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Bettering life in NWI, one education at a time

As IU Northwest’s annual giving chair, Calvin Bellamy aims to instill value of continuous support

Friday Jun 27, 2014

Calvin Bellamy is not the type of community leader who would enjoy seeing a monument erected or his name emblazoned on a building as a way of honoring his contributions to Northwest Indiana.

Nor does he see himself retiring to a life of luxury or exotic travel.

Rather, Bellamy is more of a “servant leader,” someone who likes to do exactly what he is advocating for others to do. As such, the Hammond native and IU alumnus continues to work toward improving the quality of life in Northwest Indiana just as he has for decades.

“I don’t just want to tell people what they ought to do, I want to be in there doing it, too,” he said.

Bellamy, who is a partner with the law firm Krieg DeVault LLP and former CEO and Chairman of Bank Calumet, has helped establish some of the region’s most highly influential groups, including the Shared Ethics Advisory Commission, the Hammond Education Foundation, the Legacy Foundation of Lake County and the Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of Gary.

It’s no wonder Indiana University Northwest is proud to introduce Bellamy as its first chairperson for Annual Giving. During his term for the 2014-15 academic year, Bellamy intends to impress upon IU Northwest supporters that giving regularly to higher education is the best way to ensure a thriving society for future generations.

“People with college educations are more likely to be successful. They are more open-minded and they see problems and work toward solutions. So really, the foundation of civilization depends on education,” Bellamy said. “At the same time, particularly with state schools such as IU, governmental resources are becoming less available. We operate in an environment where Northwest Indiana has fewer college educated people and therefore less income, and less economic success, than other areas. All of these are reasons that higher education must flourish in Northwest Indiana.”

Bellamy graduated from IU Bloomington with highest distinction in 1964. He earned his law degree from the University of Michigan. The scholarships he received for law school helped offset the cost of his out-of-state education, so he understands the impact that gifts can have. Bellamy has contributed to the scholarship fund at his alma mater ever since.

“I feel that everything in my environment, somehow came about because of the efforts of someone else,” he said, “and these opportunities aren’t going to continue if they don’t have continued support.”

Personally focused on impacting Northwest Indiana, Bellamy sees much value in also supporting the area’s regional university.

“The importance of a regional campus is accessibility and affordability,” Bellamy said. “When you combine those two things with a desire to learn and improve your career, that is a pretty potent formula. In addition, the skill sets of the faculty and their willingness to be involved in community issues enrich the quality of life here.”

Growing up in a stable middle class family, Bellamy recalls when he first learned the meaning of philanthropy.

“The concept of giving occurred to me in high school when a teacher took some students to visit several United Way agencies,” he recalled. “I had never known about those agencies or the people they served because I was in this comfortable post-war cocoon. That kind of opened my eyes that there was a bigger world out there that needed involvement by everyone.”

Then, as he moved through college and beyond, he began to see the impact of others’ philanthropy.

“I began to realize that a lot of what I was benefitting from, and what I saw all around me, was the result of individual gifts and giving,” he said. “If others had the wish to create something that I could benefit from, I concluded that it is a continuum and I had to help keep it going so the next generation will have the same opportunity and experience. You realize at some point that you need to also do something, that it is your turn.”

Seems it’s been Bellamy’s “turn” for quite some time, and he has no intention of slowing down.

“My focus is Northwest Indiana,” Bellamy said. “My wife used to have a plaque that says ‘bloom where you are planted.’ I am planted here. I can’t expect someone outside our area to support us if I don’t support the causes here.”

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