Longtime resident and retired local businessman John R. Benham was awarded the Citizen of the Year accolade by the City of Franklin recently. The award was given in recognition of his limitless dedication in support of seniors in the community.
John Benham is a beloved and well-respected figure. His family ties run deep, having enjoyed boyhood summers on the shores of Webster Lake. After high school graduation, John established permanent roots, meeting his wife Dorothy and raising their family while running a successful business now headed by his son.
John’s living, breathing philosophy of service to others, giving back, and volunteerism demonstrates his core values of good citizenship – Honesty, Integrity, Responsibility, and Respectfulness – every day. Those that know him wonder at his ability to “fit it all in,” such are his myriad affiliations and activities.
John has served as a member of the Franklin City Council, the Franklin Zoning Board, and a director on the board of Franklin Business and Industrial Development Corporation FBIDC. He is a corporator of the Franklin Savings Bank, active in his church and the Meridian Lodge of Masons, and a local group known as the Kearsarge Mountain Boys.
Volunteerism during the pandemic meant John had to balance his own and resident safety with the desire to bring cheer to those that call Peabody Place home. John’s dulcet tones could be heard every Thursday afternoon reading historical nonfiction to interested family members.
Social time with residents meant he has been able to facilitate trips down Memory Lane, engaging in meaningful conversation that sparks fond recollections of times past. He has gracefully shared the calmness imparted by his therapy dog, Siri, herself a rescue from less than compassionate living circumstances. She accompanies him always when he visits Peabody Place.
Not only has he given his time selflessly for Peabody Place residents, but there is also an interesting overlap with his volunteer service as a trained Hospice volunteer for Franklin Visiting Nurse and Hospice Association Assigned to a designated family, his visits provide individualized one-on-one interaction that is both social and pastoral in nature – allowing the caregiver time out of the home to manage tasks and personal errands.
A godsend to those laboring under the heavy mantle of the “36-hour day,” a well-documented phenomenon in the world of in-home caregiving, John is a respite beacon for those who truly need him.
Lastly, and this aspect of his contribution to senior life in and around Franklin cannot be overstated, he has dedicated time, energy, and limitless hours to the Peabody Place Building Project as Committee Chair.
His influence is everywhere: feasibility, concept, design, form and function, procurement, construction, technical aspects of operating systems, services offered, permitting, liaise between municipal partners and property neighbors. He has hosted every weekly committee meeting since inception, driving every aspect of the technical minutia towards the completion of a wonderful, state of the art, 62,000 square foot senior living community that will be a resource for so many in the City of Franklin, Merrimack County, and the greater Lakes Region of New Hampshire well into the future; truly a resource for generations to come.
John has shared his enthusiasm, dedication and love of our community with generosity and self-deprecation. When asked what compels him to do so much in the way of service for so many, he will say to you ‘You’ve got to simply get up out of your seat.”
Peabody Place has operated as a senior living community continuously since 1942 when the mansion on Central Street was completed just prior to the end of World War II. A registered 501 (c)(3) charitable organization, the original Peabody Home housed 11 local residents, a Matron, and a Housekeeper.
Over the ensuing 80 years, various additions were included, ultimately offering quality, homelike living for 39 seniors. The Peabody Place expansion will be completed in December 2022 with 16 Independent Living, 45 Assisted Living, and 13 Memory Support apartments.
For further information please contact Marylee Gorham, Admissions Director, at 603 934-3718 or visit Peabody.place.