Coaching kids’ soccer requires adult volunteers — that’s where I first met Richard Bell well over a decade ago when my son and his daughter wanted to play soccer. They needed coaches. I had attended a professional soccer game, once. Never played soccer. Same with Richard, he also never played soccer. But Richard, like me, had a kid with soccer dreams and we stepped up to the proverbial plate (oh, wait, that’s baseball) and did our best. Fortunately, coaching five and six year old players takes less … skill … than coaching teens. “Run after the ball!” “Kick the ball!” “Don’t hit your teammate!” “No cartwheels!” Richard led when he saw the need. He always had a positive approach to the kids, especially in developing a sense of team, and we made it fun.

My second child wanted to act. Thank you, Winchester Little Theatre (WLT) for making that happen. I made cookies and handed out programs. Richard’s daughter and son also wanted to act. Richard volunteered to help out WLT; I don’t believe he made cookies, though I’m sure Richard would have made good cookies.

My son and daughter wanted to sing. I volunteered to help out the John Handley High School Choir. Richard’s son was in the choir. We both chaperoned choir trips — on a bus for hours with about 45 teens. It was exhilarating. And exhausting. And fun.

Richard and I, along with a bunch of other choir parents, danced on the Patsy Cline stage (to a High School Musical’s “We’re All in this Together” — by the way, a great theme for this letter) for the choir kids at a performance. It was exhilarating. And embarrassing. Yup, a video of that adventure exists on Facebook, which Debbie White faithfully re-posts every year. I’m the one in my daughter’s blond wig. Richard is the tall one in the back. I wish I’d been the in the back (again, embarrassing). Clearly Richard does not take himself too seriously, an important leadership/team-building trait.

I’m writing because I support Richard Bell for City Council for Ward One. There are many reasons to support Richard — what I’m highlighting here today is his commitment to Winchester nonprofits and community programs. Richard contributes his substantial expertise and guidance to support WATTS (seeking a permanent and temporary placement during a pandemic), Literacy Volunteers (sponsoring programs, bringing this group together with other local nonprofits), Museum of the Shenandoah Valley (Trails project/public arts), Winchester Public Schools Equity Programs (Douglas School renovation and museum program), the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum (long time program sponsorships) and local scholarship program through the NAACP, as well as the other organizations discussed above.

We need to know that our prospective council members support our local nonprofits and community programs. Not just with words, but in committed actions. And believe me, there is nothing that demonstrates action and commitment more than getting on stage and dancing in front of your kids and your friends. That’s dedication.

Vote for Bell.

Catherine Ballard is a resident of Winchester.

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