Volunteers Honored at Appreciation Lunch

On January 17, 2019 Bridging The Gap honored our volunteers with a volunteer appreciation luncheon held at the Kauffman Conference Center. This event was a rare and unique opportunity to gather BTG volunteers across all programs into one room, thanks to a volunteer appreciation grant from Cargill Cares!  The lunch was sold-out, with more than 60 volunteers who braved the winter weather to attend! Anyone who volunteered with BTG in 2018 was invited. Guests included brand-new volunteers who served one shift, up to volunteers who have regularly donated their time to our organization since its inception in 1992.

We honored our Core Volunteers, a group of 20 dedicated individuals who volunteered a minimum of 12 shifts in 2018, for their reliability and commitment to our mission.


2018 Core Volunteers:

Bret Pierson
Charles Maudlin
David Pease
Dennis Gredell
Don Harbin
Edna Hamera
Eric Schroll
Florence Middleton
James Joerke
Jim McGraw
Karl Menninger
Kent Skalland
Mary Jo Payton
Paul Showalter
Ryan Haefke
Richard Morado
Robert Middleton
Shelby Wertin
Steve Kuenneth
Susan Lawlor
Sylvia Joerke


2018 Emerald Award Volunteers:

Each program also recognized one Emerald Award volunteer for going above-and-beyond with their leadership and advocacy efforts.

Business Recycling Program: Ryan Haefke

“Ryan volunteered as our Business Recycling Intern in 2018.  With a passion to help his environment and his community, he helped us go beyond our goals!”

Office: Susan Lawlor

“Susan’s consistent, weekly assistance has helped us complete countless projects. Her cheerful attitude, flexibility, and initiative are tremendous!”

Recycling Center: Karl Menninger

“Karl’s exceptional volunteer service is evident in his ability to engage with the public, as well as his leadership role at the Recycling Centers.”

Litter Cleanup: Charles Maudlin

“Not only did Charles volunteer at more than half of our cleanups in 2018, but also he brought his friends, “Charlie’s Angels”! With their help, we’ve picked up tons of litter (literally).”

Heartland Tree Alliance: Jamie Jepsen

“Jamie is a hard worker, a leader-by-example, and has been a crucial player in helping with our ambitious community  tree plantings!”

Kansas City WildLands: Barbara Van Vleck

“Barbara is the ultimate advocate for KC WildLands restoration projects. She is committed to the cause, passionate, and goes above-and-beyond to help us achieve our goals!”

Cross Pollination Award: Michelle Savage

“Michelle has volunteered more than 30 hours across four programs in 2018. She always brings her A game; her spirit and enthusiasm are unstoppable, helping us achieve more than we thought possible.”

The overall theme of the program was that good work is happening in Kansas City, and our volunteers’ individual actions matter to the community at-large! Community partners Lara Isch with KC Water and Matt Garrett with Johnson County Parks and Rec Department were invited to share the impact our litter cleanup and wildland restoration volunteers have on their communities.  Matt VanderMolen, Heartland Tree Alliance program associate, presented the impact of planting trees not only for environmental benefits, but also for strengthening neighborhoods.

All Core and Emerald volunteers received an engraved upcycled sycamore tree slice (thank you to our friends at Urban Lumber Co!). Emerald volunteers also received the book: And Now, the Good News, from the Good News Network. All volunteers were invited to take home a pint glass etched with BTG’s logo, a green lapel pin to show their commitment to the environment, and a volunteer t-shirt from our Ripple Glass partnership project.

Attendees shared the following comments:

“I only volunteered for one event last year so I felt privileged to attend, and also inspired to do more.”

“I enjoyed seeing how many other volunteers there were with Bridging the Gap and how enthusiastic everyone is. It made me very proud to be among them and thank you for giving us all a chance to have such an enjoyable lunch together.”

After the program ended, volunteers were invited to have their photos taken at the Bridging The Gap wall sign, also provided by the Cargill Cares grant. Click here to view photos of the program and celebration!

We were thrilled with the opportunity to show our volunteers how much we appreciate them, and to share with them how much they energize, motivate, and inspire us to continue working to make our environment healthier and more sustainable!


Are you inspired to do good things with us in 2019? Contact Ami, Volunteer Program Manager. Call/text 816-561-1062 or email volunteer@bridgingthegap.org