By Jeff Murphy, January 23, 2020
Kelly Brooks, second from left, and Vicki Martins, second from right, were honored as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service Award recipients, during a recent awards luncheon hosted by the Warrensburg Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with the University of Central Missouri. Among the participants were, from left, Suzanne Taylor, executive director of the Warrensburg Chamber of Commerce; Dr. Lover Chancler, assistant professor in child and family development and director of the Center for Multiculturalism and Inclusivity (The Center) at UCM; and Greg Hall, chair of the Chamber Board of Directors.
WARRENSBURG, MO – As part of a community celebration that includes the University of Central Missouri, the Warrensburg Chamber of Commerce recognized two individuals as 2020 MLK Community Service Award recipients.
The awards were presented by Dr. Lover Chancler, assistant professor in child and family development and director of the Center for Multiculturalism and Inclusivity at UCM, in a ceremony that also included keynote remarks by Warrensburg Police Chief Rich Lockhart and Chamber Board of Directors Chair Greg Hall. The annual awards luncheon honored Kelly Brooks, Warrensburg, as the recipient of the Community Service Award and Vicki Martins, a senior at Warrensburg High School who received the High School Community Service Award.
The annual awards ceremony is an opportunity to recognize both a Johnson County high school student and an area resident or organization who have exhibited qualities of humanitarianism, leadership or service to the community or to a group of individuals. Award selections are based on nominations. Both award recipients were recognized at the Community Service Awards luncheon Jan. 15 in downtown Warrensburg and were recognized at the Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Scholarship Awards Dinner at UCM Tuesday, Jan. 21.
Martins was nominated by a WHS faculty member. While pursuing her high school education, she has been active in organizations such as Family, Career and Community Leaders (FCCLA), and has held leadership positions in this organization for three years. She currently serves as vice president of STAR Events and National Programs, an office which involves the planning of many annual service projects. Additionally, within that organization, Martins initiated Honor Flight Letter writing. These student-written letters go to veterans who participate in an Honor Flight to a memorial that represents the war in which they fought.
In addition to her school work and extracurricular activities, Martins is involved in service to the Warrensburg community. This includes the Music in Motion program in which music and the arts are made available to individuals in the community with special needs, an effort which also provides a social outlet for these individuals. Demonstrating her “selfless, benevolent character,” Martins is currently planning a dance in 2020 that she is helping to support with her own funds, according to the nomination letter.
Brooks retired from the Warrensburg R-VI School District in 2015 after serving the school and its students for 26 years. She is a local businesswoman, and operates a mobile vending business, The Food Spot, which is a food truck that she takes frequently to Warrensburg area events.
For the past five years, she has given generously of her time providing leadership for activities such as the Old Drum Day Festival, which helps raise money for the Johnson County Historical Society. Helping to grow the event with new activities every year, she also has involved her family in the effort, and has annually increased the number of vendors, volunteers and attendees through outreach and marketing. She has applied for grants so the festival admission would remain free so everyone could attend, and has incorporated shuttle service at no cost to riders, so accessibility is not an issue.
Although she is no longer teaching full time, Brooks continues to help educate children by serving as a tutor for students in the Warrensburg and Crest Ridge school districts. While working for Warrensburg R-VI School District, she served as a third-grade teacher, a Middle School English teacher, and instructional coach. She and her husband, John, operate Brooks Auto, LLC in Warrensburg.