WESST Celebrates 30 Years of Impact
2019 marks the 30th anniversary of WESST’s impact in NM and we are celebrating all year long! Due to the generosity of an anonymous donor, WESST will make twelve $1,000 investments in client businesses to recognize the contributions these businesses make in their communities every day. We will also highlight a number of individuals, businesses and organizations that demonstrated a key role in WESST’s growth over the past 30 years in our “30 Faces of WESST” feature.
WESST 30TH SURPRISE – JULY
For July WESST decided to surprise Gail Jenkins of Handigirls Groundskeeping with a $1,000 investment.
Gail’s story is unique but is also similar to the experiences of many WESST clients, especially those in WESST’s financial literacy program, who have hit hard and extremely painful times. Many of them have suffered abuse, emotional distress and are financially ruined. Drugs often play into the situation as well. Then, something inside them is sparked and an interest in life and the promise of a new future makes them want to do more.
Gail showed up at WESST one day not knowing exactly what WESST could do for her, but when she read in a brochure about an IDA program, she felt it might be her next step.
To see previous #WESST30THSURPRISE video(s) please click HERE.
30 FACES OF WESST
Over the past 30 years, WESST has benefited tremendously from contributions of time, talent and treasure. We are particularly grateful for the support of several couples whose unwavering commitment to WESST’s mission has been integral to our growth and development. In July and August, we’re pleased to highlight the remarkable ways these WESST couples contribute to our community.
BEVERLY AND PERRY BENDICKSEN
Together and separately, Beverly and Perry Bendicksen have had a huge impact on WESST. Beverly joined the WESST Board in 2005 and went on to serve as a board member for 8 years. During that time, she chaired WESST’s newly formed Finance Committee in 2005 and Chaired the Board in 2011. “Beverly’s leadership during her time on the board was so beneficial for WESST,” says Agnes Noonan. “We had so many things to work on, particularly in the years leading up to the opening of the WESST Enterprise Center. I’m not sure we would have gotten through those years without her commitment and dedication to helping us build a strong organizational foundation.” In fact, it was the challenge of funding and building the WEC, including the launch of WESST’s mixed use incubator program, that prompted Beverly to get involved with WESST.
Perry joined the WESST Board in 2015 and he was elected Chair of the Board in 2018. As Chair of the 2019 Board, he is only one of a few people who have served two consecutive terms as Chair. A staunch supporter of economic development at the grass roots level, “Perry has been instrumental in helping to transform the WESST Board into one that has fundraising and strategic planning as core priorities,” says Noonan. “His ability to cut to the chase and keep the conversation strategically focused on WESST’s future has been the right kind of leadership at the right time.”
The Bendicksens have both worked extensively with entrepreneurs in their professional careers: Beverly in banking and private equity, and Perry as a lawyer. They both value entrepreneurship because it leads to increased prosperity and a more vibrant economy in New Mexico. “Economic development happens one business, one job, and one family at a time. We have been so impressed hearing the stories of entrepreneurs who are making life better for themselves, their families and their communities with WESST’s help, and we’re proud to have played a small part in making that happen,” state the Bendicksens.
At present, Beverly has her own company, performing CFO responsibilities for several businesses in New Mexico. She serves as the treasurer of the Albuquerque Community Foundation Board and a trustee of the Albuquerque Museum. Perry is with the Rodey Law Firm and he also serves as the French Honorary Consul for New Mexico and is on the Albuquerque Museum Foundation board.
As founding members of WESST Visionaries, Beverly and Perry say they want to be closely involved with the organizations they support. “We want to have faith in the organization’s leadership, and we want to know that our donation is making a difference. WESST gives us all of those and more. The need to assist entrepreneurs in New Mexico will always be there, and we expect WESST will still be meeting that need long into the future. Technology and the means of delivering WESST’s training will surely change, but the business basics that WESST imparts will not.”
MARY AND VIC JURY
As entrepreneurs who each started a business with limited capital and who faced innumerable challenges associated with starting, running and building a business, Mary and Vic Jury feel a strong affinity with those who have the desire to pursue an entrepreneurial dream coupled with a commitment to do the hard work to make that dream a reality. They are strong believers in taking ownership of one’s own failures as well as successes and think that hard work and accountability play a critical role in creating a sustainable and thriving business model. Mary is the CEO of Workspace Dynamics (celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2019) and Vic is the CEO of Summit Electric which was founded in 1977.
Mary served on the WESST Board for 9 years, including Chair of the Board in 2012; Vic is currently serving on the WESST Board and the Governance Committee. Both are strong advocates for WESST’s mission and note that at its essence, “WESST invests in the people behind the ideas and through a holistic approach, helps create a solid foundation for those they serve.”
The Jurys feel they’ve been very blessed in their lives and see this as an opportunity to bless others. Their philanthropy is so much more than simply writing a check. “We need to understand the work we are supporting and the efficacy of the work. There are many opportunities to give in the local community and globally and we seek to think more like investors in impact rather than simply as givers. While we certainly do feel good about the things we invest in, this is far more than “feel good” giving, it is an investment in the future of our community,” the Jurys noted. WESST’s mission touches on a number of the Jurys’ objectives with regard to their local philanthropy. “We believe economic self-sufficiency provides individuals and their families the dignity that dependency can rob them of.”
Following the loss of her mother and son earlier this year, Mary says that 2019 has been a year of trust, faith and gratitude for her. “The loss of my mom and son 3 weeks apart are huge reminders of the fragility and uncertainty of life. The ‘gift’ has been a refocus on what truly matters, which are not things but people and experiences.”
In addition to running their own businesses, the Jurys find numerous other ways to give back to the community, through board service and personal involvement with organizations like World Vision in Rwanda which has an extensive Economic Empowerment program. WESST President Agnes Noonan is very grateful for the Jurys’ generosity and impressed with their approach to philanthropy. “There are so many worthy causes in our community and WESST is honored by Mary and Vic’s faith and confidence in how we support entrepreneurs. We are committed to transparency and accountability to our donors who depend on us to create impact through their ongoing investments in WESST.”
As Founding members of WESST Visionaries and significant contributors to the Capital Campaign for the WESST Enterprise Center, the Jurys’ have been active participants in WESST’s ongoing development at the board, committee and donor levels. They envision a future whereby “WESST is reaching into the far corners of New Mexico and beyond, enriching the lives of solopreneurs and entrepreneurs. They would love to see those who have been assisted by WESST to become donors themselves and advocates for those who come behind, reach for their hand and eventually the stars in pursuit of their dreams. WESST is an oasis in the desert of entrepreneurship, providing much needed support and guidance in an unforgiving market. Clients across New Mexico are still in business today because of the invaluable work of WESST.”
JEAN ANN AND DUFFY SWAN
During a particularly challenging time in WESST’s history, Agnes Noonan recalls that insight, encouragement and moral support from Duffy Swan made all the difference in the world. “Duffy has been a wonderful mentor to me,” says Noonan. “He and his wife Jean Ann are incredible examples of two people committed to their community and always willing to lend their time, talents and treasure to make this world a better place.” “Philanthropy for the two of us seems as natural as breathing.” say the Swans. “It has been an integral part of our lives from the earliest days of our marriage. Equally, it has consisted of a combination of ingredients—financial resources, certainly, but also, the use of our time or joining with others in some community initiative. The base or foundation for our commitment to philanthropy is deeply rooted in our application of core principles within the Christian faith. It is fundamental to every aspect of our lives. This means helping take care of one’s community—across a wide range of needs—so that all may benefit in some manner.”
It is this set of guiding values that underpin the Swans’ long-time commitment to making Albuquerque a better place. They believe in WESST’s mission because “entrepreneurship can be a significant means to transform and/or enhance several sectors in a community simultaneously. As jobs are created through entrepreneurship, it reverberates throughout the community in terms of new economic activity, new skillsets and knowledge, innovations and new sources of revenue. WESST has provided access for a broad range of people, many of whom might have had little to no opportunity to do so, to build pathways to more sustainable futures.”
As the Chairman of the Board for French Funerals, Duffy is delighted that he and Jean Ann now have the “privilege” of being very involved in the lives of their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Ultimately, they hope they have modeled community involvement and philanthropic lifestyles for future generations of their family.
Founding members of WESST Visionaries, the Swans believe WESST will look back 30 years from now and recognize that almost everything WESST will be doing then does not exist today. It had to be nurtured and spawned by risk-takers who had a vision and ignited a spark in the community around them to make it happen.
ANN AND TRACY UTTERBACK
Born and raised in Hobbs, New Mexico, Ann and Tracy Utterback have always been huge fans of local small businesses. “I really feel like small businesses are what makes a community special. I grew up in a small town, and it’s amazing how often my memories revolve around the small businesses there—a restaurant with my favorite food, a clothing store, a service provider—and how often I knew the people behind the business. These connections are important for creating a real community,” says Ann “and WESST is the best of the best at helping our community of small businesses start their businesses, stay in business and thrive. From Frontier Restaurant to Dion’s Pizza to our many local breweries, these companies make our community a community. ”
A former WESST staff member, Ann served as the VP of Development in 2012-15 and was elected to the WESST Board of Directors in 2018. She currently serves as Chair of WESST’s Development Committee and loves spending time “telling the story of WESST and its amazing clients.” WESST’s values of innovation, integrity, quality, excellence and accountability mirror those of the Utterbacks. “We tend to focus our own personal giving on helping people to help themselves, most often through educational avenues. There were so many who helped us in our journey, and we want to pay that back. WESST is at heart an educational and support program for entrepreneurs to get the skills they need to be successful in business. Oftentimes, business owners are good at their core business service (cooking, making something, etc…) but they don’t have the skills they need to run a business. That’s where WESST comes in and that resonates with us. We also love the fact that WESST is a statewide organization, given our southeastern New Mexico beginnings.”
“WESST’s development efforts in this decade have been highly successful,” says Agnes Noonan. “Ann and Tracy’s energy and enthusiasm for our mission and our fabulous small business clients makes it seem like they are our full-time marketing reps.” At the root of their philanthropy is their belief in New Mexicans who are on a path to self-sufficiency for the first time in their lives, sometimes leading them out of poverty, or even just a path to a normal family life. “WESST clients are creating jobs for our community and our state,” says Ann and Tracy. “These New Mexicans are creating jobs for themselves and others in a way that is truly impacting our state’s economy. We want these businesses and the people behind them and many more like them in all different neighborhoods, in all areas of town with all different people to thrive and succeed for many years into the future. Women-owned businesses like our eco-friendly cleaning service, Green Sweep, who has greatly benefited from their relationship with WESST.”
At present, Ann is Board Chair for the JF Maddox Foundation in Hobbs, NM, a family foundation that innovates primarily in education, community development and social services to ensure people are attracted to and thrive in Lea County. Tracy is CFO of Jaynes Corporation, a general contracting firm dedicated to building interesting projects, leading teams and growing people through culture. As Founding members of WESST Visionaries, the Utterbacks are bullish about WESST’s next 30 years. “The need to learn about business fundamentals from financial to marketing, will always be there. People will have different passions and the types of businesses of the future will change but business fundamentals will always be necessary. How services are delivered will change, but we have no doubt that WESST will stay true to its values and innovate with integrity, quality, excellence and accountability as they have for the first 30 years.”
To see previous #30FACESOFWESST features please click HERE.