Lee’s Summit CARES will show off one of the many reasons it was recognized this year as one of the city’s best organizations, when it holds its annual Got Talent competition on Saturday.
Lee’s Summit CARES is a 30-year-old, community-wide coalition to help prevent violence and drug abuse, provide programs in schools, offer parenting help and lead the Community of Character program, among other initiatives.
Recently it was named Truly the Best Business of the Year in the not-for-profit class by the Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce.
Rachel Segobia, director of Lee’s Summit CARES, said receiving the award was thrilling for the organization.
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“We’re happy to be recognized and that the community is seeing the good work we’re doing,” she said.
Segobia said that for the last three years the organization has been implementing its latest five-year strategic plan adopted by its board. One of the goals was to raise awareness of its efforts, and being honored by the chamber is evidence that is happening, she said.
Got Talent has been revamped to concentrate on school-age contestants.
After auditions that narrowed the field to 15 finalists, at 7 p.m. Saturday, those youths will compete for a $5,000 scholarship. The audience will vote on a $500 Crowd Pleaser award and three seniors from the Lee’s Summit School District high schools will participate in a Mr. Lee’s Summit competition. Tickets are available at the two Lee’s Summit Hy-Vee stores and the Cosentino’s Price Choppers in the Lakewood and Raintree Lake neighborhoods, or online at LSTalent.com.
The judges this year are Matt Lewis, an Elvis impersonator and producer of Las Vegas shows; Lauren Braton, a professional singer and actress who appears in venues like the Quality Hill Playhouse; and Coleen Dieker, an instrumentalist who is director of music for Congretation B’nai Jehudah. Lewis and Braton are graduates of Lee’s Summit High School and Dieker is an alum of Lee’s Summit North High School.
Using judges who have graduated from local schools is important for encouraging young performers, Segobia said.
“We’re trying to show kids, if it’s something you love to do, you can turn it into a career,” she said.
The three-person staff of CARES has its offices in a ReDiscover facility and also contracts with mental health professionals to deliver services.
One of non-profit’s better known events is the annual’s Mayor’s Character Breakfast, attended by about 600 people who see community members honored for acts of kindness, bravery or one of the other 12 character traits, one emphasized each month. An annual Ethics in Business Award is part of that.
Segobia said Lee’s Summit CARES works to encourage cooperation with its Character Council and Partnership to Prevent Risky Behavior Committee to involve leaders from various sectors of the community.
Launch is a program to help high school graduates in their next phase of life. The first event of the program will be a July 12 “Packing Party” for women headed to college that will have experts offer advice on decorating rooms and eating well to avoid the “freshman 15.” A guest speaker from MOCSA will talk about the problem of sexual abuse on college campuses.
Segobia said the strategic plan includes expansion of Lee’s Summit CARES’ bullying prevention programs into middle schools and high schools.
“It’ll be a totally different program geared to kids at that age level,” she said.
It began with a pilot program this year at Summit Lakes Middle School. It was designed with help of the students, who named it “Show that You Care.”
Also this year CARES added permanent locations for five medication drop boxes for disposal of unused prescription drugs, so they aren’t misused. It raised $17,000 to support DARE programs through the annual Holly Festival.
It also helped pass the Tobacco 21 ordinance in Lee’s Summit, which raised the legal age for purchasing cigarettes and other tobacco products to 21.
Other programs include:
• Bridges: started in 2013, this is an extension of the Love and Logic parenting classes offered by the group. Along with teaching effective communication, discipline and guidance, the Bridges program goes a step further, providing a case manager to help parents connect with different social services they might need, including in-school therapy, budgeting classes or finding health care.
• State of the Youth: Lee’s Summit CARES Youth Advisory Board students are compiling local data that reflects the health of Lee’s Summit youth who are in middle school and high school. The students will be making presentations around the community to let leaders know what health and wellness concerns they will face in upcoming years, Segobia said.
More information is available at www.lscares.org.