We are pleased to announce our three main honorees for our 23rd annual Toast to Our Towns Gala, which will be held on Saturday, Sept. 29 at the Sheraton at Crown Center.

Bob Glaser will be recognized as our Heartland Humanitarian of the Year, Tingle Flooring as our Heartland Corporate Citizen of the Year, and Blue Ridge Bank and Trust Co. will receive our Community Partner Award.

These individuals exemplify what it means to be a lifelong community servant and philanthropist. We are humbled to have the privilege of recognizing the people and organizations that make this a great community.

Our 2018 Heartland Humanitarian of the Year, Bob Glaser, has been known by many people in our region as a champion of charitable giving and volunteerism in the Eastern Jackson County community for several decades. I have personally known Bob for more than 25 years when he was the manager of the Independence Sears store in the early 1990s and a volunteer for the United Way, where I worked for many years.

Bob served as the first acting president and CEO of the Truman Heartland Community Foundation from 1994-1998. He then served as director of planned giving at United Way, where he was a member of my staff team from 1999-2002. More recently, Bob was VP of community development for Summit Bank in Lee’s Summit for nine years. In 2017, he joined the team of CommunityAmerica Credit Union.

Anyone who has met Bob can tell you that he has an unmistakable energy that draws people in. He has served on the boards of more than 30 nonprofits in the area and tirelessly worked to better our community. Eastern Jackson County is a better place due to his skill in connecting people to philanthropic causes. I am very pleased we are recognizing Bob as our 2018 Humanitarian of the Year.

For the last 60 years our Community Partner of the Year, Blue Ridge Bank, and Trust Co., has been serving the people of Eastern Jackson County. This is only the second time in the 23-year history of our Gala that the Community Partner Award has been awarded. It is done so in recognition of the Bank's longstanding and strong support of THCF and also many other nonprofits in our community through their financial support and community activism.

The Bank was recognized in 2000 as the Corporate Citizen of the Year and their community engagement and support has continued to grow over the past 18 years. Associates of Blue Ridge Bank and Trust Co. are engaged in volunteer leadership roles in many nonprofits in our community.

The bank is often a key sponsor for nonprofits and community projects like the Independence Farmers’ Market, Truman Heritage Habitat for Humanity’s Hiram Young School Renovation, Child Abuse Prevention Association, Salvation Army and Cancer Action, to name a few.

It is very fitting that Blue Ridge Bank and Trust Co. is receiving this special recognition during their 60th anniversary year. The bank was established by three Reich brothers – William, Robert and Walter – in 1958 and today the spirit of the Reich brothers is alive in the culture of the bank.

Tingle Flooring is our Heartland Corporate Citizen of the Year. This company, owned by Chip and Deb Moxley, has offices in Lee’s Summit, St. Louis and Denver. Tingle Flooring financially supports numerous nonprofits in the area and Chip, Deb and their daughter Lauren are also actively engaged as volunteers with many organizations in the community.

They are active supporters of the St. Luke’s East Boo Ball, Lee’s Summit Education Foundation, Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street, Lee's Summit Symphony Orchestra and the Chamber of Commerce. They also contribute their flooring products to organizations like Habitat for Humanity.

The Moxleys encourage their employees to get involved in the community and their belief is that their philanthropic giving has given them more than they have given away. The company is a great role model that we are pleased to recognize as our Corporate Citizen this year.

Every year, I am impressed with the quality of the nominees brought to us when choosing our Gala honorees. Eastern Jackson County is a special example of what a community can achieve when the people who live there work together for a greater cause.

I’m reminded of a quote given in a speech by one of our graduating Youth Advisory Council seniors this year: “Community service is not just a responsibility, it is a privilege.” I believe that this year’s honorees understand better than anyone does what a privilege it is to give back to the community.

You can find more information about our 2018 Gala Honorees on our website: www.thcf.org/Gala. We also ask that you stayed tuned for our official announcement of the Citizens of the Year, chosen by our area mayors. I hope you make plans today to join us for our celebration on Sept. 29.

– Phil Hanson is president and CEO of the Truman Heartland Community Foundation, based in Independence.