17 Missourians recognized with statewide awards following first Missouri Good Neighbor Week
- Published: Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – The first statewide awards for Missouri Good Neighbor Week were announced Oct. 20 by the joint sponsors of the campaign, University of Missouri Extension in Greene County and The Hopeful Neighborhood Project, headquartered in St. Louis.
Missourians from all walks of life celebrated the first Missouri Good Neighbor Week, Sept. 28 to Oct. 4, by doing and reporting neighboring acts and nominating others as the most engaged neighbors in their respective counties.
The MU Extension county councils will do county-level recognition in counties where residents submitted actions or made nominations. This recognition will vary among counties. In Greene County, the local extension office will send each local award winner a check and certificate.
The goal for the week had been to document 10,000 acts of neighboring. But instead, Missourians reported 12,594 acts of neighboring during Missouri Good Neighbor Week.
During the week, there were also 40,765 visits to MissouriGoodNeighborWeek.com and more than 290,000 social media views on posts related to Missouri Good Neighbor Week.
"I love discussing these acts of neighboring," said David Burton, MU Extension community development specialist. "These are the stories that do not normally make the news but are the behaviors that are impactful to our own health, community and democracy."
According to Jennifer Prophete, program director for The Hopeful Neighborhood Project, reading about neighboring acts across Missouri was inspiring.
"There were big events like the rose giveaway in Houston and simpler efforts across the state," said Prophete. "Every story of an individual going out of their way for their neighbors was inspiring. Great job, Missourians!"
For the first time, participants also had the opportunity to nominate their neighbors as the most engaged neighbor in Missouri. By the end of the week, organizers had received nominations or reports of neighboring from 63 of Missouri's 114 counties.
With 115 nominations, the judges decided to expand the awards to the top 10% of nominations. Every person nominated received a $10 Amazon card and some neighboring items from The Hopeful Neighborhood Project.
When judging the statewide nominations, the committee leaned heavily toward individuals that received more than one nomination.
"The quality of the nominations exceeded our expectations which is why we could not narrow them down to just the top three statewide," said Burton. "We know some individuals will also be honored at the county level, but the example of these top 11 nominations are worthy as examples to all of us statewide as we strive to become more engaged neighbors."
The 2022 recipients of the Most Engaged Neighbor Award for Missouri:
Acts of Neighboring Category
• Best of Missouri Award -- Sharon Taylor Gullett, Springfield
• Best of Rural Missouri Award – Sonja Baldwin, Highlandville
• Best of Urban Missouri Award -- Susan Peck, Maplewood
• Diversity in Neighboring Award -- Cheree Trent Mills, St. Louis
• Judges Choice Award -- Shari McCallister, Houston
• Best of Missouri (Youth Award) -- Anna Sophia Pennock, Webb City
Most Engaged Neighbor in Missouri
• Alyssa and Bobby Smith (Albany, Gentry County)
• Echo Alexzander (Highlandville, Christian County)
• Kayla Henderson (Webb City, Jasper County)
• Sierra Lerma (Salem, Dent County)
• Philip Weidinger (Columbia, Boone County)
• Shari McCallister (Houston, Texas County)
• Pam Schultz (Ewing, Lewis County)
• Olivia Oglesby (Kirkwood, St. Louis County)
• Tom Gibson (Kirkwood, St. Louis County)
• Lee Howard (Lamar, Barton County)
• Pamela S. Buhr (Springfield, Greene County)
A detailed explanation about each honoree can be found at the end of this media release.
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signed legislation HB1738 on July 1, 2022, establishing the special week.
The celebration begins on Sept. 28, also National Good Neighbor Day (first created in 1978 by President Jimmy Carter). The week is jointly organized by University of Missouri Extension and the Hopeful Neighborhood Project.
Neighboring is the art and skill of building relationships with the people who live closest to you. Being a good neighbor offers tremendous health benefits, reduces crime, reduces loneliness, combats depression and improves communities and the quality of life.
For more information contact David Burton, community development specialist with University of Missouri Extension, at 417-881-8909 or [email protected]. Jennifer Prophete, program director for the Hopeful Neighborhood Project can be emailed at [email protected].
The Engaged Neighbor program is on MU Extension's website at https://extension.missouri.edu, and David Burton can be reached at [email protected]. You can also learn more about the Hopeful Neighborhood Project at https://www.hopefulneighborhood.org.
STATEWIDE AWARD NEIGHBORING WINNERS
TOP ACTS OF NEIGHBORING
Best of Missouri Award -- Sharon Taylor Gullett of Springfield gathered neighbors to prep 500 luminarias to line the sidewalk for 1 mile in their neighborhood on Oct. 1. The route led down to the neighborhood school and community garden. Lantern Walks encourage neighbors, schools, and families to build their lanterns and walk together along a designated route through the neighborhood beginning at sunset. The idea is to show off the lanterns and learn about safety at various stations along the way. Gullett has attended some MU Extension neighboring classes. The City of Springfield encouraged these walks as part of pedestrian safety education. Learn more at springfieldmo.gov/lanternwalk.
Best of Rural Missouri Award -- Craig Hollow Neighbor Reunion was hosted Oct. 3 by Sonja Baldwin of Highlandville. They passed out flyers to their rural neighbors and had a barbecue attended by 32 people ages 1 to 92. Neighbors chatted in groups and switched around to meet each other. Everyone brought side dishes or desserts, and the hosts provided the meat. Sign-up sheets were provided to get contact information for emergencies. This was the second reunion held this year. Co-organizer Echo Alexander wrote, "Craig Hollow is a very rural valley that covers small corners of Ozark, Nixa and Highlandville with few connected roads! The momentum created at our first event in April has become contagious!"
Best of Urban Missouri Award -- Susan Peck of Maplewood, St. Louis County. She organized six other women from the community to assemble 84 meals for the "Family Freezer," one of the programs of a community organization called MapleGOOD. That group partners with Crossroads Presbyterian Fellowship in Maplewood (where the freezer is located). The meals are stored for anyone in the community needing extra help due to a household experiencing an illness, a neighbor recovering from a hospital visit, a family with a new baby, etc.).
Diversity in Neighboring Award -- Cheree Trent Mills of St. Louis. She hosted a Neighborfest that 202 people attended. Local businesses, organizations, individuals and families were invited for a neighborhood meet and greet. The event started with a parade down Natural Bridge Road with the Saint Boogie Brass Band. They returned to New Awakening UMC on the University of Missouri – St. Louis campus, where there were carnival-style games and prizes, a DJ, free hot dogs, popcorn, ice cream and water.
Judges Choice Award -- This award goes to D&L Florist owner Shari McCallister and the citizens of Houston, who celebrated National Good Neighbor Day on September 28 with 250 dozen roses. Individuals who participated came in and received one dozen roses with the promise to keep one rose for themself and give the other 11 roses to 11 different neighbors and friends. This event was sponsored by different businesses and individuals in the area. All 3,000 roses were gone by 1:30 p.m. This year, each rose was tagged with a list of sponsors and a ticket to attend a Mister Rogers movie showing at the community theater. This event began in 2007 when the florist shop gave away 300 roses.
Best of Missouri (Youth Award) -- Anna Sophia Pennock, the 9-year-old daughter of Ben and Stephanie Pennock of Webb City, celebrated Missouri Good Neighbor Week in style. She colored the "Start With Hello" National Good Neighbor Day postcards and hand-delivered them to 10 of their neighbors with homegrown tomatoes from the Pennocks' garden and homegrown lavender arrangements in small glass vases.
MOST ENGAGED NEIGHBOR
Alyssa and Bobby Smith (Albany, Gentry County) – The Smith family engages everyone in our neighborhood. They walk the community cleaning up litter, reach out to neighbors for celebrations and in times of need, and host block parties to welcome new neighbors. "A few years ago, their now-late son Silas (4 years old) was diagnosed with cancer that he did not survive. One of Silas's favorite places to visit was a desolate park with a few trees near the street where we lived. This beautiful family has dedicated their time to revitalizing this park into an amazing work of passion that all our community can enjoy-- creating Silas Lee's Crazy Animal Park. This park is now a staple in our community. It has a beautiful walking trail, a playground, gardens, a reading library nook, a frog pond, an amphitheater and restrooms. This special site has brought our community together for events, too." -- Nominated by Sarah Barmann-Smith
Echo Alexzander (Highlandville, Christian County) -- Echo is new to our rural neighborhood. She has become the catalyst for what is developing into a robust rural neighborhood group, helping to form strong bonds of friendship and generosity that cross barriers of culture and generation. I first met Echo when she drove up to my property and introduced herself as a new neighbor over the ridge. I should have done that for her, but she took the initiative. She is always seeking to serve others and connect people. We have shared gardening experiences and life events. Echo also has organized cleanup along our country roads and hosted demonstrations of homesteading skills. Echo organized our first Craig Hollow Neighbor Reunion in April, where 32 neighbors gathered. She recorded contact information for those attending. Using that information, we scheduled a second Neighbor Reunion on Oct. 1. I can think of no one else in my six decades of life on this planet who deserves this honor more!" – Nominated by Sonja Baldwin
Jasper Kayla Henderson (Webb City, Jasper County) – "Kayla is the best neighbor, cook and selfless human around. When we bought our house, and we showed up to our house for the first time, she chalked our driveway, welcoming us to the neighborhood. She handed us a picture of every house on the block with the family name. We spent a month remodeling the house; she cooked several meals and brought them down to us! In times of family sickness, she has run store errands for us and made us homemade chicken noodle soup. She has invited our daughter over to play with her kid, so that we could get a house project finished. Kayla has allowed me to clip flowers from her hydrangea bushes so that I could propagate it and add another bush to my yard. She wants to be kind, and she's nailing it from where I'm sitting across the street!" -- Nominated by Eric Stephens
Sierra Lerma (Salem, Dent County) – During Missouri Good Neighbor Week, Sierra filled pantry boxes around town and delivered 150 cookies to neighbors and community heroes. Her nomination surely noticed and wrote about it. "I've never met a more engaged teen. Her kind-heartedness in caring, appreciation of others, and giving are phenomenal! Her actions for others is contagious! She truly exudes everything good about why life holds adventure, achievement, and hope. If everyone was like her, the world would be a better place." – Nominated by Atina Danl
Philip Weidinger (Columbia, Boone County) – "Phil has a smile and a wave for everyone. He has helped several individuals in the neighborhood, particularly the elderly, with tasks and projects. I know he's watched neighbors' pets while they've been gone on vacation. Phil is enthusiastic, kind, and generous with his time and talents. He volunteered to be the treasurer of our neighborhood association. Because of a lapse in the prior neighborhood association, our neighborhood was set to be without streetlights as accounts fell into arrearage, unbeknownst to the current residents. Phil was instrumental in working with the bank, the electric co-op, the sewer district and the billboard companies to get the revenue streams straightened out, the arrearages paid up, and the lights on. He works diligently at whatever is asked of him, and he's a pleasure to have as a neighbor. As a community, we want to nominate Philip for his endless help in protecting our subdivision." – Nominated by David Johnson and Ellen Haynes
Shari McCallister (Houston, Texas County) – "Since 2007 Shari (owner D & L Florist in Houston) has participated in Good Neighbor Day. Through her flower shop, using sponsorships from other people and businesses, she has provided good neighbor roses to "Petal It Forward." Individuals come to the shop, pick up one dozen roses, keep one rose for themselves, and distribute the rest to 11 different people. There is a lot of work that goes into this event. In 2007 the shop did 300 roses; this year, they gave out 250 dozen (3,000 roses) by 1:30 p.m. She works so hard to be a good neighbor year-round and leads several community activities." Nominated by Elaine Campbell, Melissa Dart and Marsha Martin
Pam Schultz (Ewing, Lewis County) -- To say that Pam cares about her neighbors would be an understatement. She volunteers to care for neighbors' pets as they travel. There is never an expectation of compensation. She shares veggie and bread scraps with neighbors that raise chickens. This allows her to check on the older neighbors. A few years ago, Pam helped us by mowing the yard and sharing a meal when I was recovering from surgery. You can count on Pam to share her harvest if it's the gardening season. Pam is also a walking buddy who, with her physical limitations, makes her passion to move inspiring. Pam works full time at the school, supports her family, cares for her home, yard and animals, and supports her husband as a farm wife, making her caring heart even more impressive." -- Nominated by Sandy Waterman, Deann Turner and Travelle Whitaker
Olivia Oglesby (Kirkwood, St. Louis County) – Olivia's entire mission is loving her neighbor. It led her to open a coffee shop in Kirkwood called Teleo Coffee. They live out this mission through service, supporting other small businesses, donating a portion of sales to local non-profits, and showing how essential connection, community, and neighborliness are. Olivia does a beautiful job of setting an example for the community in this way. Olivia is responsible for this mission and being sure it shines through her employees and at events. She and I met through the small business community, and I continue to be impressed and inspired by her work as well as her Love Your Neighbor coffee." – Nominated by Sarah Kim
Tom Gibson (Kirkwood, St. Louis County) – "Tom takes daily walks in our neighborhood; he knows everybody and is friendly and talkative with everybody. Tom puts our newspapers at our door daily, year-round (for 12-15 neighbors). He brings the garbage bins up to the garage for every neighbor, helps with pruning trees, checks in regularly with the elderly and/or sick people in the neighborhood, and helps with groceries if necessary. He is ready to clean our gutters, pull out a stump, or help when any older neighbor needs anything. He asks for nothing in return. We are blessed to have this "saint" in our neighborhood. Every neighborhood should be as lucky." – Nominated by Hilde Van den Borre
Lee Howard (Lamar, Barton County) – "Lee is retired, but he is always willing to help. He recently assisted a neighbor on this street, letting her use a spare car he had after she was involved in a car crash. As a single woman, she had no extra transportation to work or use while her car was fixed. Lee loaned her a spare car in good working order to use. The car repair took longer due to parts problems, but Lee told her to keep the car as long as needed. Lee is the type of person to reach out to another in need without being asked. You are just as likely to see Lee around town helping to promote an event or raise money for a great cause. Where ever there is a need, Lee seems to show up to help." – Nominated by Elaine Davis
Pamela S. Buhr (Springfield, Greene County) – "When Pam moved into my neighborhood in 2014, she invited neighbors to her home so she and her husband could get to know everyone. She continued to check in on me regularly. When new neighbors arrived, she would welcome them with a plate of fresh cookies. After my husband died last year, she visited or called me weekly, which has been instrumental in this 84-year-old's stay in my home. She helped organize The Brentwood Neighborhood Association and convinced me to join. She is the Treasurer of the association. Last year, she wrote a grant for $100,000 from the City of Springfield for new playground equipment for our park, and it was approved! She worked with the association president to host a Business Festival in the Park on Sept. 24. We had 24 businesses based in Brentwood, set up tables and explain their services to residents. Food and drinks, a musician, and inflatable houses for kids were all provided. Pam designed bingo cards for residents to take to the business tables, and once all blocks were checked off, they were placed in a box for door prize drawings. On Sept. 25, Pam and her husband Dave hosted a BBQ for all residents living on Rochelle Avenue. I believe 26 of the 34 neighbors were able to attend. They used the event to introduce neighbors and handed each family a map of our street showing all the homes, addresses, names of homeowners, and telephone numbers of each adult in the household. This information has proven beneficial for many reasons. I can't say enough about Pam and all the things she does for our neighborhood." – Nominated by Johanna Cunningham
Writer: David Burton