For more than two decades, philanthropists, volunteers and community leaders have gathered every year to celebrate the hard work and dedication of the Northland Community Foundation and its donors.
At this year’s Annual Celebration Breakfast, Northland community donors recognized nine area students who received a total of $11,000 in various scholarships funded by Northland Community Foundation donors.
The Virjean Burton Youth Philanthropy Award is named in honor of one of the Northland Community Foundation’s original donors, Virjean Burton, who passed away in August of 2017. This award recognizes a young Northlander who has demonstrated a combination of philanthropic leadership and action.
The recipient is awarded a $2,000 scholarship and the opportunity to select a Northland nonprofit organization to receive a $1,000 grant. The 2018 award recipient is Lauryn Masters, a student at Platte County High School. Lauryn has worked with many organizations in the Northland throughout her high school career, striving to create working partnerships that impact the community. Lauryn presented a $1,000 check to Hillcrest Platte County, a nonprofit organization that provides a 90-day transitional housing program for impoverished families and individuals.
The Pinnacle Award is presented each year by the Northland Community Foundation to recognize and honor individuals, groups and businesses that best exemplify civic pride and leadership, and have made significant charitable contributions either by personal deeds or monetary commitments to the community. The Northland Community Foundation was proud to present two Pinnacle Awards at this year’s Annual Celebration Breakfast. The prestigious award was presented to Ken and Roswitha Schaffer and Synergy Services.
In addition to celebrating the dedication of donors committed to bettering their community, the Northland Community Foundation issues a grant each year to help address a specific need in the Northland. Louise Welborn, Executive Director, announced that the Northland Community Foundation is continuing to support Tri-County Mental Health Services. Tom Petrizzo, Chief Executive Officer of Tri-County Mental Health Services, addressed the crowd as the keynote speaker.
Tri-County Mental Health Services is the state-designated agency serving the behavioral health needs of those living in Clay, Platte and Ray counties. Tri-County provides assistance to more than 8,000 low-income individuals each year and has been recognized as a leader in mental health services in the state of Missouri.
Tom spoke on the prevalence of mental illness in the United States. 59 million adults and children are impacted by mental illness at any given time. Tom described the state of mental illness in our country as a crisis and epidemic that is underreported, unrecognized and unknown.
“We tend to think about mental health, substance abuse and addiction as character flaws,” Tom said. “But we know now that it’s an illness, a biological factor backed by empirical data. And we have to do everything we can to address it.”
Together with the Harvest Ball Society, Northland Community Foundation donors made a generous charitable gift to support Tri-County’s outreach and prevention program. This gift helped fund a new position: a qualified mental health professional dedicated solely to outreach and prevention services. Since 2017, hundreds of children and families in the Northland have received care or services from Tri-County as a direct result of this initiative. These positive results have led the Northland Community Foundation and the Harvest Ball Society to continue their monetary support.
It’s evident each year at the Annual Celebration Breakfast that Northland donors are committed to bettering their community – certainly a cause for celebration!
Authored by: Ashley Hawkins, Content Specialist