Truman Heartland Community Foundation is pleased to present this year’s Citizen of the Year honorees, selected by area mayors. The recipients will be recognized at the 24th Annual Toast to Our Towns Gala, presented by Speaks Chapels, on Saturday, September 28, 2019 at the Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center.
These local volunteers were chosen because they lend their time, talents and position to promote our communities. Areas of impact are varied, but all of the honorees are united by a common goal, improving and enriching the communities in our area.
Mayor Carson Ross, City of Blue Springs, Recognizes the Meyers Family
Through their business and community engagement, the Meyers family has been serving the Blue Springs community for more than 20 years.
Founded in 2006 by Marty and Kim Meyers, Meyers Funeral Chapel is a first-generation, family-owned and operated funeral provider, 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, including Rainbow Center, Blue Springs Rotary, Community Services League, Blue Springs Historical Society, St. John LaLande Catholic Church and Blue Springs Downtown Alive.
The Meyers give back to the community in many different ways. Dennis and Julie are active in the historical district of Blue Springs and always willing to help their neighbors with outdoor projects. Marty serves on the Board for the Blue Springs Chamber of Commerce and is an active member of the Sons of American Legion Post 499, the Knights of Columbus and the Blue Springs Rotary Club. His wife Kim is a member of the Blue Springs Women’s Civic Club, attends Blue Springs Business League and is on the steering committee for Dazzling Divas, a fundraising event for Cancer Action.
Additionally, the Meyers sponsor little league baseball and football teams and provide scholarship support to high school athletes in Blue Springs in memory of their late nephew Jimmy Meyers.
Mayor Mike Todd, City of Grain Valley, Recognizes Dr. Brad Welle
Dr. Brad Welle has made a 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, but his passion for education and the community go far beyond his work.
In 2018, Brad received the Mary Strack Community Advocate Award for his instrumental role with Bright Futures Grain Valley, a network of more than 1,200 regional businesses, civic and faith-based groups and individuals who work together to respond to the basic needs of children in Grain Valley. Under his leadership, Bright Futures served approximately 300 students in the last school year.
Brad is an avid volunteer. He serves on the Board of both Kansas City Young Audiences and Eastern Jackson County Youth Court, is on the steering committee of Grain Valley Youth Engagement Services and is the President of the Grain Valley Parks Board. Brad also volunteers with the Grain Valley Assistance Council and serves lunch at the monthly community senior citizens’ luncheon.
Brad and his wife, Karen, have been married for 24 years and have two children, Brooke and Logan.
Mayor Eileen Weir, City of Independence, Recognizes Randy (posthumous) and Kathleen Vest
Over the course of their 55-year marriage, the Vests worked to preserve and promote the history of Independence.
A dedicated educator, Kathleen taught in the Independence School District for 17 years and was the Project Coordinator for Project WhistleStop, a digital archive grant with the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum and four school districts. In 2019, she retired after 15 years as Director of Children’s Ministries at Christ United Methodist Church. Over the years Kathleen has supported many Independence nonprofits as a grant writer and board member, including the National Frontier Trails Museum, where she is a past Board president, and the Puppetry Arts Institute. Kathleen is a member of Junior Service League of Independence and the American Association of University Women.
During his life, Randy Vest 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. He was active in Boy Scouts with his two sons and as the Board President of the Independence Boys and Girls Club. In retirement, Randy served on his church council, the Public Utilities Advisory Board and Jackson County Ethics Commission. He led tours at the National Frontier Trails Museum and the Chicago and Alton Train Depot, where he was a Board member.
Randy and Kathleen have been long-time supporters of the Japanese Sister City program. Randy served on the Board for 30 years, including a term as President, and Kathleen served as a teacher escort. They hosted many Japanese guests, as well as American Field Service students from Turkey and Australia.
Mayor Tom Goddard, City of Lake Tapawingo, Recognizes Tomi Bellinghausen
Tomi Bellinghausen has been an invaluable member of the Lake Tapawingo community for more than 30 years. She has served on the Board of the Lake Tapawingo Women’s Club since 1998 and as the President for the last 10 years. Committed to the club’s mission, Tomi has been at the forefront of many community projects for the Women’s Club, Sportsmen’s Club, City and Country Club. Her leadership has helped with park improvements, beautification efforts, community fundraisers, wildlife management and lake events.
Tomi was President of the John Nowlin Elementary PTA from 2010 to 2016 and is currently on the Board of the Blue Springs High School Girls Swim Team Booster Club. She has served as an election judge and spent four years as a Jackson County Democratic Committee member. She is currently a member of the Lake Tapawingo Strategic Planning Committee.
Tomi grew up in Independence and has lived her entire married life at Lake Tapawingo with her husband, Mike. With support from Mike, who served as Mayor of Lake Tapawingo for eight years, Tomi has spearheaded initiatives that focus on building community and enriching life in the city, including welcoming new homeowners, scholarships for graduating high school students, a free Thanksgiving appreciation luncheon for senior citizens and monthly community programs and activities for lake residents.
Mayor Bill Baird, City of Lee’s Summit, Recognizes Dr. Jay Rapley
Dr. Jay Rapley supports the Lee’s Summit community as a board-certified orthopedic surgeon with Rockhill Orthopaedics and on the sidelines as the team physician at high school sporting events.
Jay serves as an example of extraordinary character and conviction. On January 23, 2017 life changed radically for Jay and his family when he was hit by a car and suffered a severe spinal cord injury that has left him paralyzed. During rehabilitation, Jay’s doctors repeatedly discussed with him that he would never walk again and said that practicing surgery was unlikely. However, with the help of technology and through phenomenal determination, Jay made a successful return to the career he loves and was back to clinics about six months from his injury.
Along with his wife, Ashley, and their four daughters, Jay enjoys being active in their church and volunteering in the community. Jay and his family are encouraging role models for facing adversity and unimaginable challenges.
Mayor Michael McDonough, City of Raytown, Recognizes Vicki Turnbow
Vicki Turnbow promotes the Raytown community each day as President of the Raytown Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism. She goes above and beyond her position, providing support to the Raytown Main Street Association, Raytown Quality Schools Citizens Advisory Committee, Raytown Live Committee, Community Emergency Response Team and serving as a Trustee of the Raytown Education Foundation Board.
Vicki is an active member of the Raytown Rotary Club and was recognized by Rotary as a Paul Harris Fellow. She has helped plan and execute many charitable events for Rotary and other organizations over the years. Vicki leads the annual Raytown Rotary/Chamber Golf Tournament, is spearheading the Chamber’s 90th year celebration and has worked on the Deron Cherry Invitational Golf Tournament, a fundraiser for Raytown’s Score One for Health program, since the early 1990s. In 2012, the Raytown Women of Today awarded Vicki with its coveted Outstanding Woman Leader award.
Vicki grew up in Raytown. Her husband Kris is a former Raytown Police Chief and currently serves as the Mayor of Raymore. In addition to her role as the first lady, Vicki devotes time to their four children and seven grandchildren.
Mayor Mike Larson, City of Sugar Creek, Recognizes Don Border
Don Border has shown his dedication to the Sugar Creek community as a reserve firefighter for 45 years.
Don moved to Sugar Creek in 1970, after serving four years in the United States Marine Corps, including a tour in Vietnam. In 1974, he joined the Sugar Creek Fire Department as a reserve firefighter. Over the years, Don has received numerous firefighter and medical certifications from the state and other training events. Don plays an important role by transporting a second pumper to the scene of a fire and establishing a water supply. Earlier this year, Sugar Creek Fire Chief Patrick Casey presented Don with the fireman’s plaque to commemorate his 45 years of service.
Outside of the fire station, Don and his wife, Marsha, enjoy traveling and helping their two children, Jennifer and Doni, with home projects. They are very active in the Sugar Creek community. They maintain a street as part of the city’s Adopt-a-Street program and Don volunteers to cook at community events, including the Sugar Creek potluck, back to school night and teacher recognition lunch.