The Tominia family was recently named “Citizens of the Year” by Lee’s Summit Mayor Randy Rhoads.
Steve and Sue Tominia and their daughters, Amy Robertson and Gina Seibel, will be among those honored by the Missouri Muncipal League July 17 and the Truman Heartland Community Foundation’s annual gala Sept. 6.
Rhoads said the Tominia family has been a community leader for years, helping organize many events and promoting its downtown.
One instance was when the city was reconstructing downtown, replacing streets, sidewalks and pipes, working as go-betweens for businesses and the city.
“We look at our downtown today, and I get so many comments on how wonderful our downtown is,” Rhoads said.
He said that construction period was difficult for many businesses because of access issues.
“It could have gone bad in so many different ways,” Rhoads said. “And I credit the Tominias for protecting us from that.”
Steve Tominia and his family moved to Lee’s Summit in 1987 when he transferred jobs from the St. Louis area. But they really emerged as a community force in 2001 when they purchased a downtown Lee’s Summit retail shop, Cameron’s.
Amy Robertson, age 19 in 1988, started working at Cameron’s for the last three years she was in college. The woman who owned the store, which was then selling clothes, wanted to spend time with her new child and offered to sell the enterprise to Robertson.
Father and daughter agreed to buy the store together. He gave up his corporate job. The store line moved to feature furniture.
The family was drawn into the Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street organization and they’ve been volunteers since at many of its annual events. Steve Tominia served on the DLSMS board for 12 years, and as president for seven years including the year Lee’s Summit’s downtown received the Great American Main Street Award as one of the best downtowns in the nation. He’s a member of the Lee’s Summit Civic Roundtable and Education Business Roundtable.
Robertson created several downtown events including the Cookie Walk and the Annual Ladies Night Out and has received numerous volunteer awards. The store contributes to many school fundraisers.
Seibel is director of communications for the Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce and her contributions include volunteering on the Truly 150 Sesquincentennial Planning Committee and an advisor for the Lee’s Summit Cares Youth Advisory Board. She and her father also serve on the Lee’s Summit 360 Implementation Committee.
Sue Tominia has devoted many volunteer hours to decorating homes for charitable organizations, like the ReDiscover Homes Tour and volunteering for other events.
“I was surprised and humbled and pleased,” said Steve Tominia, who learned about the award in a letter from the mayor. He said his first thought when he got a letter from the mayor was “Oh, oh,” although he couldn’t imagine why he’d be in trouble.
He said as a businessman, he identified with the other owners downtown and their concerns, which enabled him to work well with the group and city when redevelopment of streets and underground pipes took place downtown.
“I had confidence of merchants and had my feet on the ground here,” Tominia said. “There was a lot of apprehension and sacrifices ... You see the result, our downtown looks beautiful now.”
Robertson said of the award, “It’s wonderful. It’s just wild.” She said she’s worked at the store “... almost half my life. This is my home away from home.”
She said, “Mom is the unsung hero, she’s the one behind the scenes pull all the things together, making sure we’re all functioning and get together as a family.”
“My family totally adores and loves Lee’s Summit. It’s so nice to be honored like this,” Seibel said. “It just seems natural to me. Lee’s Summit is such a wonderful place you just want to give back.”
“Mom and Dad set a great example of what it means to be engaged in your community and giving back to your community.”