Randy Russell, a longtime advocate for children and the arts in southwest Missouri, was honored today with the 2012 Humanitarian Award at a luncheon attended by more than 150 people at the DoubleTree Hotel.
Russell was nominated for the award by the Junior League of Springfield and selected from a group of finalists by a panel commissioned by the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce. The Humanitarian Award was founded — financially and in spirit — by a fund started by Mrs. Jewell Schweitzer.
Russell who works as Senior Program Officer for the Community Foundation of the Ozarks — was feted by CFO President Brian Fogle and introduced by longtime friend and community partner Morey Mechlin, Executive Director of Care to Learn. He is the 23rd recipient of the award, and received a $3,000 stipend to award to a cause of his choosing. Russell chose to make his donation to the Arts in Education Fund for the Springfield Arts Collaborative Endowment campaign. His contribution will benefit an ongoing effort to provide sustainability for local arts organizations and promote arts in the schools by connecting agencies and kids without them having to leave the classroom.
Representing the Junior League for its decision to nominate Russell, Mechlin mixed some good-natured ribbing in with her description of his contributions, which include service for a number of arts and education interests.
“Thank you for being an inspiration to me, the 642 women of the Junior League of Springfield, and our community,” she said.
Russell credited local artist Bill Armstrong for steering him into education early in his career. He also thanked Mrs. Schweitzer for her forethought 23 years ago to acknowledge the work of service and philanthropy in the community.
“Many, many good things happen through the work of donors,” he said.
Past Humanitarians of the Year are:
1990 – Mary Beth O’Reilly, Hospice
1991 – Sister Lorraine Biebel, The Kitchen
1992 – Calvin Allen, Springfield Community Center
1993 – Leonard Spellman, Children’s Shoe Bank/Kiwanis
1994 – Linda Duncan and Jamie Brunette, Multiple Sclerosis Wellness Program
1995 – Rev. Dorsey Levell, Council of Churches of the Ozarks
1996 – E.E. “Johnny” Johnson, Make-A-Wish Foundation of Mo.
1997 – Dr. Jim Blaine, Greene County Medical Society
1998 – John Harp, Greene County Foster Program
1999 – Paul & Cyndy Teas, Camp Barnabas
2000 – Judge Thomas Mountjoy, Teen Court
2001 – Harold Bengsch, Springfield-Greene County Health Dept.
2002 – Dr. John Bentley, health needs of the underserved
2003 – Wade E. Palmer – Help Give Hope
2004 – Dr. Judith Gonzalez, Hand in Hand Ministries
2005 – Bill & Virginia Darr, Families for Children
2006 – Pat Walker, Founders Park & Jordan Valley Park
2007 – Marie Prater, The Kitchen Foundation
2008 – Bill Stalnaker, Boys & Girls Club of Springfield & The Kitchen
2009 – Roger D. (Dusty) Shaw Jr. and William Shaw, Howell, Shannon and Oregon counties
2010 – Doug Pitt, Care to Learn and assistance to Tanzania
2011 – Roseanne Bentley, Lifetime of community service