Over the weekend, the Des Moines Education Association (DMEA) presented local artist and philanthropist Billy "B.Well" Weathers with their Volunteer of the Year award for 2020.
Weathers created the B.Well Foundation in 2020 to support students in the Des Moines community, but his volunteer work at local schools started in 2016.
He was nominated by Katie Stessman a Jackson Elementary music teacher and DMEA member. Weathers said it was Stessman who helped him get involved with volunteering at Jackson Elementary in particular.
"Katie asked me to go and talk to a couple students that weren't really struggling but in need of some guidance," Weathers said. "Some mentorship."
"So I started going there a couple times after school and just kind of talked to them about music, what their goals were, what they were looking forward to."
Weathers and his friends, all involved in the local arts community and members of Deadstock Entertainment, began looking for ways to further support the students. In early spring of 2019, they donated $500 to the Jackson Elementary music program.
Then in May, they hosted a food drive.
The group also coordinated an event in November to organize a winter clothing drive for students who didn't have the proper winter clothes to play during recess.
"The decisions that you choose to make in life come from the nurturing and the guidance that you get at a very young age," Weathers said. "So I think it's an important outlet for these kids to know there is somebody that they can call on or just know that there are people out here that are really fighting for them."
Weathers said he is passionate about his work with kids because at their age, they are still impressionable to good influences. Being from Des Moines, Weathers is very encouraged by people's willingness to do good in the community and wants to see even more.
"I think people need to challenge themselves a lot more," Weathers said. "Humble themselves and continue to give back."
The B.Well Foundation has already put on several events to support Jackson Elementary this year along with other Des Moines schools. Weathers said that the B.Well Foundation is constantly brainstorming new ideas to help support Des Moines students.
Plans for what the next big fall event will be are still underway.