Meet Our 2020 Kindest Kansas Citians

Meet Our 2020 Kindest Kansas Citians!

In its 30th year, the Kindest Kansas Citian Awards will honor the amazing contributions of families and organizations in Kansas City who serve, give and demonstrate kindness in order to better the community. School teachers, bus drivers, neighbors, nurses, Big Brothers/Sisters, “big kids” the people who make the students in our community feel worthy and proud …. these are their heroes, and Synergy Services takes time to put them in the spotlight and honor them every year. More than 4,000 student essays from around the Kansas City metro area were submitted in January describing their Kindest Kansas Citians. The happy outcome? 20 of the Kindest Kansas Citians --- and the students who nominated them --- all whom will be honored on August 8, 2020 from 7:15pm-8:00pm in a virtual, inspiring celebration of the goodness of our friends and neighbors.

You can watch the live stream on either Facebook LIVE or YouTube LIVE!
Here is a direct link to Synergy's Facebook Live page.
Here is a direct link to Synergy YouTube Live page. 
If you need further instructions, check out this PDF. 

Meet our 2020 Kindest Kansas Citians and the students that nominated them: 



Flynn Dudleston   

Cottonwood Point Elementary – 2nd   Grade  


To me, Wendy Gonzales is my Kindest Kansas Citian because…   

She is kind thoughtful and loyal. Wendy served our country in the army. She continues to serve by helping people. She has a big loving heart for people and pets. Wendy has done too many acts of kindness to count! I’m glad Wendy is my neighbor and friend.    




Ann Drazen Gronniger  

St. Therese North – 2nd  Grade  


I think the Kindest Kansas Citian is Mrs. Witthar. She is my savior because she gave us a book when my mom died. When she is kind to me, it makes me feel happy. She has taught me to be kind to others even if they are not kind to me. I think Mrs. Witthar is the kindest person in Kansas City.   



Kamrynn  Murray   

Sunrise Point Elementary – Kindergarten   


Vickie taught me to be nice to everyone. She told me my superhero power is kindness.   


imgAryana Chudhary  

Cedar Hills Elementary –5 th  Grade  


I nominate Manjari Srivastava for my Kindest Kansas Citian, because of her kindness and generosity to the community! Her nonprofit organization M.U.F.F.I.N. (Mothers United for Families In Need) helps disadvantaged families. She has also inspired me to be more kind and compassionate.  I believe she has changed the community one step at a time. That is why I nominate Manjari Srivastava for my Kindest Kansas Citian.     



Josie Collins   

Riverview – 3rd   Grade  


To me, Mr. Sean Brewer is my Kindest Kansas Citian because…    

When I was in 2nd grade, I had to have my appendix taken out. Mr. Brewer came in right before my surgery. I was in a lot of pain and really sad. He made me smile when he brought me unicorn slippers, a hat that lights up, colored pencils, crayons  and balloons.  


This past fall , Mr. Brewer’s son found out that his friend was homeless. Mr. Brewer invited him to live with him. He helped him get back into school and football and made sure he had everything he needed.  Mr. Brewer always thinks of others before himself. That is why I think Mr. Brewer should be named the Kindest Kansas Citian.  


Yesol(Esther) Kim  

California Trail Middle School – 7th  Grade  


My violin teacher’s name is Bohyun Kim and she is my kindest Kansas Citian. 


Through Mrs. Kim’s great skills, kindness, and patience, she had led me from playing twinkle twinkle little star to playing beautiful songs such as Gavotte in D Major. Even though there were ups as well as downs, she was with me keeping my bow steady, and encouraging me to keep going. That is why I chose Mrs. Bohyun Kim as the kindest Kansas Citian. 

imgGrace Iloilo   

Fort Osage High School – 10  th  Grade  


I would like to nominate Dr. Anne Farmer as the Kindest Kansas Citian.  Every rough time I’ve endured throughout my high school career she has been there for me. Her classroom is a safe place, where every student is welcomed at the door with a smile.

 Someone as patient and nurturing as her is a rare find these days. She makes it through every day without even realizing the impact she’s had on people or the number of lives she’s touched and what makes her so worthy of this acknowledgement. She deserves to know how much she really does for her school and community.  


Jaelynn Oliphant   

Fort Osage High School – 10th  Grade  


June 1, 2019 was hard enough for the town of Levasy . That dreadful day though was different. Instead of enjoying a nice summer day it was full of everyone evacuating home, gathering as much of their belongings as they can carry, and watching all their hard work and money be swallowed by floodwaters.  


Only volunteers helping the dumbfounded victims, but only one person held the light for their dark days. Volunteer, Gail Stringer, made everyone feel like family.  People that didn’t have anywhere to go stayed at the Red Cross. Sleeping on uncomfortable cots. Once Gail walked towards you with her vibrant smile you couldn’t help but feel a sense of comfort spread. Many people didn’t even know when or where their next meal would be, but Gail brought in foods for everyone.   Gail Stringer has shown me that even the worst things in my life can have a bright side. She has proved that the little things surprisingly do count for something huge in the end. Thanks to her I see things in a different, clearer, and brighter light. She has changed everyone’s perspective on a disaster. A thing that took almost everything from us. We all have learned that the flood may have taken our stuff and even our homes, but it will never take the kindness and friendliness in people’s hearts. So that is why Gail Stringer deserves this award not just because of what she did, but because of what she has inspired in all of us.  


Savanah Hughes  

West Platte High School – 10 th  Grade  


The kindest person I know is one of my dad’s closest friends, Cindy Layton.  

Cindy does so much for my dad for nothing in return. She is bit older so my dad likes to help her with her everyday chores such as trimming one of her She is a bit older so my dad likes to help her with her everyday chorShe is a bit older so my dad likes to help her with everyday chores such as trimming one of her trees or helping her carry in something from her car. My mom left when we were young because she was battling drug addiction, leaving him alone with four kids.

At least once a week, she brings us treats. During the holidays she takes us on small trips and gives us gifts. Not only does she do things for us, but she also does things for the community. She is a retired elementary school teacher, and now that she no longer teaches children, she is a part-time librarian so that she can still work with kids. For those reasons Cindy is the kindest person I know. She does so much for the community. I am forever grateful for her, and I believe she deserves to be recognized for her action. 


Phoenix  Crum  

Mahaffie  Elementary – 5th   Grade  


I nominate Mrs. McGraw as the Kindest Kansas Citian. Mrs. McGraw is always there for us in hard times and helps us when we are in need of some help, like in tough math lessons or when we are just having a rough day!   She also tolerates us because we can be loud sometimes, but we all know she loves. She puts up with us every day, even when she was going to have a baby soon (when it was before spring break). She was really tired some days and she still taught us the best she could! She is a very hardworking teacher, and I know I admire that!   

Mrs. McGraw is also very supportive of us no matter what. Before winter break, Mrs. McGraw and Mrs. Galley helped me with something that was actually pretty hard for me. They helped me plan something that would change my whole 5th   grade. They helped me come out to the whole 5th  grade as   trans and tell them my pronouns. You might not think this is a hard thing, but it really is. It was hard because I was scared some people would make fun of me, or they would like, not be supportive and just be rude. So they helped me plan the whole thing, and I am very grateful to have supportive teachers at our school! She is also very patient with us, when we are not listening in class, she could get annoyed and yell, but she gives us chances, and doesn’t yell. Yeah, she’s a cool teacher!  

Mrs. McGraw just overall does a great job explaining and teaching lessons by explaining stuff in deeper depth. If some people don’t get the lesson, she will explain something more simply, so people can understand. She is very positive in most situations and always finds a positive solution in tough situations and I am very happy with teaching us and is   just happy being a teacher to help!     All the details in this essay, can conclude the Mrs. McGraw is positively 100% an amazing teacher and the Kindest Kansas Citian!  


Anjali  Priya   

Pembroke Hill School – 7th   Grade  

I nominate Marcos Avila to be the Kindest Kansas Citian because he helps different people fulfill their dreams.   


Marcos could never had the chance to live up to his dreams. He lived in poverty with his family in Mexico and grew up with nothing. When he got older, he wanted to start a better life in America with his wife and his twin babies, but didn’t have the money. After a few years of working hard and providing very little for his family, Marcos immigrated to America. He wanted to give a good life to his daughters to make sure they didn’t struggle like he did. He wanted their dreams to come true. Eventually, Marcos realized that a lot of people living in the U.S. were like him, and had a similar story.   They didn’t have any hope in their dreams, and lived in poverty most of their lives. He knew that is was unfair, and what it was like to fight for your dreams. So he decided to do something about it.    Marcos started a job as an engineer and constructed home for a living. Although he started a healthy life in America, he couldn’t ignore his past. One day, when his daughters came home from school, one of them wanted to enroll in the volleyball club. Marcos wanted to enroll her, but he didn’t have enough money to pay for it. So he decided to start a non-profit sports club, and become a coach himself. 


When I met him, I already played volleyball at a different club, and my coach said he wanted to introduce our team t another coach so we could get some feedback. I already knew that Marcos was coming, since our families were friends. After practice has ended, he offered to take my sister and  I to his volleyball club so we could get to know his team. When I got there, I was a little surprised by how many people were there, it was at least twice the amount of people at my club. All the people looked happy to be there. They looked up to him like a father; a supporter.   After Marcos told me his story, I realized that all these kids had the freedom to do what they love without having to worry about anything. He has dedicated his life to building a better life for kids. He has made many kids happier because of this. He pays for all the tournaments, jerseys, and everything. He works two jobs to pay for the tournament fees, but has hope in these children and doesn’t want to take away from them. He has influenced me so much in many ways, made a good impact on a lot of people, and that’s why I nominate Marcos to be the Kindest Kansas Citian.   


Molly Levinson   

Blue Valley High School – 12  th  Grade  


Tragedy struck my community in Overland Park, Kansas on April 13, 2014, when an anti-Semitic man traveled to the Jewish Community Center and a retirement home, Village Shalom, and shot a teen, his grandfather, and another woman. As a result of this hateful act, the mother of the boy killed, Mindy   Corporon, decided to take action. Mindy decided that the man who brought disaster to our community would not win, and our community would come together to combat close-mindedness.   


Mindy, who lost so much that day, has built an incredible foundation called Faith Always Wins which consists of three pillars: kindness, faith  , and healing. Faith Always Wins promotes the learning of other cultures and religions and works to unite a diverse community by increasing kindness.   


I officially met Mindy when I joined   the Kindness Youth Leadership Team for   SevenDays , an annual week long event which is part of the kindness pillar of Faith Always Wins. I had the pleasure of being paired with her for the Friends of   SevenDays Committee. I have been able to work one-on-one, which has been so incredible an enlightening. Working so closely with her has allowed me to fully see what a dedicated person Mindy is and how she works endlessly to be kind and spread the important message of Faith Always Wins to everyone.  


Her strength   can also be seen in her role as a mother. Mindy has continued to be a role model and support system for her surviving son Lukas, her husband Len and her family as well as the community through the time following the tragic event. Mindy has overcome her adversity by being one of the strongest people I know. I am constantly amazed at how poised and collected she is when addressing this tragic situation when she speaks to not only Faith Always Wins committee members, but also to strangers at conferences, seminars and presentations across the country.   


Mindy’s commitment to Faith Always Wins and   SevenDays  illustrates how one tragic event has not discouraged our community, but instead brought people together. Our community is now more resilient than ever and creates ripples of kindness that have spread from one to the next, thanks to Mindy. Mindy   is an inspiration, especially to me and other young women who aspire to be successful in the workforce and all people who face adversity. Mindy embodies the type of female leader I aspire to become.  


Arnav Anoop  

Liberty View Elementary – 1st  Grade  

 To me,  Anu  Dominic is my Kindest Kansas Citian because…  

She has helped my family when in need. Anu  is our family friend. Last New Year my mother broke her leg and my dad was in India. It was very  hard for my mother to do anything at all. Anu was the one who helped my  mother. She dropped off and picked up my sister and me from school. She baby sat us. She helped my mom in making food and buying things from shops. She is the most  pleasant and helpful  person I ever met.  


Henry McGinn  

St. Therese – 2nd  Grade  

 To me, Shelle   Glassburner  is my Kindest Kansas Citian because…  

She is my neighbor and has grandkids. They like to play with me and when we are playing she gives us food. She is kind because she makes me feel comfortable. She lets me pet her dog. When Shelle  is kind to me it makes me feel happy. Shelle  has taught me to always be smiling because that makes others happy. I think  Shelle  is the kindest person in Kansas City.  


Florence J. Baek  

Lakewood Elementary School – 5th  Grade  


Mrs. Basom  is a wonderful teacher at Lakewood Elementary School who helped me and my friends with some of our life problems. She also helps other kids and teachers and teaches us about kindness and much more.  

Mrs. Basom  is also very encouraging. She gives every student a note with a picture of her either “thank you for saying good morning to me!” or “we care about you!” I think of those as encouraging notes and I hope that other people think they are  encouraging too!  She also recognizes people that look alone, sad, or depressed. No one could recognize but Mr.   Basom . How do I know this?  

I had   suicidal thoughts  one time in my life in 5th grade 2019. I went to her to tell her about it, and she listened very carefully to every word I said.   When I showed her that I had almost cut my wrist , she asked if I did it to feel better, I nodded.  She understood me, listened to me, she helped me try to get over it. Soon enough, I was the happiest kid again! My life brightened up and a new path opened up for me!    I am nominating Mrs. Basom  for that reason! She has helped me and my friends come back together many times. She has helped me and my friends come back together many times. She has helped many people in her life and has helped me  with my depression! So I wanted to pay her back for all the good she has done for all of us! This is the real reason why I would like Mrs. Basom  to win the Kindest Kansas Citian award. 


Ava Pluard  

Pembroke Hill School – 7 th  Grade  

From helping his neighbors, to helping the homeless getting a meal, Mr. Joseph is an incredible person. Although, in general, he has a goofy personality, he is one of the kindest people I know. This is why I am nominating Rob Joseph as the Kindest Kansas Citian. 

Once, when I was eight years old, I was biking around the neighborhood, and when I was in front of the Josephs’ house, I accidentally swerved off the curb and into the street. I was launched off my bike, and I scraped my elbows and knees. Mr. Joseph saw me and immediately  came to the rescue. I had bruises for weeks, but thanks to Mr. Joseph it was not as bad as it could have been. That was one of many kind things Mr. Joseph has done for me and the rest of the people in our neighborhood.    When Mr. Joseph opened an Australian café,  Banksia , my family  and I knew we needed to go try his food. The food was great, but what was even better was Mr. Joseph’s kindness. He had noticed all the homeless and starving people on the streets of Kansas City, and he decided to do something about it. Since he is from Australia, and doesn’t have much family in the United States, he decided to help the people who also didn’t have anywhere to go over the holidays. So when Thanksgiving rolled around that year, he prepared a myriad of foods, and recruited volunteers from all sorts of different places to help make his plan a reality.  

The café was open to homeless to eat for free, and some of the volunteers drove around delivering meals to those who weren’t close enough to come to the café. The adults worked in the kitchen to prepare the food, while the kids served it to the people in the restaurant. This has now become a yearly tradition at Banksia .  

Although nobody could ever solve such a large problem like homelessness on their own, Mr. Joseph and his kindness made the situation a little better for those in it. I am thankful for the kindness he has shown to me and t o Kansas City! For these reasons, Mr. Joseph deserves to be the Kindest Kansas Citian.  


Lilian Chen Herring 

Heartland Elementary – 3rd Grade 


To me, Mr. Randy Childers is my Kindest Kansas Citian because he builds cool cars for kids with disabilities. The kids may be sad because they can’t drive kid cars on their own. Mr. Randy modifies kid cars to fit each kids disabilities. For example, this year he is working with a boy whose arms stop at the elbow. Mr. Randy is using his engineering skills to build cups for his arms, one controls the speed and the other one controls the steering. Another example is for kids that can’t move at all. He is working on a breath control so they can breathe and make the car go. Mr. Randy volunteers his time to make these cars. He works with an organization called Geeks For Kids who put together teams of skilled people and raise money to pay for the kid cars. Seeing him do this makes me feel happy for the kids who drive the cars. When I saw those cars I wanted to help out and build them and maybe get to drive one! 


Samuel Toney  

St. Charles   Barromeo  Academy – 6th  Grade  

To me, Mr. Willie is my Kindest Kansas Citian because he is a true friend. Mr. Willie is my school’s custodian. Mr. Willie is a role model to everyone who goes to my school. Mr. Willie is a superb custodian, friend, and role model.  

Every time my school has an event Mr. Willie helps setup everything. After the event he takes everything down and cleans up all the trash. Mr. Willie is a good custodian but he’s an even better friend.  

 Mr. Willie is a great friend. When anyone in the school goes by Mr. Willie he calls them cowboy or cowgirl. But Mr. Willie personally calls me Linus. Also, at lunch Mr. Willie teaches us manners such as picking up after ourselves. Mr. Willie talks to us about all types of things and he is fun to be around. He is a really great friend. Mr. Willie is not only a friend he is a great role model.   Mr. Willie is an amazing role model to everyone. Mr. Willie helps us work harder not only in our school work but life in general. He shows us how to be Godly young men. Mr. Willie is a good custodian but a better friend and role model. Mr. Willie through his years has inspired and helped so many kids. Mr. Willie has impacted my life so much  throughout the years. This is why I Think Mr. Willie should be Kindest Kansas Citian.  


Sereen Alabsi 

Lakewood Elementary School – 4th Grade 

 To me, Dr. Richard Mutheris my Kindest Kansas Citian because all through his life he continued to impact other people’s lives by his kindness. He is an inspirational person to everyone around him. 

 In his early life he suffered an accident that caused him to lose his right arm. I cannot imagine how hard it is to live without one of your arms. Despite that he was a very determined person and made up his mind to be as successful as any other person. He chose to be a doctor to help save other people’s lives. What an honorable and noble job he chose. He finished medical school despite being told by so many people that he will not be able to graduate. Dr. Muther is truly a very kind human being. He is well liked by his patients. He likes his job. He respects his coworkers and all people around him. He had a very successful life so far. His kindness and big heart made him donate one of his kidneys to a person who was in a desperate need for an organ to save his or her life. Imagine giving a person you don’t know one of your own organs. That is the ultimate act of kindness! That is truly the precious gift of life. His act made me think about being an organ donor when I grow up.