John Helmuth, Estimator and Project Manager at Sunrise Builders, was recognized for the company’s charitable giving with an award for Outstanding Small Philanthropic Organization on November 15, 2023 by the Association of Fundraising Professionals Eastern Iowa Chapter. Since beginning to serve the Cedar Rapids area in 2020, Sunrise Builders has invested in the community — particularly with the Cedar Rapids Public Library, Habitat for Humanity and Indian Creek Nature Center.
John Helmuth’s impact at Indian Creek Nature Center feels big for a partnership that only began in 2021. “I was fairly new to the area and thinking about sponsoring events and organizations, when someone shared something about the Nature Center on Instagram, and I was like — oooh. That looks like a great place,” says John. “Maybe they would talk to me about sponsoring events and help me learn more about what the Nature Center is.”
From that moment on, John dove headfirst into the Indian Creek Nature Center family. His home improvement company, Sunrise Builders, became one of the most consistent supporters of the Nature Center’s special events.
Sunrise Builders has been a sponsor for multiple special events since 2021, including Farm to Table Dinners, Practice in the Prairie, Maple Syrup Festival, this year’s BioBlitz, the 50th Celebration Event, and Nature’s Noel all three years since the company began sponsoring events. “Nature’s Noel has become my favorite event. Probably because it’s almost too cold but not quite. And there’s great holiday vibes,” John said.
After receiving the Outstanding Small Philanthropic Organization award, John summed up his motivation to give with one word — innovation. John hopes that his giving supports Indian Creek Nature Center’s mission, especially by increasing research on sustainability and expanding community outreach so more people can learn what the Nature Center is, just like he did in 2021.
For John, the future feels a bit brighter knowing there are organizations providing opportunities for people to engage with nature, and encouraging people to find their own reasons to advocate for a healthier, more sustainable environment.
Finding a Home
John’s commitment to Indian Creek Nature Center goes beyond being an event sponsor. Over the last few years, he has become a regular at Nature Center events as both a volunteer and as a visitor. John is also investing in the future of the Nature Center as a Lifetime Member and one of our ‘50 Donors for 50 Years.’
When asked what draws him to the Nature Center, John says “growing up on a farm with a creek running through and woods nearby influenced me. Farming in general is more nature related than most of what I do today. While I don’t have a big desire to be a farmer, there are elements of it that I miss, and the Nature Center seems to bring a balance to that.”
John continues, “My favorite place is probably the trails, but I find all of the Nature Center can be a place to unwind and relax, or a space to be active and create adventure. It is a place where I find joy and rejuvenation.”
Volunteering, sponsoring, donating, and attending events are ways that John plans to continue having a big impact at Indian Creek Nature Center.