For the third year, Lee’s Summit’s community service organizations gathered at Unity Village to be recognized for the time, talent, and resources they give back to the community.
The event is the brainchild of Carl Chinnery, a longtime Lee’s Summit attorney and civic leader and Lee’s Summit Rotary member. Chinnery opened the event by reading from the Dr. Seuss book, On Beyond Zebra! an offbeat alphabet story that encourages readers to live outside the box—by finding all the letters “beyond the letter Z.”
"So, on beyond Z! It's high time you were shown/That you really don't know all there is to be known."
“Isn’t that Lee’s Summit?” Chinnery said. “Lee’s Summit does not end with a ‘Z.’ We go beyond—and the proof of that is in that room today with groups that serve this community, year in and year out. It’s what makes Lee’s Summit a special place.”
While not boastful in his own right, one thing Chinnery is boldly passionate about is the need for partnerships in the community. He’s so dedicated to the cause he single-handedly laid the foundation for the inaugural “Thanksgiving, Peace, Service, and Unity” luncheon at Unity Village in 2016.
Unity Village Mayor David Vest introduced and welcomed Lee’s Summit Mayor Bill Baird to give a roll call of the organizations that give back to the local community throughout the year. Rev. Linda Martella-Whitsett of Unity opened with a blessing.
Baird introduced 18 service groups, with 170 members attending. They included the Downtown Rotary Club, the Eastland Giving Circle, the Lake Lotawana Optimists, Lee's Summit High School, Lee's Summit Kiwanis, Lee's Summit Lions, Lee's Summit North High School, Lee's Summit Optimists, the Masons, Our Lady of Presentation, the Rotary Club of Lee's Summit, St. Michael’s School, the Sunrise Rotary Club, the Winnebago Lions, and Unity Village.
Two additional groups were recognized but unable to attend: Checks for Children and Lee's Summit West High School.
A sample of some of the service activities the groups participate in include Meals on Wheels, students of the month recognition programs, lunch programs, youth art programs, college scholarships, clothing and food collection for the homeless, Junior ROTC, scouting programs, elementary school reading programs, diaper collections, early childhood vision testing, service teams supporting Coldwater and Hope House, teacher appreciation activities, garden planting, feed and need programs to fight chronic hunger, eyeglasses for children in schools, building wheelchair ramps, home repair projects, child identification programs, food collections for Lee’s Summit Social Services, Turkey Trot fund-raisers, events to support One Good Meal, vaccination support, and disaster relief.
The event ended with a reminder from Mayor Baird that service is not hardship but a gift we give ourselves and each other. He encouraged everyone present to ask more people they knew to join in.
“People want to give. They like to give,” Baird said. “They like to be included. Ask people. Ask your friends. Don’t assume that any one person may not want to give or take part. Don’t be shy about it. Ask.”
For a complete photo album of the event, visit the Unity Village Facebook page.