Humanitarian of the Year

Nomination period now open for the 2018 Humanitarian Award 

Applications are now being accepted for the 2018 Humanitarian Award to honor a southwest Missouri resident for service that contributes to the betterment of his or her community. This year will mark the 29th annual Humanitarian Award, which was founded by late Jewell Thompson Schweitzer. Mrs. Schweitzer passed away in April. Click here to read about Mrs. Schweitzer’s life and legacy. 

Jewell Thomspon Schweitzer, founder of the Humanitarian Awards, passed away in April.

The deadline for nominations is 5 p.m., Friday, Oct. 5, 2018. Nominations can be submitted online. Nominations also may be emailed or mailed to Suzette West with the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce at: Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, 2018 Humanitarian Award, P.O. Box 1687, Springfield, MO 65801.

The award criteria describe a humanitarian as “an individual who has the courage to take decisive action, the wisdom to face aggressive challenges, and the willingness to sacrifice to affect these causes that have a long-term impact on the betterment of the community.” The award is designed to recognize a living person; posthumous nominations are not accepted. Click here for more information about the criteria. The nominations will be evaluated by an independent committee of three members of the clergy and three community leaders under the direction of the Chamber.

This year’s luncheon to honor the 2018 Humanitarian will take place at noon, Thursday, Dec. 6, at the Darr Agricultural Center, 2401 S. Kansas Expressway. The winner receives a $5,000 cash award, which he or she has traditionally donated to a favorite charity.

Recent honorees include the 2017 Humanitarians Dr. David and Linda Brown, for their work with the homeless through the Gathering Tree and Eden Village; 2016 Humanitarian Hearld Ambler, for his service providing tax preparation for seniors; and 2015 Humanitarian Kurt Larson, founder of Missouri Safe and Sober.

For more information, contact: Louise Knauer, Chief Operating Officer at the CFO, at (417) 864-6199.


Click here for award criteria


Homeless advocates Dr. David and Linda Brown receive the 2017 Humanitarian Award


Dr. David and Linda Brown received the 2017 Humanitarian Award recipients for their work with The Gathering Tree and for developing the Eden Village housing concept, two efforts intended to support the homeless population.

The Gathering Tree is a drop-in center in downtown Springfield that operates five nights a week for several hours each evening. The center offers snacks, restroom facilities, access to computers and the internet and faith-based fellowship among clients and volunteers.

The Browns also have developed the nonprofit Eden Village, which is a micro-home concept to establish permanent housing for homeless residents in a supportive atmosphere offering additional services such as mental health, social workers, meeting space, laundry, a library and more. The first tiny home was established this year, with an eventual goal of 30 homes in the planned development in north Springfield.

CFO’s annual Humanitarian Award was created by Mrs. Jewell Thompson Schweitzer to honor individuals in our region who place service to others as the primary motivating force in their lives. The Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce organizes a committee to review nominations and select the annual recipient. The winner receives a $5,000 cash award, which he or she has traditionally donated to a favorite charity.

The Browns announced that they will donate their award to The Gathering Tree to help further the Eden Village project.


Past Humanitarian Award recipients:

2017 – Dr. David and Linda Brown, founders of the Gathering Tree and Eden Village, for their work with the homeless

2016 – Hearld Ambler, retired Managing Partner of BKD LLP, for his longtime work assisting seniors with paper and online tax preparation

2015 – Kurt Larson, Springfield attorney and founder of Safe and Sober Missouri anti-drug and -alcohol program for teens

2014 – Morey Mechlin, retired executive director of Care to Learn, advocacy on behalf of children

2013 – Shawn Askinosie, socially conscious entrepreneur and philanthropist

2012 – Randy Russell, advocate for the arts and children

2011 – Roseann Bentley, lifetime of community service

2010 – Doug Pitt, Care to Learn and efforts in Tanzania

2009 – Roger D. “Dusty” Shaw Jr. and William Shaw, work in Thomasville and Oregon County

2008 – Bill Stalnaker, Boys and Girls Club and The Kitchen

2007 – Marie Prater, The Kitchen Foundation

2006 – Pat Walker, Founders Park and Springfield beautification

2005 – Bill & Virginia Darr, Families for Children

2004 – Dr. Judith Gonzalez, Hand in Hand Ministries

2003 – Wade E. Palmer, Help Give Hope

2002 – Dr. John Bentley, Health needs of the underserved

2001 – Harold Bengsch, Springfield-Greene County Health Department

2000 – Judge Thomas Mountjoy, Teen Court

1999 – Paul & Cyndy Teas, Camp Barnabas

1998 – John Harp, Greene County Foster Program

1997 – Dr. Jim Blaine, Greene County Medical Society

1996 – E.E. “Johnny” Johnson, Make-A-Wish Foundation of Mo

1995 – Rev. Dorsey Levell, Council of Churches of the Ozarks

1994 – Linda Duncan and Janie Brunette, Multiple Sclerosis Wellness Program

1993 – Leonard Spellman, Children’s Shoe Bank/Kiwanis

1992 – Calvin Allen, Springfield Community Center

1991 – Sister Lorraine Biebel, The Kitchen

1990 – Mary Beth O’Reilly, Hospice