Leonard named Citizen of the Year
Mary Leonard, co-coordinator of the Basehor YouthFriends program, was recently selected as the 2001 Basehor Citizen of the Year.
The Basehor Chamber of Commerce named Leonard the Citizen of the Year during the Fourth of July celebration at Basehor-Linwood High School
Leonard said she was extremely surprised at being named the winner.
"I was very surprised," Leonard said. "I guess they like to keep it a surprise. My family also knew, and I guess they are pretty good at keeping surprises, too."
Leonard was the principle force behind starting the YouthFriends program in the Basehor-Linwood School District.
The YouthFriends program places mentors or tutors with a student who needs help in a particular subject. The program also places mentors with at-risk students.
The program had started as a goal of Leonard's when she was a volunteer at Basehor-Linwood High School during her daughter's senior year.
"It was a goal of mine to get volunteers into the high school as well as the middle school," Leonard said.
The program quickly evolved into something much more, with YouthFriends volunteers logging more than 5,500 hours during the 2000-01 school year.
Winning the citizen of the year award apparently runs in Leonard's family.
Her parents, Bob and Lela Wiley, won the same award in 1999.
"It is very much an honor," Leonard said. "Serving my community is very important to me, and I guess my parents passed that legacy onto me as well."
Leonard has also participated in numerous other volunteer organizations in the community.
She's done volunteer work for organizations such as Basehor Community Ed, the Basehor Historical Society and the Basehor Veterans of Foreign War Education Committee.
The award was sponsored by the Basehor Chamber of Commerce and presented to Leonard by Chamber president Susan Guy.
In her address, Guy complimented the accomplishments of Leonard during the past and praised her work with the YouthFriends program.
"She presented her positive vision to the School Board and now one-and-half years later Youth Friends is an overwhelming success," Guy said addressing the crowd.
Leonard said she was thankful to receive the award and also wanted to thank those who helped along the way.
"In my heart, I share this honor with Tammy Potts (the other YouthFriends coordinator). She is my hero because she donates so much of her own time while raising two small children," Leonard said. "I would also like to thank my husband for working so hard so I don't have to."