OP-Ed: Mike Butler–For All The Right Reasons

As Dan Benavidez says, "Yes We Can"

Mike Butler (Photo by Rick Brennan/ Longmont Observer)
Photo courtesy of Dan Benavidez and Mike Butler

A few years ago, Dan Benavidez wrote and published a book entitled, “For All The Wrong Reasons.” In his book, he most vulnerably and intimately described his personal life up to that point and often wrote that many of his life decisions were driven by his ego – for all the wrong reasons. 

I have known Dan for two decades. He is my partner in our Belonging Revolution walks through our community’s neighborhoods. Dan and I have walked 200 neighborhoods in Longmont, mostly mobile home parks and high density housing neighborhoods. Dan told me years ago that if you want to reach the people in our community and particularly our Latinos, “You have to get into the trenches.” 

I initially got to know Dan when I invited him to speak to our police staff about our Latino culture. Dan accepted and refused to take any payment(after being offered) saying and, I distinctly remember his words, “This is my community and my police department.” I knew then I was in the presence of a man of character. The essence of his talk was how each of our staff possessed profound strengths and gifts they could offer the Latino culture. Dan is a dynamic speaker and his compelling message resonated deeply. We’ve had other speakers come in and conduct diversity or implicit bias training but no one reached our staff like Dan. His focus was on the goodness and talents each of our staff had to offer others including our Latino community.

Dan has done more for our community than anyone I know. He was the co-founder of several non-profits including El Comite. He served as a city council person for several years. Dan regularly mentors young people in our community and is highly sought after as a speaker in our local high schools and colleges. Elected officials call on him for ideas and endorsements. Dan has been courted to run for political office but has declined to believe his talents are best utilized in other behind-the-scenes ways. Dan is currently a sitting board member for EcoCycle. In the recent past, Dan provided translation services and of course, he did it gratis. 

Dan’s love for his community is unsurpassed. His kindness is unfailing and touches the heart of everyone. He has lived in Longmont since the late 1950s and has seen it all. Everything he does, he does to give back to our community. I mentioned that he walks neighborhoods with me on Sundays. Dan’s capacity to connect with anyone is simply amazing. Dan is so approachable and his sympathetic heart is open to those whom he would chance to pass by. In moments he can disarm any set of circumstances and make people feel at ease and open up. 

While Dan has drunk from the cup of sorrow in his life, he is a consistently cheerful person. He is not a man of sorrows as much as he is a soul of gladness. Young people whom he mentors and those whom he teaches not only learn how to deal with disappointments in their lives, they have more hope for their futures. Said a student whom he taught at SilverCreek High School, “Dan’s story teaches me that we can change this world for the better.” 

Dan’s family is first in his life, nevertheless, he is a remarkable citizen of our community in every sense of the word. He has lived his life believing he is the architect of his own destiny and that he can be a positive force for change in our community. I am privileged to know him and to call him my friend. Perhaps, as Dan talks about in his book, he made decisions for less than admirable reasons earlier in his life. Dan’s mantra for as long as I have known him has been “Si Se Pueda!” which means “Yes We Can!” Since I have known Dan, he undoubtedly has and is living his life for all the right reasons. His compelling life story is one from which we can all learn and benefit. 

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