By Jeff Murphy, January 20, 2019
From left to right: Kaylee Henry and Shirley Briscoe, winners of the 2019 MLK Community Service Award.
WARRENSBURG, MO – An important part of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration is honoring his legacy with the annual Community Service Awards. Two individuals
who have set a positive example for others in the local community and in the Warrensburg
R-VI School District were honored for their service during a recent award ceremony
conducted by the Greater Warrensburg Area Chamber of Commerce and the University of
During the event on Jan. 16, Shirley Briscoe, a longtime Warrensburg resident who is retired from UCM, received the Community Service Award, and Kaylee Henry, a junior at Warrensburg High School, was honored with the High School Community Service Award. Ed Wirthwein, student standards and support coordinator at UCM and chair of the MLK Committee, presented the awards.
Briscoe, who has been an instrumental part of annual efforts to celebrate King’s legacy, including the establishment of the awards program, was nominated by Jenny McTighe, who is a retired UCM staff member. In her nomination, McTighe notes that Briscoe is “a true leader and humanitarian. She demonstrates selfless involvement as she builds unity and ethnicity in our diverse community.”
Briscoe’s vast contributions to the community include serving as volunteer coordinator for the local Manna Harvest Program, which includes the Nehemiah Feeding Program. She delivers meals to those in need five days a week, and participates in the Harvest of Hope Food Distribution every first and third Saturday. In that role, she also assists people with obtaining identification documents and medicine. She has partnered with various churches, organizations and individuals from Warrensburg and surrounding communities to help obtain volunteer support for programs, including those that help the homeless with items such as hygiene baskets, blankets, coats, gloves, hats and more.
“If these items are not available, Shirley directs folks to an organization that can help them,” McTighe added.
Briscoe, who is active in her church, also is a sought-after singer. She uses her music abilities to sing in various community events, and to help families at difficult times such as funerals.
In addition to assisting the community, she gets involved in activities to assist people wherever there is a need. This includes coordinating a local fundraising event last year to help hurricane victims.
Henry was nominated for the High School Community Service Award by a teacher at Warrensburg High School, Jennifer Fowler, who said she “exhibits humanitarianism, leadership and service in almost everything she does.” She noted, for example, that Henry wrote a 600-word essay that focused on the humanitarian aspects of providing electricity during natural disasters. This contributed to her winning the West Central Electric Youth Tour Essay Contest, and in turn led to her being selected to participate in an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., where she participated in the National Rural Electric Youth Tour.
Fowler said Henry showed her dedication to service when she agree to speak at the Juneteenth Celebration in Lafayette County this past June 2018, where she was “a true inspiration to all who heard her speak.” She also was the first African-American young woman to win the WCE Youth Tour contest.
“She wants to use her experience and new voice to inspire greatness in others. This is ultimate leadership,” Fowler said. “Her voice will unite and inspire greatness and lead the world to rediscover its own splendor. Kaylee already embodies this brilliance, and it resounds in her narrative.”