An Interview with David “Turkey Whisperer” Bettencourt

How did you get involved with GLIDE?

I got involved with GLIDE over a year ago when I was introduced to Mike Kim, Legacy Committee Chair. Mike has been instrumental with my involvement with GLIDE ever since I expressed interest in becoming more engaged with social causes. I wanted an opportunity to give back to the community and GLIDE has given me the chance to help those in need. It’s a great feeling to know that I can contribute my time and energy to a cause that makes a huge impact with so many lives. Every time I volunteer or attend a committee meeting, I know that the work put in is helping thousands of people in the Bay Area. It’s an amazing feeling.

Why do you feel that it’s important for your generation to give back?

My generation grew up with the exodus of the internet age so information is instantly available. It’s very easy to be discouraged by the constant barrage of bad news in the media. Bad news sells and the average person can easily voice their concerns on a blog, a social media site or a chat room. The bright side of this age is that it’s also extremely easy to leverage facts and positive stories to affect change within our society. This generation has an amazing opportunity to make a serious impact with our future if we decide to stop ranting and start doing. We can continue to bring change and hope to so many people if we can redirect our energy to do more good. GLIDE has been a beacon of the kind of real good we can do.

What is the Legacy Committee doing over the Holidays?

The Legacy Committee meets every month to create strategies to build awareness for GLIDE. We’ve partnered with Safeway Grocery Stores for the annual “5000 Turkeys for GLIDE” turkey drive. Our committee was split between two locations across San Francisco and encouraged shoppers to help those in need by donating a turkey, a bag of groceries or a cash donation.

On December 1st, we attended the “The Love Groove” GLIDE’s Annual Holiday Jam to benefit Mo’s Kitchen as well as GLIDE’s on-going programs. The event honored the late Nick Ashford from the group “Ashford & Simpson.” It’s a wonderful event filled with love, hope & change that will sure to be a fitting tribute to a brilliant entertainer.

Starting bright and early on December 16th, the Legacy Committee will be out in full force handing out grocery bags for GLIDE’s annual “Grocery Bag Giveaway.” This will be another opportunity for the team to engage with families in San Francisco who are in dire need for food during the holiday season. It’s a moment to share a smile and a sense of hope to someone who has fallen on hard times.

We’re also in the planning stages for another successful “GLIDE Legacy Gala” event in 2012. Stay tuned to for updates!

What is the #1 goal of the Legacy Committee in 2012?

The #1 goal for the Legacy Committee is to simply build awareness for the GLIDE Foundation and to create the next generation of supporters to continue the amazing work that Jan and Cecil started. We have so many smart and talented people in our committee from all walks of life. With many tools at our disposal and the dedication within all of us to succeed, I’m confident that we can make a huge impact for those in need in the Bay Area.

How did you earn the nickname the “turkey whisperer?”

When I was volunteering at the “5000 Turkeys for GLIDE” event at Safeway, I found my groove during the final hours of the drive in encouraging people to donate turkeys. I was hitting up almost every aisle asking shoppers to donate a turkey for GLIDE. I was literally getting every possible shopper to check out with at least one turkey in their basket. I had a complex system down where I would gently place the turkey on the rail and pick it up immediately after the shopper paid. We would mark a list of how many turkeys we were getting and I made sure to keep our counter, Dori Caminong, Manager of Legacy and Creative Development at GLIDE, busy with marking the turkey count. At the end of the day, Mike Kim sent out an email to the team calling me the “Turkey Whisperer.” It’s flattering.

What do the Holidays mean to you?

I come from a close Portuguese family and the holidays have always been a time where we can honor the blessings of one another and the meaning of the holiday season. It’s also the time of year when my mom makes her famous caramel flan which has been the benchmark of her culinary prowess. My dad still tries to convince her to make it during the rest of the year but he’s been unsuccessful. Seriously, it’s so delicious that it only makes one appearance a year.

I’m fortunate to have so many wonderful family and friends that I love and appreciate. But for some people in the Bay Area, it’s not the case. I feel that experiencing the love and joy of having family and friends is a basic necessity of the human experience. To share a laugh and a warm meal with a loved one is something that every person should have no matter what time of year it is. I just hope that I can share that sense of joy with my work at GLIDE.

What inspires you?

That’s a tough question to answer because there’s a lot that inspires me. I love to make people laugh. It’s the one skill that people can truly appreciate because it doesn’t cost anything and doesn’t require a lot of effort. Having a sense of humor is a quality that I admire because it means that you truly enjoy the ups and downs of life. If you take anything too seriously, you end up bitter and unlikeable. I am inspired by people that are willing to laugh at themselves because it shows that you’re not afraid to try something and fail. It’s an endearing quality that says even though things might not go your way, you’re able to pick yourself up and try again. Fear of failure is a common struggle we all have. As long as there are people willing to make an effort to change what’s wrong in the world and continue to build a brighter future, that will always inspire me to do more good.

What is on your personal Holiday wish list?

First and foremost I would love to see GLIDE hit the goal of receiving more than 5,000 turkeys to give to hungry families across the Bay Area during the Holiday season. If we can hit that mark, I would be so elated!

I’m a big foodie and I love to eat. San Francisco is a mecca for awesome food and there are so many passionate people that adhere to a set of culinary standards that make it possible for anyone to enjoy a great meal. If I had to make a personal holiday wish it would be to have a “Sam’s Sundae” at BiRite Creamery with local celebrity chef Aida Mollenkamp. That would be really awesome.

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