The Dallas Arboretum recently received a new addition to the grand Holiday at the Arboretum decor. Park Cities residents Barbara and Bill Benac gifted a one-of-a-kind Nativity set handcrafted from paper-mache in India that’s featured in the Artistry of the Nativity collection in the DeGolyer House during Holiday at the Arboretum, which runs through Dec. 31.
Along with hundreds of other nativities from around the world, the Indian creche is on display outside the library in the DeGolyer House. The DeGolyer House is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and from 6-8 p.m. Monday-Wednesday.
Bill served on the board of directors of the arboretum when Robert “Bob” Thornton III was chairman of the board in 1996. During his tenure, he helped the garden grow and expand with added programming, festivals, and planning of the 66-acre garden.
“Bill’s leadership, financial acumen, and tenacity in those early years have helped us know how our organization could operate in the black every year for the past 25 years,” Dallas Arboretum Mary Brinegar said. “I am grateful for his and his family’s support and friendship as well as the truly lovely Indian nativity set.”
Benac was introduced to Dr. ADSN Prasad and his wife, Chandra, in 1988 and learned about their work to take care of children with disabilities in India through their nonprofit Pathway India. He then began traveling back and forth several times per year and his son William Benac Jr. serves as the chief financial officer of Pathway India. As a family, they’ve helped raise money to build an orphanage home, acquire a 65-acre farm that houses a small village, and helped the nonprofit become self sustaining via the farm’s crops.
Looking for additional income sources, Chandra created a prototype of a Nativity set using materials like newspaper.
“Children of all abilities are able to help out, and it’s group work where they learn from one another. Our thinking is that we need to turn these kids into productive citizens as adults,” Chandra said.
It takes about 40 hours to create each set. Those interested in ordering a Nativity for delivery next holiday season in 2022 can do so at the arboretum’s Hoffman Family Gift Store. The set is $400 with the majority going to Pathway India.