Mohandas Gandhi once said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Janis “Jan” Reding has been serving the community of Grain Valley since she moved here with her family in 1977. Grain Valley News has received multiple nominations to tell Reding’s story in the Community Profile section of the newspaper. We are delighted to do so.
Reding’s service to her community reads like a grocery list of involvement and good deeds. Reding has been a member of FOCUS for Grain Valley (formerly Optimist Club of Grain Valley) since 1997. A member of the Grain Valley Historical Society since 1999, Reding is currently completing her 8th year as Secretary for the organization.
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of attending “Trivia Night” for the Grain Valley Assistance Council, you know of Reding’s devotion to those in need within our community. Reding has been on the Board of Directors for the Assistance Council since 1998.
Not only do the Assistance Council’s “Trivia Nights” raise money to feed Grain Valley families, they help transform our community in a positive manner with the fellowship that comes out of intellectual thinking and conversation during the event. Reding is always quick to thank those who donate their winnings instead of keeping it for themselves. The smile and kind words are heart felt and sincere for anyone who has ever heard them from Reding.
Other commitments for Reding include: Member of the Pillar of the Community Awards Committee, volunteer at the Monterey Park Nursing Center for 21 years, Member of the Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS) in Grain Valley since 2013, and Member of the task force for Economic Development and Master Planning in Grain Valley. This list is extensive and likely not inclusive of all Reding’s efforts.
Perhaps the capstone of Reding’s community involvement can be found in her love for children and her passion for learning. Reding was recently elected to serve another term as a member of the Grain Valley R-5 School Board. A post she has consecutively been elected to since 1999.
Reding credits her father for the importance that education has played in her life. A former superintendent of a small school district in Steffenville, Missouri, Reding’s dad was constantly teaching her to manage things should she ever be alone. Reding happily soaked up the knowledge as her father’s shadow growing up.
“His rule was ‘plan your work and work your plan.’ He was always telling me, ‘Never let a day go by without learning something new.’ He instilled in me wanting to be involved with schools and supporting children,” Reding said.
“I started in Grain Valley by being a school volunteer coordinator and then ran for a position on the school board. For the last 21 years on the board, I have watched our school district grow and become one of the best in the nation, and thanks to the patrons of our wonderful city, I am able to continue my service on the board for another three years.”
Reding continued, “I can say without question, that every member of our district staff is dedicated to providing the highest level of education to our students. Thanks to the wonderful support of our district’s patrons who pass our school bond issues, we continue to provide the safest and most efficient learning facilities for our students.”
Reding’s determination to give back to her community has been extensively generous across the three facets of contributions.
First, Reding loves reading and believes promoting literacy with children is great way to give them a better tomorrow. Each year, during the annual Scholastic Book Fair, Reding selects two schools (on rotation throughout the district) and permits teachers to select two books to add to their classroom library or take home to share with their children. Reding pays for this out of her own pocket. It helped her secure the moniker as the “secret donor” before her identity was revealed.
Next, Reding wanted to establish a scholarship for a Grain Valley student whose career path was either in education or business at the University of Central Missouri in honor of her father, Lyle H. Allen.
Lastly, a donation of $10 to the Grain Valley Education Foundation for every “A” her son and three granddaughters made while completing their undergraduate degrees rounds out Reding’s donations.
“During the last two Bright Futures annual meetings, Dr. Brad Welle (Grain Valley School District Deputy Superintendent of School and Community Services) and I have given a presentation on how to engage grandparents to volunteer in their school districts. I tell them about my $10 for every ‘A’ and have heard that there were many who took the idea and ran with it,” Reding said.
Grain Valley School District Superintendent Dr. Marc Snow is among those proud to call Reding one of their own.
“Jan Reding has served the community of Grain Valley as a member of the school board for over 20 years. Her legacy as a board member can best be described as ‘making sure every decision that she makes puts students front and center.’ Her legacy as a citizen of Grain Valley can, in part, be described as serving others first,” Snow said.
“During Reding’s time on the school board, the district’s enrollment has easily more than doubled. She has been a part of building two middle schools, two elementary schools, an early childhood center, a maintenance building, and a transportation center – not to mention the numerous additions done along the way.”
“Academically, she has seen the district move from little-known to nationally recognized. I am convinced that the many positive changes would not have happened if Jan was not involved.”
Snow concluded, “Jan Reding is simply the best Grain Valley has to offer. She loves her community, loves people, and loves serving others.”
Reding’s knowledge attained serving in leadership positions and working as the building manager for the Power & Light Building in Kansas City for 37 years prior to retiring in 1994 due to her husband’s illness has left her with a wealth of knowledge. Reding is not shy in her willingness to share advice with others who will listen.
“Make every day count. Do the things that make you happy and content. I am an outside person, and I love to mow. I watch the birds follow me as I blow the insects out of the grass, and I love to see the squirrels chase one another from tree to tree. When I am finished, I marvel at how lovely and clean everything looks,” Reding said.
“Life is too short to waste a minute on feeling sorry for yourself. If you must choose between reading a book or do the ironing, read a book – the ironing can wait!”
It was a joy for Grain Valley News to research Reding’s life. Numerous residents of Grain Valley went out of their way to contribute to this story. They were all happy to share how Reding makes our community stronger.
Have a nomination for our Community Profile feature? Email your nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org.