Dr. Robert M. Bennett, MD, MESE, FACC
• Co-founder of the Free Clinic of Goochland
• Clinic Volunteer
• Medical Director of GoochlandCares
“GoochlandCares is by the community for the community. I have been struck over the years that personal agenda is missing. Our entire community has put their shoulders to the wheel. That is a very warm feeling. Our community does this without fanfare.”
Dr. Bennett earned his B.S.M.E. in mechanical engineering and machine design and his M.E. in systems engineering from the University of Virginia, and his M.D. from the Medical College of Virginia. He has been on the faculty of and lectured at UVA’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, VCU School of Medicine, and the Department of Health Administration.
His résumé includes serving as a design engineer at Reynolds Metals Company, medical officer at the Naval Medical Research Institute, a partner at Cardiovascular Associates of Virginia, and president of Medical Reengineering Consultants, Inc.
In addition to serving on numerous boards and committees, Dr. Bennett has received honors and awards from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Bon Secours Richmond Health System, and the Richmond Academy of Medicine.
In April 1999, Dr. Bennett, along with a dental surgeon, a pharmacist, a commercial interior designer, and a nurse practitioner, started the Free Clinic of Goochland in the basement and closet of the Health Department. He became the medical director in 2000.
From the very beginning the founders followed “neighbors helping neighbors” as their guiding tactical approach, and the support from Goochland County was incredible. Being involved with GoochlandCares has allowed “Dr. Bob” to return to the basics: a physician in a room with a patient. As he says, “Putting something back is something we all should consider. The reward is many-fold more than the gift.”
• Board Member 2013-2018
• Capital Campaign Chair
• Community Supporter
“Of all the organizations we have been involved with over the years, GoochlandCares has been the closest to our hearts. Everyone experiences ‘bumps in the road’ during their lives and needs encouragement, resources, and just hope. That is what GoochlandCares is all about: hope.”
Lisa Luck grew up in a rural North Carolina community much like Goochland. Her family recognized a need in the community and contributed through their local church and other organizations. As a young child, Lisa delivered meals to families in need, especially during the holidays. She saw firsthand how a little effort could mean so much to someone else.
When Charlie entered Lisa’s life, they realized that they had both grown up hearing the same expression from their parents: “To whom much is given, much is expected.” It is a motto they have used as a guidepost their entire lives. So, when the Lucks moved to Goochland, they wanted to get involved in the community, and donated to GoochlandCares each year.
One year, the Lucks decided to “adopt” a local family at Christmas, and they ended up delivering food and gifts to four families. It was a fulfilling experience for the entire Luck family to know that they had made a difference for their neighbors during the holidays. The following year, Joe Andrews, a retired Luck Companies associate and GoochlandCares Board member, invited Lisa to join the Board; it was a role she was thrilled to accept.
The Lucks’ first memory of GoochlandCares was a tour of the health clinic. At the time, it was a tiny space with people sitting in the hallways, reciting personal information with no privacy at all. Lisa noticed the love and attention the staff and volunteers gave to the clients, who were so grateful to see a doctor or dentist. The genuine interest and care the staff showed the clients was wonderful to see.
Lisa’s first volunteer job at GoochlandCares was taking client surveys at the food pantry. She describes one cold, rainy day when people were sitting under a little tent, waiting their turn to enter the pantry. She had worn a pair of flats that day, and her feet were soaking wet and freezing. The families never complained as they waited patiently to shop for groceries. That afternoon, Lisa went home and cried, knowing her family could do more to help.
For the Lucks, volunteering at and donating to GoochlandCares gives them the opportunity to witness the positive impact they can make up close within the community. They hear hope in the clients’ voices, see it on their faces, and are inspired by their words.
• Board President 2016-2018
• Volunteer Financial Counselor
• Client Registration Volunteer
“Al and I were both so proud of our Goochland neighbors for enthusiastically stepping up to help us achieve our vision of a ‘one-stop shop’ for our clients. I think that our successful fundraising effort was a result of GFCFS’s reputation for helping the neediest in our community.”
The Riders have been involved with GoochlandCares for over 30 years, beginning with their connection through St. Mary’s Episcopal Church. They created a program for mothers and children at risk for abuse with what was then known as Goochland Fellowship.
Liz helped take care of children in the basement of what is now GoochlandCares emergency housing, while patient and compassionate instructors worked with and educated the mothers upstairs. She assisted in preparing and coordinating a breakfast and lunch program for the families, which gave them the incentive to attend. Liz distinctly remembers watching one mother fill her baby’s bottle with iced tea, which was less expensive than milk, because she did not understand the difference in value for her child. Eventually the Goochland Fellowship program was supported and implemented by the county.
For several years, Liz served on the Fellowship Board. During this time she happened to take a class at St. Mary’s with Sally Graham, just as Sally was forming the Goochland Free Clinic. The two organizations joined forces in 2007, and Liz began volunteering in various capacities, including checking in prescriptions, logging volunteer hours, answering phones, and pitching in wherever necessary.
Most recently, Liz served on the Board of what is now GoochlandCares. During her two-year tenure as president, she and Board members raised money to build the new GoochlandCares building. During this process she gained firsthand knowledge of how much good Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services was doing in the community, and it became easier to ask for contributions.
Al does financial counseling for clients at GoochlandCares. He works diligently to help them work through their circumstances. Al remembers an instance when he was able to negotiate a high interest rate way down with a mortgage lender, which allowed the client to keep his house.
The Riders give to GoochlandCares because they believe in helping in their own neighborhood. They give tours to anyone who is interested in learning more about the mission of GoochlandCares, and Liz can often be found at the front desk, answering phones and helping clients. They enjoy engaging directly with clients, and they are proud of how everyone who seeks help is treated with respect. Every day that Al and Liz volunteer, they see lives improve and observe a ripple effect in the engagement of volunteers and donors who want to see continued the success of GoochlandCares.