May 2017 Around Town

Oak Park High School Perks up with Mother Earth Coffee

Oak Park High School partnered with a local coffee company, Mother Earth Coffee, to open a student-run coffee shop inside the high school. Mother Earth Coffee, which is roasted in Kansas City’s Crossroads District, provided the training and features its products in the mini-coffee shop with an objective to provide a personalized learning experience for its academically at-risk students.

Operated each school day morning inside the concession stand and under the supervision of teachers Jamie McSparin and Kelsey Mayabb, the coffee shop provides a menu of hot cocoa, coffees, and flavored syrups.

A small class of students are responsible for brewing and serving the coffee as well as developing and creating marketing materials.

The idea for the Oak Perk Coffee Shop was conceived by teachers McSparin and Mayabb to be a constructive outlet for students to build and practice useful life skills like responsibility, customer service, dedication, and (of course) how to brew a great cup of coffee.

Oak Perk Coffee Shop menu is limited, for now. Students have already expanded the menu with an original recipe for a Mocha. They hope to expand the offerings to include cold and blended beverages as the coffee shop continues to grow.

Bank Liberty Bestows Gift 
Upon Park University

Brent Giles, BankLiberty president and chief executive officer, presented a $75,000 check to Greg Gunderson, Ph.D., Park University president, to go toward the University’s new School of Business building, which will be known as the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise Center. BankLiberty’s commitment will help fund a large classroom space in the building, known as the BankLiberty Classroom.

“BankLiberty is honored to further strengthen its relationship with Park University through this partnership for the School of Business,” says Giles. “Exceptional, cutting-edge education is important to our region’s success, and this commitment helps Park continue to demonstrate its leadership in that success. The gift provides BankLiberty with a unique opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to the economic and educational development in the Northland.”

The Plaster Center is planned to be built on the University’s flagship campus in Parkville, Mo., on the east side of the University’s main entrance. Fundraising and planning for the building continues, with groundbreaking anticipated in 2018. For more information or to support the building project, contact Nathan Marticke, associate vice president for university advancement, at or 816.584.6844.

Department of Conservation Awards Gladstone Grant

The Missouri Department of Conservation has awarded the City of Gladstone a TRIM II grant to fund the trimming of historic oak trees in Oak Grove Park. Many of the old oaks had suffered storm damage over the years and needed extensive pruning to extend the life of the trees and to increase the safety of park users. This extensive project, costing $12,695 was performed by a local certified arborist in the fall of 2016 and now the beautiful trees are safe and healthy and ready for a busy spring season. Over the years the MDC has funded a number of tree projects in Gladstone providing funds for several tree inventories, reduction of hazard trees in parks city-wide, and planting trees in city parks. The City of Gladstone is committed to maintaining trees on public lands and has been awarded the Tree City USA designation for 14 years.

Synergy Services Honored for Work on Behalf of Child Victims

Tom Larson, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, presented the annual Crystal Kipper & Ali Kemp Memorial Award today to Synergy Services in recognition of the organization’s valued contribution to preventing and responding to the exploitation of children.

“Synergy Services is a staunch advocate and compassionate caregiver for children and families in crisis,” says Larson. “Synergy is a strong ally in our work to combat human trafficking and child exploitation. I’m pleased to recognize Synergy’s contribution as a valuable partner in responding to the needs of our most vulnerable victims.”

The award ceremony was part of an annual event hosted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in conjunction with the observance of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. This year’s theme – “Strength. Resilience. Justice.” – reflects a vision for the future in which all victims are strengthened by the response they receive, organizations are resilient in response to challenges, and communities are able to seek collective justice and healing.

Executive Director Robin Winner received the award on behalf of Synergy Services. This is the 14th year for the award to be presented in memory of Crystal Kipper and Ali Kemp, two young women who were both fatal victims of tragic crimes. Roger Kemp, Ali Kemp’s father, and Anna Rea, Crystal Kipper’s mother, participated in today’s presentation.

Synergy’s new Children’s Center in the Northland celebrated its grand opening last fall. Synergy now has more beds available to serve children from birth to 17 years old. Their hope is to no longer have to turn children away because of limited beds and resources. The Children’s Center is not a foster care agency, but an emergency placement shelter designed to provide stabilization to children in crisis (such as homelessness, domestic violence, incarceration, or unexpected hospitalization).

Barkapalooza Raises Money for Excelsior Springs Dog Park

On June 3rd, local dog lover Lani Odell will welcome animal lovers from around the Northland to come raise money to benefit a new dog park in Excelsior Springs. The event, which will run from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Lover’s Lane Park, will feature a bark ‘n walk as well as contests for cutest and ugliest dog and an adoptable dog showcase. Copper Creek Band will play from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.. Check out the photo booth, face painter, bounce house, and silent auction. There will even be an appearance from the Clay County K-9 unit and Paw Patrol! For more information, visit

Walk MS Expected to Surpass 
$1 Billion This Year

Since 1988, hundreds of thousands of people have taken part in Walk MS events across the country raising critical funds and awareness for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. This year, the cumulative fundraising is expected to surpass $1 billion.

“Walk MS is a joyous gathering with a wonderful ‘we’re in this together’ feeling,” says Cyndi Zagieboylo, President and CEO of the National MS Society. “Every participant, volunteer, donor and sponsor is helping to drive us toward this exciting $1 billion milestone. Together, we are accelerating progress in making life-changing breakthroughs so that each person with MS can live her or his best life.”

Hundreds of people are expected to raise more than $31,000 at Walk MS: Liberty on May 6. Walk MS is an opportunity for people living with MS and those who care about them to connect, join together, and be inspired. In 2016 alone, nearly 300,000 people at more than 550 locations across the country walked to create a world free of MS, raising nearly $50 million.

Genentech, Novartis and Sanofi Genzyme are national sponsors of Walk MS.