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Community Health Center Benefits from 'Wheel of Fortune'

Dec. 6, 2004 –– When the Wheel of Fortune spun Monday, $10,379 came up to buy books and journals for Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center, Roy L. Schneider Hospital and the University of the Virgin Islands nursing program.
The money came from the Bennie and Martha Benjamin Foundation. The St. Croix-born Bennie Benjamin was a song writer who, in collaboration with George Weiss, wrote "Wheel of Fortune" and numerous other hit songs. He also partnered with several other song writers.
"Bennie never forgot where he came from," David A. Beale said as more than a dozen Myrah Keating Smith staff members gathered at the health center's conference room for a short ceremony.
Beale, a foundation director, administers the foundation from his offices in New York and Delray Beach, Fla. Other directors include president Jack Albert, who was Bennie Benjamin's attorney, and Seymour Braun, the treasurer.
Bennie Benjamin, born in 1907, left St. Croix for New York in the 1920s, but returned frequently to visit.
Before he died in 1989, he set up the Bennie and Martha Foundation to help the territory's medical facilities.
Beale said that Bennie and Martha Benjamin had no heirs, so they left their money to help with the territory's health care needs.
"We still get royalties," Beale said, speaking of the continuing infusion of money to the foundation from Bennie Benjamin's numerous songs.
Since 1992, the foundation has donated $1.5 million for equipment, scholarships and UVI's nursing program.
Beale said the first donation ceremony was held in the ruins of Roy L. Schneider Hospital after the hospital had suffered extensive damage when Hurricane Hugo hit in 1989.
He said that the foundation is looking for photos of Bennie and Martha Benjamin to include on its Web site –– www.bennieandmartha.org. That have asked that anyone who may have photos to contact Beale at 561-243-1477 or db38@cornell.edu.
David A. Beale with Erica McDonald administrator of the Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center and Trish James, coordinator of medical library services at the Roy L. Schneider Hospital.

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