SPRINGFIELD — A community is taking action to help their coworker keep his job while he recovers from a stroke.
34-year old Joshua Beneze works at the Illinois Community College Boar. While he recovers, dozens at his work are lending helping hands.
A GoFundMe account has been set up to help with his medical costs, but coworkers are also donating unused sick days to ensure Beneze stays on the payroll.
“Josh touched the lives of many people in the system.”
Joshua Beneze walked the halls of his office for the first time in more than five months since suffering a stroke during work-related trip to Rhode Island. It was a very emotional day for him to see those who are stepping up to help him in a time of need.
“It brought tears to all of our eyes and, of course, it brought tears to him because he hasn’t seen his desk. It was really nice that he was able to come off the elevator like he used to and for us to see him.”
Beneze’s days are now filled with doctor visits and taking small steps toward recovery. Those who were closest to him say he speaks in a whisper because of the side effects of the stroke. Coworkers say he’s doing okay and is quite the fighter.
“He’s had to work through, the fact that he was a young man, I think, certainly contributed toward his ability to get further than a lot of people expected.”
It didn’t take long for a small state agency to take action. After his accident, Beneze only had about a week of vacation time left to use. That’s when coworkers decided to create a new way to help.
“We had a dozen or so employees donate anywhere from the entire month of time to three days. Anything mattered and everything helped in this situation.”
People donated unused sick days and vacation time to make sure he can still receive a paycheck and use his state health insurance.
“When one of us hurt, all of us hurt and so, I think, it was just a natural thing for us to actually contribute.”
So far, the GoFundMe account has raised more than $13,000.
“Come together as a community. We are the Community College Board. We really are like a community, a small net family that we felt like we have lost one of her own.”
Friends say Beneze was thrilled to visit the office, even if just for a few minutes. He’s not sure when he’ll return to work. He doesn’t have a timeline and is taking things day-by-day.
Since the stroke in November 2016, Beneze is unable to swallow and must be fed through a feeding tube. He says he’s looking forward to strengthening his body so he won’t have to depend on a wheelchair.