Dr. Benjamin Bell of Des Moines

August 7, 2020
Iowan of the Week

Madam Speaker, I rise today to ask the House of Representatives to join me in recognizing Dr. Benjamin C. Bell, Jr., a longtime pastor and community and family counselor in Des Moines, as our Iowan of the Week.

One of the strongest traits that unites Iowans is our love of community. Whether it’s a favorite spot to fish, a connection group at church, or the best restaurant to grab a burger, we love to share stories about the people and places that give our shared home character. What’s even better than Iowans’ love of community is their unparalleled dedication to investing in it. Through service of all stripes, Iowans strengthen their communities each day.

Dr. Benjamin C. Bell, Jr. is a shining example of an Iowan who not only loves his community, but also has gone above and beyond to improve it for those around him now and for generations to come.

Born and raised in Des Moines, Dr. Bell’s life has been shaped by service to country and community. He learned about hard work and giving back by watching his father work the night shift and his mother cook at Drake University, where she’d provide extra food to those who didn’t have enough to eat at home. After graduating high school, Bell served several years in the United States Marine Corps before finishing his tour and moving back home to Iowa to be near family and raise one of his own with his wife, Julie.

Since then, Dr. Bell and Julie have put their community-mindedness and drive to help others to work. For nearly three decades they co-pastored in church to provide community value and help people feel like they have somewhere to belong, especially in times of crisis.

Dr. Bell co-founded Dads with a Purpose (DWP), a transformational counseling program for fathers and mothers to reach their potential as parents and to help effectively build strong families. Dads with a Purpose has been nationally recognized for its curriculum: a series of expert-led classes and resources provided in a safe space for parents in challenging circumstances to talk about past barriers and how they can grow to create positive, generational change. DWP helps fathers and mothers to learn about themselves as men and women, as individual parents, and as part of a co-parenting team to create a healthier future for themselves and their children. It helps hundreds of Iowans each year, including men and women transitioning out of correctional facilities, gain employment and improve their circumstances.

Dr. Bell also lends his expertise to the 5th Judicial District to help men who have previously been domestically violent learn how to process anger, respect women, and resolve conflict. He serves as the Fatherhood Outreach Director at the YMCA, providing classes on how to communicate more effectively, deal with tough issues that affect fathers, and help successfully navigate child-support---which can drastically change an individual’s credit score and provide opportunities to move into a home and maintain a good job. Bell’s program also allows the participating fathers’ children to come play at the YMCA and have pizza for dinner while classes are taking place.

Iowans take great pride in where we come from, and people are at the heart of what makes our home special. Dr. Bell has said: “People may not remember your name, but they will remember how you made them feel.” This simple sentiment perfectly captures his inherently Iowan value of giving back for the good of others and his understanding of how important it is to treat people with the dignity human beings deserve. I am humbled and inspired by Dr. Bell’s lifetime of service, passion for community betterment, and dedication to helping Iowans reach their true potential. It is my honor to name him our Iowan of the Week.