This September 6th, CHWC will host a rooftop party to honor long-time volunteer and Wyandotte County native Jeff Lipp with the Monsignor Tom Tank Continue the Legacy, Center Circle Award. Past recipients of this award include Monsignor Tom Tank,
Joe Reardon, Craig and Karen Gaffney, Jim Owens, Susan Carroll, and Tom Bickimer.
Over the years, Jeff has dedicated much time and energy to helping CHWC strengthen its impact. His long-held desire to invest in Wyandotte County stems primarily from his personal connection to the area. Jeff grew up in Kansas City, Kansas. He valued the small-town character that neighborhoods like St. Peters, Prescott, and Waterway enjoy. But in the 1980s, not long after Jeff was a student at Bishop Ward High School, the community began showing signs of disinvestment and disrepair.
At the time, Monsignor Tom Tank served as pastor of Jeff’s church, Cathedral of St. Peter. Msgr. Tank was deeply invested in the well-being of the community, and began working on an idea to improve housing quality in the area. It was through his efforts that CHWC was established in 1998. By the mid-2000s, CHWC had renovated nearly 100 homes in Wyandotte County neighborhoods.
In 2009, Jeff was invited by Board members to tour CHWC’s neighborhoods, and he quickly became involved as a Board member himself. Impressed and encouraged by the visible progress CHWC had made to restore his home town, he later took on more responsibility as Board Chair.
During the years that Jeff led the Board, he helped grow CHWC’s neighborhood development initiatives. The organization expanded the construction of high-quality affordable housing on the Grandview corridor, revitalized Waterway Park, and exchanged a block of land with the city to facilitate the building of McKinley Elementary School, drawing many new families to the neighborhood.
Jeff also helped to grow CHWC’s Community Building & Engagement efforts, working with staff to jumpstart several programs that still serve the area today. Among these are the EPIC Arts Center; Splitlog Farm, which provides free fresh produce to nearby M.E. Pearson Elementary and the larger Bethany neighborhood; and many graffiti abatement programs.
While he ended his board service in 2018, Jeff continues to be invested in Wyandotte County and CHWC. He played an integral role in securing $30,000 of crucial grants from the foundation of HDR, his employer. The grants served to expand the capacity of and make improvements to Splitlog Farm, helping the farm to grow and distribute more fruits and vegetables to an area that lacks immediate access to healthy fresh foods. Jeff was awarded the 2019 United Way Volunteer of the Year Award for his advocacy.
Those who worked with Jeff during his time at CHWC continue to recognize the impact he made in the past as well as his present commitment. “Jeff is a person you can always be proud to say you know,” affirmed former CHWC Board Chair Susan Carroll. Susan served alongside Jeff for several years and, like him, continues to volunteer as a committee member and advocate for CHWC. “His roots in KCK are deep and lasting. If I could use three words to describe him, it would be humble, servant leader.”
HDR President Doug Lisak, Jeff’s boss, would agree. He’s known Jeff for 20 years, and in that time has appreciated above all his caring nature and desire to keep everyone’s best interests at heart. On Jeff’s commitment to CHWC, Doug observed that Jeff is motivated to make Wyandotte County a better community for everyone, and that he takes pride in the visible improvements made in the last several decades.
CHWC looks forward to celebrating Jeff with all of our friends and supporters. Please visit our event page to reserve your place. We hope you’ll come join us to honor this long-time leader and advocate for our neighborhoods!