Why the Foundation is named the Viola M. Benson Foundation?


From the Founder:


Viola M. Benson is my great grandmother. Since I can remember, she has been giving to any and every one in need. Whether she was giving money to someone for a bill, child care, transportation or housing, she was constantly giving. If “Nanny” (what everyone calls her) seen you needed something she would give it; you wouldn’t even have to ask.  When she gave, she did it with a smile and never with regrets. She was just glad she could help. She provided a place to stay for many family members who were going through hard times or simply had nowhere to stay. Either she gave them a security deposit for their own place or allowed them to stay with her, sometimes both. In fact I can never recall a time where Nanny stayed alone in her own house. It has always been someone living there with her. To add to that, I can count on one hand how many family members HAVEN’T stayed in Nanny’s house for at least a month.  Nanny has babysat and even helped raise many of the children of the family, including myself. Nanny has even adopted a family and in one case took another family off the streets. She made sure they were clothed and well fed.  


The most interesting thing about Nanny is that through all of her giving she rarely could afford to give the things she gave. She often fell behind on her utilities and even her mortgage. In fact her house almost went into foreclosure a few times.  Nanny worked until she was almost 68. She had to be at work at 6:30 and caught two busses every day to get to work. She would leave the house around 5 A.M to make it to work on time. When the weather was bad, she would catch a cab. 


What bothered me the most is that out of everyone she had helped, no one was willing to get up every morning at 6am to take her to work. However, a few people did do so but on an inconsistent basis. Nonetheless, Nanny never turned her back on those people in their time of need. This was brought to Nanny’s attention a few times. I asked her once, “why do still give to some people when they don’t offer to help you in your time of need”? Her reply is something that is of most significance that I’ll never forget. She said  “I don’t give because I expect something in return; I give because I can and when I see someone in need and I can help, I just help. God has my reward for the good deeds I do”.  This is the notion for the foundation; we want to give because we can. We don’t expect anything in return and when we see people in need, we just want to help.