Jefferson Award Winner: Kristin Brighton

Jefferson Awards

Highlighting Local Volunteers

The Jefferson Awards engages the Partners in our communities to highlight local volunteers. The goal is to spotlight the great work they do and to inspire our community to put their service ideas into action.

From the 2019-2020 Honorees, a local panel of judges select one winner that will travel to the National Gala in Washington, DC. to represent Northeast Kansas.  From the nationwide winners, one will be selected for a national Jefferson Award.

A Manhattan woman’s passion in life is to make her community a better place and she’s proven it time and time again.

“I’m somebody who doesn’t like to hear people complain about things. I like to try and find solutions,” said Kristin Brighton.

That attitude keeps Brighton busy.

From opening up an ad agency, New Boston Creative Group, in her hometown of Manhattan, Kansas, to acting as the youngest person to serve as the chair of the board for the city’s chamber of commerce.

“And I was the sixth woman in the 90-some years that Manhattan has had at the chamber of commerce,” said Brighton. 

As a working mom of two, she keeps going like the energizer bunny. Constantly coming up with new ideas that help fill in a need her community.

“And sometimes I think people are like, oh there she goes again,” said Brighton.

About a decade ago, she came up with an idea that really stuck. One of her children had been diagnosed with being on the autism spectrum. She was struggling to find childcare options over the summer break.

“Because these kids can’t take just like parks and recreation summer day camps, they need too much attention,” said Brighton. 

So she came up with an idea to have a summer camp just for autistic children. It’s called the Flint Hills Summer Fun Camp.

It connects talented people who know how to work with kids with special needs with the professionals they need.

“To allow summers to be a time of growth for kids, not a time for setbacks,” said Brighton.

“She spearheaded this, she had the energy and the vision it takes all of that to get something started,” said Hellen Miller, an autism advocate. 

The camp is now held every summer in the Little Apple and this year they celebrate their 10th anniversary.

All because Kristin had an idea and one heck of a good solution.

To learn more about the Flint Hills Summer Fun Camp, click HERE.

Kristin is currently working on a new idea with a group of different organizations, and businesses called HirePaths.

It’s designed to help keep people in Kansas, by educating parents to think differently about their children’s futures and help teach kids at a young age that they can have really cool successful careers, without moving far away from Kansas.

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