There is a seemingly endless stream of bad news as our 24 hour news cycle moves from one crisis to the next; the latest shooting, airplane crash or government budget crisis. And personal attacks on people’s character seem to be the latest trend, particularly in this election year. I want to share some thoughts this month on the personal character of some people in our community who make our community such a great place. Join me in celebrating people of great character and creating a positive news cycle.
At your Community Foundation’s “Toast to Our Towns Gala” on Saturday September 17th, we will be celebrating some of the people who make our community great. You certainly won’t hear the stories of our honorees on the evening news, which is all the more reason for us to come together to celebrate the positive force for good in our community that our honorees represent.
Terry and Betty Snapp will be recognized as our Humanitarians of the Year. The lives of this dynamic duo have been focused on service to our community. The Snapp’s positive impact, both as professionals and dedicated volunteers, has elevated the level of service to our area’s most vulnerable populations for decades. Together, they founded and serve as chief organizers of the Neighborhood Dinner Program hosted by Stone Church Community of Christ. Hundreds of community volunteers are involved in serving 10,000 warm meals annually as a result of their leadership and service.
Both Terry and Betty had careers focused on community service. After co-founding Sunshine Center, Betty served as Executive Director for 28 years. During this time, thousands of physically challenged pre-school children were served in their early education years. Betty is a sustaining member of the Junior Service League of Independence and has volunteered in numerous leadership roles for Community Services League, Truman Heritage Habitat for Humanity and Stone Church, to name a few.
Terry has served the community throughout his career in roles including Vice President for Advancement at Park University, Executive Director of Truman Medical Center Charitable Foundation and Executive Director of Share. He was recognized as Fundraiser of the Year by the local Association for Fundraising Professionals in 2008 and is currently passing on lessons learned from his many years of experience to guide other nonprofit organizations as a consultant with Hartsook Companies. Terry has served in numerous volunteer leadership roles on Independence commissions and nonprofit boards such as Outreach International and Camp Quality USA. Terry was also one of the founding board members of your Community Foundation over 30 years ago.
The Missouri Mavericks will be celebrated at our “Toast to Our Towns Gala” as our Corporate Citizen of the Year. They support the community through many programs including hosting the Boys and Girls Club’s Dinner on Ice, providing in-kind donations for charitable causes and sponsoring local events. Their dedicated fans experience their community commitment and join in at every home game with the very popular “Chuck a Puck” fundraiser. Since their inaugural season in 2009, the Mavericks have helped raise more the $1 million for charitable organizations throughout Jackson County. During just the 2015-2016 season, they partnered with over 120 local nonprofits including Community Services League, Hope House and Truman Heritage Habitat for Humanity.
Community Services League (CSL) will receive the Heartland Service Award at our gala. A women’s Bible study group that included First Lady Bess Wallace Truman founded CSL in 1916, making this their 100th anniversary year. CSL has served families in need from the Great Depression through the Great Recession and beyond. They currently have 11 service locations in eight Eastern Jackson County Communities and assist more than 15,000 people annually. In addition to providing emergency assistance, CSL also works with clients to provide access to jobs through their Work Express Program, Housing Counseling and a Financial Opportunity Center. Through creative partnerships with credit unions, CSL is working to provide access to banking services and credit in order create financial stability in the lives of those they serve.
In addition to these three honorees, seven area mayors will also be recognizing their Citizen of the Year. Blue Springs Mayor Carson Ross has selected David Smith as the Blue Springs honoree. David is the owner of Tandem Paving Company and a U.S. Marine Veteran, having served from 1989-1993. David was a major donor to the Veteran’s Way Memorial in Pink Hill Park and sponsor of the Blue Springs Parks Department Music in the Park summer concert series. He is a sponsor of the Blue Springs School Districts W.E.E. Learning Bus, provided classroom grants to the Blue Springs Education Foundation as well as providing walking paths at area schools.
Mayor Mike Todd has chosen Darryl Jones as the Grain Valley Citizen of the Year. Darryl has been a pastor for 24 years and founded the Crossroads Church of Grain Valley in 1999. He serves as Director of the Grain Valley Fellowship of Pastors and Churches. Additionally, Darryl is on the Board of the Grain Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Grain Valley Assistance Council, and is a liaison for the Bright Futures Program in Grain Valley. He is currently pursuing a Master of Divinity in Biblical Counseling in order to serve his community even more effectively.
Mayor Eileen Weir has selected Donna Pittman as the Independence Citizen of the Year. For the past 30 years, Donna has owned and operated Curt’s Famous Meats and has supported numerous community organizations including Drumm Farm for Children, Independence School District and Englewood Arts District. Donna founded the Truman Gateway Redevelopment Committee which was responsible for the restoration of the Stone Arch Bridge on Blue Ridge Boulevard over Truman Road. She has served on numerous boards such as the Independence Chamber of Commerce and Northwest Community Development Corporation.
Mayor R.L. Scharfen has chosen Richard Williams as the Lake Winnebago Citizen of the Year. Richard Williams has been the Chief of Police for Lake Winnebago for the past 11 years and has served on the police force for 22 years. Under his leadership, the department sponsors events to promote the safety of the city and opportunities for citizens to interact and dialogue with officers. Chief Williams also initiated their “Train the Trainer” program, in which seasoned officers are trained to be instructors and pass on their knowledge and skills to other officers. This program has reduced the department’s spending on training. The department also has a mentoring program that partners veterans with new officers.
Lee’s Summit Mayor Randy Rhoads has chosen Jennie and Nick Swearngin as the Lee’s Summit Citizens of the Year. They are both active entrepreneurs and members of Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street. Nick owns John’s Barber Shop, while Jennie is co-owner of Parker Swearngin LLP, an accounting and business consulting firm. Nick started the “Head Shave for Hope House” event nine years ago, and it has raised almost $121,000. Nick served on the City Council from 2005-2010, and Jennie has served as the treasurer of Downtown Lee’s Summit Community Improvement District Board. They are both very involved in their church community at Abundant Life Church.
Mayor Mike McDonough has chosen Chris and Stacey Payne as Raytown’s Citizens of the Year. The Paynes, although relatively new to Raytown, have immersed themselves in the community. They have a special devotion to education and established the Aspire Scholarship for graduates of Raytown and Raytown South High Schools who will be the first generation in their families to attend college. They are also active supporters of Midwest Animal ResQ and helped facilitate a partnership between the City of Raytown and Midwest Animal ResQ to promote animal adoptions. They partnered with the school district to turn a closed YMCA building into the newly renovated Raytown School District Wellness Center, which is open to the community as well as school district employees.
Mayor Matt Mallinson has selected Bob Buckley as Sugar Creek’s Citizen of the Year. Bob served as the City Attorney for Sugar Creek for 35 years. During that time, he assisted the city in their negotiations with international corporations like BP (and its predecessor American Oil) and Waste Management. His work includes establishing one of the first blasting ordinances in the United States, which many other communities have adopted. In 2008, Bob founded Bears Tomorrow, which helps young people develop their athletic and leadership skills. Bob is active in the community and serves as moderator of the Maywood Baptist Church.
Keep your eyes open for your own opportunities to create a positive news cycle, even if it’s just with your family or circle of friends. Let’s talk more about people who are doing great things in our communities. And don’t forget to save the date on your calendar for our 21st Annual “Toast to Our Towns Gala” on Saturday, September 17, 2016, at the Sheraton Hotel at Crown Center. Please make plans to join us as we celebrate the impact these individuals and organizations are making in our community and will continue to make for years to come. That’s personal character that’s worth talking about.