Opinion Columns & Blogs

True public service makes a difference

Kris Rogers

Employees of Leading Technology Composites organize donated food before it's loaded onto a Kansas Food Bank truck in 2013.
Employees of Leading Technology Composites organize donated food before it's loaded onto a Kansas Food Bank truck in 2013. The Wichita Eagle

Commitment and collaboration. These are the building blocks of public service. Lynn and I first learned their value in the rural communities of our youth. His service began in earnest with our local elementary school’s parent/teacher association, developed into an investment on the school board, led him to the state Senate, and now he has the honor of serving as the next lieutenant governor of Kansas.

We learned to live out the values of commitment and collaboration in our neighborhood in Wichita. We elected to stay rooted there, even though we were often urged to move somewhere “bigger and better.” Instead, we built a life here with those also committed to service.

Together, we built reading lofts for our neighborhood school, put playground equipment in our local park, fed and transported athletes and scholars, sent children and teens to summer camp, volunteered in our museums, picked up trash along the river and in public spaces, fed the hungry and cheered those participating in the many races that course through our streets. We contribute consistently to organizations that make a difference — mentoring programs, our public TV and radio station, the library, museums, foundations, creative endeavors and churches.

In the process, we gained more than we gave. We have made friends from all walks of life, teaching us true empathy and an understanding of how life works for others. We experienced the positive impact of successful projects, the importance of shared goals and the need to celebrate progress. We understand the value of public service for ourselves personally and for our community. This dual impact is the essence of true public service. It is not simply about personal giving. True public service makes a difference.

It’s in the spirit of giving back that Lynn and I ask you to join our Day of Service on Jan. 12, ahead of the Kelly-Rogers inauguration on Jan. 14. There are organized service projects across the state. You can join one, create one in your own neighborhood or simply donate resources to your favorite project or organization.

We would be honored for you to join us in serving our communities. Service is the foundation of Laura Kelly and Lynn’s mission in the governor’s office. It is fitting to begin the inauguration celebrations by serving others.

In Wichita, Lynn and I are joining the Kansas Food Bank on Saturday, Jan. 12, filling backpacks for students who struggle with weekend food insecurity beginning at 10 a.m. We will be at the new Advanced Learning Library collecting shelf-stable meals for the Wichita Family Crisis Center to support families struggling to end patterns of domestic violence, beginning at 1 p.m. We would be honored to work beside you for the good of others at this pivotal moment in our own lives.

We believe in the value of public service. We must encourage it, today and every day.

Kris Rogers is a mentor, educator, mother, grandmother, and wife Lt. Governor- elect Lynn Rogers.