Spirit of Humanity Award
Each year the Legacy Regional Community Foundation recognizes their Spirit of Humanity awardee(s) for inspiring the vision of Legacy Foundation through his/her leadership and action. The award recipient(s) are honored at a reception and their picture and story is posted in the Foundation gallery.
See the stories of previous awardees below.
- The candidate may be of any age, however must live in the region in-or-around the Cowley/Sumner County area
- The candidate must reflect uncommon leadership or action within the last 12 months that truly reflects the mission and vision of the Legacy Regional Community Foundation, which is “creates a stronger future for our area by building endowments, providing informed leadership & connecting donors to critical needs of the region.”
- The action may take many forms, it need not be financial.
- The candidate may also be a civic group, organization, or groups of individuals for achievements or contributions to the community.
NOMINATION DEADLINE: Friday, November 30, 2018 at 5:00 p.m
Tom & Mari Wallrabenstein
2017 Spirit of Humanity
Tom and Mari Wallrabenstein were honored with a come-and-go reception given by the Legacy Foundation on Thursday, March 1, 2018. The Wallrabensteins are the recipients of the second “Spirit of Humanity” Award. Sid Regnier of Arkansas City was the first awardee.
When asked how they came to be community-minded and philanthropic Tom and Mari - almost in unison - answered “Heritage and a lifetime of serving in the church.” It takes only a little time talking with The Wallrabensteins to get a sense of their lifetime partnership as one picked up the thought of another and continued the story. “Life is a mosaic – church, family, work – coming together to create an undergirding with the individual pieces creating a picture and philosophy for living,” they continued, “theology, and the application of theology, helps individuals to be service-minded as awareness of the needs and opportunities to help those around you grow.”
Tom stated, “With a call to service you end up seeking out opportunities – organizations and causes – that enliven your interests to become a part of something bigger. Sometimes you are asked to serve; other times you seek the situation.” “Throughout life there are choices,” Mari finished, “We made the active choice in retirement to continue to devote time and energy to service in the community in which we live.”
Raised in California, Tom’s family took in others during the war. His mother found a family sitting on a curb. They had lost their housing. She brought them home to live with her family. Friendships were formed. His family was active in the church. It was there he learned of the needs of a local congregation, the denomination around the world, and concern about neighbors.
Mari remembers a life of giving through examples in her family, too. Her grandmother made pots and pots of stew to feed orphans in Blackwell (OK). And, when the family moved to Eugene (OR) their resources stretched to foster and support international students.
The Wallrabensteins shared that their life together has been a journey – literally and figuratively. Both Tom and Mari came to Winfield as transfer students to attend Southwestern College. Following graduation, they lived the “gypsy life” of the Methodist Church moving to places like eastern Orange County (CA) to start a church, then Hawaii, and back to the mainland in Flagstaff (AZ). Eventually, Kansas called and Tom started alumni work with Southwestern College. Next was service in a series of Kansas churches in Sedan, Oswego, and Monticello. During a sabbatical year, The Wallrabensteins visited the United States mission projects. In each community they worked together to make a difference.
Tom and Mari chose Winfield when retiring. Here Tom found a place where he could reach out beyond himself and have a greater impact than was possible in the San Diego of his youth. Joining Rotary in the 1960s, Tom continues as an active member. A member of the founding steering committee of Winfield’s Habitat for Humanity, Tom has built many houses over the years. Additionally, Legacy Foundation was fortunate to benefit from Tom’s experience as a board member.
Mari has been active in P.E.O.-Chapter HK, a women’s philanthropic and education organization, for nearly forty years. In addition to past service on the Legacy Foundation board of directors, Mari continues to serve on the Grants Committee making recommendations regarding many projects and organizations seeking funding. And, Mari volunteers with Winfield Community Food Pantry.
Mari learned long ago the work that can be accomplished with a foundation. With a foundation, many little things come together to create a greater impact. The Wallrabensteins are generous people giving time, talent and treasure to be a loving neighbor in the world and they are gracious to credit the connection with friends and acquaintances that has made their work possible.
Tom and Mari are a significant example of people that have made a difference in the lives of others, especially in Cowley County.
2016 Spirit of Humanity
Sid Regnier was honored with a come-and-go reception given by the Legacy Foundation on Thursday, February 9, 2017. Regnier is the first recipient of the “Spirit of Humanity” Award. “We are thrilled to have this opportunity to recognize Sid’s generosity in our community,” stated Yazmin Wood, Executive Director of Legacy Foundation, “His philanthropic work, civic leadership and volunteerism truly inspire the vision of Legacy Foundation in action.”
The Legacy Foundation board of directors established the “Spirit of Humanity” award last Fall announcing it at the 20th Anniversary Celebration held in October. It is the desire of the board of directors to recognize community members that inspire by their action the vision of Legacy Foundation that creates a stronger future for our area by building endowments, providing informed leadership and connecting donors to the critical needs of the region.
In a recent interview when asked how he came to be community-minded and philanthropic “Times were different,” Regnier said, “it is how I grew up. You don’t necessarily think about those things.” Regnier grew up in a home where giving back was just how they lived, so he comes by his humanitarian-outlook naturally, through the example set by his family. Growing up in Nebraska, his parents were supportive of their church. His father was a Shriner and gave to St. Jude Children’s Hospital. His growing-up was filled with hard work and long hours, first working with his father in farm implements and later, at 17, he managed and took care of the local country club golf course. Moreover, an Arkansas City connection with the Docking Family was made through his mother’s service work long before Sid moved to our community.
“If you talk with them,” Regnier shared, “everyone has ideas of needs to be met. I’m not afraid to ask questions.” What has always been important for Regnier is to answer his own question, “What is the right thing for me to do?” From work with the Lutheran Church, to South Central Kansas Medical Center, AC Tumbleweeds, Vision 20/20, Legacy Foundation, and of course Cowley College, just to mention a few - Regnier has done a lot.
Regnier encourages people to get involved in our community. Important words to him are “legacy” and “regional.” His work with Vision 20/20 and the expanded reach into eastern Cowley County and Belle Plaine has been integral in creating a collective impact for our area. Regnier speaks often of the transfer of wealth out of our area that is occurring at an alarming rate. “It has been exciting to see how the Legacy Foundation has expanded over the years,” Regnier wrote, “we are a regional foundation and the board has expanded the region over the years, and I am sure that this will continue, as areas have special needs identified. Legacy is a place where contributions can help to meet the needs.”
And, what really makes him smile? The kid with the lemonade stand that is trying to raise a little money to help another. Hurrah!
Nelson Mandela is credited with saying, “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” Regnier is a significant example of someone that has made a difference in the lives of others, especially in Cowley County.