2021 Annual Report Feature Stories


A Legacy of Generosity / Educational Support for Years to Come

Norman and Mary Anne were married for 71 years before his passing in 2006. Just over a year later, Mary Anne tragically lost her only son. To be proceeded by her husband and adult child was a profound blow. Some never recover from such loss. But Mary Anne knew she wanted to carry on with the plan she and Norman had agreed upon so many years before. She knew she wanted to create a legacy that would make a difference to people in the community they loved, and that offered her some amount of solace in her sorrow.

When you lose someone dear to your heart, it can be devastating. Regardless of the how or why, there are many emotions to go through before those left behind begin to find peace. But peace and joy and be found again, in time. Numerous studies have shown that philanthropy can be a powerful tool in the journey to healthy healing after a loss. The body responds to acts of philanthropy by producing chemicals that make you feel good, such as dopamine, endorphins, and oxytocin—proving there are few things in this life more inspiring than knowing you have made a real difference in the lives of others.

Upon her passing in 2020, the Norman and Mary Anne Davidson Scholarship Fund was established to honor their memory. As long-time residents of Independence, Missouri, Norman and Mary Anne were passionate about their local community. Their son, Christopher, had attended William Chrisman High School, and they were involved in several local organizations, charities, and causes. Supporting education was important to them, and they wanted to leave a legacy that would help local students for generations to come.

The Norman and Mary Anne Davidson Scholarship will be available for the 2022 scholarship season. Their scholarship is one of Truman Heartland's more substantial funds and one of ten new scholarships available in 2022. The Norman and Mary Anne Davidson Scholarship is open to students residing in Independence pursuing undergraduate or graduate degrees or certifications. Interested students must carry a GPA of at least 3.0, show participation in work, caregiving responsibilities, school activities, and/or community service, and demonstrate leadership skills. This scholarship will award each student up to $8,000 per academic year and is renewable for up to four additional years!

Five-year renewable scholarships are hard to come by, to say the least. But the Truman Heartland Community Foundation committee felt it was essential to help students throughout their educational journey. Since many programs now take five years to complete, it seemed only appropriate to allow recipients to apply for renewal, even if it takes an extra semester or two to finish their program. 

Anne Frank once wrote, "No one has ever become poor by giving." When we give, we receive—not earthly possessions, but a full life and a mended heart. There is nothing more rewarding than knowing you have made a tangible difference in other people's lives. And Norman and Mary Anne's legacy, their passion, will be felt at each and every graduation ceremony. 

Turning Conflict into a Career

Macy Melton was born without a permanent front tooth. It didn't bother her much in elementary school, as her friends and classmates were losing baby teeth practically weekly and gladly flashing their gap-tooth smiles for all to see. But as she and her classmates grew up and moved on to high school, it became very noticeable that Macy's smile was lacking.

Although she had a retainer with a replacement tooth, she had to take it out at lunchtime, exposing her imperfection to those around her. If kids are cruel, teenagers are ruthless. Macy was often teased and harassed because her smile wasn't Instagram perfect, so much so that she stopped eating lunch at school, instead opting for a large breakfast and dinner to tide her over. But that didn't stop the bullies from making fun of her appearance, creating a hurtful video about her, complete with a blackened-out front tooth.

Through all the teasing, Macy found inner strength and understanding. She knew that unlike those who are bullied because of their gender identity, race, or disability, she was picked on for something that was simply cosmetic. She found deeper compassion for those around her whose differences went beyond outward beauty. Inadvertently, her bullies taught her compassion and empathy for others. Although she struggled to really feel beautiful in her own skin, she knew her smile didn't define who she was as a person. It was something that could be changed. And it was something both Macy and her parents wanted to address—with the help of their friendly neighborhood dentist.

Macy understands that something as seemingly insignificant as a missing front tooth can dramatically affect a person's self-esteem and well-being. She knows it shouldn't. But for a teenage girl with prom and graduation pictures just around the corner, a beautiful smile is something Macy wished for with every birthday candle and shooting star. With the help of an exceptional cosmetic dentist, Macy is working toward that brilliant new smile, rebuilding her self-confidence, and setting her sights on a meaningful career.

Macy learned a lot about dentistry. After eight years of braces, countless trips to the dentist's office, and several painful oral surgeries later, Macy feels like she already has a wealth of knowledge under her belt. She has picked up quite a bit of information and has a deep respect for those working in the dentistry field. "I feel like I know all there is to know about teeth," Macy explained, "but I learn something new each time I go back for another appointment. Seeing all of the amazing transformations my dentist and periodontist have performed makes me very excited to be able to do the same for others one day."

Macy plans to get her bachelor's degree at the University of Missouri, Columbia in Health Sciences and then specialize in cosmetic dentistry, thanks to a scholarship from the Laura G. Stark Memorial Scholarship Fund. "With the help from my amazing dentist, I am regaining my confidence and feeling more comfortable not only in my smile but as a person overall. That is my goal as a dentist, for every one of my patients to leave my office feeling more confident and beautiful than they did when they walked in."  

Sleeping in Heavenly Peace

Kids helping Kids

All children deserve a safe, comfortable place to lay their heads at night. And yet so many children in our communities go without a bed—or even a pillow—to sleep on. These children end up sleeping on couches, blankets, and even floors, impacting both their happiness and health.

That's where Sleep in Heavenly Peace® comes in. This unique nonprofit connects volunteers dedicated to building, assembling, and delivering top-notch bunk beds to children and families in need. Sleep in Heavenly Peace® had its start like many other charities, in a garage. It was Christmas time, a time of joy and happiness, a time of giving and love, but also a time of bitter, cold weather and snowstorms. A project that started with building one bed for a single family developed into something so much bigger.

That is one of the reasons THCF Youth Advisory Council chose to fully fund a volunteer workday at Sleep in Heavenly Peace® in November. Many YAC students and community volunteers come together on a very chilly morning to make cozy bunk beds for kiddos in our own Eastern Jackson County and surrounding communities. The YAC endowment fund paid for all the materials for the build day, ending the day with several fully assembled beds, each one ready to become some little boy or girl's first good night's sleep!

This Sleep in Heavenly Peace® build day had to be postponed in 2020 due to Covid, so it was great to finally come together for such a worthwhile community project. YAC is more than just monthly meetings or a line item on a college application. YAC really does teach students how to become leaders in their communities through service, support, teamwork, and cooperation. It is a powerful program that makes a tangible difference in the lives of area kids.

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