News Columns & Blogs

Still feeling stuffed? How about joyful?

So you’re sick of turkey by this time and all that’s left of the Thanksgiving togetherness are messy floors and a refrigerator filled with leftovers.

What to do?

How about a little reflection?

Were you really thankful for your bountiful feast and the family and friends you spent it with? Or was it just another holiday to celebrate time off from work and enjoy some relaxation?

If you are John Benson, I know the answer to the above questions.

Benson, owner of Benson Engineering, a Bradenton consulting engineering firm, has spent a good part of his Thanksgiving Day for the past seven years on his feet, preparing and serving food to the homeless who come to First Methodist Church in Bradenton for their holiday meal.

The civil engineer and land surveyor, along with about 150 other volunteers, spend countless hours preparing food for several days before Thanksgiving and then are busy fixing and serving the meal between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the church on Thanksgiving Day before heading home to spend the rest of the day with family and friends.

When the idea of serving food to the homeless was first mentioned, Benson, a father of four, didn’t hesitate.

“I thought it was a fantastic idea,” he said. “Our church is located in the heart of downtown so we act like a magnet for the homeless guys on the Last year, the church served 550 and this year expectations were 600.

Benson, who has operated his business since 1987, is unrealistically upbeat. Despite the fact that his small business, which was tied to land development and the housing market, has been seriously impacted by the down economy, Benson looks at it all as an opportunity.

“It gives me more time to volunteer at the church,” he said. “I believe I have a calling to help those who are less fortunate.”

Benson, who has had to lay off people to help his company survive these tough times, says he is joyful.

“There is a big difference between joy and happiness. Joy is relationship-based, and happiness is situation-based,” he said. Benson is a Christian and says his relationship with Christ has kept him centered and focused on what is truly important in life.

So as you start your new workweek today with memories of Thanksgiving past and present, add Benson to that mix.

We can all use some joy in our lives.