The residents of Eastern Jackson County in Missouri are known for their generosity. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to meet and collaborate with many of them.

As the President and CEO of Truman Heartland Community Foundation (THCF), it is one of the most rewarding parts of my job. In a world that can sometimes be cold and impersonal, it is heartwarming to encounter so many exceptional individuals who dedicate their lives to improving their communities for everyone. They do it without expecting anything in return, and it is inspiring when the community foundation gets to be a part of their efforts.

Each year, members of the THCF Board of Directors and four Community Advisory Boards nominate individuals, businesses, and organizations whose volunteerism, dedication to community, and philanthropy have made a significant impact on our suburban Eastern Jackson, Cass, and Lafayette County communities. It is a daunting task to narrow down the nominations, and I am thankful for all the members of the THCF Board who were tasked with making the final decisions.

With all of that, it is my great pleasure to announce the Truman Heartland Community Foundation 2024 Toast to Our Towns Gala Honorees:

Humanitarian of the Year - Doug and Helen Hatridge
Doug and Helen are retired educators with a strong passion for community service. Helen was a member of the THCF Board and served as Board Chair in 2018. Doug was a member of the Jackson County Plan Commission, and they both contributed their time and effort to various organizations, such as the Fort Osage Fire Protection District, Lee's Summit Parks and Recreation Board, and Independence Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, among others. They have each received numerous honors and recognitions, including the Longevity Award for Volunteers of Lee's Summit Parks & Recreation and the prestigious 2022 Legacy Award from the Community Services League. Together, Helen and Doug continue to make a positive impact in their community, and their dedication to service will undoubtedly be their legacy.

Corporate Citizen of the Year - CommunityAmerica Credit Union
CommunityAmerica is a financial institution that is dedicated to improving the lives of its customers, employees, and the community. They offer a wide range of financial products and services and actively participate in various community service and corporate philanthropy projects. They support several local organizations such as Junior Achievement, Operation Breakthrough, and Boys and Girls Clubs, among others. In 2022, CommunityAmerica also launched its first Community Access Center, which continues to provide free access to tools and resources to people of all ages and backgrounds, enabling them to attain financial peace of mind. CommunityAmerica is a local company committed to helping people achieve their financial goals while making a significant impact in their communities.

Heartland Service Award - Child Abuse Prevention Association (CAPA)
CAPA has been serving children in Eastern Jackson County and neighboring communities for nearly 50 years. The organization offers counseling services to both children and adults who have experienced child abuse, neglect, and other family traumas. Their home-visiting services focus on supporting new and expecting mothers, ensuring they possess the necessary tools and resources to nurture their children in a safe and healthy environment. CAPA also actively engages in prevention education, offering body safety classes for students and social-emotional learning initiatives for students, teachers, administrators, and parents. In addition, CAPA has been instrumental in providing mentorship to more than 200 counseling and social work interns from a dozen local colleges and universities, establishing itself as the most extensive program of its kind in the region. With its commitment to education and mentorship, CAPA has been honored with two Non-Profit of the Year awards, and its trajectory continues upward, expanding in funding, staff, and positive impact on the community.

Dr. Paul M. Thomson Professional Advisor of the Year - Craig Bolger
Craig is a highly accomplished professional advisor with more than 20 years of experience serving families and businesses. He has helped countless clients invest their money wisely and achieve their financial goals. Craig understands his client's charitable goals and helps them see the value of partnering with their local community foundation. His work in philanthropy is highly deserving of recognition for his exceptional dedication and achievements. As a fifth-generation resident of Independence, Craig has deep roots in the community and remains actively involved in various organizations. Craig is an invaluable asset to his community, and his commitment to helping others meet their charitable goals is a testament to his character and professionalism.

I extend my heartfelt congratulations to this year's Toast to Our Towns honorees. I look forward to raising a glass to their dedication, generosity, and commitment at the 29th Annual Toast to Our Towns Gala on Saturday, September 21, 2024, at the Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center. Makes plans to join us and celebrate those working to make our communities better places to live, work, and serve.

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