In response to Shirley Laska’s letter that ran May 8, I feel compelled to respond to her questions as they relate to what impact Tom and Gayle Benson have on our community and if profits from their teams have been reinvested in our communities in New Orleans and across the Gulf South. The unequivocal answer to this query is simple: YES!

The Bensons have been, to the tune of millions of dollars annually, among the most generous and philanthropic members of our great state.

The spectrum of those that have been positively fiscally impacted by the Bensons’ generosities range from numerous schools and educational facilities, to youth programs, to improved health care studies and research, to faith-based churches and organizations, as well as thousands of additional worthwhile charities.

As a graduate of St. Mary’s Dominican High School, I was personally most appreciative of the recent generous gift the Bensons made to Dominican’s STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts and Math) building.

The Bensons are ardent supporters of New Orleans and our vast outlying communities and pay close attention to the needs of our community. In addition to simply writing checks or providing grants, the Bensons also invest in these causes with their time and compassion by personally addressing situations and seeing that improvements are made.

In addition, through the New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Pelicans, a wide range of societal issues are addressed on a daily basis by hundreds of people. It is rare not to have players, coaches and members of the teams’ front offices out in the community on a daily basis lending helping hands. These people, who give willingly of their time, are following the lead and example that the Bensons set.

We agree there are serious issues facing not just our communities but also those across the world. I am confident that Tom and Gayle Benson will continue their strong and unwavering commitment to be at the forefront of positive and impactful change that improves the quality of life for so many of our residents. They have invested millions upon millions of dollars in New Orleans and done so with compassion and the best of intentions.

I believe the Bensons will continue to be among the top leaders in improving the quality of life in New Orleans through not just their words and deeds but also through their actions and financial commitments. I am proud of what Tom and Gayle have done for our city, state and neighboring states. We are all fortunate the Bensons call New Orleans “home.”

Sharon Ryan Rodi

retired attorney

Metairie