Kansas couple wins national award for helping teens in foster care

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.

For more than a decade, Mike and Lisa Irvin have made it their life’s mission to help Kansas teens facing the challenges of foster care – now they’re being recognized with a national award.

The organization called Multiplying Good, formerly known as the Jefferson Awards Foundation, honored the Irvin’s with the national Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Award for Outstanding Public Service Benefiting the Local Community during its virtual event on Thursday night. The award recognizes individuals for outstanding public service and are considered the nation’s highest accolade in this field.

Only five people in the country are honored in this way each year now the Irvin’s are in this select group.

The couple was chosen to win the award based on two reasons:

1) The Irvin’s were local recipients of the Jefferson Awards hosted by KSNT

2) They started the Flint Hills Foster Teen Camps in 2009

Those are special camps designed specifically for teens in the foster care system to feel safe and relax from the stress of their uncertain lives while experiencing activities that allow them to be kids, to build trust, and to give them hope. They also teach teens to balance budgets, cook meals, and develop other life and social skills necessary for them to survive.

Every summer the camps are held on the couple’s urban sprawling ranch outside Manhattan, Kansas. The camps are completely free for the teen’s thanks to the couple’s relentless fundraising efforts.

Click here to watch the Irvin’s story initially shared in January of 2020.

Since March of 2019, KSNT has been a media partner of the Jefferson Awards, recipients are ordinary people who do extraordinary things without expectation of recognition or reward.

Throughout the year, we encourage our viewers to nominate people in the northeast Kansas area going above and beyond to make their communities a better place. Anyone is welcome to nominate someone they feel is deserving online at KSNT.com, or by clicking HERE.

A selection committee then reviews the nominations and picks a winner each month to be featured in a story on KSNT, and receive the iconic Jefferson Award medal.

The selection committee not only chooses the monthly northeast Kansas Jefferson Award winners. At the end of the year, they select one of the monthly winners to join other finalists from around the country at the National Jefferson Awards Ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Earlier this year the Irvin’s were chosen by the selection committee to represent northeast Kansas at the national ceremony. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ceremony in D.C. was canceled and hosted virtually instead.

In 1972, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, U.S. Senator Robert Taft, Jr., and Sam Beard founded the American Institute for Public Service, to establish a Nobel Prize for public and community service – The Jefferson Awards.

The Jefferson Awards are sponsored locally by FHL Bank, Capitol Federal, and Azura Credit Union.

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