Lottery Millionaires Plant Seeds of Volunteerism
Twenty-eight Missouri Lottery-made millionaires and their families gave their time on June 14 to plant a rain garden and landscape using native plants, donated by Grow Native!, at two neighboring Habitat for Humanity houses in Kansas City. The event was part of the 21st annual Millionaires Reunion, which was held in Kansas City. The event gave the millionaires a chance to give the local community something that was more valuable than money - their time.
"We’re excited to have partnered with Grow Native! on this project," said Gary Gonder, director of integrated services for the Missouri Lottery. "It is a great opportunity to work with two other state agencies, and it is a unique way to give something back."
Grow Native! is a joint program of the Missouri Department of Conservation and the Missouri Department of Agriculture. The program helps protect and restore our state’s biodiversity by increasing conservation awareness of native plants and their effective use.
The landscape design was created by Jeremy Lowe of Stone Ridge Landscaping and Jettline Nursery and Mervin Wallace of Missouri Wildflowers Nursery.
In addition to the cooperation of three state agencies and Habitat for Humanity, The Hort NetWORK, a Kansas City based organization, participated in completing the landscape. The Hort NetWORK is a non-profit organization composed of green industry professionals who share information and provide educational opportunities to strengthen the industry.
"The Lottery’s Millionaires Reunion is a great opportunity for Grow Native! to work with a group of volunteers, another state agency and other community organizations to help complete an important project," said Tammy Bruckerhoff, marketing and business development specialist for the Missouri Department of Agriculture. "This project was a unique way to highlight the benefits of native plants, while doing something to give back. The millionaire volunteers serve as an example for others to show that there are numerous ways to help out."
The charitable event was just one of the activities held at this year’s Millionaires Reunion. The millionaires also heard a presentation by Barbara Fairchild, communications specialist for the Missouri Department of Conservation, about the Grow Native! program and using native plants in home and community landscapes. They will also hear a presentation by Travis Ford, consumer education coordinator for the Attorney General’s Office, who will talk about how the millionaires can protect themselves from scams.
"In addition to the planned events for the Millionaires Reunion, attendees will have time to simply exchange stories," Gonder said. "The reunions are a chance for this group of people with one big thing in common to share experiences with someone else who understands. In fact, many of them become friends and keep in touch."
Gonder noted that the Missouri Lottery organizes these reunions, but the millionaires pay their own way at the event. The reunions, which move to different cities each year, provide a forum for the Lottery to educate winners about timely issues, such as choosing financial and legal assistance, how to avoid scams, tax changes, emotional well-being topics and many other issues.
Since it began in January 1986, the Lottery has created 228 millionaires, with prizes ranging from $1 million to $254 million. The 28 millionaires attending this year’s Millionaires Reunion won a combined total of more than $445 million.