Posted on Oct 30, 2017
Craig Severtson is founder and president of Helping Kids Round First. Mr. Severtson shared how Nicaragua, after decades of political unrest and financial difficulties, 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 many difficulties. 

“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,” states Mr. Severtson. He shared how the sport of baseball and softball grows trust through social interaction which has allowed the organization to broaden their mission. What started as a baseball program has expanded into an agriculture, water, education and healthcare mission.
Program Highlights for October 30, 2017
Helping Kids Round First supplies baseball and softball equipment to children around Nicaragua.  The organization has expanded and now also hosts a baseball/softball academy, supports ten farms with developing irrigation to increase food supply, and provides hospital equipment to support HIV and women’s health programs.

Helping Kids Round First began by providing new and gently used baseball and softball equipment to the youth in Nicaragua.  On October 31, 2017, over 20,000 pounds of baseball and softball gear will be delivered via crate to Nicaragua.  Over 70 baseball teams including those in South Dakota donate their equipment to Helping Kids Round First.  
Mr. Severtson stated that baseball/softball "provides hope" to the youth in Nicaragua.  The program keeps kids busy and hopefully free from drugs.  A 16 year old from the program in Nicaragua was recently signed by the Boston Redsox major league team. The baseball and softball academy provides an opportunity for scouts and major league teams to watch the young talent. 
Farming Projects
Currently, Helping Kids Round First has helped 10 farming projects.  The goal is to provide sustainability for the people to grow their own food to increase food supply.  The project helps build wells which provide water for the crops.  The individuals plant and cultivate the crops by hand, and when ready to be harvested, it is plowed by cattle.  The main crops are corn, beans, vegetables, and sorghum.  Maguire Iron from Sioux Falls has recently sponsored a well and irrigation system to help with agriculture in Nicaragua. The program is also in the process of developing chicken houses, so the youth can have an egg before school and possibly sell some at the local market.   
Through partners such as the Nicaraguan Lutheran Church, Helping Kids Round First hosted a women's health fair where women ages 15 through 80 were able to be tested for HIV, receive pap smears, and breast exams.  The organization also sends containers of supplies to public rural hospitals.  On October 31, 2017 an X-Ray machine is being donated to a local facility.  The program also hopes to adopt-a-hospital to help clean up and modernize a rural hospital in the near future.
Helping Kids Round First strives to educate students through book programs, donated school supplies, and teaching English to the children.  Nearly 1/3 of Nicaraguan children do not attend school and most of them don't attend past the sixth grade.  

Mr. Severtson is a farmer and rancher from Flandreau, SD. He studied political science at the University of South Dakota and was an amateur baseball player for many years. Professional baseball player Roberto Clemente is one of his inspirational heroes because of his impact beyond baseball. Mr. Severtson helped develop Helping Kids Round First to continue Clemente's legacy of giving underprivileged youth opportunities through baseball.

Mr. Severtson’s wife is Joan, a State Farm Insurance Agent. He has two grown sons Beau, 32 and Bret, 29, Augustana University graduates who after graduating returned home to work the family farm. Mr. Severtson served as an Agriculture Field representative for Congressman Tim Johnson from 1987-1993 and as a board member for 10 years for the South Dakota Peace and Justice Center.
Program for November 6, 2017
Jay Weems, Avera E-Care