Riverside TeamMates: A Philanthropic Family & Community

Written by: Ashley Denton
Iowa Regional Coordinator

What is the true meaning of Philanthropy?

Historically, Philanthropy meant ‘love of humanity’. Today, Philanthropy is viewed as generosity in all its forms. Giving gifts of time, talent, and treasure could be considered a family practice with the Bentleys. In fact, the TeamMates Chapter in Riverside, Iowa, reflects these ideals with the help of having such a strong family at the core of their chapter!

Ruby and Bruce Bentley, as well as their daughters, Jana Hensley and Rebecca Branan, give back to the Riverside community and TeamMates in many ways! Jana is the Riverside TeamMates Program Coordinator, and Ruby serves as a Board Member and Mentor for the Riverside Chapter. Bruce mentors alongside his wife, and Rebecca also plays an important role in the TeamMates world through her work as a Grants Manager with Fox Creek Fundraising.

Ruby grew up on a farm near Carson, and Bruce grew up on a farm near Macedonia. Living in this three- town community, Bruce and Ruby know a lot of people and have had opportunities to help others, and at the same time, others have helped them. Bruce and Ruby are always happy to be able to contribute!

More specifically they said, “Life is a circle of giving.”

Rebecca and Jana find pride in serving their Riverside community, and they love the sense of belonging that is shared and felt by all. Most of the original mentors serving the Riverside Chapter are community members who Jana has known her whole life growing up outside of Macedonia!

Rebecca shared, “Through the TeamMates Program, a mentor can bring a little sense of belonging to their mentee.”

When the family thought about the roles that they play in TeamMates, whether that is as a Mentor, Program Coordinator, Grant Writer, Board Member, or just a supporter in general, there is an aspect of grounding that happens in this type of work. Also, there is a choice that is made every single day to continue this journey of devoting their time, talents, and treasure to TeamMates.

“We have so many amazing, adult, role models in our community and amazing students in our schools that could use a safe, adult friend. I feel fortunate as a Program Coordinator to be able to help connect them with one another and see their relationships grow. I like to think of it as planting seeds of hope,” said Jana.

Ruby shared, “TeamMates is a great opportunity! Serving on the board is one way that I can help promote mentoring!”

“The structure of TeamMates Mentoring allows people to invest their time in the youth in their own communities. People can observe the positive outcomes of time spent with their own eyes, watching kids grow up and succeed, and maybe noticing when they need an extra boost. Kids with mentors gain the advantage of the ‘village’ it takes to raise a child. When I write a successful grant proposal, I am confident the organization is putting those dollars to good use,” Rebecca explained.

Jana and Rebecca also provided some advice for others who aren’t part of TeamMates, yet!

Jana shared, “There are many ways to be involved in TeamMates. Please don’t underestimate yourself and the impact you could have. All you have to do is #BeThere!”

“Kids need mentors now more than ever! The world can be an overwhelming place, and it helps to have someone they trust to talk through whatever is on their mind,” shared Rebecca.

Jana also wanted to recognize Lisa Putnam, from the Riverside Community. Lisa was the ‘founder’ of the Riverside TeamMates Chapter. She was the one who got the ball rolling way back in 2015. Lisa has since retired, and she is enjoying lake life after dedicating many years to education and advocating for kids. Jana believes that, even without Lisa’s in-person presence, the energy and spirit that Lisa had when starting the chapter in 2015 will continue to make ripples in the community for a lifetime.

Serving others and their community is part of who they are as a family.

Jana explained that her parents have always instilled the importance of being good to others, seeing the best in people, helping out where you can, as well as many other values that fall under the umbrella of simply being a good human.

Jana further stated, “I feel that our family values very much align with the TeamMates values.”

Rebecca also said that her parents and grandparents modeled the importance of volunteering, giving, and improving your own corner of the world.

Through TeamMates, the Bentley family gives back in so many ways! Thank you for giving your unique gifts of time, talent, and treasure to TeamMates Mentoring!