Art Hennig Wins Golden Hoosier Award
Photographer / Robby Berry
When Art Hennig retired in 2008 after working for 37 years as an attorney with the Internal Revenue Service, he didn’t kick back in his recliner with a drink in one hand and the television remote in the other. Quite the contrary – he got moving.
He had gone through the Fishers City Government Academy, then went on to the Fishers Police Citizens Academy, and then the Fishers Fire Department Citizens Academy. When he heard in 2010 that the Fishers Police Department had volunteer needs, Hennig began filling in four hours per week. Over time his responsibilities and hours have grown significantly, as has his devotion to the department. Now he logs 30 hours per week and is there most every day, helping in whatever capacity is needed.
“Want me to sweep floors? I’ll sweep floors,” Hennig says. “I’ve done it many times.”
When Hennig first began volunteering, he did victim advocate calls. He was later moved to the front window, taking fingerprints and phone calls. Now he helps organize and run all major internal and external events. He’s also the treasurer of the Fishers Police Corps and serves on the department’s Foundation board.
“Every day is different,” Hennig says. “I do whatever is asked or needed in any of my three roles at the PD.”
Volunteering has been in Hennig’s blood well before he retired. When his daughter was in college, Hennig and his wife Lou Ann were asked to help with her crew team.
“Once our foot was in the door, we were called upon to help with other events,” says Hennig, who grew up watching his parents volunteer with their church and local school board.
“They were always involved in things,” Hennig says of his parents. “When you grow up seeing that, it comes naturally.”
When Hennig, 75, is not at the Fishers Police Department, he is volunteering at the Fishers Fire Department and the Indianapolis Sports Corp, where he oversees the hosting of visiting teams for the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament.
Several months ago, the chief of police asked Hennig to make a list of all of his responsibilities at the department. He wanted to have a sense of the holes that would be left should Hennig ever decide to stop volunteering. Hennig began jotting down his duties and it was an impressive list.
Besides big responsibilities, he also takes care of many little tasks that are appreciated. In September, when the department hosted a softball tournament, Hennig got out all the coolers and canopies prior to the event.
“If you want something done, just go do it,” he says. “Don’t sit back and say, ‘That’s so-and-so’s job.’ If you’ve got a weed in your yard, don’t blame the landscaper. Just pull the weed yourself.”
When the police chief read Hennig’s list of responsibilities (three single-spaced, typed pages), his eyes grew wide and his mouth dropped. These would be big shoes to fill should Hennig ever step away – not that he has plans to.
“If I didn’t believe in the program and the way they operate here, if I didn’t like the people and feel they were exceptional, I’d go find something else to do,” Hennig says. “I have no intention of stopping.”
When word around the office began to circulate about all that Hennig does, he was nominated for the Golden Hoosier Award. It was established to recognize outstanding seniors for their lifetime of service to their communities. Hennig was one of the 2021 recipients of the honor. Though he was a little embarrassed by the recognition he received, since he is not one to toot his own horn, he was touched by the appreciation shown by his colleagues.
“I love this stuff,” Hennig says. “It’s not work for me.”
That’s why he encourages anyone who has an interest in volunteering to do as he did, and start by committing to just a few hours per week to determine if an organization is a good fit. He suggests checking with schools, the Parks department or the Good Samaritan Network of Hamilton County.
A Fishers resident since 2007, Hennig has been married to Lou Ann for 53 years. The pair enjoy traveling, and look forward to doing more of that once the pandemic subsides. They did get away to the Dominican Republic for eight days earlier this year, and currently have a trip planned for Europe in April of next year.
“Fingers crossed that it happens,” Hennig says.
If it doesn’t, however, he’ll survive because he’s learned to go with the flow.
“I try to take life and do what I can to make it better,” Hennig says.