Bea Dillehunt, Volunteer of the Year

Bea Dillehunt SBCO Volunteer of the Year

On April 8th, at SaddleBrooke Community Outreach’s (SBCO) annual meeting, Bea Dillehunt was recognized as its volunteer of the year for 2023-24. This honor is significant for an all-volunteer organization that relies upon hundreds of volunteers to implement its programs to feed, clothe, enrich and educate youngsters living in the Copper Corridor. In fact, in the 2022-23 fiscal year, SBCO volunteers contributed 72,582 hours of their time – an amount that at the national average hourly rate of $31.80 represented an eye-popping $2,308,093 in free labor.

Bea serves as the Thursday Day Manager for Kids’ Closet in Mammoth. The role involves receiving the list of students coming to the Closet each Thursday session, preparing a shopping sheet and bag for each child, conducting the volunteer meeting, checking to ensure each child leaves with a complete wardrobe, and checking the volunteers in and out. Basically, she is the “go to” person for the day, resolving any issues and helping ensure the kids and volunteers have a good experience. Bea began working as a Kids’ Closet volunteer in 2012 and was asked to become a Day Manager after two years of volunteering. “They thought I had potential,” she recalls. “I still enjoy meeting the volunteers, many of whom are former teachers, and working with the kids.”

Bea and her husband, Don, purchased their home in SaddleBrooke in 2003 and finally made the move from Orange County, CA when he retired in 2008. They both are originally from Arizona, Bea from Douglas and Don from Phoenix. After college, they relocated to California, Colorado, and then back to California. While living for 40 years in Southern California, Bea was a teacher.
She taught English as a second language (ESL) and social studies to middle school students. Then she and another teach started a program named “Avid.” It was designed to encourage middle-school-age students to think about attending college. The program included instruction in study skills, trips to universities, and opportunities to talk to university students and instructors.

Bea knows the importance of education in helping students expand their horizons. She grew up as one of six children whose father worked in a smelter. The cyclical nature of the iron industry – like mining in the Copper Corridor, meant her mother made her daughter’s dresses from flour sacks. When she moved to SaddleBrooke, she wanted to support efforts to help local students, so she participated in the Walk for Kids (originally known as the Walkathon) and for five years volunteered in receiving at the Golden Goose.

As a volunteer, Bea says her most gratifying moments are seeing how happy the kids are picking out new clothing. “It’s so satisfying when they send us heartfelt thank you notes.” She says one of the best parts of being an SBCO volunteer is meeting other SaddleBrooke residents. “It’s great how everyone is so willing to help others. I have never before been in a community like this.” She encourages others to volunteer for SBCO. “You won’t know until you see for yourself how worthwhile it is. SBCO is one of the greatest things in our community – and there is a place for everyone!”