Goal! Keeping Sports Available to Kids

By Robert Half on July 17, 2019 at 12:45pm

At Robert Half, what we do is helping people do what they love. For Jim Dinneen, that extends outside the office. Dinneen, the executive director of Robert Half’s Salaried Professional Service, co-founded and helps run a nonprofit foundation called Spartans4Life that enables children to play hockey — even when the cost of the sport gets prohibitive for their families.

Along with a handful of friends and local business leaders in the New Hampshire area, Dinneen created the nonprofit as an arm of the Sports4Life Foundation, which started in Canada.

The goal is to provide financial aid to families in need, so that their sons or daughters can keep playing the sport they love. With equipment, tournament fees, ice rink time and other costs, playing in a hockey league can cost a few thousand dollars, whether for a 6-year-old child or an 18-year-old high schooler.

Hockey has always been a big part of Dinneen’s life, starting with his high school and college days as an athlete. He even played professionally for a couple of years in the minor leagues. His 12-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter play the sport, following in their father’s skate tracks.

Based in Manchester, N.H., Dinneen still remembers the first time his organization was able to help someone, about four years ago. A parent in his kids’ league, where he volunteer-coaches, was diagnosed with cancer. The family ended up in debt, but the group was able to fully fund everything for their son to continue playing hockey.

“It’s a little thing that allows them some normalcy,” Dinneen said. “And the parents didn’t have to worry about their child not being able to play. That was really rewarding.”

Since then, the organization has been able to repeat the gift of sports over and over again. Dinneen has found that hockey teaches important life skills, including teamwork and discipline.

The group organizes three or four fundraisers a year, most of which are held on weekends. Sure, it takes a lot of time to plan events and manage a nonprofit. But much like how we work here, Dinneen finds that technology and mobility are most helpful in fitting everything in.

“We mostly do conference calls at night, and it doesn’t matter where I’m at — California, Boston or wherever,” Dinneen said.

Moreover, taking on this kind of commitment isn’t a struggle to balance with other parts of his life because he does it with his friends, so they integrate responsibilities with family and friend time.

“Our whole families will get together to hang out,” Dinneen said. “We carve out some time to plan our next fundraiser, decide where to allocate money and discuss other board business.

“It’s a commitment, but it’s extremely rewarding, especially when we get a letter from a family we’ve assisted saying how much their kid loves hockey,” Dinneen continued. “It matters that they get to keep doing the thing they love.”

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