Brenda Beaver is a natural Southern Belle born to Ms. Odessa Prudhomme of Winnfield, Louisiana. Her mother always taught her to be kind to others and share what God has given her with love. It’s in doing for others that she feels that the memories of her mother will always live. Below you will read some of the many things that Brenda does to continue to keep her mother’s memory alive and in turn, dramatically impacting the lives around her.
Brenda moved to Topeka, Kansas in 1970 after she graduated High School, where she gained employment and ultimately retired from both the Menninger’s Foundation (mental health treatment facility) and Kansas Neurological Institute (mental/physical disability residential facility). It was at these two places of employment where she became a caregiver to many and fostered many relationships that she continues to maintain to the present day. Brenda has always been able to look beyond the disability and differences of people. Regardless of a person’s situation, she never treats people differently. If anything, she goes above and beyond to help them overcome obstacles that so that their life situation isn’t a factor and doesn’t prohibit them from being able to experience life, and it’s because of this mindset, that has allowed her to impact so many lives. To this day, she is still the guardian to a young lady, whom she worked closely with and took care of at KNI. She made a promise to her mother that she would take care of her daughter prior to her passing and continues to honor that promise to this day. She also remains in close contact with several of the people who lived at Menninger’s. She advocates on their behalf and sees to their welfare on a weekly, sometime daily basis, depending on the need. She helps them with everyday tasks like laundry, shopping and making sure that their everyday needs are met and will even spend overnights during hospital stays to keep them company and to ensure that adequate health care is being provided. Brenda helps to coordinate and assist to make sure they take vacations and several times throughout the year will accompany them on long distance trips, sometimes for holidays, sometimes for birthdays and sometimes it is just so they can have some quality time with their family. When she takes them home to visit family, she often finds herself providing care for their parents, as well. That’s just the type of person she is, always seeing to other people’s needs.
Brenda has done many small things and many great things with the gifts that God has given her. With the help of her husband of over 40 years, Norman Beaver, she raised three of her grandkids and put them through school, including helping with college expenses for her oldest granddaughter. She has also helped other family members and friends with college, as well. She has supported all of our grandkids and great-grand kids with medical expenses. She even managed to take care of her pre-mature twin granddaughters while their parents worked full-time until they were of age to go to school. Coming from the poor state of Louisiana, where opportunities are limited, she has been a catalyst in helping several of her family members by allowing them to stay in her home until they were able to gain employment and make a way for themselves. She does it without any thought, just letting her heart guide her in helping anyone who may need it. Probably, one of her biggest challenges in helping someone was when the love of her life, her husband, was gravely ill. There was absolutely no question, she opted to stick by his side and take care of him in their home until he passed in 2017.
Random Acts of Kindness. When Brenda is not taking care of her family and close companions. She is always on the go, looking for ways and opportunities to help someone, someway. She will pay for groceries for a random stranger who comes up short at the check-out. If she hears that someone needs a clothing, a piece of furniture or sees something that she knows will make someone’s day, she will go out-of-her way to see what she can do to make it happen..asking for nothing in return. Over 10 years ago, Brenda started what is now her annual garage sale that she likes to call the Blessed Sale. Basically, she collects items throughout the year for the sale and then prices things really low, in order to give people who can’t afford much, an opportunity to get nicer, more expensive items at a price they can easily afford. She then takes the money earned from the sale to create an emergency fund to assist with family emergencies and medical expenses, including one time when she raised over $5,000 for her twin grand daughters’ helmets because their insurance would not cover and she did not want the financial burden to fall on her son and his family. After each sale she donates the remaining items to local churches that are known to have free clothing banks, in order to keep the blessings flowing. Brenda also has several Senior Citizen friends that she checks in on regularly, taking them to doctor appointments and the grocery store. If she knows that someone is sick or confined to their home for whatever the reason may be, she will make time to go visit, see about their welfare and ensure there isn’t anything that they may need, even if it’s just someone to talk to. She has helped both financially and in-kind to help bury many family and friends. She organized a group at her church that assisted with the purchase of a new stove, computer and other smaller items as needed. She volunteers frequently as a grandma at a local daycare. Brenda collects and send over 100 coats to her hometown in Louisiana every year to help the homeless, along with clothes and money to help feed them and purchase additional clothing, if needed. She has been known to help people move that didn’t have many resources and will find a crew to help make it happen. Which is another thing, if Brenda knows of someone needing some work done at their house with a limited income, she will coordinate a crew of people based off their talents to get the job done. Which one, helps save the person some money who needs the work done and two, helps put money in the pockets of the people doing the work who were looking for extra work. She has even turned her own personal job offers, into opportunities for someone else who could use and needed a job. Even on a family vacation, she helped coordinate a day that brought her Kansas and Louisiana families together during the trip to help serve and feed the homeless for a day. Brenda has helped many friends over the years with money and food. Just this past summer, she bought her sister a new air conditioner to help prevent her from overheating. She has bought wedding rings and paid for trips to different states for many of her family and friends. So, as you can see, it’s not just people’s needs that she meets, but their quality of life, asking for nothing in return but to see the joy on her face.
People like Mrs. Brenda Beaver are very hard to find, she is definitely a rare ruby that touches just about everyone she comes in contact with. I would venture to say she probably works more looking out for and taking care of people now, more than she ever did when she was actually getting paid to do so. Which is a whole other factor, as most people who reach retirement wouldn’t even have the means to do even a portion of what she does due to financial limitations. The difference is, she operates on faith, triggering a level of universal law that most people can’t even begin to comprehend. Brenda was once told by her income tax preparer that if she had held on to all the money she had worked for, she would be rich. To which she replied, “My mother taught me to share and that is also what God wants me to do. I would give the shirt off my back if it would make God’s people happy.” This is just who she is and she believes that it is her God given purpose, while here on this earth. “I will always help and give others. It makes me happy”.