Perhaps the largest presence in a room chock full of civic energy and pride was the one who was not there.
On Thursday night, the Nixa Community Foundation honored as its Citizen of the Year the late Betty Ann Rogers, a spirited volunteer and NCF board member who died unexpectedly last year at just 64.
Betty Ann was determined to contribute to Nixa when they moved to the community in 1998, said Mitch Callicott, whose moving tribute to his partner of 23 years stilled the room. She threw herself into every volunteer role with the same spirit and passion she put into her friendships and voracious reading habit, he said.
“We wanted to make this community our own,” Callicott said.
“I can only ask that we remember Betty Ann for what she was – energetic, loving, active and involved – and learn from her example. Become involved and make your mark. When you deeply and truly believe in something, you’ll make a difference.”
Every one of the citizens honored Thursday are making a difference in Nixa – at the schools, protecting the public, helping kids, and supporting community projects.
Another CFO partner, Holly Beadle, was honored as the school district’s Volunteer of the Year for her service including the Nixa Education Foundation Board.
President Sharon Whitehill Gray and the Board members distributed $46,591 in community grants to 24 organizations. As the CFO’s first affiliate in 1993 and now with the largest community grantmaking program, Nixa has awarded a total of $836,654 and has assets of more than $1.8 million in 50 community and school funds.
“You are to be congratulated for having the energy and resources that it takes to create a vibrant community,” CFO President Brian Fogle said.
And a special grant was presented to Mitch Callicott and Betty Ann’s step-daughter Shelby Rogers for the Betty Ann Rogers Community Fund. She was a member of the CFO’s Legacy Society for the Nixa Community Foundation. She understood the significance of making her mark for good on Nixa – the place she’d come to consider home.
NCF Vice President Ken Worthley had spoken earlier in the evening about what planned gifts like Betty Ann’s had meant to the community over the years.
“Each of us has the opportunity to plan how we want to give back to the community,” he said, recalling how philanthropic dollars helped create the park he played in as a kid.
“We have to plan for what we want things to be,” he said. “We are the ones reaping the benefits of their plans.”