Town Talk Features

Reaching Out: Roger Besancenez

meet volunteer Roger Besancenez of creve coeur
boys hope girls hope: to help academically capable and motivated children in need meet their full potential and become men and women by providing value-centered, family-like homes, opportunities and college education

How long have you been a volunteer?
Four years

What made you interested in this particular cause? I took an early retirement and was looking for a cause to support. Like a lot of people, I had donated to different charities and volunteered at school events for my kids, but I wanted to be more hands-on and give my time instead of just my money. I investigated several different organizations to find one that could use my help in St. Louis. Jan Wacker, the development director, invited me for dinner at one of the houses in Boys Hope Girls Hope’s residential program. I got to meet the kids and some of the people who work there. I liked how well thought-out the organization was, and it seemed really well run. My work for Boys Hope Girls Hope is pretty straightforward, but it allows me to donate my abilities and time.

What kind of volunteer work are you involved with? I drive kids to school. My carpool is four kids who go to three different schools. It’s not difficult, but it’s great to have time with the kids face-to-face, and we do have fun. One morning, I picked the kids up after it had snowed. While I was taking them to school, I asked if they were going to go sledding later. They told me they had broken all of their equipment during the last snowfall. We stopped on the way and bought a few sleds for them to use after school. They were psyched, and it was a nice little deviation from the usual run.

If you could do anything for the organization, what would it be? I always wish there was a way to help more kids. I would love to put Boys Hope Girls Hope in a position to increase its capacity. It actually did so a couple of years ago, and the nonprofit is always moving forward because it’s so organized. Still, I would love to see more expansion so it can help more youth.

in the words of boys hope girls hope: “Roger has religiously been prompt and available to drive our scholars to school three mornings a week. The morning driver job is inglorious, but he takes it in stride, arriving with a smile and encouraging words for the students. Roger is essential to making our mission possible.”

Photo: Colin Miller of Strauss Peyton Photography

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