.

“We reminisce and it brightens up their lives. It’s not only healthy for them, but for me, too.”

For Ms Benjamin the reward of volunteering lies in the passion she feels within and knowing that she has made a difference in the community.

“You touch many hearts. It is an uplifting feeling to enhance and bring smiles to many faces with laughter and the twinkling of eyes anticipating another day with hope,” she said.

“For people will forget what you said, forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Ms Benjamin first began volunteering at the age of 16 with YMCA, when she accompanied her mother. And she has worked for countless organisations since.

These include the Warwick Community Centre, the Lupus Association, the Girl Guides, Sandys Lions Club, St Monica’s Community Group and Senior Citizens Cruises.

She started volunteering at Pride Bermuda after her daughter DeOnie went through the programme that aims to prepare youth to resist drugs and make positive life decisions.

Ms Benjamin took on the role of cook, facilitated workshops and provided transportation.

She affectionately became known as “Aunt Benji” to the children.

Ms Benjamin’s calling to help others has taken her overseas for conferences and training, and through her work with Pride Bermuda she was able to travel to South Africa to give out supplies at an orphanage in 2005.

“It was an experience that I will never forget,” Ms Benjamin said.

She even held a presentation on Bermuda in a seniors’ home in Virginia in 2013.

Ms Benjamin, who was awarded the Certificate of Appreciation by the Centre of Philanthropy in December, would like to encourage anyone who is thinking of volunteering to do so.

She said: “The journey to become involved starts with one step, even if you are on the right track, you will get run over if you just sit there.

“The more we can do, the more we get inner strength as a reward inside ourselves.”

• To find out more about Pride Bermuda and to donate visit www.pridebermuda.bm or call 295-9970.

• Do you know an Unsung Hero? Call Lisa on 278-0162 or e-mail LSimpson@royalgazette.com