Paul Hendrickson Defines ‘Volunteering’ as a Member of the Southern Wisconsin MABL in Madison
By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications
Below is the perfect introduction to our profile, as taken from a local television production outlining Paul’s effort:
MADISON, Wis. — The year is 2005, and it is Super Bowl Sunday. Paul Hendrickson is at the bar with friends, angry at the government’s lack of response to Hurricane Katrina.
“So, my friend challenged me. Well, what can you do? And I said ‘Well…hey, let’s make some pancakes.”
So, they did.
“And we went downtown with these hot little cakes, and we gave them to people all along State Street, whether they were in need of pancakes or not, and pretty much every week since we’ve been doing a hot meal for people.”
Hendrickson has served 40 meals each Wednesday at the library and 30 each Sunday at the Captiol ever since. Now, each year they hold their fundraiser, ‘Grilling for Peace,’ on Lake Wingra on the first Saturday in February.
League President Chris Jackson added, “Paul Hendrickson comes to mind as a candidate for an MSBL profile. He is on our board, serves as our 18+ division vice-president, and also plays in the 17+, 18+, and 35+ divisions, while managing his 18+ team. He is heavily involved in the East Madison Little League board and he heads up the ‘Grilling for Peace’ annual fundraiser. He is a worthy candidate in my book!”
We tracked down a very busy Paul Hendrickson who was kind enough to supply a few minutes between cooking something for the day’s crowd.
The 42-year-old Hendrickson started playing in the league back in 2003, which was formed in 1995, and as Chris Jackson mentioned, he somehow finds the time to help in the role of 18-over division vice-president. What does that entail?
“I help facilitate the tryouts, the draft, recruit new teams, help with problem-solving, help them fill out their rosters, help teams find sponsorships, and try to think outside the box. I report everything to Chris so that he knows what’s going on. Every division has a person in that position. It really helps Chris and makes the league more efficient.”
Here is a capsulation of Paul’s dedication to baseball; This year the 17+ team he plays on is the Night Crawlers, whom he plays for and is ‘sort of’ the general manager. He manages the 18+ Madison Muskies, which is based on the 1980s Oakland A’s local a ‘single A’ team, the Muskies. That team is also sponsored by the Muskie Lounge. In the 35s, he plays for Home Brewers, but doesn’t manage.
He then coaches his seven-year-old son’s Little League team and helps with the local Miracle League program, located in nearby Cottage Grove, assisting physically and mentally challenged kids to play baseball on a special field. Oh, by the way, he umpires in the league on the days he isn’t playing!
“My wife is a saint,” reiterated Paul
Savory Sunday is the program Paul started in 2005 during the memorable Super Bowl discussion with friends and has been taking place every Sunday and now includes Wednesdays.
“We fed around 100 before covid but now it is closer to 40 or 50 meals on both days. I have a group of five or six ‘captains’ who take turns cooking and passing the food out. We serve at 2:00 pm on Sundays and at 1:00 pm on Wednesdays. The players in the league also come and help when they can, including the Miracle League.”
Savory Sunday (and Wednesday) has continued to grow and will hopefully reach the 100-meal plateau of the pre-covid days. But even though the labor and skill are volunteered, there are still real costs that are involved.
“Grilling for Peace is our annual fundraiser,” explained Hendrickson. “They donate, they have fun, and they eat. The money carries us the whole year, though we still need food donations from local shops to help us out every week. But we still have to pay for all of the supplies.”
Click the picture below to view the local Channel 3 television station news coverage about ‘Grilling for Peace’:
I asked Paul if he has a long-term goal for the program and what his vision is going forward.
“I have always wanted to teach a culinary school for people on the street to help them become employed and help them get jobs. I would also like to see a Savory Sunday food cart to get to the people and not make them come to us. Maybe someday.”
Is there a baseball goal?
“One of my baseball goals is to last another decade so I can play alongside my son in the league. Maybe someday we can play in the Father/Son division of the MSBL World Series in Arizona.”