This month we pay our respects to one incredible Beach Cities Health District Volunteer, Penny Berry, who has given up her time to help others for the past 30 years!
With the average age range of a volunteer being between 35 and 54, Penny stands out from the crowd by starting her volunteering at the age of 50; this year Penny turned 80 and celebrated her 30th year as a volunteer.
Having been raised in Long Beach, Penny later moved to Denver, Colorado where she graduated from Colorado State College. For several years she taught at various schools and colleges including serving as a Junior High and High School Principal. In 1964 she moved back to Redondo Beach, where she continued her teaching career at Palos Verdes High School.
Before all our lives changed with COVID-19, Penny volunteered at the Center for Health & Fitness helping the smooth flow of operations by rolling the towels, checking people in, and taking care of anything that needs doing at the front desk.
Over the past 30 years Penny has volunteered for many things with BCHD; she was one of the first committee members of the Blue Zones Project, she’s walked around neighborhoods delivering flyers, helped out in the BCHD booth at many street fairs, called to ensure people’s insurance is up-to-date, tied shoes together before they were delivered to support the people of Haiti, delivered countless Christmas baskets and has driven people around as an errand volunteer.
It is her errand volunteering that brings back the fondest memories for Penny; “they all have interesting stories to tell,” she explains.
It is these friendships that Penny currently misses the most. “I really, really miss all the people at the Center For Health & Fitness. I am healthy, doing well at home and regularly talking with friends on the phone,” she said. And like many, Penny has added ‘puzzles’ to her daily list of activities.
Once the County’s Safer at Home Health Order is over, Penny hopes to get back to her love of travelling. Being Norwegian herself, her favorite trip was to Norway and the Scandinavian countries. When asked the secret to her youth she said, “it’s about keeping going. Volunteering is the best thing you can do; it’s wonderful!”
Penny’s supervisor, member services manager Bernadette Johnson said, “Penny is one of our elite sub-volunteers. She is always willing to cover other volunteer shifts when needed and represents the Core Value of Excellence. She always greats each member by name, keeps all of our areas well stocked with towels, is very professional on the phones and her knowledge of our services and programs is amazing. We appreciate Penny for all of her hard work and dedication.”
One comment that Penny made possibly best sums up her wonderful, giving attitude: “I'm the one that has benefited more than probably all the people I've tried to help. It has kept me young at heart.”
Written by Sue Murray, Volunteer Spotlight Writer