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Betsy and John Hendrix

A Family Tradition Rooted in Service: Two Generations of Giving

June 2009

“I have a passion for social justice, and Bread for the World matches that,” says longtime member and supporter Betsy Hendrix.

Betsy works at a military chapel in Northern Virginia. She greets visitors and lends an ear to those looking to talk. It’s easy to see how comforting chapel visitors would find her gracious style.

As children of the Great Depression, Betsy and her late husband Cliff grew up with a keen awareness of need and a determination to respond. They also understood the role that the U.S. government can play to help people in need.

So when they heard about Bread for the World’s mission, they began a decades-long partnership with us. They also instilled their spirit of giving in their three sons, who they raised in Northern Virginia, close to the nation’s capital.

“Living so close to Washington, DC, we were a politically aware household,” John Hendrix, Betsy’s son, says. “I remember my parents pointing out the undue influence of lobbyists for powerful companies. Bread for the World, they told us, used lobbying for positive change.” John also remembers Bread for the World newsletters and other materials as a constant presence on the family coffee table.

“My brothers and I grew up with the expectation that helping others is part of what we do as a family, and as Christians,” he continues. So when John got his first real job out of college, he called his mother, asking her for a few of the charities she recommended most highly. Bread was at the top of the list.

Betsy remembers the conversation well. “I am careful about what organizations I support. Like everyone else, I get contacted by a lot of charities. Years ago, I looked into the organization. And I was extraordinarily impressed with founder Art Simon and the dedicated staff.”

John says he and his mother are never as up-to-date as they’d like to be on all the reading they want to do. “Yes,” he laughs, “You will find Bread for the World newsletters on both of our coffee tables now” An investment banker for a large New York City firm, John specializes in insurance companies’ acquisitions and mergers. These are difficult times for his work. He recognizes certain similarities to the mid-1980s, when his parents became Bread for the World members.

“Nobody is really safe from the economic crisis that’s throwing so many lives into turmoil,” he says. “The crisis we’re seeing today reminds my wife and me how important it is to give.”

For her part, Betsy says that the lessons she learned as a child during the Depression continue to guide her awareness today. “So many can be helped,” she says. “There is no shortage of ways we can improve the world.”

In this time of great need and great opportunity, Bread for the World is thankful to Betsy and John Hendrix for their steadfast support for our mission.

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