Apple Bus’ Mike Oyster to be Honored as Idealist of the Year

One of our favorite annual events is here: the City Year Kansas City Idealist Gala. It’s a wonderful occasion under any circumstances, but if there’s ever been a worthy time to pause and commend those who challenge cynicism and inspire others to good works, it’s now

City Year Kansas City
City Year Kansas City is an AmeriCorps program that seeks to address the lack of equitable access to educational opportunities in our city. To this aim, the organization facilitates partnerships between schools and AmeriCorps members to add much-needed classroom support and to help foster learning environments where all students have the chance to fully engage and build on their unique strengths.

The City Year Idealist Gala serves as both a fundraiser and an opportunity to celebrate students, AmeriCorps members and community members who are idealists—those who act on the belief that they have the passion, skills and courage to change the world. As a sponsor of this event, we were able to choose someone we work with who perfectly fits that description to be honored as an Idealist of the Year. This year, we’ve chosen Mike Oyster, CEO of Apple Bus Company.

Idealist of the Year: Mike Oyster
With a public service resume that includes a stint as Mayor, a nearly 15-year run as a school board member, and a spot on the Cass County Historical Society Board of Directors, you might think we chose Mike Oyster as our 2021 Idealist of the Year honoree because of his front-and-center leadership roles. But while we’re in awe of how much he’s given to his community, what’s perhaps most idealistic about Apple Bus’ CEO is the way he’s labored to build a workplace culture where employees feel known, valued and cared for.

For Mike, this might mean providing clothes to an employee who needs them or offering coaching sessions to another who’s interviewing for an internal promotion. And in many, many cases, it involves a meaningful handwritten note. These cards mean so much to Mike that he’s kept a log for decades detailing the who/when/what of each one, and he doesn’t shy away from the toughest of subjects. If one of his employees is struggling with the loss of a loved one, Mike wants them to feel seen in their grief. He’s the kind of person who says, “Let me know if you need anything,” and truly means it.

Mike started his career as a mechanic, but his true gift lies in understanding how people work. He doesn’t just see the best in others; he works to bring the best out. We’re incredibly grateful for the opportunity to learn from his example and are delighted to be able to honor him in this way.

2021 City Year Kansas City Idealist Gala
Today, Mike, along with the other Idealist of the Year honorees, will be recognized during both a virtual program and socially distanced outdoor reception held at the Boulevard Drive-In Theatre in Kansas City, Kansas. If you have any stories to share about Mike, or if you’d like to learn more about how you can support City Year Kansas City’s mission, we’d love to hear from you.