BERNIE BENITO: A Heartwarming Journey of Leadership and Fatherhood

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bernie benitoBERNIE BENITO: A Heartwarming Journey of Leadership and Fatherhood

by Esmeralda Padilla-Gould

Bernie Benito, a name that resonates with passion, compassion, and dedication. He is a community leader who has dedicated his life to the betterment of the Filipino American community in Las Vegas. But his impact goes beyond that—he is also a loving father who has instilled values and principles in his children, striving to be a positive role model for them. Bernie’s journey is an inspiring one, filled with countless memorable moments and achievements that have left a lasting impact on both him and the community he serves.

A Community Leader’s Genesis:

Bernie’s involvement in helping the Filipino American community in Las Vegas traces back to the early 1970s. Arriving in a city where Filipinos were few in number, he quickly became engaged with the first Filipino organization comprised of pioneers and old-timers. It was during this time that Bernie extended a helping hand to fellow Filipinos or “kababayans” in need, offering assistance with employment and immigration issues. His genuine concern for the welfare of others ignited a lifelong commitment to community service.

Memorable Moments of Impact:

Bernie’s unwavering passion for helping others brings him immense joy, particularly when he receives heartfelt appreciation from those he has assisted. He firmly believes that no act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. The genuine gratitude and recognition he receives hold a special place in his heart, reminding him of the positive impact he has made in the lives of others. These expressions of appreciation fuel his dedication and inspire him to continue making a difference, knowing that his efforts are valued and deeply appreciated by those he serves. For Bernie, the greatest achievement of all is witnessing others thrive and find happiness through his acts of kindness.

The Godfather of Compassion:

Bernie’s proactive nature, remarkable leadership, and active involvement in the Filipino American community have earned him the endearing title of the “godfather” of Filipino American organizations. This label is a testament to his approach to leadership and community service. While others may perceive him as a governor, mayor, ambassador, senator, or consul general, Bernie humbly dismisses these designations. He sees himself as a proactive individual driven by a genuine desire to make a positive impact, without seeking personal recognition or titles. Bernie’s proactive mindset, combined with his humble nature and unwavering commitment to serving others, truly set him apart as a remarkable leader in the community.

Fatherhood and Values:

As a father, Bernie has instilled important values and principles in his children, serving as a positive role model for them. One of the key values he emphasizes is the importance of honoring and respecting one’s parents. In Bernie’s own words,  “Honor thy Father and Mother, for without them, we can’t be what we are today. Someday, our children will be like us, a mother or a father. What goes around comes around.”  He firmly believes that without the guidance and support of their parents, his children wouldn’t be who they are today. By teaching them to honor their father and mother, Bernie hopes to instill in them a deep appreciation for the sacrifices and love their parents have shown. These values serve as the foundation for their growth and development, fostering strong family bonds and instilling a sense of gratitude and respect.

Balancing Leadership and Fatherhood:

The path of a community leader and a father can be challenging to navigate simultaneously. Bernie has found harmony by prioritizing his responsibilities as a father and a follower of God. He believes that being a good leader requires being a good follower, and being a good father entails embracing the responsibility that comes with it. His advice to other fathers in similar roles is to prioritize family, seek guidance from a higher power, and lead by example.

Impacting Lives: A Testimony:

During Bernie’s years of community involvement, there have been numerous impactful stories, but two particular occasions stand out. In these instances, two young married women with infant children were on the verge of despair and contemplating suicide due to being abandoned by their husbands for other women. Although Bernie did not personally know these women, they were referred to him by friends whom he had previously assisted.  Through his intervention and compassionate advice, Bernie was able to bring light and relief to their distress and hopelessness. He shared with them a mantra that no matter the circumstances, it is never the end of the world, and ending their lives should never be an option. Bernie emphasized the responsibilities of motherhood and the importance of nurturing and caring for their precious babies, as no one else would fulfill that role except them.  The impact of Bernie’s intervention was significant, as both women were able to find strength and move forward in their lives. Now, they not only enjoy the journey of motherhood but also witness the growth and happiness of their children. Bernie considers this experience a heavenly mandate fulfilled, as he played a part in helping these individuals find hope, purpose, and a renewed sense of joy.  These stories serve as powerful reminders of the profound impact one person can have on the lives of others, and Bernie’s role as a guiding light during times of darkness for those in need.

The Motivation to Serve:

For Bernie, the motivation to dedicate himself to the betterment of the Filipino American community and the Las Vegas community at large stems from his deep-rooted passion to help others. Guided by the principle of love and the teachings of the Bible, Bernie believes in the importance of unity, compassion, and support. People from all walks of life in the Filipino and Filipino American communities seek his assistance, and it is the gratitude and fulfillment he receives from making a positive impact that fuels his dedication. Bernie firmly believes that by helping one another and fostering a sense of community, we can create a stronger and more vibrant future for all.

Overcoming Obstacles and Learning:

Bernie’s journey as a community leader and a nurturing father has not been without its fair share of obstacles. Criticism, envy, and negativity have sometimes threatened to undermine his efforts. However, Bernie has learned the valuable lesson of not allowing negative influences to consume his peace of mind. He chooses to rise above the challenges and remain focused on his mission of helping others, ultimately emerging as a victor rather than a victim.

Qualities of a Great Leader and Father:

When asked about the qualities that make a great community leader and a nurturing father, Bernie emphasizes the importance of attentiveness, active listening, responsiveness, and respect for others’ opinions. He believes that acknowledging and being friendly to everyone, regardless of their background or circumstances, is crucial. Furthermore, Bernie holds fast to the Golden Rule: treating others as he would like to be treated.

Hopes and Aspirations for the Future:

Looking towards the future, Bernie’s hopes and aspirations revolve around the younger generation—the valuable assets of the Filipino American community. He believes in grooming and empowering them to take charge, engaging in social, economic, and political spheres to showcase the Filipino identity and make a lasting impact. Bernie’s legacy will be defined by his unwavering passion and selfless dedication to serving others, leaving behind a community that thrives on unity and compassion.

For an incredible 53 years, Bernie has been the devoted husband of Connie Benito, sharing a bond built on love, trust, and mutual support. Together, they have raised three wonderful children—a son and two daughters—who have brought immeasurable pride and joy into their lives. Bernie’s role as a loving father and grandfather has blessed him with seven grandchildren and the joy of two great-grandchildren, solidifying the legacy of love and family they hold dear. Their journey reminds us that behind every great man, there often stands an extraordinary woman—someone who lifts them up, believes in them, and helps them soar to greater heights. Together, Bernie and Connie have created a legacy of love and togetherness that will continue to shine brightly for generations to come, leaving an indelible mark on the hearts of all fortunate enough to witness their story.

Bernie Benito – an exceptional father and cherished leader of the Filipino-American community in Las Vegas, leaving an enduring legacy of compassion, support, and inspiration.