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: November 15, 2021
Karen Zeller was honored at the 25th Anniversary Celebration by the Legacy Foundation on Friday, September 24, 2021. Zeller is the fifth recipient of the “Spirit of Humanity” Award. “We are so pleased to FINALLY celebrate Karen,” stated Yazmin Wood, Chief Executive Officer of Legacy Foundation, “Due to the pandemic we didn’t host our traditional reception in the winter. We were holding out hope that life would begin to return to normal and we could appropriately celebrate Karen. She has been gracious and understanding in this situation.” The come-and-go event was held at at Wilson Park Rotunda in Arkansas City (KS).
Legacy Board members and presenters Jill Kuehny and Madison Metzinger read prepared remarks.
The person that nominated Karen wrote the following: Karen’s passion for this community is evident in many ways. She has devoted her time, funds and talents to further the economic growth, educational advancement and cultural expansion in this community.
Glen and Louise Stevenson
2019 Spirit of Humanity
Louise Stevenson and her late husband, Glen, were honored with a reception given by the Legacy Foundation on Wednesday, December 18, 2019. The Stevensons are the fourth recipients of the “Spirit of Humanity” Award. “We were thrilled to have this opportunity to recognize The Stevenson’s generosity in our community,” stated Yazmin Wood, Executive Director of Legacy Foundation, “Their philanthropic work, civic leadership and volunteerism truly inspires the vision of Legacy Foundation in action.” The come-and-go reception was held at Joseph’s Storehouse located at 424 North Main, Burden.
In a recent interview when asked how they came to be community-minded and philanthropic, “We don’t feel like we did anything that anyone else wouldn’t have done,” replied Louise, “We just cared about the people.” Glen and Louise (Eastman) Stevenson were both born and raised in Cowley County. The Stevensons were nearly lifelong residents of Cowley County until two house fires precipitated moves to Derby and Rose Hill. They chose to spend the years of their retirement serving the communities in the county they love and call home.
Following graduation from Winfield High School, Glen began a 42-year career at Cessna Aircraft. He often volunteered his time with various organizations supporting young people, such as Junior Achievement and coaching youth sports. Also a Winfield High School graduate, Louise devoted herself to raising their four children and participating in their activities including serving as Room Mother and Boy Scout Den Mother. Through the years, Louise held various jobs in retail and banking developing talents she would later put to work through her volunteerism.
Upon retirement, Louise began to volunteer her time at a small thrift store in Burden with others from her church family of Tisdale United Methodist Church. Using her vast knowledge of retail sales and her penchant for organization, Louise helped Joseph’s Storehouse become a thriving business. In order for it to provide for community needs, it became necessary for the store to expand. That is when Glen stepped in, helping to secure a location and kick off a successful fundraising campaign. The new building was constructed – debt free – at 424 North Main, Burden.
Glen served as President of the Board of Directors while Louise managed the store for over 17 years. “They worked tirelessly as a team, never seeking praise or recognition for themselves,” wrote the nominator, “they worked to insure that Joseph’s Storehouse remained true to its purpose to respond to distress calls and to create communities of love, justice, mercy, health, wholeness and hope. Glen and Louise Stevenson have been active and involved, setting a good example and making a positive impact on their community.”
Sadly, Glen passed away in May 2019. Louise remains active on the Board of Directors and is available to help in the store when needed. The legacy of their work lives on as Joseph’s Storehouse continues meeting the needs of individuals and families in eastern Cowley County and beyond.
The Legacy Foundation board of directors established the “Spirit of Humanity” award in 2016. 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. 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.” The Stevensons are a significant example of people that have made a difference in the lives of others, especially in Cowley County.
Phil & Mary Jarvis
2018 Spirit of Humanity
Phil and Mary Jarvis were honored with a come-and-go reception given by the Legacy Foundation on Sunday, December 30, 2018. The Jarvises are the recipients of the third “Spirit of Humanity” Award. The first award was presented to Sid Regnier of Arkansas City, followed by Tom and Mari Wallrabenstein of Winfield in 2017. “We are thrilled to have this opportunity to recognize Phil and Mary’s generosity in our community,” stated Yazmin Wood, Executive Director of Legacy Foundation, “Their philanthropic work, civic leadership and volunteerism truly inspire the vision of Legacy Foundation in action.”
In a recent interview when asked how they came to be community-minded and philanthropic, Mary and Phil shared different sources of inspiration.
For Mary, volunteering started early. Grounded in religious values, she has always been aware there are people in the world that did not have as much as she did. Her beliefs led Mary to understand that we have an obligation to one another. Growing up in Mary’s family one learned of service to others. Her parents went quietly along helping others trading off family responsibilities, so the other parent could help others or work with St. Vincent de Paul. Mary would help by shoveling snow for the neighbor or working at summer camp.
Phil has lived in Cowley County his entire life. His parents were involved in community. His father was part of the Lions and Kiwanis Clubs as well as the school board. Phil’s mother was a “pink lady” at the hospital. Phil honestly just likes to do things for other people. Phil stated for him volunteering is selfish because it makes him feel good. Phil feels privileged to have served as a city commissioner for the City of Winfield for over 20 years. He “retired” from the city commission at one point, he said, “riding off into the sunset,” but he missed the devoted city employees and the opportunity to be a cheerleader for them, so it was an easy decision to serve again.
Phil is especially fulfilled with the work he does for the Winfield Community Food Pantry where he started in 2007 and became the director in 2015. He always feels good and uplifted when he has done something good for someone else. Phil shares, “I wish we were rich. I would love to spend a day with the manager at Dillon’s. It would give me joy to be able to just call down to the cashier when you see someone in line that is deciding what to not purchase because the total came up to more than expected and tell them to let the patron know it’s covered.” The Jarvises support many causes but wish they could do more.
It was in retirement that both Phil and Mary searched for a passion to follow in helping others. It became a personal mission for them. It is easy to just do “stuff” but the Jarvises wanted to make an impact with something that struck their hearts like Habitat for Humanity. They believe if you are privileged and gifted in some manner, it is important to search out the needs to find what you can do. “We all have something to give. It is up to each of us to take the step to figure it out. “Others can ask, but you decide,” Mary stated, “We share the idea to start each morning planning to answer the question ‘What is the one thing we can do today to help others?’”
Mary said, “90% is just showing up. Choosing the right work that provides fulfillment is what keeps you going. It’s not always enjoyment because sometimes it can be very taxing, but it’s always fulfilling.” The most enduring and meaningful work for Mary is the 20 years she Chaired the Family Selection Committee for Winfield Habitat for Humanity. It was in understanding the needs of the family, as well as their challenges and gifts that she and the committee were able to help find a way out of the current situation and better help the family. Hands on and helping people change when they wanted to change. “We all have a universal desire to be safe and to have a good place to live,” said Mary, “I learned from working with other volunteers. They were good models for me.” It is important to keep your eye on the mission and stay focused.
So much can be accomplished when we work together. The qualities of knowledge, intuition and values help to guide the process. Most importantly…we must choose to have hope.
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.” Phil and Mary are a significant example of people that have made a difference in the lives of others, especially in Cowley County.
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.