Good things happen when community needs and individual expertise are perfectly matched. Take Benevilla, for example. This West Valley nonprofit provides much-needed services to the sizable elder population and families in the region, focusing on programs that enable personal independence and dignity. They offer everything from in-home care to resource referral to classes on “grandparents raising grandchildren.” While it had become the go-to resource for the area, Benevilla found itself at a critical juncture—deciding whether to physically expand its facilities into neighboring communities, or to pour more resources into its existing location’s services.

Enter Gary Thuerk. Gary brought not only extensive experience in management, business development and sales from his work at Fortune 500 firms, he had a long history of volunteering with nonprofits. He began his Encore Fellowship with Benevilla in February 2015, first conducting a market assessment of the West/Southwest Valley communities’ existing facilities, services, and demographics to determine if services like Benevilla’s were already in place for the target population. By searching out other community partners, he and his work host were able to determine that gaps existed, and an expansion could help fill them. They even had enthusiastic support from two of the prospective cities. Moving forward, Gary drew up a business plan and budget, outlined existing community infrastructure, and he and his host presented the feasibility study to Benevilla’s CEO and Board of Directors.

Their recommendations were immediately approved, and Benevilla is now expanding into another city. Gary’s work host said it all, “Our Encore fellow made lots of great community connections for us and really did a wonderful job on research. He embraced our organization and we all just love him.” Ready to engage individuals like Gary? contact Sally Clifford at or 602.812.3945.