Prudential’s Volunteer of the Year, Diane Beebe, took her service to another level after seeing how much it matters to assist those in need.
By Ron Varrial
Pictured above: Diane Beebe, Prudential’s Volunteer of the Year, is a first responder who helps both animals and people in times of crisis.
For Diane Beebe, there’s a careful juggling act at play on any given day.
“In our household, there is work and life,” says Beebe, a manager in Prudential Retirement’s Full Service Investment team. “Being a volunteer is life.”
Whether it’s a pager alerting her of a medical emergency during the night, setting up a makeshift animal shelter in concert with a Red Cross evacuation center, or helping in the aftermath of a tragedy such as the Sandy Hook school shooting, there’s no shortage of opportunities for Beebe to help in her hometown of Cornwall, Connecticut, and the surrounding region.
For her efforts—845 hours to be exact—Beebe was named Prudential’s 2018 Volunteer of the Year.
“After the Sandy Hook tragedy in 2012, four of us from Cornwall were selected to relieve their exhausted emergency response team. We stepped into the middle of incredible sorrow,” Beebe says. “I was managing traffic and the hundreds of pedestrians streaming to a memorial. A little girl asked if she could leave a teddy bear at her school. I suggested she leave it at the memorial and thanked her for bringing it. Her mother reached out and touched my arm, thanking me for being there. Her eyes said it all; if we can be compassionate toward one another, we can be better people.”
“To this day, I choke up talking about that little girl and the horrors she must have experienced,” Beebe continues. “Yet there she was, trying to do something that would help someone. I knew there was a purpose to all the work we do as first responders.”
It was then that Beebe went from helping a lot to helping a whole lot.
“I can trace my real start in volunteerism to when I married a minister who is equally dedicated to service. When I moved to town, a member of her church suggested I become involved with the fire department,” she says. “It didn’t take long before other needs arose, and I found myself saying yes to the Civilian Emergency Response Team, then State Animal Response Team, the newspaper and the church, then most recently as the Emergency Management director.”
How does she manage so many different roles?
“I’ve stopped saying yes now until I retire. Actually, that’s not entirely true—they just talked me into an elections role, so I’ll be helping at the polls,” she says with a laugh. “But that’s really it, until I retire.”
Managing so many responsibilities while working full time takes some planning. She schedules her on-call time when it won’t conflict with her work at Prudential.
“I can’t control disasters or the midnight medical call,” she says. “I have never had to say I’ll be late to work because of a 4 a.m. emergency. But I know I have the support of the company and my manager, which eliminates the question, ‘Should I go or should I stay when the pager goes off.’ That makes it all possible.”
Lessons Beebe has learned at Prudential over the past 23 years definitely apply to her work as a volunteer—and vice versa.
“No one walks into an emergency alone. I didn’t go to Sandy Hook alone. It is always a team,” Beebe says. “It’s like that at work. We are a team. We aren’t doing our work in a vacuum, and there is always someone else counting on us—a peer, a staff member, a client. The mission is bigger than the individual.”
Beebe and the other 174 employees and retirees who earned a Points of Light President’s Volunteer Service Award for logging 100 volunteer hours seem to embrace that concept.
“I find energy in volunteering. It keeps my mind and body active,” Beebe says. “If you truly look at it, it’s amazing how much time there is in a day.”
The Points of Light National Volunteer Week runs from April 7 to April 13.
For media inquiries about volunteering at Prudential, contact Caitrin O’Sullivan.