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Going the distance

Employee inspires on the clock — and off

IA custodian
Dick Helling, a custodian at the Waterloo, IA, Processing and Distribution Center, is a coach at work and off-the-clock.

Dick Helling will retire from USPS this month after 42 years and 3,500 hours of banked sick leave — but these aren’t his only achievements.

Helling, a custodian at the Waterloo, IA, Processing and Distribution Center, is also a longtime assistant track and field coach who specializes in shot put and discus events.

During a two-decade coaching career at his alma mater, Hudson Community High School, he has led his team to 10 consecutive conference titles, 18 championships and one state championship.

“I tell athletes that hard work pays off,” Helling said, adding that “a pat on the back goes a lot farther than yelling.”

But it’s not all about conference titles.

“I like to see kids accomplish some level of success and do something that they thought they couldn’t do,” he said.

Helling joined the Postal Service in January 1976 and worked as a mail handler and letter carrier before moving into maintenance. The married father of three credits his USPS schedule with allowing him to pursue coaching.

David Henninger, the Waterloo center’s maintenance operations manager, said Helling’s volunteer work has helped him in the workplace.

“Helling approaches coaching high school track the same way he approaches his job and his life. He simply shows up to work, and works really hard all the time,” Henninger said.

Helling, who describes his retirement as “bittersweet,” looks forward to spending more time with his family, including his five grandchildren.

And yes, he plans to continue coaching after retirement — at least for a while.

“It’s in my blood,” he said.

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