City Lifestyle

Want to start a publication?

Learn More

Featured Article

Giving Back

Manhattan's Joel Garver leads by example by always seeking to give alms.

Article by Tyler Jackson

Photography by Sigle Photography & Sheridan Millner

Originally published in Manhattan City Lifestyle

The October sun hung low in the sky, casting a warm, golden hue over Main Street in Riley, Kansas at the annual Riley Fall Festival. Laughter and chatter filled the air as families gathered to celebrate the forthcoming season. Among the colorful stalls, a cheerful man named Joel Garver stood, the sleeves rolled up on his black shirt that was seemingly covered in spider webs. In front of him, a pink cotton candy machine whirrs to life, sending fluffy clouds of sugar into the air. Children's eyes widened in delight as they approached, drawn by the sweet aroma and the magic of the performance.

Joel worked with a focused determination, expertly twirling paper cones through the billowing cotton candy, creating vibrant, sugary sculptures. His face lit up with each delighted giggle from the kids, their sticky fingers reaching out eagerly. He chatted animatedly with parents, offering them a taste of his sugary creations. The festival buzzed with a sense of community, and Joel's presence added an extra touch of warmth and camaraderie. His genuine enthusiasm and dedication were palpable, turning a simple cotton candy booth into a heartwarming spectacle at the heart of the festivities.

Joel Garver exemplifies leadership through his unwavering commitment to giving back to his community. As a real estate agent at The Alms Group, he goes above and beyond his professional responsibilities to make a positive impact. As a decorated leader in many fields, his service to others serves as a beacon of inspiration for those around him.

A native of Riley, Joel graduated from Riley County High School in 2012. He then attended Kansas State, graduating in 2016 with a degree in secondary education, and a double minor in entrepreneurship and journalism. Once finished with college, he landed his first job teaching at Junction City High School. Coming from a family of teachers, that was a natural path for him to travel down. His mom, Jan, and his brother, Andrew, both teach school in Riley, and his wife, Kelsey, teaches at Manhattan High.

A natural handyman as well, Joel has owned and operated a side business, Garver Handyman, for the past ten years or so. Once he left the education industry in 2018, real estate was the next step on his path, because he felt an experienced handyman-turned-real estate agent could bring invaluable & practical knowledge to the table. He felt by expertly assessing properties, he could offer his clients a thorough understanding of a home's condition. This expertise, of course, would then help build trust and expedite sales, providing clients with a seamless and informed experience. So, he became a licensed Realtor, started working at The Alms Group five years ago, and has been meeting and exceeding his own expectations since. 

“I think for me, I’m not a great salesman from the standpoint of just showing up to a random crowd and going and introducing myself to everybody,” said Joel. “I want to have some sort of connection, or some common ground, that we can connect on. A lot of times, I try to find that through volunteering, or through involvement with the schools. Also, because I wanted to stay involved with education.”

Remaining passionate about education, Joel first became involved with the PTO at the Riley County Grade School PTO, and then also with the Amanda Arnold PTO. Being involved with PTO showcases his genuine concern for the educational well-being of local children. He actively participates in initiatives aimed at enhancing the learning experience, contributing his time, resources, and expertise to support these schools. His hands-on approach and genuine interest in education set a powerful example for parents, teachers, and students alike.

Additionally, Joel's active participation in the Boys & Girls Club of Manhattan underscores his commitment to nurturing the potential of young individuals. He recognizes the importance of providing a safe and enriching environment for children to thrive. By dedicating his time and energy to this organization, he demonstrates the impact that one person can have in shaping the futures of many.

In addition to being a real estate agent, and serving his community, Joel is a dedicated family man. Meeting his college sweetheart, Kelsey, in 2015, they married a few years later, and started their family with the birth of their daughter, Nora, in 2018. They added a son, Cooper, in 2021, and are happily expecting their third child this May.

At Manhattan High School, Kelsey is the family and consumer sciences teacher, where she teaches classes such as interior design, fashion, apparel & textiles. Her role directly helps Joel, as the two form a dynamic duo, harmonizing his real estate practicality with her knowledge of design aesthetics. Their combined skills create a powerful synergy, providing clients with a comprehensive and appealing perspective on homes, making them a formidable team in the real estate industry.

Joel's leadership, backed by Kelsey’s continuous encouragement, extends beyond his professional sphere, demonstrating that true leadership is about selflessly serving others. His actions inspire those around him to become more engaged in their communities, illustrating that every individual has the power to make a meaningful difference. Joel Garver's example serves as a reminder that leadership is not defined by a title, but by a genuine desire to contribute to the greater good.

I would urge people to get out there and find a way to make an impact. No impact is too small in a community like Manhattan. Time or money, anything you can do will have a huge effect.

  • The Garver Family: Joel, Kelsey, Nora & Cooper
  • Making Cotton Candy at the Riley Fall Festival