Lee's Summit Journal

Recognizing Our community’s unsung heroes: citizens of the year

Phil Hanson
Phil Hanson

The seven 2019 Citizens of the Year will be recognized at this year’s Toast to Our Towns Gala, presented by Speaks Chapels. It’s a great honor for your Community Foundation to be able to join with area mayors to recognize individuals who have worked for many years serving their community in various capacities, They are unsung heroes, working behind the scenes to improve their community. It’s our privilege to recognize them.

Selected by their mayor, these individuals exemplify a spirit of service to their community. While we honor them as the 2019 Citizens of the Year, they’ve been chosen for their years of consistent involvement.

Blue Springs Mayor Carson Ross recognizes the Meyers family for 20 years of philanthropy and community engagement. Owners of Meyers Funeral Chapel, Marty and Kim Meyers are committed to helping families honor their loved ones. Along with brother Dennis Meyers and his wife Julie, Meyers Funeral Chapel supports many Blue Springs nonprofit organizations.

Grain Valley Mayor Mike Todd recognizes Dr. Brad Welle for his profound impact in Grain Valley and in the lives of students across Eastern Jackson County. Brad is the deputy superintendent of schools for the Grain Valley School District. Brad plays an instrumental role with Bright Futures Grain Valley, which served approximately 300 students in the last school year.

Independence Mayor Eileen Weir recognizes Randy (posthumous) and Kathleen Vest, long-time supporters of the Japanese Sister City program and dedicated volunteers. Kathleen taught in the Independence School District for 17 years and has supported many Independence nonprofits as a grant writer and board member. Randy was a project engineer for Missouri Water Company for 13 years and served as director for the City of Independence Water Department for 17 years.

Lake Tapawingo Mayor Tom Goddard recognizes Tomi Bellinghausen for more than 30 years of service to the Lake Tapawingo Women’s Club.

Lee’s Summit Mayor Bill Baird recognizes Dr. Jay Rapley as an example of extraordinary character and conviction. In 2017, Jay, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon with Rockhill Orthopaedics, was hit by a car and suffered a severe spinal cord injury that has left him paralyzed. However, with the help of technology and through phenomenal determination, Jay made a successful return to the career he loves and continues to give back to the community as the team physician at high school sporting events.

Raytown Mayor Michael McDonough recognizes Vicki Turnbow, president of the Raytown Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism. Vicki goes above and beyond her position, providing support to the Raytown Main Street Association, Raytown Quality Schools Citizens Advisory Committee, Community Emergency Response Team and as a Trustee of the Raytown Education Foundation Board.

Sugar Creek Mayor Mike Larson recognizes Don Border for 45 years of service as a reserve firefighter.

As you can see, we have a great group of Citizens to honor this year. I hope you will join us when we recognized the Citizens and our four main honorees at the 24th Annual Toast to Our Towns Gala, presented by Speaks Chapels, on Saturday, Sept. 28, at the Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center.

Phil Hanson is the President and CEO of Truman Heartland Community Foundation. Truman Heartland Community Foundation (THCF) is a 501(c)(3) public charity committed to improving the communities in and around Eastern Jackson County through cooperation with community members and donors. THCF serves the region with assets of more than $49 million and annual grants surpassing $4.4 million. For more information on charitable giving, visit www.thcf.org of call Truman Heartland at 816.836.8189.