5 Places to Volunteer in Excelsior Springs

Are you wanting to get involved and aren’t sure where to start here in Excelsior Springs? I get asked quite a bit how to get involved and who to contact. That’s why I’ve put together my Top 5 organizations that could use help consistently throughout they year in one blog post for you to reference! Thanks for your interest in getting involved! There can never be enough volunteers, it seems!

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Good Samaritan Center – Downtown – Contact: Martha Buckman, 816-630-2718
This organization helps those who are less fortunate.There’s a food pantry, thrift store, multiple deliveries throughout the week, landscaping, and office help needed daily.
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Excelsior Springs Museum and Archives – Downtown – Contact: Kathy Duncan, 816-630-0101
Giving tours, helping research, or setting up displays, the museum could use help throughout the week and on Saturdays.
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Downtown Excelsior Partnership – Hall of Waters – Contact: Lyndsey Baxter, 816-637-2811
The businesses of the downtown community came together to form a sales tax base to hire a director, provide funding for beautification, run the Visitor’s Center in the Hall of Waters, and allows downtown businesses to apply for facade grants. They also host events in the downtown every Second Friday and a festival or event each month of the year.
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Chamber of Commerce – Thompson Ave. – Contact: Tosha Jackson, 816-630-6161
The Chamber of Commerce hosts Waterfest, the city’s largest festival every third weekend in June. The committee meets monthly throughout the year to organize. The Chamber also owns the trolleys and could use volunteers to give tours.
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Excelsior Springs Educational Foundation – Downtown – Contact: Courtney Cole (me), 816-630-9200 x1110
The Educational Foundation works on behalf of the Excelsior Springs School District to support classroom projects that go above and beyond what is expected for our students. We are also working on establishing an alumni association. There are a number of opportunities throughout the year to get involved by helping with office work, fundraising dinner in December, and Alumni events during Homecoming.

 

Our First County 4-H Fair

About two years ago now I was appointed by the City of Excelsior Springs to serve on the MU Extension Council for Clay County, Missouri. I was unaware of all the benefits the extension offices around the state have to offer the counties they represent and was excited to establish those programs into our community.

Just one of their many programs is 4-H, an organization that has been providing youth with hands-on education in their field of interest since it began more than 100 years ago. Last count membership was over 6 million nationwide. Seeing that Excelsior Springs on the Clay County side didn’t have a chapter, I worked to organize one.

Now our group has over 30 parents and students participating in our monthly meetings that are held at the Good Samaritan Center’s Great Hall every second Tuesday of the month at 7:00pm.

4-H is youth led, with the chapter choosing their youth leaders as a group and then using Roberts Rules of Order to run their meetings. They all choose a topic they wish to study, with hundreds to choose from. Project leaders, parents and other adults in the community, use curriculum that is provided or their own knowledge of the subject, to help guide groups through the learning process. Each youth member then has the opportunity to work on a project that they enter to be judged annually at the county fair. If they receive a purple ribbon, they are then accepted on to a state fair.

Mackenzie’s first fair!

The Excelsior Springs 4-H Group 🍀

Mackenzie going in to be judged!

Members only for judging!

An Excelsior Springs auction basket was submitted thanks to Club Member Alisha Jack.

We were real proud of Mackenzie. She got a blue ribbon for her Cat Care project!

Day in Downtown Excelsior Springs 

When friends come to visit we like to take them downtown and show off the things we love about living here. 


We started by dining downtown at Willow Spring Mercantile 


They have the largest selection of Missouri wines and you can enjoy your meal listening to live music in the wine cellar. 


Our friends the Bellis’s at Bliss gave us this cool Royal Grill sign from the old Royal Hotel! We were thrilled to have a piece of Excelsior’s history! Thanks Amy and Kurt! 


A trip downtown wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the coffee shop, The Mug! 


Showing off the Hall of Waters is a MUST! 


For more information on our little town, go to visitexcelsior.com 

7 Interesting Facts About Excelsior Springs

Here are seven interesting facts about our history here in Excelsior Springs, through the Hall of Waters building:

Fact #1

At its height, the Hall of Waters was the most completely outfitted health resort in the state and possible the region. Waters of ten main springs were piped into the longest mineral water bar in the world.

Photo by Kevin Morgan, kevinmorgan.com

Photo by Kevin Morgan, kevinmorgan.com

Fact #2

There are more groupings of mineral water in Excelsior Springs than anywhere else in the world.

Fact #3

The interior and exterior decoration incorporates Art Deco and Depression Modern styling with motifs of Mayan Indian tradition relating to water and Water Gods.

Photo by Kevin Morgan, kevinmorgan.com

Photo by Kevin Morgan, kevinmorgan.com

 

Fact #4

At the height of its popularity, over 10,000 people a day visited the Hall of Waters.

Fact #5

One of the most outstanding exterior features of the building is the decorative boiler stack tower for the original coal fired boilers, rising about 63 feet above the main roof.

Photo by Kevin Morgan, kevinmorgan.com

Photo by Kevin Morgan, kevinmorgan.com

 

Fact #6

Known as the ‘Great Bathing Pool’ the swimming pool in the basement was filled with saline water from the White Sulphur Saline spring.

Fact #7

Siloam Spring was the first of the mineral waters discovered in Excelsior Springs. It is the only natural supply of ferro-manganese mineral water in the United States and one of only five known worldwide.

Special thanks to Sonya Morgan for her time in research and providing this information.

Click here for more information about our history or to plan your next visit!

Photo by Kevin Morgan, kevinmorgan.com

Photo by Kevin Morgan, kevinmorgan.com

Political threats are real, and I’ve heard it firsthand

With the tragedy that our country has just witnessed from the shooting at the baseball game in Virginia, it has reminded me of a letter I wrote that was published in the Kansas City Star from when Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot while in her district speaking at an event at a grocery store. Thirteen were shot and nine were killed, including a federal judge and a nine-year-old child. Much of what I had to say then, I believe, is still pertinent to today.

This letter that I wrote originally ran in the January 12, 2011 edition of the Kansas City Star –

All over America, people spent last weekend in shock over the senseless murder of six people and the wounding of another 13 in Arizona. It was heartbreaking to read quotes from the family of victim 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green that said she was excited about the political process.

Unfortunately, the political process is ill.

In the last election cycle, when I ran for state representative, I received several threats of gun violence on the campaign trail. The most serious involved a municipal elected official in my area. On the day of the primary, I went to a polling location in my district where I stood and greeted individuals as they left the poll after voting. A municipal elected official heard me speaking with another individual about labor issues as he left the poll with his wife. He became very hostile with me and claimed that he would do whatever possible to see that I wasn’t elected after hearing my support for workers.

A police report on his side of the event states: “According to him they argued … until she asked if he was going to hit her. His reply was, ‘No, but can you outrun a nine millimeter?’”

To me, this was a threat and I was concerned enough to go to the police. But I didn’t draw attention to these incidents during the race. My point in sharing this story now is not to rehash the campaign. I want to offer a specific local example of violence in politics. We would like to think that the vitriol is only a part of the national political scene, however, it made its way to Johnson County, Mo.

I believe we have a responsibility to ourselves, Democrats to Republicans, conservatives to liberals, to respect our democracy and political process as well as each other. Our political environment has become more and more hostile. The unseen victims of the current chaos are all of us. Constructive debate is overshadowed by cheap slams and dishonest robo calls.

Not only does it cost us respect for our neighbors, it crowds out the reason needed to solve our collective problems and make coherent decisions about the future.

We can commit to civility. We can be an example of faith in the democracy that has guided us to being the greatest nation on earth. Just as the mother of the young girl who lost her life last weekend pleads, “I just want her memory to live on because she was a face of hope … a face of us coming together as a country to stop the violence and hatred and the evil words.”

Click here for more information, including the police report on this situation, thanks to the folks at ShowMeProgress. 

And click here for a follow up of what happened after the letter was published.

Excelsior Springs Solar Eclipse Festival

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On August 21, 2017, the sky will darken as a solar eclipse takes place over our entire nation. In the path of complete totality is our little town of Excelsior Springs, so we are using it as a way to celebrate! The City is planning a festival in conjunction with the event and inviting vendors, artists, and entertainers to come for the viewing of this historic event!

For months we have been putting together plans for the big day. Luckily, our festival falls right on the tail end of the annual BBQ Fly-In, which features hundreds of barbecue contest vendors that will embark on our downtown. The barbecue festival committee has been instrumental in offering the solar eclipse festival with resources for our event. They’re providing electricity, amenities, and sponsoring costs for solar eclipse glasses. We are truly grateful to their sponsorship and support!

Click here for more information on the BBQ Fly-In on the River! 

In addition to the vendors that will be set up around the circle drive at the Hall of Waters, those visiting can also attend a question answer session with Jackie Beucher, Vice-President of the Astronomical Society of Kansas City on Sunday. For a complete schedule of events (that will continue to be updated as we get closer to the big date!) click here!

There are a number of different area events taking place at the wineries, Watkins Mill State Park, and in Kearney. We hear the Elms Hotel is booked but there are still quite a few other lodging opportunities for those wanting to come to Excelsior for a stay at that time. Click here to see lodging options!

My husband, Jason, designed a fun logo for us to use for the event, inspired by the Mayan tiles that adorn the Hall of Waters:

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If you are interested in participating, either by being a vendor or providing entertainment, please reach out to me and let me know! Our vendor applications can be found by clicking here.

Here’s a cool map showing the state and all the places that will be in the path of totality provided by the Excelsior Springs Museum and Archives:

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Here in Excelsior Springs, we should have a viewing time of 2 minutes and 40 seconds! That’s amazing compared to the rest of the country! We will also have solar eclipse glasses available for safe viewing for everyone! Here’s a map showing the times across the nation:

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Because school will be in session, Red Cross Pharmacy of Excelsior Springs is purchasing safe viewing glasses for all of the students and staff that day! Teachers are planning fun activities around the event to make it memorable for the students.

If you have ideas on what you would like to see for the festival, please let us know! Many thanks to Mayor Pro Tem Sharon Powell, City Councilwoman (and my Mom!) Sonya Morgan, Jim and Cheri McCullough of the BBQ Festival Committee, DEP Director Lyndsey Baxter, and the Excelsior Springs Police and Fire Department for being a part of the organizing committee for this event! It’s sure to be a great time!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

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Every morning you have two choices: continue to sleep with your dreams, or wake up and chase them!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Today I’ll be meeting with a small group of local citizens who are committed to working on finding solutions for our homeless problems here in Excelsior Springs. A year ago in July, a group began meeting to discuss the realities of what we’re facing when it comes to the issue. It was originally believed that there were around 12-15 a year that were homeless in our area. However, the past year we have come to have a better understanding of the true situation.

According to the Balance of State report in Missouri, that does a point in time collection of homeless figures from agencies working on the ground in the state, showed that our region (Region 4) is the second most highest in the state with homeless. In 2016, there were 235 households reported as being homeless in the region that is made up of 16 counties. The county that Excelsior Springs is in, Clay County, had by far the highest reporting number of homeless, with there being 146 homeless. The number one reason for homelessness was due to unemployment and being unable to pay rent.

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(Source: Governor’s Committee to End Homelessness, Winter 2016)

In looking at the figures of those who were sheltered during the year, compared to those who weren’t, I can see that women are being sheltered far more than men, with 68% of them being women, 31% being men, and 1% being transgender, according to the Winter 2016 report. This may be because the largest reason for women seeking shelter is due to domestic violence, which accounts for 41% of the reasons for families seeking shelter.

Of those who are living unsheltered, men make up the majority with 69% living in cars, on the streets, in campgrounds, or abandoned buildings and houses. 45% of these men are listed as unaccompanied youth and 34% show some kind of substance abuse problem.

Knowing these facts, we get a better picture of the needs that our community has when it comes to homelessness. The Missouri Housing Development Commission each year chooses a community in the state to conduct a program called Project Homeless Connect. This year, they’ve chosen Excelsior Springs, due to the high number of homeless counts in Clay County. The local homeless coalition at that time then turned their attention toward this one-day event that is designed to give direct access to services for the homeless and work to get them into stable housing. They’ve given the Good Samaritan Center of Excelsior Springs a $10,000 grant to use in marketing and service costs for individuals. That is scheduled to be at Lewis Elementary School on Friday, October 27, 2017. For more information or to volunteer, please click here.

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So while the homeless coalition’s attention has been on organizing this one-day event, our homeless are still on the street waiting. That is why today a small group of local leaders will be meeting to discuss long-term possibilities in offering solutions for our community. We plan to take a good look at the data that we have and work toward finding solutions.

 

 

Monday, June 5, 2017

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Monday, June 5, 2017

Today’s flowers feature hosta blooms in front of the Boulevard Florist on Elms Boulevard in Excelsior Springs. Thanks to owner Juree Short for planting them for us to enjoy!

There are a number of different projects that I’m currently working on here in Excelsior Springs. Aside from my role as the Educational Foundation Director, I’m also giving my time to The Good Samaritan Center of Excelsior Springs and the City, where there are never short of opportunities for getting involved.

Here are some of the current projects that I will be focusing my time on this week:
– Annual communications plan for the educational foundation
– Researching grant opportunities for both the educational foundation and Good Samaritan Center
– Meeting with the new principals for the elementary school my daughter goes to. Serving as the Vice-President for the Parent/Teacher organization and ready to plan out the new year!
– Completing a grant opportunity through the Department of Agriculture for a parking lot replacement needed at the Good Samaritan Center
– Working with a committee to conduct a Project Homeless Connect event in Excelsior Springs on October 27, 2017
– Getting ready for the Solar Eclipse Festival on August 20-21 in downtown Excelsior
– Helping my husband, S. Jason Cole, develop a business plan for his many talents

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Today was the day that it looked as though it could rain most of the day, but never actually produced any precipitation. This morning there was a gorgeous sky that looked like this:

11794385_1019990548013593_7630901340193717119_oMid-morning, I joined some of the staff at The Elms Hotel & Spa for a marketing meeting. It is our hope that by working together and partnering on different events, we can provide a great stay for any of our visitors to town. There are so many great things happening in our business community that we have to offer. Communication is key to making it work for everyone.

There are 40 new teachers to our Excelsior Springs School District this year! The past two weeks they have spent in orientation and meetings, preparing them for the school year that starts next week. Today they had a scavenger hunt in the downtown, starting at the Chamber office where we sent them off with bags to fill with downtown goodies.

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After this, I went with my husband to Price Chopper for lunch. They have a new grill and are in the final stages of their renovations of the dining area. I encourage everyone to drop by there for lunch, especially if you can catch a day when they’re having a fruit cobbler. Delish!

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By evening, the clouds were starting to roll through quicker and a nice, cool breeze began to blow. The sky looked ominous, but never produced anything to live up to its mean face.

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