Improving lives through baseball - Every year we bring baseball equipment and provide instruction to youth in rural Nicaraguan communities. Baseball has a unique ability to both bring together different cultures and teach life lessons helping to provide a foundation on which to improve lives.
A country of 6 million people, Nicaragua sits in the middle of Central America. Following decades of political unrest and financial difficulties, Nicaragua has struggled to grow its economy.
As a result, it is currently the 2nd poorest country in the Western hemisphere, trailing only Haiti (nominal per capita GDP). Nicaraguan youth face the most difficulties. With the cards stacked against them, at least one-third never reach sixth grade. While other organizations genuinely seek to improve the lives of those they help, the true social connection needed to spark long-term, systemic change is missed. How can we set the Nicaraguan youth up for success and help implement a self-sustaining way of life to end this cycle of poverty?
In Nicaragua, baseball is as nearly as powerful an institution as the church. Even in the poorest communities one can find a baseball field. Helping Kids Round First has been bringing donated baseball equipment to Nicaragua since 2009. Through the game, the non-profit has expanded to include major projects in softball, women's empowerment and education, sustainable agriculture, and healthcare.
Helping Kids Round First delegations travel to Nicaragua every 4-6 weeks bringing baseball and softball gear, school supplies, medical equipment, and agricultural resources to impoverished communities. Baseball has been the vehicle for creating long-term, sustainable improvements in the region.
Lutheran Synod of Nicaragua
South Dakota ELCA Synod
Nicaraguan Lutheran Church of Faith and Hope
Nicaraguan Ministry of Health
WHO WE ARE
Craig Severtson - Founder
Bill Nibbelink - Board Member
Jay Bentz - Board Member
Sam Gotham - Board Member
Craig Severtson is a farmer and rancher from Flandreau, SD. He was an amateur baseball player for many years. Professional baseball player Roberto Clemente is one of Craig's inspirational heroes because of his impact beyond baseball. Craig helped develop Helping Kids Round First as a way to continue Clemente's legacy of giving underprivileged youth opportunities through baseball. He can be reached at 605-864-1341.
Bill Nibbelink is an affordable housing consultant from Flandreau, SD. He is a baseball enthusiast and has served as a leader in several organizations that help improve the quality of life of people living in poverty.
Jay Bentz is from Sioux Falls, SD and is a financial professional with AXA Advisors. Jay serves as the President of the Cornbelt Amateur Baseball League and is also the Manager/Player of the Dell Rapids PBR amateur baseball team.
Sam Gotham lives in Sioux Falls, SD and works at Morgan Stanley. Sam played college baseball for Coach Tim Huber at Augustana University and currently plays amateur ball for the Renner Monarchs.
Tim Huber - Board Member
Tim Huber lives Sioux Falls, SD and serves as the baseball coach at Augustana University. Coach Huber's passion for baseball is matched by his unrelenting commitment to make a difference in the lives of student athletes. He is the winningest coach in Augustana University history.
Brian Relf - Board Member
Brian Relf is from Flandreau, SD and is a principal in the Flandreau Public School system and also serves as the head girls basketball coach. Brian was an amateur baseball player for many years and enjoys repairing used baseball equipment as a hobby.
Gretta Melsted - Board Member
Gretta Melsted is the head softball coach at Augustana University in Sioux Falls, SD. She's dedicated to coaching and helping her players grow as student athletes. She has coached at Augustana since 2007.