BOTKINS — A woman who lives her life through faith, family, service and community — and is leaving her legacy of impacting Shelby County for generations to come — was named the 2019 Zenith Award recipient Thursday night during the Sidney-Shelby County Chamber of Commerce annual banquet.
Cindy Helman received the highest award the chamber of commerce annually presents to a person who has positively influenced the community.
“I think I’m going to have a heart attack,” said Helman when she accepted the award. “Those of you who I was gambling with about who was gonna win … if you knew, I’m gonna getcha.”
Helman said her mother was her influence for becoming involved in her community.
“I’d like to give credit to my mother,” said Helman. “She did a lot of things and she did it on her own. I didn’t have to do this on my own as I had my husband, Jeff, supporting me.
“My mom always got involved and she was always a leader,” Helman continued. “My graduation present from high school from her was Zig Zigler’s goal setting cassette tapes. She said you’ve always got to have goals.
“I don’t feel deserving of this award, but this is really cool,” she said.
After the ceremony, Helman was asked when she knew that she was the Zenith Award winner.
“When Scott (Barr, United Way executive director) was talking, he started talking about the POWER group,” said Helman. “I asked why is he talking about POWER. Then I realized he was talking about me.
“Then I saw Alex (her daughter) running up to the stage and I said to Jeff, ‘we need to stop her.’ Then I said ‘never mind’.”
Alex said she new two weeks ago that her mom was going to receive the Zenith Award. An artist, Alex created a galaxy with an elephant painting for her mom, which she gave to her at the ceremony.
“I felt like crying,” said Alex when she listened to her mom’s accomplishments. “It was very emotional for me. She is a true role model. She’s someone I can look up to. Because of her, I want to do better every day of my life.”
Shelby County United Way Executive Director and CEO Scott Barr introduced Helman after leaving the wondering who the recipient could be. Helman is someone Barr considers a mentor, adviser and friend.
“First let’s look at a list of her service,” said Barr. “She served on the United Way Board of Directors serving as board president in 2005, was a charter member that started POWER, and was the first POWER chairwoman of the Advisory Council. She served as an Edison State Trustee and was an Edison State Foundation board member where she served as Chair. When appointed, she was the first trustee in the history of the institution to hold an Edison State degree.
“She served on the Sidney-Shelby County Chamber of Commerce where she also served as Board President. She was also a past participant of the Chamber’s Leadership Program. She served as Council Chair of Sidney First United Methodist Church’s Administrative Council and chair of Sidney First UMC’s Foundation. She has served on the Wilson Foundation Board, Sidney Alive Board, Sidney Noon Kiwanis where she was the first female club president in the history of the local organization. She has served with many other organizations as a member, committee member, or volunteer. Those include the Sidney-Shelby County YMCA, Women in Networking, Sidney Altrusa, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and the list goes on,” said Barr.
Helman is currently serving as the treasurer of the Community Foundation of Shelby County, on the Board of Directors at Agape Distribution, and is a Trustee of the Shelby County Libraries.
“She has helped raise millions of dollars for the betterment of our community and many organizations. She was the United Way Campaign Chair in 2009,” said Barr. “Just coming out of the recession and while her husband was still receiving cancer treatments she accepted the challenge. If there was ever a time to say no, not now, or until things settle down, that was it. She took the challenge with the faith, energy and passion she lives her life.
“I first met our recipient during that campaign as I served on the team as a division leader. She opened every weekly campaign meeting with a positive note or statement, similar to a daily devotional,” said Barr. “She had her trademark smile and twinkle in her eye. She was always optimistic during the meetings and not reaching goal was never an option or mentioned. We were going to be successful. That year the campaign achieved $1,327,730 against a goal of $1,270,000.”
Fast forward a few years and she was asked to co-chair the Libraries Capital Campaign. With the leadership and support from her co-chair, library staff, many volunteers and the community, they were successful in reaching their goal.
“We now have a modern state of the art library that will serve the community for decades to come and has been featured in websites, blogs and magazines and is the envy of libraries large and small,” said Barr. “These are just a couple examples of the many organizations and fundraisers she has participated in or led.”
After seeing another historic downtown building being demolished, she and her husband took a leap of faith and purchased not one, but two downtown buildings. With significant time and money, they invested in our downtown and the historical integrity of the Piper and Burkhart buildings. They completed significant brick work and roofing, as well as preplacing the marquee.
Other community leaders have shared their thoughts about Helman:
• “I see her as a visionary with the ability to communicate in innovative ways a case for success in committee work.”
• “Her creative and logical thinking inspire those with which she works to grow and expand their horizons. She leads with enthusiasm direction, and commitment for success which in turn insures positive results.”
• “Her passion lies in Community Service.”
• “Her high energy and positive outlook have helped us transition our obstacles into attainable goals.”
• “I am amazed at her commitment, passion, and volunteerism for all she does in our community.”
• “Her strength of character and leadership skills are outstanding. She is a tireless worker willing to step forward and apply her leadership and energy to benefit many Sidney and Shelby County Organizations.”
• “She has always been an excellent leader with a mission to give of herself to bring out the best in the people around her. With a heart of compassion and a mind always in search of mastering new skills, she thrives in helping others to succeed.”
She began her career as financial adviser with Money Concepts where she has been honored over the past 23 years for numerous sales achievements. Most recently she received the Money Concepts Eagle Award in Vail, Colorado. She is a registered financial consultant and certified fund specialist.
“Sidney, Ohio, and Shelby County is a better place based on the organizations and lives our recipient has touched,” said Barr.
Her best friend is her husband Jeff of 36 years and she has two children, Alex and Ely.
“She lives her life through community, faith, friends, family-… and yes, golf,” said Barr. “She is a leader, board member, volunteer, donor, fundraiser, strategic planner, mentor, adviser, philanthropist, mother and wife.”