Pride & Purpose: Second annual event recognizes outstanding contributions to Missouri Southern

Brandon Williams: Spirit of Service Award

For Brandon Williams, the idea of service is not something to be taken lightly.

It’s a responsibility … one that is deeply ingrained within the Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle and former Missouri Southern student athlete.

Check out the Ravens media guide and you’ll find a full page devoted to the impact he’s had on the community. His endeavors have certainly been noticed and appreciated. Last August, he was awarded the 2018 Tim Wheatley Award for Community Service; in January he was named the recipient of Missouri Southern’s 2019 Spirit of Service Award.

“It’s awesome to be recognized, but I don’t do it for the awards,” said Williams. “I feel as if so much was done for me and given to me when I was a kid and didn’t have what I needed. “It’s an honor to give back to the community, wherever I am.”

Williams, who was named to this year’s NFL Pro Bowl, serves as an official spokesman and ambassador for the Maryland Food Bank. It’s a cause near and dear to Williams, who can remember a time when he would open the refrigerator or kitchen cabinets and find nothing to eat.

“A lot of it is raising awareness that there is hunger in this community … people who are going without,” he said.

The non-profit supplies food to local pantries, shelters and other organizations, but their mission includes outreach programs that help fight hunger in other ways, such as teaching the importance of good nutrition.

“They also offer a class that teaches parents to cook with what they have,” said Williams. “People can learn how to be a chef in their own home.”

Since 2016, he has been involved with the Westport Boys and Girls Club. He has hosted a number of special events such as Thanksgiving dinners and school supply giveaways, as well as an initiative that focuses on academics.

“The kids have to read for so many hours and write a report, they have to have good attendance and report cards with a GPA above 3.0,” he said. “They learn that if they put the hard work in, good things can come. The world is your oyster if you work hard and do what you’re supposed to do.”

Other community efforts Williams has supported include volunteer work for BARCS Animal Shelter, helping raise funds for a new air and heating system for a local high school, a Secret Santa program and more.

Though he emphasizes that giving back to his community is a reward in and of itself, it is special to have been recognized by his alma mater.

“It shows that Missouri Southern cares about the present and the past,” Williams said. “You can leave the university, but you’re not forgotten. I have a lot of love for them, and still have friends there.”

Glenn Wilson: Lion-Hearted Award

Glenn Wilson, a 1955 graduate of Joplin Junior College, is the recipient of the 2019 Lion-Hearted Award.

The award recognizes individuals who have made a significant contribution to Missouri Southern through service, financial support or other efforts.

Wilson is one of the longest-serving volunteer board members at Missouri Southern. He served two separate terms on the university’s Board of Governors, with his first term lasting from 1978-83. He was appointed again in 1994 to fill an unexpired term and became board president in 1996. He was appointed to another full term from 1997-2003.

Wilson also served on the Missouri Southern Foundation’s board of directors from 1978-2014. He was the board’s vice president in 1978, president from 1984-85, and treasurer from 1996-2014.

He has been a decades-long member of the Lionbacker Booster Club and is a member of the Lantern Society at the President’s Society level.

The projects he has supported over the years include Warren Turner Field, the Corn Family Scholarship, the Pat Lipira Softball Complex and the International Piano Competition.

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