Ron Schenkenberger volunteers at an assisted-living facility where his wife lives. He was nominated by Vida Dietz, whose mother lives there, too. From left: Teresa Merritt, Emeritus executive director, Linda Zimmerman, memory care director, Schenkenberger and Dietz. 


The recipient of this week's Ben's Bell is Ron Schenkenberger.

Schenkenberger, a volunteer at Emeritus at Catalina Foothills, an assisted-living facility, was nominated by Vida Dietz.

Dietz met Schenkenberger while visiting her mother at the facility. Schenkenberger, 68, has volunteered at the community since September 2010, when his wife, Barbara, moved in to the memory-care unit.

"I'd see him all the time in the kitchen area and other places, and he was dressed nicely … and he reminded me of someone who was in charge of things, and I just thought he worked there," Dietz said.

One Thanksgiving, Schenkenberger brought in a whole turkey dinner for Thanksgiving. Just a few days ago, he helping hang curtains. And he frequently plays guitar for the residents.

"He just kind of does a little bit of everything, He's really a treasure," Dietz said.

She was surprised to find the man who is always helping with odd jobs around the facility was a volunteer.

Schenkenberger visits his wife of 30 years every day and began to help out around the facility because he enjoys being productive, he said.

In her nomination letter, Dietz wrote that Schenkenberger helps prepare meals for the 18 residents of the memory-care unit and remembers their likes and dislikes. She also wrote that Schenkenberger often makes residents smile with his compliments and makes all of them feel special.

"He is kind, thoughtful and attentive," Dietz wrote. "There might be a meal that Ron knows my mom won't like, so he'll use what he can and try to make it appealing for her so she will eat."

The project

Ben's Bells promote kindness and community. Each week a person who betters Tucson is "belled." Go to to submit a name. Go to or call 628-2829 for information. Recipients also are featured on Friday's Morning Blend on KGUN 9.

Contact reporter Veronica Cruz at or at 573-4224.