Hellman Wins State Award for Volunteer Leadership

Posted by on Nov 15 in News

Governor Branstad Presents Iowa Nonprofit Summit Awards

WATERLOO, IOWA (November 15, 2013) – Not many people get to celebrate their birthday by accepting an award from the governor, but that’s exactly what happened to Bob Hellman on November 7.

As the founder of Build Our Ballpark, a Waterloo-based nonprofit committed to providing the assistance needed to build or improve ballparks for kids, Hellman was named the Outstanding Volunteer or Service Manager at the 2013 Iowa Nonprofit Summit.

“I didn’t realize how many people and other outstanding organizations would be there,” said Hellman. “It was a very special day.”

Hellman began Build Our Ballpark in 2008 after a special project inspired him to keep working. Liz Crowley, former principal of the Dr. Walter Cunningham School for Excellence, mentioned they would love to have a ball field on the lot between the school and the neighboring church.

As a lifelong baseball fanatic and Partner in Education with the school, Hellman jumped at the chance and gathered the funds and people needed to create Hellman Field. Since then, the organization has helped build or renovate 15 fields, which came as a result of raising more than $2 million and coordinating countless volunteers. Youth baseball and softball participation in the city has more than doubled since Build Our Ballpark began.

Five awards were distributed as part of the Iowa Nonprofit Summit, a conference that lasted two days. Other honorees included Families Helping Families of Iowa, James Black of Youth and Shelter Services, club hOpe from Maquoketa High School, and the Dubuque National Service Partnership.

“It was really amazing to hear about the work these other groups are doing and the difference they’re making in their communities and the entire state,” said Hellman. “To be listed among them is incredible.”

A friend who accompanied Hellman to the ceremony, Mike Ruane, helped start Build Our Ballpark with him in 2008 and remains its CFO, in addition to serving as CFO and Vice President of Human Resources at Hellman’s ad agency.

“Build Our Ballpark is truly a labor of love for all involved – especially Bob,” said Ruane. “It has been a pleasure building it up with him, and it was great to see him honored the way he deserves to be.”

The ceremony included comments from Governor Terry Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds, who both spoke of the importance of volunteerism.

“Iowa ranks third in the nation for number of volunteer hours served each year,” said Branstad. “That’s incredible, but I don’t see why we can’t be number one. Let’s do it.”

After Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Reynolds presented the awards, keynote speaker and author John Bridgeland addressed the audience.

“We need to make sure every single person in the country has the opportunity to serve, like you all have,” said Bridgeland, who outlined a nationwide program he hopes will be implemented in the next few years. “I want people to talk about their ‘year of service’ like we talk about where you went to college or where you’re from. ‘Where’d you do your year of service?’”

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