In 2006, a chance to help those affected by Hurricane Katrina sparked a passion for giving back in Rod and Dorothy Beehner that continues today.
A neighbor asked the couple to travel with her and other realtors to Louisiana to help in the rebuilding efforts a year after Hurricane Katrina. Both Rod and Dorothy enjoy working with their hands, and they appreciate the camaraderie of doing projects with others. They joined the group, and ended up in Slidell, about 30 miles northeast of New Orleans, across Lake Pontchartrain, building a house with Habitat for Humanity.
“At that time, Slidell was still not back to pre-Katrina. There were a lot of housing needs,” Rod said.
The first house they worked on helped reunite a family that had been scattered since the hurricane hit. The next year, on what became an annual trip to help those in Slidell, they drove back through the neighborhood and were excited to see Halloween decorations up and bicycles in the yard.
“A week doesn’t mean much, but it adds up. It’s really cool to go back and see the houses we’ve worked on and talk to the people.”
— Dorothy Beehner
The couple, married 36 years, was bitten by the travel bug early.
“We started Labor Day after we got engaged and we haven’t stopped traveling since,” Dorothy said.
“We spent a month traveling around Europe for our honeymoon and then 20 years driving around the country, sleeping on the floor of our minivan.”
They upgraded to a small RV a few years back, which has everything they need as they continue their road trips. Rod and Dorothy do a lot of overseas travel as well.
A retired federal employee, Dorothy volunteers at Riverside Methodist Hospital, and has donated her time to the Physicians Free Clinic for 16 years.
“The Physicians Free Clinic does amazing work. If you need it, they get it done for you. You get done at the end of the day there and you feel like you’ve done something. They are a big, important part of what I do,” she said.
Rod, an architect, started a cabinetry business following his retirement in 2004 and has been doing various woodworking projects for the past 10 years. His beautiful work, from tables and chairs to ornamental pieces, can be seen throughout the couple’s home.
The fund that will be established by their estate, the Dorothy S. and Rodney L. Beehner Fund, will directly support an organization they care about, and will also be devoted to unrestricted grantmaking by the Foundation. Unrestricted grantmaking provides the Foundation with the flexibility to respond to changing and emerging needs and opportunities in the central Ohio community.