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carrying on IN OUR CRISIS ConneCting our Community
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in this ISSUE
connecting our community
CARRYING ON IN OUR CRISIS area nonprofits need our support as they continue to support us
OMAHA MEAL DELIVERY by catering creations
connecting to our creativity
FUNDRAISING IN A PANDEMIC
connecting to our husbandry
business ethics alliance THE BIG connection
YOUTH EMERGENCY SERVICES turns 45!
THE BIG connection
dewey dog park
DONNA KUSH leadership spotlight
connecting to our youth
GAME CHANGERS • GAIL DEBOER presented by planitomaha
SHARE OMAHA lifting up do-gooders
OMAHA COMMUNITY FOUNDATION
metroSPIRIT with mary vandenack
VW LAW planning matters
SWARTZBAUGH, FARBER & ASSOC. your money
STEPHANIE VONDRAK impact!
SCENE highlights from recent charity & cultural events
SAVE THE DATE | NOTE EVENTS! UPDATED charity & cultural events
connecting to our resourcefulness
10 connecting to our leadership
mmagazine • JUne 2020
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Credits JUne 2020 • VoL. 32 no. 3 Press releases and other editorial information may be sent to: P.o. Box 241611, omaHa, ne 68124 or e-mailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org Publisher/Editor-in-Chief andrea L. “andee” Hoig
Creative Collaboration elissa Joy debra s. Kaplan
Editor/Creative Director rob Killmer
omaha Community Foundation Jim scholz
Special Thanks Printco graphics
swartzbaugh-Farber & associates stephanie Vondrak d.d.s. VW Law m ichael J. Weaver, J.d.
metromagazine is wholly owned and operated by the publisher and is not affiliated with any other publication, operating solely on subscription and advertising revenues and the good will of the agencies and charities we support; all of which are very important to the continuing growth and quality of this publication. thank you to all who support this endeavor. OFFICE/SALES
402.932.3522 | email@example.com MISSION STATEMENT aLH Publications exists to inform, inspire and connect those who give back to the community through volunteerism and philanthropy, recognizing the ongoing efforts of area businesses, organizations and individuals who better our community. Contents of this magazine are copyrighted by aLH Publications, inc. in their entirety. no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored, or transmitted in any form or by any means - electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise - without prior written consent of the publisher. ©Copyright 1990 – 2020 aLH Publications, inc. all rights reserved.
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words FROM MY HEART
mmagazine • Letter from tHe pUbLiSHer
WHAT else IS possible? As we continue to navigate through uncharted territory, the time is now to ask: What else is possible? WHAT ELSE IS POSSIBLE? I think most of us can agree that we will not be going back to how it was preCOVID-19. That world no longer exists, but is that such a bad thing? I am looking at life in a completely different way both personally and professionally. I now communicate with people in a much different way, and more often than not, on a much deeper level. There is a sense that we are seeing a reemergence of connection and communion with humanity that I have not experienced before. There is a connection and communion with the earth that has been long overdue (in my opinion) that is bringing us closer together and more in harmony with who we really are, in harmony with every living thing on this planet. I am very soberly aware of the chaos this pandemic is causing us but I am also very aware of “what else is possible” in terms of positive developments and opportunities that we—as human beings in connection and communion— can be creating as well.
andrea L. Hoig ahoig@Spiritofomaha.com
WHAT BETTER TIME TO ASK THE QUESTION: WHAT ELSE IS POSSIBLE?
• What else is possible for me? • What else is possible for my body? • What else is possible for my business? • What else is possible for my community? • What else is possible for the planet? By simply asking these questions you are opening up space for something new to be created, something different, something bigger and better! Change and evolution is a part of life and, boy, are we being asked to change. Or perhaps I should say, “being compelled” to change. It is up to us to choose to change for the better or for worse. I am choosing for the better and my choices impact not just those around me, but everyone.
Create more in 2020!
So I encourage you, my friends, to keep asking “What else is possible?” and see what kind of magic shows up. You are the creator of your life!
with ANDEE Hoig
With Ease & Joy, ~ Andee
mmagazine • JUne 2020
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EVEN IN A pandemic NONPROFITS CONTINUE TO HELP THE HOMELESS AND NEAR-HOMELESS, KEEP FEEDING THE HUNGRY, TIRELESSLY ADVOCATE FOR AND ELEVATE CHILDREN AND FAMILIES IN POVERTY OR CRISIS, AND GO ON RESPONDING TO EMERGENCIES AND DISASTERS.
mmagazine • June 2020
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story by KARA SCHWEISS • photos provided courtesy of FEATURED NONPROFITS
in our crisis
•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Despite the cancellation or postponement of major fundraising events that support essential services and a reduction in donations reflecting the current economic slump, local nonprofit organizations are finding ways to stretch resources and carry on. With volunteer hours drastically reduced and new health and safety processes in place, staff members are obliged to integrate new tasks or increase their workload, but they still serve. Our nonprofits need the support of the community more than ever, and anyone can help. Representatives from every organization in the roundup that follows stated that financial support is especially welcome. Each organization’s website provides information on other ways community members can contribute, from material donations outlined in wish lists to volunteer-from-home opportunities. And when public events resume, nonprofits will be welcoming supporters and participants to their fundraisers and celebrations with open arms.
•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• IS carrying on IN OUR CRISIS nonprofits:
CARRYING ON IN OUR CRISIS
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NONPROFITS: carrying on IN OUR CRISIS ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
WE anticipate THAT THIS PANDEMIC MAY GO ON FOR A very LONG TIME.
Open Door Mission opendoormission.org
Breaking the cycle of homelessness and poverty
~ LINDA TWOMEY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, SIENA FRANCIS HOUSE
Open Door Mission assists people experiencing homelessness and provides homeless preventive resources for people living in poverty. Since COVID-19 reached Nebraska, a shelter-in-place policy has been implemented to focus on safe shelter and quality care. However, Outreach Centers are closed and programming for youth has been modified due to school closures and suspension of school-based summer programming.
NO matter WHAT, OUR focus REMAINS ON OUR mission.
“Many programs are on pause including on-site volunteerism. Staff is carrying the workload of over 15,000 volunteers, which is not sustainable long-term,” President/CEO Candace Gregory said. Their additional work includes COVID-19 symptom screening for staff, guests and visitors and increased cleaning and sanitation tasks. And despite conscientiously following disease transmission guidelines and best practices, the organization “is doing battle with the virus,” Gregory said, which means managing isolation and quarantine areas on campus, too.
~ MICHAEL WEHLING EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, STEPHEN CENTER
Open Door Mission has already distributed relief goods through two spring drive-up events. The pandemic exacerbates the hardships of families living in poverty and the effects will be long-lasting, Gregory said. “I predict that there will be an all-time surge for emergency shelter for families.”
Siena Francis House sienafrancis.org
Serving hope to the homeless “COVID-19 has affected every aspect of how we provide our services of shelter, food, clothing, case management, addiction recovery and permanent supportive housing,” Executive Director Linda Twomey said.
OPEN DOOR MISSION SUNSHINE JARS
As a low-barrier shelter, Siena Francis House provides services even to those viewed as “the most difficult to serve,”Twomey said. This includes mentally ill persons who may lack medical care and/or medications, as well as individuals who struggle with addiction. The staff diligently follows best practices and recommendations to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, and they also strive to educate everyone who sets foot inside the organization’s facilities. Additional steps include health screenings for new guests, limited access to common areas and meal service in residential areas instead of a communal dining room. Twomey said the adjusted practices demand more complex processes and incur additional costs. SIENA FRANCIS HOUSE SUPPLY CENTER
“We anticipate that this pandemic may go on for a very long time,” she said
mmagazine • June 2020
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covid-19 aware ••••••••••••••••••• Serving the Homeless and Near-homeless Stephen Center stephencenter.org Help – Hope – Heroes “Our staff are doing an amazing job of assisting vulnerable people already in crisis navigate a pandemic,” Executive Director Michael Wehling said. Stephen Center programs include housing, emergency shelter and substance abuse services under the support of case managers who assist clients in addressing barriers to self-sufficiency. Social distancing and other restrictions mean fewer volunteers are available to assist an increased number of individuals needing services and related supplies. “Our volunteer service hours have dropped by 83 percent each month; that’s 5,000 service hours,” Wehling said. “We’ve hired temporary staff in the shelter and kitchen to help fill the gaps, and some of our part-time staff are flexing to full-time hours to cover the gap.” STEPHEN CENTER
Increased screening measures and education efforts are in place, and the organization is also using videoconference technology to continue to provide case management, counseling and life-skills education. “Because of this, 59 individuals moved from Stephen Center to permanent housing in the first six weeks of the pandemic,”Wehling said, adding that the organization is preparing for an extended pandemic. “No matter what, our focus remains on our mission: partnering with the community, families and individuals to overcome homelessness, addiction and poverty. The needs of our clients will need to be met, and we will keep adjusting our policies and procedures as needed to make that happen safely.”
•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Youth Emergency Services yesomaha.org Supporting youth in crisis Youth Emergency Services (YES) provides a continuum of services for youth ages 12-21 who are experiencing homelessness or near-homelessness. After meeting their immediate needs (shelter, food, safety, etc.), the organization helps young people learn skills and access resources that support self-sufficiency. “During the pandemic, procedures have been implemented to continue direct care of vulnerable youth while also protecting the health and safety of all,” Executive Director Mary Fraser Meints said. “At the same time, YES is experiencing loss of revenue due to postponed events and the inability of some regular donors to contribute based on a change in their own situation.” Street Outreach Center hours have had to be reduced, so the staff has transitioned to more individual outreach and virtual check-ins with clients. Volunteer shelter meal preparation and serving has been suspended, but YES can still accept sponsored catering. Programs that provide housing or assist young people in obtaining housing continue, but “YES is gearing up for an increase in demand for housing and utility assistance,” Meints said, as bills come due for people who have lost employment. “This virus has required YES to change its strategy, but the vision to help youth who are experiencing homelessness and near-homelessness become self-sufficient remains the same,” Meints said.
CARRYING ON IN OUR CRISIS
YOUTH EMERGENCY SERVICES
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covid-19 special AWARE EDITION
NONPROFITS: carrying on IN OUR CRISIS Serving Our Hungry Neighbors •••••••••••••
Food Bank for the Heartland foodbankheartland.org Engaging the community, changing lives Food Bank for the Heartland provides emergency and supplemental food to individuals and families in need, serving 77 counties in Nebraska and 16 counties in western Iowa. The organization distributes food through a network of nearly 600 pantries and other providers, and the need has increased in recent months. “Thousands of Nebraskans and Iowans are finding themselves in the unexpected position of seeking emergency food assistance,” President and CEO Brian Barks said. “Since March, Food Bank for the Heartland has been working swiftly with our partners to adapt our programs and ensure critical meals are being safely distributed to our food-insecure neighbors.” Volunteer capacity is limited due to social distancing guidelines. To meet the increased demand for food, partners are helping facilitate up to 40 drive-up mobile pantries each month. “We are grateful for the community’s continued support during this crisis, as we anticipate the need for supplemental meals will remain high in the months to come,” Barks said. “The Food Bank is monitoring the constantly evolving situation and adapting facets of our operations.”
thousands OF NEBRASKANS AND IOWANS ARE FINDING THEMSELVES IN THE unexpected POSITION OF SEEKING emergency FOOD ASSISTANCE.
~ BRIAN BARKS PRESIDENT AND CEO, FOOD BANK FOR THE HEARTLAND
Saving Grace Perishable Food Rescue savinggracefoodrescue.org
Rescuing food from going to waste “Saving Grace connects perishable food from local food purveyors to local nonprofits that feed our hungry, while raising awareness and educating the community on food waste and hunger,” CEO and President Beth Ostdiek Smith said. “Saving Grace addresses two challenges that face our community: hunger and food waste. Our perishable food pipeline provides the logistics and distribution network to do this in a coordinated, professional manner.” Saving Grace responded to more than 65 extra calls from businesses with surplus food to donate as their kitchens closed. 41,500 pounds of food was delivered to nonprofit partner agencies needing the additional food to meet increased client needs. Operations are changing daily due to fluctuations with the food supply chain and more requests for food, Smith said. “The increased need for food will continue in the foreseeable future, and we know there is more food that can be rescued,” Smith said. “With so many people food insecure, it’s more important now than ever that we locate surplus food that is not currently being rescued.”
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n our crisis
•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• FOOD BANK FOR THE HEARTLAND
SAVING GRACE PERISHABLE FOOD RESCUE
CARRYING ON IN OUR CRISIS
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NONPROFITS: carrying on IN OUR CRISIS Serving Children and Families •••••••••••••••••••••••••••• CASA for Douglas County casaomaha.org
Completely KIDS completelykids.org
CASA volunteers provide an individualized voice and advocate for interventions and services to improve outcomes of well-being, safety and permanency for children. Volunteers ensure children are placed in appropriate, safe and nurturing environments to expedite the finding of “forever families” so they are not lingering in foster care unnecessarily. “As with most organizations, we have been in a work-from-home status for over two months, but instead of seeing this as a barrier to conducting business, we have adapted our training curriculum, visited children via Facebook and Zoom and created spaces to meet potential volunteers via virtual socializing,” Executive Director Kimberly Thomas said. “Of course, we are not in the community and our children are not currently having face-to-face meetings with their CASA Volunteers. We are concerned for that which we cannot see and what may be coming…As with other times of social isolation, CASA is particularly worried about the likely rise in number and severity of child abuse/neglect cases, the longer this continues. We are gearing up to recruit more volunteers to address this need.”
••••••••••••••• Child Saving Institute childsaving.org
Giving children a voice Child Saving Institute (CSI) is dedicated to the prevention, intervention and healing of child abuse, neglect and abandonment, and its services are especially critical during stressful economic uncertainty like families are facing during the current pandemic, President and CEO Peg Harriott said.
Educating and empowering Completely KIDS empowers families living in poverty with skills and resources to create a safe, healthy, successful and connected community. CEO Penny Parker said that the pandemic has forced the organization’s facility to close indefinitely and programming to transition to virtual platforms. Worse, some members of the Completely KIDS family have experienced COVID-19 directly. “The virus has taken a toll on our part-time staff and the families we serve. Several have tested positive for COVID-19 and the father of one of the children in our program was one of the recent deaths reported in the local news,” Parker said. Despite the challenges, services from virtual educational activities to food distribution go on, some in partnership with other organizations. A hotline for mental health needs and other resources has also been developed. “We anticipate programming to be very different in August if and when the kids return to school. We are developing plans to meet the critical mental health needs that will arise with our families when we reopen,” Parker said. “There is no way to predict the full long-term impact, but we expect there to be some changes to the way we do our work going forward.”
FAMILY, Inc. familyia.org Strong foundation, healthy future FAMILY, Inc. is an early childhood organization with a mission for empowering families in Pottawattamie and Mills Counties in Iowa to build a strong foundation and healthy future through education, advocacy, support and community connection. The organization is built on direct services and face-to-face contact, so the impact of COVID-19 has been significant, Executive Director Kimberly Kolakowski said.
“We know that when stress within a family increases, incidents of domestic violence and child abuse can increase. As a community, we need to be there for those children who are isolated from their friends, their beloved teachers, and their caring therapists,” she explained. “CSI quickly shifted to telecommunications to deliver services virtually “The families served in our programs face many challenges and are disproportionately when face-to-face interaction is not appropriate or feasible. Children and families impacted by the pandemic due to low income, barriers to accessing health care, continue to receive mental health, foster care and prevention services…Our staff have single-parent households, lack of support networks and many other risk factors that also been extremely innovative and creative when it comes to staying connected with make navigating COVID-19 even more complex,” Kolakowski said. “FAMILY, Inc. has the children and families we serve.” adapted to changing public needs by moving to virtual services and utilizing technology to ensure we can still connect with families and offer them the supports The staff is is working around a reduction in volunteer hours, but the need for new they so desperately need at this time. Program participants can still receive supports foster parents is urgent, Harriot said. “We must continue to bring awareness and work and check in with their provider using video connection services or by phone.” to engage those interested even at times like these.” The staff has been flexible and resourceful, she added.
“If a need arises that is not what we typically do, we make it what we typically do.”
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CHILD SAVING INSTITUTE
covid-19 aware •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Heartland Family Service heartlandfamilyservice.org Good works Through direct services, education, and outreach, Heartland Family Service has responded to the needs of the area’s most vulnerable children and families. Its programs serve individuals of all ages from infants to seniors from over 15 locations in east-central Nebraska and southwest Iowa in three primary program areas: child and family well-being; counseling and prevention; and housing, safety and financial stability. “The COVID-19 pandemic has compelled us to change the way we offer many of our programs, including mental health counseling, substance use treatment, housing services and child welfare. We now offer these services via phone, telehealth and video conferencing. We have also transitioned to having as many employees as possible work from home,” Chief Development Officer Marzia Puccioni Shields said. COMPLETELY KIDS FAMILY, INC.
With hardships from domestic violence to substance abuse to economic emergencies exacerbated during a crisis, the organization’s services are greatly needed, Shields said. “Heartland Family Service is committed to helping those who need assistance.”
••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Kids Can Community Center kidscan.org Educate, engage, inspire “The Kids Can Community Center mission is to educate, engage and inspire children. We operate two core programs to support student success: Early childhood and out-ofschool education,” CEO Robert Patterson said. “Many of our parents often work multiple jobs while trying to complete their own education and are sometimes put in a situation of having to choose between basic needs and stable childcare solutions. We continue to value the belief that all children deserve an impactful, enriching educational experience despite any socioeconomic barrier they may encounter.”
KIDS CAN COMMUNITY CENTER lace
ge i ma
The center closed briefly when COVID-19 arrived in Omaha, but school-based and outof-school programs continue on virtual platforms and child care is open again, although at reduced capacity and prioritizing families with parents who are essential workers. “We can at least give them peace of mind knowing their children are in a safe place while they are on the front lines of serving our community,” Patterson said. “Early childhood education and out-of-school programs are essential for our community and families at Kids Can. We have been impacted by COVID-19, but we have adjusted our program and will continue providing this basic community need.” The organization’s roots extend to 1908, which provides important perspective, Patterson said.
CARRYING ON IN OUR CRISIS
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NONPROFITS: carrying on IN OUR CRISIS Serving Children and Families •••••••••••••••••••••••••• Kids Can Community Center (cont’d.) “This is not the first time our organization was in a world that was turned upside down…We have been there for our citizens during depressions, world wars, and yes— pandemics. We were there for each of our families then, we are there for them now, and we will be there for future generations.”
••••••••••••••••• Lutheran Family Services lfsneb.org Safety, hope and well-being for all
Ronald McDonald House Charities in Omaha (RMHC) rmhcomaha.org
IF A NEED arises THAT IS NOT WHAT WE typically DO, WE make IT WHAT WE TYPICALLY DO.
A home filled with hope RMHC provides a “home away from home” to families traveling to Omaha for a child’s specialized pediatric care, CEO Lindsey Rai Kortan said. “RMHC cares for families as they care for their children.” The effect of COVID-19’s arrival in Nebraska in midMarch was evident immediately at RMHC’s Omaha facility. All volunteer activities were suspended, increasing the staff’s workload. Common areas were closed off. The children who are hospitalized or receiving medical treatment at area hospitals may be especially vulnerable to COVID-19, so precautions from sanitation to personal protective equipment are stringent.
Lutheran Family Services (LFS) provides a spectrum of human care services with a vision of safety, hope and well-being for all people. The people of LFS, who are resourceful and responsive under ordinary circumstances, have found ways to meet the new challenges and “The evolving nature of the pandemic makes it difficult to increased needs of the community in recent months, predict long-term effects. However, discussions have President and CEO Stacy Martin said. begun regarding future practices,” Kortan said. “The new sanitization protocol will be kept, and perhaps expanded upon. Specific check-in times will be established to “During the pandemic, we have pursued all available funding and partnership opportunities that will assist us ensure operations staff can properly screen and admit in serving more Nebraskans in need of our programs and families. Procedures are being considered to monitor the health of all guest families during their stay.” services and continue to offer safety, hope and wellbeing to all who need help during this time of uncertainty and long after,” she said. “In anticipation of the pandemic and to ensure that no client or any Nebraskan in need is denied services, LFS led the region in providing a model for health and human service agencies, shifting our health and human services and programs to a remote telehealth model.” LFS has also been providing translation and interpreter services across Nebraska to keep people informed, healthy and safe. “Our videos have received national recognition, and demand is high for our Global Language Solutions team that has been assisting other nonprofits and institutions requesting our services,” Martin said. “We are now providing those multi-language services for (Nebraska) Governor Ricketts as the official translators of press releases and executive orders.”
~ KIMBERLY KOLAKOWSKI EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, FAMILY, INC.
WE ARE concerned FOR THAT WHICH WE cannot SEE AND WHAT MAY BE
~ KIMBERLY THOMAS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CASA FOR DOUGLAS COUNTY
WE HAVE been there FOR OUR CITIZENS DURING depressions, WORLD WARS, AND YES—pandemics. WE WERE THERE FOR EACH OF OUR FAMILIES then, WE ARE THERE FOR THEM now, AND WE WILL BE THERE FOR future GENERATIONS.
~ ROBERT PATTERSON CEO, KIDS CAN COMMUNITY CENTER
mmagazine • June 2020
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THE FUTURE IS unclear, BUT WE ARE MAKING PLANS TO ensure WE CAN provide OUR SERVICES IN THE WEEKS, MONTHS AND YEARS TO come.
~ JILL ORTON REGIONAL CEO, AMERICAN RED CROSS
American Red Cross redcross.org/neia
When Help is Needed ••••••••••••••••••••••••••
work throughout the pandemic and will continue to adapt to best meet the needs of the community, while keeping the safety of our volunteers, staff, blood donors, partners and all we serve as our top priority.”
Relief and support The heart of the mission of the American Red Cross is responding to emergencies, so although a pandemic is a relatively uncommon event, the organization was poised to take action. continue to offer our services and resources in our •••••• “Wecommunity, but many of those look different right now,” Regional CEO Jill Orton said. “During times of crisis, we see people who want to help. We have had people who have reached out looking for opportunities to volunteer or to give financially as a way to provide a positive in a time when there seems to be a lot of negative. We’ve also seen several corporate partners step up to support our efforts to provide necessary services to our community. We have had to find new ways to fundraise and recruit volunteers, using virtual avenues, but we are adapting.” The organization has also adapted to virtual platforms and increased personal precautions, but continues to provide its traditional services along with a new Virtual Family Assistance Center to support individuals and families struggling with loss and grief.
Salvation Army salarmyomaha.org Doing the most good The Salvation Army “exists to meet human need wherever, whenever, and however we can,” so it’s not surprising that the organization has stepped up operations to serve people impacted by the pandemic. Basic services continue with extra precautions to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of staff, volunteers and everyone the organization serves. That means making adjustments like modifying food programs to serve grab-and-go meals or to use mobile food distributions platforms in order to adhere to socialdistancing and additional health protocols.
First Responders Foundation firstrespondersomaha.org Supporting first responders “The Mission of the First Responders Foundation is to serve and honor all our first responders and their families, build appreciation and respect for their work and enhance public safety,” Community Engagement Director Diann Swigart said. “First responders are there for us 24/7 and our foundation is here for them.” The organization serves all first responders: law enforcement, fire departments, emergency medical services, dispatch, emergency room personnel, and more. Programs and projects range from community education, advocacy and appreciation events to direct funding of training and mental health support. During the pandemic, a partnership began with a local business, Patriarch Distillers/Soldier Valley Spirits, to convert spirits production to hand sanitizer that has been distributed to nearly 14,000 first responders.
“We anticipate the need for mental and emotional health of the first responders to increase in the coming months or years depending on the length and outcome of the “We anticipate that the demand for our services will pandemic and adjusting to the new normal for society,” continue to grow,” Salvation Army officials said. “We again Swigart said. “We plan to offer more online telehealth “The future is unclear, but we are making plans to ensure want to reassure the Omaha-Council Bluffs metro that we and tele-fitness classes even after the pandemic for a are here to serve, and that we will continue to be here to greater reach of first responders, and in anticipation of we can provide our services in the weeks, months and years to come,” Orton said. “We have been adjusting our serve everyone in need during these uncertain times.” another shutdown.” AMERICAN RED CROSS
FIRST RESPONDERS FOUNDATION
CARRYING ON IN OUR CRISIS
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mmagazine â&#x20AC;¢ JUne 2020
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stOry by KARA SCHWEISS | phOtOgraphy by JIM SCHOLZ
DONNA KUSH was on a safari last year when she found out some interesting facts about zebras. “the guide said zebras thrive because they act like a team, they look out for each other and warn each other when there’s danger, and they gather around their young,” she said.
I BELIEVE THAT IF YOU HAVE A ROAD MAP, YOU CAN OPPORTUNITIES THAT COME UP ALONG THE WAY.
~ DONNA KUSH PRESIDENT AND CEO OMAHA COMMUNITY FOUNDATION
it’s fitting that those particular qualities appealed to english, who serves children’s hospital & medical center as executive vice president, chief operating officer (coo) and chief nursing officer (cno). she also has a couple of pictures of zebras in her office. “i came back to hospital and said, ‘we’re going to be zebras,” she said. “and the best part of it is that a group of zebras is called a ‘dazzle.’ isn’t that cool?” english joined children’s in 1991 as cno, and she came to the position with significant experience in direct patient care. “i have spent my whole career in children’s hospitals,” she said. “when i graduated from nursing school i went right to the children’s hospital in fort worth (texas) and was there for 15 years. i started as a nurse on the 11-to-7 shift on the adolescent unit, and when i left i was the assistant vice president for patient care.”
it was hard to leave the facility where she’d launched her career, english said, but after 15 years it was time to stretch her wings and experience another organization, with one stipulation: had to bebeen a children’s hospital. Donna Kush launched her career in the corporate sector, but she’s italways when the one in omaha called, english hadn’t active in the community. as Omaha Community Foundation’s new president andlooked CeO, interviewed in years and forward to the Kush brings both valuable professional experience and a unique perspective topractice.” the role. experience being “good she wasn’t counting on anything coming of it, but instead of merely wooing her, omaha’s children’s hospital wowed her.
foundation builder LEADERSHIP
• DONNA KUSH
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foundation builder WHEN donna kush “Some people are surprised by the appointment, but and match those to the needs of the community.” Among Kush’s first tasks at OCF has been working with they are probably not aware of my upbringing and the team to oversee the new COVID-19 response fund. growing up in rural Nebraska in a family of hunting and fishing,” she said, adding that she still finds opportunities to fish and hike even as a city dweller. “I “We have raised $1.2 million thus far and are closely have always had a great appreciation for the outdoors. evaluating the best use of those funds. We’ve had Growing up, my family enjoyed the outdoor recreation conversations with dozens of nonprofits,” she said. “We are focused on front-line, basic and urgent needs and camping. My goal on the commission is to help support. That means food, housing, health, mental ensure our region continues to enhance its outdoor health, emergency needs and the special needs of our offerings for a broader range of people to enjoy— senior population, too.” whether it is hiking or biking trails, campsites and cabins, new venture parks, fishing, hunting, canoeing Nobody would say it was an easy start, but Kush is Right on the heels of responding to the pandemic meeting the challenges and flourishing in her new role, or boating. I also have a great appreciation for the came Omaha Gives!, an annual 24-hour giving event science behind wildlife management and conservation that took place for the eighth time on May 20 this year. which includes leading the strategic vision for the organization; advancing OCF’s responsibilities to match in an organization like Nebraska Game and Parks.” “It was a unique Omaha Gives!. More than ever we the vast needs of the community with donors and Kush said her early years in Monroe, a town of 300 needed support in this community for nonprofits and supporters; cultivating relationships and collaborations located west of Columbus, also had some influence on the mounting needs,” she said. “Omaha Gives! has in the community; fostering diversity, equity and her eventual choice to make a career shift to the always been about celebrating the nonprofits in our inclusion; and advancing OCF’s team and culture. nonprofit world. community and creating awareness of the services they provide. This year we have so many who are “What makes me a unique in this role is my corporate serving those who are most vulnerable and being “I grew up in rural Nebraska with a strong sense of background; the majority of my career has been in the directly impacted by the pandemic.” community. You helped your neighbors out. You took corporate world until my more recent consulting work pride in your small town, your small high school, and in philanthropy and nonprofits. I’m bringing a blend of the culture that came along with that,” she explained, Even during these stressful economic times, the both to this role,” Kush said. “I think the advantage of community stepped up, Kush said. More than 23,000 adding that leading a nonprofit has been a calling of that is that I bring a different approach and fresh view.” individual donors supported 1,010 nonprofits with sorts. “The number one reason for me is community 65,160 donations totaling over $8.5 million, which set impact. It’s the ability to make a difference in this community-minded multiple records. community.” Kush, who has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in getting things done journalism and mass communication from the a community that steps up Kush is already looking at OCF’s long-term goals, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, held executive positions Kush praised OCF’s “extremely talented team” and the including a refreshed strategic plan that accounts for in marketing, communications, and public affairs and “great foundation” built under predecessor Sara Boyd, recent events from the pandemic to understanding and policy at Fortune 500 companies Union Pacific and TD who led the organization for nearly 20 years. promoting equity. Ameritrade. Her nonprofit and community involvement goes back years, but she is currently active on the “One thing I don’t think a lot of people know is that “I think the pandemic has put a spotlight on equity boards of Omaha Sports Commission and Invest OCF is the fourteenth-largest community foundation issues that already existed in the community, and Nebraska, as well as SHARE Omaha, which works in the nation,” she said. “A community foundation is (that) we will work with our community partners to closely with OCF. Kush was recently appointed by different than most foundations; it’s a collective of address,” she said. Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts to the Nebraska Game donors whereas with other foundations it’s family or and Parks Commission representing District 2. She’s the one person who represents the fund…our She’s also ready to explore new partnerships in the only woman in the current group of nine and only the responsibility is to work with community partners to community with donors, other nonprofits, advisors, second woman in state history to be a commissioner. assess needs, and help our donors define their interests and civic and business leaders. began her new position as president and chief executive officer of Omaha Community Foundation (OCF) this past March, the organization’s signature annual event, Omaha Gives!, was less than two months away. A pandemic was emerging and a new response fund had been launched just 10 days earlier. Kush had to meet much of her team through videoconferencing and also had to immediately begin developing a long-term plan for continuing virtual operations and creating a safe environment for an eventual return to the office.
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IT’S AN exciting ROLE TO BE IN TO HELP shape THE FUTURE VISION FOR OUR COMMUNITY, MAKE CONNECTIONS AND provide SOLUTIONS.
~ DONNA KUSH
“From my corporate background, I have a lot of experience in public/private partnerships. I am a big supporter of collaboration and coalescing or convening resources in order to get things done…it’s looking at an issue and assessing what work is already being done, and assessing where we have gaps, and working to fill those together,” she said. It’s all part of a bigger picture, Kush explained.
Outside of work, Kush said, spending time with family is an important priority. Kush is married to Jeff Kavich, a fourth-generation leader of Omaha mainstay All Makes, an office furniture and technology provider. Her stepdaughter Chelsea works in New York, and Ally attends the University of Nebraska Omaha. The family’s four-legged members, goldendoodles Macy and Stella, are Kush’s “running partners.” It’s hard to find spare time, Kush said, but she’d love to learn to play the piano someday. It’s a goal people usually pursue much earlier in life, and like her recent career change, it will be challenging. But Kush has proven she’s not one to be discouraged by a couple of unexpected curves.
“We’re trying to identify our future vision and how we can elevate the role Omaha Community Foundation plays in lifting our community. How can our Landscape (OCF community data-driven assessment project) data be more actionable? How can we be more innovative? How can we help nonprofits be more “I believe that if you have a specific road map, you can effective with their capacity-building? How can we miss opportunities that come up along the way; you help play a role in equity, diversity and inclusion?” she never know when or who might present you with said. “We are fortunate to have so many generous those options,” she said. “If you allow yourself to be philanthropists who have made enormous open and agile, there are amazing opportunities that transformations in our community. Our community will present themselves. Then, you will have to has endless needs, though. It’s an exciting role to be in evaluate and decide strategically, as well as with your to help shape the future vision for our community, gut or instincts, as to whether or not it’s a fit and risk make connections and provide solutions.” worth taking. It can trigger fear, but it’s also rewarding.”
• DONNA KUSH
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catering creations • MAKING HARD TIMES BETTER
• CATERING CREATIONS
omaha meal delivery catering creations
IT’S NOT THE FIRST TIME Jeff and Jennifer Snow began a business under less-than-ideal circumstances. Catering Creations was started during an industry downturn following the events of September 11, 2001. Their event venue, Founders ONE | NINE, was on the brink of its inception when Jeff suffered serious injuries in a bicycle/automobile collision (he was the bicyclist), but the couple pressed on. And Omaha Meal Delivery, the Snows’ latest venture and a division of Catering Creations, came into existence during the COVID-19 crisis. The idea for Omaha Meal Delivery didn’t come out of thin air, Event Producer Ambyr Peacock explained. “They had intended to do something like this at a later date.” But opportunity and necessity knocked at the same time, so without a detailed timeline or careful strategic plan, the Snows launched Omaha Meal Delivery.
Going the extra step It’s not just a service that drops a takeout bag at the door. Through omahamealdelivery.com and its associated Facebook and Instagram pages, individuals and groups can order meal packages, special bundles for holidays and celebrations, or basic groceries (a quarantine grocery pack even includes toilet paper and rubber gloves). The service helps anyone who wants to go the extra step in social distancing avoid public places, and customers are assured the meals and products they purchase are handled safely and delivered in a no-contact manner.
entrees include grilled phone: (402) 558-3202 chicken in a roasted email: firstname.lastname@example.org garlic and herb cream social: sauce, Mexican beef instagram: instagram.com/cateringcreations/ enchiladas with facebook: facebook.com/cateringcreations/ twitter: @cateringsnow southwestern adobo snapchat: cateromaha sauce items, and a web: www.cateringcreations.com charcuterie and wine happy hour basket. But address: 1915 jackson st., omaha comfort food/family packs with entrees like casseroles are also available.
Reaching out Customers can purchase gift cards, or better yet, have a meal delivered to friends or family. “We’ve been reaching out to residential communities, organizations with workers on the front lines, churches—groups like that—to see if there is anyone wanting to sponsor meals or have their employees receive meals,” Peacock said. “We’re taking the business virtual and mobile.” Reflecting the Snows’ longstanding commitment to local charities (a percentage of their profits support local organizations), Omaha Meal Delivery can also coordinate a sponsored catered meal for a local nonprofit. In June, metroMAGAZINE presented such a meal to 30 residents of Ronald McDonald House Charities in Omaha.
“The food industry has such high standards for cleanliness and preparation. We’ve always observed those practices and tried to exceed expectations when it comes to that,” Peacock said, adding that the organization’s preparation facilities recently received an “excellent” county health inspection rating. “We use gloves and drop off at the door, and text a picture for confirmation of delivery. We offer curbside pickup as well.”
The Snows are also making modifications to Catering Creations and Founders ONE | NINE to facilitate a transition back to catering and hosting events. These efforts include socialdistanced popup restaurants for small groups, with masked and gloved servers and roaming live entertainment, and new standards liked staffed buffets and hand sanitizer stations.
In alignment with the culinary creativity people have come to expect from Catering Creations, popular Omaha Meal Delivery
“We’re trying to go the extra step,” Peacock said. “We want clients and staff to feel safe.”
mmagazine • JUne 2020
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presented by BUSINESS ETHICS ALLIANCE
• BUSINESS ETHICS
SELLING AND FUNDRAISING
during a pandemic
Is it okay to sell and fundraise during this time? Many of the companies we have spoken with recently are experiencing stress around money right now and what is ethical in the face of ﬁnancial strain.
We know that anyone reading this article feels that to their marrow. As you have always known, the “how” is critically important.
Here’s some of what they are struggling with: • People are trying to rapidly re-imagine their businesses to make money during and after the pandemic. • There’s concern about profiting from a crisis – where is the line? • For small businesses, how are they supposed to respond with accounts payable and accounts receivable – can they survive if they allow receivables to go out 60 days instead of 30 and can their vendors survive if they push out their payables as a result? • When is a refund warranted? Balancing the right to make enough money to keep your business afloat and the right for a customer to not pay for a service they can’t receive right now. • To sell or not to sell? For nonprofits, to fundraise or not? Is it insensitive and irresponsible at this moment to sell or fundraise? This last one is especially meaningful to many companies with which we have spoken. So – what do you do? You keep going. Business is vital to the American economy and it is right for business owners to do all they ethically can to keep their businesses going. We know, realistically, that not all companies are going to make it through this moment and some companies will look diﬀerent on the other side. Nonetheless, businesses should strive to survive as the basis of our economy. For one thing economists are telling us is the economy must survive. We’re talking about a macro level here – not just one company, but business as a driver of our economy must survive. As NPR’s Planet Money podcast reported, economist Betsey Stevenson of University Michigan tell us there is much to consider. If we don’t shut down the economy, people die of the virus. If we shut down the economy for too long, people will likely die of something else, like starvation. Okay – so the economy is a real factor here, we have to have a sustaining one. But, let’s be real, people are hurting right now. As a society, we have collectively put our focus, support and dollars behind businesses that meet our basic needs such as medical, shelter, food and oddly enough, toilet paper. We have chosen what is “most important” for this moment. We also know that after this moment passes, our society will require the services many other businesses provide – they will want their house painted again, their plants cared for, their hair done, the ambiance of restaurants and theater and everything else we have come to love. These businesses and more are the engine of our economy. But it feels a little like feathering the proverbial clutch right now – how long can these businesses be out of commission before the entire economy stalls? Before there is no money left ﬂoating around in the exchange of buyer-seller-earner to go to those business and thus they don’t exist after this moment passes. This means, we have to ﬁgure out how to exist through this moment so we can exist after this moment. All of this to say, it is ethical to try to keep going. It is ethical to sell right now. It is ethical to fundraise right now. All of our companies are part of the larger picture and we have to do what we can to survive. This begs the question though – does this mean survival at all costs? Is this permission to be unethical in “how” we survive? No, it does not. 25
How matters because reputation counts. As was said in a previous Business Ethics Alliance blog, a company’s reputation will be colored by the actions they took when faced with a crisis. The values you have called upon regarding how you want to do business and want to be known to your customers, vendors, employees and other stakeholders still hold. You have a right to sell/fundraise right now and you have an obligation to do it ethically. We have two tools to oﬀer you as you consider how to position your business today. What to keep in mind in your quest to keep things ethical:
Tool 1: Leverage Transparency Be as forthcoming with your intentions as possible. For example, if you’re going to ask the community or companies for donations for something and plan to sell the end product to cover your costs – tell them. When we ran this scenario with our local readership, they supported a business making money, even if oﬀ of donated supplies, but they wanted to know up front the company’s intent to sell the end product. This need for transparency extends beyond this situation. The people making decisions to donate/buy from you are adults. Acting ethically means you are not tricking them into giving a donation or buying what you’re selling. You aren’t going to get consumers to do something they do not want to do. It wasn’t the case pre-crisis, it is not the case during the crisis, and it will not be the case after crisis. Let them make up their own mind. Share what you oﬀer, why they may ﬁnd it valuable, and cut through the noise (more noise during the crisis) so they hear you. We realize that last line is not easy. When you come up with your marketing approach for how you will cut through the noise, consider if the approach aligns with your ethics. Think through it using the Far, Wide and High© Framework that Business Ethics Alliance founder Dr. Beverly Kracher created.
Tool 2: Think through your choices using the Far, Wide and High© Framework When brainstorming through the new approach for how to sell your product or services at this moment or how to ask for contributions, keep the ethical decisionmaking model front of mind and answer the questions: FAR: What are the long-term consequences of each of my choices? WIDE: What obligations do I have (to myself, my family, my employees, my customers, my vendors, my community, etc.)? What rights are relevant? What is fair? HIGH: What do I want to be known for? What would my “best self” do? How you position your company/nonproﬁt to be relevant might look a little diﬀerent right now but continuing to sell and fundraise is ok. As part of the Ethical Omaha Values identiﬁed by the Business Ethics Alliance, ﬁnancial vitality was identiﬁed as a behavior and practice responsible for signiﬁcant business success in our community – we believe companies should enjoy ﬁnancial vitality gained through ethical means. It’s not about being proﬁtable or ethical, it’s both. Go gently and conscientiously. mmagazine • JUne 2020
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• prEsEntED By
COMMUNITY IS [CREDIT UNIONS] EXIST. WE NEED TO MAKE SURE WE AND GIVE ARE BACK TO THAT COMMUNITY.
~ GAIL DEBOER
It took years of attending college classes while working full-time and raising a family, but Gail DeBoer always kept an eye on the next step in her successful career. In 2007, she became president and CEO of Cobalt Credit Union, the highest position in the company.
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stOry By KARA SCHWEISS | phOtOGraphy By JIM SCHOLZ
GAIL DEBOER was on a safari last year when she found out some interesting facts about zebras. “the guide said zebras thrive because they act like a team, they look out for each other and warn each other when there’s danger, and they gather around their young,” she said. it’s fitting that those particular qualities appealed to english, who serves children’s hospital & medical center as executive vice president, chief operating officer (coo) and chief nursing officer (cno). she also has a couple of pictures of zebras in her office. “i came back to hospital and said, ‘we’re going to be zebras,” she said. “and the best part of it is that a group of zebras is called a ‘dazzle.’ isn’t that cool?” english joined children’s in 1991 as cno, and she came to the position with significant experience in direct patient care. “i have spent my whole career in children’s hospitals,” she said. “when i graduated from nursing school i went right to the children’s hospital in fort worth (texas) and was there for 15 years. i started as a nurse on the 11-to-7 shift on the adolescent unit, and when i left i was the assistant vice president for patient care.” it was hard to leave the facility where she’d launched her career, english said, but after 15 years it was time to stretch her wings and experience another organization, with one stipulation: it had to be a children’s hospital. when the one in omaha called, english hadn’t interviewed in years and looked forward to the experience being “good practice.” she wasn’t counting on anything coming of it, but instead of merely wooing her, omaha’s children’s hospital wowed her.
true blue PRESENTS
• GAIL DEBOER
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• prEsEntED By
true blue IN 1988 Gail DeBoer was hireD By strateGic air juggling work and family. DeBoer said she’s proud of commanD FeDeral creDit Union to start its her persistence in reaching her educational goals, and aUDit Department, “which was me anD a part- that she hopes sharing her story has given others in time clerk,” she saiD. as small as the similar circumstances confidence that higher education Department was, DeBoer coUlD see that the is obtainable for them, too. new position miGht leaD to promisinG opportUnities. the clerk, who was nearinG “it’s doable,” she said. “it’s not easy—but it’s doable.” retirement, saw even BiGGer potential: that DeBoer coUlD Go all the way to the top. DeBoer had taken advantage of educational benefits provided by her full-time employer, which became “she said i could someday be the president. it had enron corporation through a merger in 1985. By 1988, never dawned on me that i could aspire to that. But it she had risen to the position of senior internal auditor. really did cause me to think,” DeBoer said. “i think that the stability and job security were not enough to keep changed my focus. i looked longer-term at that point.” DeBoer there after a change in senior leadership, however. not even 20 years after her colleague’s prescient comment, in 2007 DeBoer indeed became president and “i left enron, which was weird then because it was the chief executive officer of the organization, which was best employer in town. For pay, anyway, and sac Federal credit Union until 2018 and is now called opportunity,” she said. “But i had met ken lay at an cobalt credit Union. all-employee meeting and felt he was not trustworthy.”
had already taken advantage of numerous professional development opportunities, but she advanced her education by going back to school and securing her mBa in three years. “i tried to do everything so when the position came up, i would be prepared,” DeBoer recalled. “i think that’s what a lot of people fail to do, is look at what the next job would look like and what you would need for that job. Do it before it’s available, because when is too late.” she also knew the opportunity might never present itself again, DeBoer said. “i was not willing to take that chance. i wanted to make sure that i had more than anybody else who would apply or at least as much,” she said. “plus, as a woman i thought i needed more… it never hurts to have that edge.”
Female banking executives are the minority, even now, her instincts eventually proved correct years later DeBoer explained. things are better today for women DeBoer’s career began a long way from the c-suite and when enron was brought down by a notorious scandal in the professional world in general than when she that ended in bankruptcy and with lay being found started, she added, but the playing field isn’t level yet. at a time when career options for women were still guilty of 10 counts of securities fraud. “we’re getting closer. we have come a long way.” relatively limited. DeBoer had decided after highschool graduation that since she didn’t aspire to be a always looking ahead DeBoer said she proved one vocal detractor wrong nurse or teacher, college wasn’t for her. she went to (“he went to every branch and said, ‘what makes her work as a secretary for the omaha royals baseball at the credit union, DeBoer said she always looked think she can do that job?’”) simply by doing well. team, but quickly determined that an administrative ahead to the next rung on the company ladder, extraordinarily well. she’s received numerous industry career wasn’t quite the right fit, either. seeking professional development and additional awards including a 2011 ceo of the year award by the responsibility that could help her step up. so when a national association of Federally-insured credit the experience helped foster a new perspective on senior executive slot opened, DeBoer had solid Unions (naFcU). in 2019, DeBoer was named to the college, however, and DeBoer took night and summer credentials to submit. as senior vice president of classes in accounting at the University of nebraska operations, DeBoer oversaw a team of up to 150, and omaha Business hall of Fame. omaha while working for an energy company. she held the role for 12 years. fostering teamwork also married and started a family during that period. the credit union has thrived under her leadership. “i learned to manage people, be on the front line with “i couldn’t afford to go full time,” she said. “i went for 11 members and understand the member experience,” years to earn my undergrad.” she said. “i think those 12 years really prepared me for “everyone in the senior team has a department they’re responsible for. my job is overseeing the whole credit what i wanted to do if i ever became president.” later, she passed the certified public accountant (cpa) union,” she said. “i make sure every department has exam and earned a master of Business administration the then-president and ceo announced a 2007 date what they need and that they’re keeping that (mBa) degree from Bellevue University, also while teamwork going.” for retirement well in advance of the event. DeBoer
resolve for education
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…LOOK AT WHAT THE next JOB WOULD LOOK LIKE AND WHAT YOU WOULD NEED FOR THAT JOB. DO IT before IT’S AVAILABLE, BECAUSE when IS TOO LATE.
~ GAIL DEBOER nEBraska statE sEnatOr
she also works for cobalt’s board of directors, DeBoer said, as a credit union is a not-for-profit entity, and this means serving as a liaison in a position of trust. “i have to make sure i am providing them with everything they need to govern the credit union,” she said. “it’s maintaining that relationship and making sure i communicate to the board everything we’re doing, and then i take back to the senior team the expectations of the board.” she also watches over how cobalt is represented in the community.
“we really emphasize education at the credit union. we started a new certificate program so employees that maybe were not confident about taking classes can step into it slowly. we recently graduated the first group,” she said. “that was my dream. it worked, and i love that.” DeBoer and husband John, who is retired, raised three children together: matt, amanda, and mike, who all are now married and established in careers of their own. now the couple is enjoying grandchildren including 7-year-old boy/girl twins, two girls both approaching a first birthday, and a newborn boy.
“i just adore those kids,” DeBoer said. a primary goal of “community is why we exist,” she said. “we need to her upcoming retirement is to spend more time with them. she also hopes to travel more and get in some make sure we are responsible and give back to that community. credit unions are particularly good at that. fly-fishing. our motto is ‘people helping people.’ and since we’re a that’s right: fly-fishing. DeBoer was only trying to be not-for-profit, we can give back more.” a good sport the first time she tried fly-fishing with her avid fisherman husband in colorado, she said. she DeBoer gives back, too. some of the organizations she was as surprised to discover how much she liked it as serves or has served include the Greater omaha much as people are surprised to hear it’s one of her chamber, knights of ak-sar-Ben, opera omaha, favorite pastimes; it’s the perfect antithesis to her nebraska shakespeare, ican, women’s Fund of omaha, busy career. United way of the midlands and children’s hospital Foundation. “it slows my brain down. i don’t have to stress about it because if i don’t catch a fish, i don’t care,” she said. “i she’s also influenced the development of a program at don’t have a lot of time for hobbies, but it brings peace to me.” cobalt that is particularly close to her heart.
• GAIL DEBOER
This special feature is sponsored by planitomaha. planitomaha is dedicated to honoring women whose influence not only impacts the boardroom but the community.
one of the largest and most prestigious meeting planning firms in the midwest omaha magazine B2B winners since 2008 national, regional and local meetings and events nationally recognized as a leader in the meetings & event industry supporting our community through our nonprofit work and the boards/organizations we are members of planitomaha has been providing event and meeting management solutions for twenty years. we are a client-centric firm that provides unmatched service and professionalism. while proudly located in the midwest, our crazy-talented event team works from new york to la and everywhere in the middle.
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youth emergency Young adulthood is a time to transition into independence, explore career options and start a path to the future. Most young people have the support of their families, who provide a safety net when there are slips or stumbles. Some youth, however, are forced into tenuous situations from couch-surfing to outright living on the street. Youth Emergency Services (YES) can help them find resources and support that lead to a better life.
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StorY bY KARA SCHWEISS | photographY coUrtESY of YOUTH EMERGENCY SERVICES
services AT 45 AS president “the critical factor in whether youth and young adults can of the board of directors for Youth end their homelessness and go on to be healthy, emergencY services (Yes), Jeff Ziemba advocates for support, services and solutions successful adults—or are set on a path of recurring for Youth experiencing homelessness or near- trauma, victimization and chronic homelessness—is the availability of caring professionals who offer homelessness. eight Years ago, however, he meaningful opportunities. this is the role that Yes didn’t reallY believe it was a problem in the provides to youth and young adults in the omaha metro omaha area. area. Yes offers youth and young adults a variety of services from food and clothing to housing and services during a “day in the life” activity in which Ziemba to meet their individual needs,” he said. “these participated through leadership omaha, a team from interventions are the key to helping them establish a Yes talked about the services the organization provides. path to safe, stable housing and success… without Yes, but they also took a little tour, showing Ziemba’s group and the services and supports that it offers, hundreds of vacant lots and spaces under overpasses where young omaha youth would be left on a path of lifelong trauma people were trying to make shelter. and homelessness.”
center where they can get a hot meal, take a shower, wash their clothes, use the computer, talk to a therapist, see a nurse, and connect with staff and other youth. staff can also help them obtain identification. our team is very creative in making connections and helping youth figure out what’s next.”
suddenly, youth homelessness was painfully close and terribly real.
“for those youth ages 16-20 needing immediate housing, Yes has an emergency shelter. it has four beds and youth can stay around 21 days. Youth develop a plan to leave the shelter and move into housing. many are able to return to family, either their parents or another family member,” she said. “Youth and young adults do best with age-appropriate services. we provide them shelter with their peers and that helps them feel safe and included.”
“it really kind of knocked me on my back; you just don’t realize that these things go on here, that these problems exist here,” he said. “up until that point, i was probably like everyone else. i didn’t realize that youth homelessness was a thing…i had to get involved and see what i could do to help.” as a father of two, Ziemba said it’s hard to fathom that some young people lack the support systems and resources most people can take for granted. “where to sleep at night, their next meal—people at that age should not have to worry about those things,” he said.
Intervention is key Yes is the region’s largest provider of services for youth experiencing homelessness or at risk of becoming homeless. randy mccoy, the executive director of macch (metro area continuum of care for the homeless), said homelessness is traumatic for anyone who experiences it and especially challenging for youth and young adults just getting started in life. consequences are long-lasting.
although exact numbers are impossible to assess, Yes staff estimates that on any given night there are more than 300 youth living on the streets in omaha, and that number likely represents only a fraction of local young people (up to age 20) without a safe place to stay, Yes executive director mary fraser meints said. various crises drive youth to the streets or to be forced out of their family home: abuse or neglect, family conflict or instability, aging out of the foster care system, physical or mental health issues, substance abuse, pregnancy, family rejection of sexual orientation or gender identity, and many more. homelessness not only threatens a young person’s health, safety and well-being, it also makes a youth vulnerable to exploitation including sex trafficking.
at the center (2602 harney street), a trained staff of counselors, advocates and youth workers spends individual, focused time with residents to assist them in addressing their unique needs and concerns. addressing basic needs is just a first step, meints said. ultimately, Yes helps put its clients on a path to self-sufficiency intended to keep them off the streets for good.
if returning home isn’t an option, the organization assists with obtaining housing. “Yes has 14 beds in apartments or houses, for youth ages 16 through 21, in our transitional living program. the youth learn independent-living skills, get a job or attend school. they are asked to do community service hours,” she said.
“we hope we can find them before the alternative happens,” Ziemba said.
the stay can last up to 18 months. the first two months are free and then participants pay rent in increasing From crisis to stability amounts starting at $50. when young people leave the program, they receive 80 percent back of what they paid no matter what the crisis is, Yes services begin with in. pregnant or parenting young women at the meeting a young person’s immediate needs for food, organization’s maternity group home follow the same shelter, clothing and protection. guidelines, plus learn parenting skills from scheduling “the street outreach program is often the first contact Yes medical checkups to finding child care. Yes also has a new, low-barrier rapid rehousing program that has with youth,” meints said. “staff go out on the street to look for youth. they invite them to the street outreach provides rent and move-in financial support along with youth emergency services THE BIG CONNECTION
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THE BIG connection
youth emergency services AT 45
I THINK THESE YOUNG PEOPLE ARE
brave, RESILIENT AND RESOURCEFUL.
~ MARY FRASER MEINTS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, YOUTH EMERGENCY SERVICES
voluntary case management services like employment assistance and help with applying for government benefits.
and its staff applied for government grants and built the framework for a new program,” hadsell said. “it was really tough in the beginning.”
homelessness or near-homelessness. that mission continues today.
“from its small and shaky beginning, it has turned into a highly recognized program that is essential to our area. “the goal is self-sufficiency, whatever the youth identifies the group struggled to find funding and resources. mary (fraser meints), the director, has ensured that Yes for themselves,” meints said. “we connect them to the rented houses served as the first shelters as well as has the best staff, the best programs and the best board resources they need. they drive the services…all of our office and meeting space. growth was hard-won. in the area,” hadsell said. “Yes has captured the ability to programs are voluntary, so the youth are motivated to adjust to the changing needs of our youth who need participate and change.” “we were fighting for recognition in the local funding help. it has never been stuck in a rut of only doing one community as we knew government grants weren’t Hard-won growth thing. and the current staff and board continues to forever. we saw that many of the youth weren’t truly evaluate where the direction should head.” runaways; they were often escaping a bad home Like Matt Snyder (see sidebar on opposite page) the organization has come a long way. trustee cindy hadsell, situation and really the parents were the problem, especially due to abuse, drugs and alcohol. the need for Focus on prevention who was among the founders and held numerous the services grew steadily,” hadsell recalled. “but funding meints said she’s seen the number of young people leadership positions over the years including president, was always precarious, so we couldn’t offer adequate said Yes’s roots go back 50 years, to a 1970 task force served grow dramatically from around 900 per year salaries to retain staff. in the early days we often had to created by local citizens concerned about “runaways.” when she joined the organization in 2012 to more than rationalize that jobs at Yes were steppingstones to jobs 3,000 annually today. most now receive services that “it is a status offense for a minor to leave home but there at other agencies. turnover should have been higher, but prevent them from experiencing homelessness. were no safe places for them to go and try to be reunited the dedication of staff to the program kept them at Yes.” with their families. after a short pilot project for these “the change occurred because Yes analyzed what youth Yes, formally created in 1974, always managed to teens run by the Ymca closed in 1971, the united experiencing homelessness and near- homelessness in methodist metropolitan ministries picked up the mission continue its mission to serve young people experiencing our community need. we researched best practices in
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helping youth in crisis A powerful EXPERIENCE: Matt Snyder first became involved with yeS at age 19. He’d had a serious falling-out with his parents and had been hospitalized for mental health treatment. after discharge, he was referred to yeS. “I didn’t have anywhere to go. I didn’t have a plan or any friends, really. I didn’t have anything to fall back on,” he said. “I was in a really bad place.” a brief stay at the shelter was “a very powerful experience,” Snyder said. “at first I was really closed off, but I ended up talking with the staff and some of my peers and it really changed my perspective on a lot of things. It was during that time that I really figured out what I wanted to do and that I needed to keep going,” he said. “From there I was lucky to get accepted into the transitional Living program.”
YOUTH EMERGENCY SERVICES
three years later, Snyder is enjoying his independence. He works full-time installing garage doors but is attending classes at Metropolitan Community College and exploring long-term career options that play to his strengths in mathematics. He’s also a member of the yeS board of directors, providing an important perspective as a former client and serving as a liaison between the youth Council and the board. “all the board members have these extensive professional backgrounds that I don’t have. But what I have is the experience,” he said. Snyder has even reconciled with his parents. “Because of the space and the time that yeS gave me, I was able to repair that relationship.”
youth emergency services THE BIG CONNECTION
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THE BIG connection
youth emergency services AT 45 the country and participated in local studies. we then developed a continuum of services based on national best practices to meet the youth where they are,” she said. “our goal is to end youth homelessness and if it does occur, it is brief, rare and doesn’t reoccur for that particular youth. we focused our services in two areas: prevention and self-sufficiency. the dramatic increase in prevention services has helped prevent many youth from being homeless and find housing to get them out of homelessness. the majority of youth we serve, around 2,800, now receive preventive services. housing, independent-living skill-building, and job readiness programming help youth become self-sufficient.” because no nonprofit organization can be all things to all people, Yes has established numerous collaborations and partnerships over the years to ensure clients connect to appropriate services. “we have a niche and the last thing we want to do is reinvent the wheel, so we want to collaborate with other partners,” Ziemba said, emphasizing that every youth has a unique set of needs. “there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to our clients.” “we know we can’t do it all. we don’t do everything, but we connect (clients) to everything they need,” meints said. “we’re at a lot of community tables…and we have built our system so that a young person can come in in any direction.”
Community support there is still opportunity for growth, meints said, and the community can help. “there is a high need for shelter. we turn away more youth than we serve every year. the board and staff have set a strategic goal to increase shelter beds for youth experiencing homelessness. financial donations are needed to make this happen,” meints explained. “another area of growth is in the housing programs. we only have 19 units for transitional housing and we are able to serve about 40 youth per year. we have a waiting list and aren’t able to serve everyone who applies. we refer them to other services but there isn’t enough housing with services in our community to meet their needs.” the Yes website (yesomaha.org) lists volunteer and mentoring opportunities for community members, a wish list for most-needed material goods and a donation portal. “my biggest plea is just that people take time to understand there is an unmet need in our community to help kids who don’t have access to resources and don’t know who to turn to,” Ziemba said. “the sooner we recognize and embrace that and rally around it, the better off we’ll all be from a community perspective.” the Yes programs are working, meints said. “i love hearing the stories. every month, staff share stories of hope and resilience of the youth. hearing the staff talk with pride about how they connected with a youth is very satisfying. having a great team who knows the mission and their role is so important,” she said. “when a young person who was in our programs stops by the office to tell us how they are doing, i know it is all worthwhile. i think these young people are brave, resilient and resourceful.”
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helping youth in crisis
WITHOUT AND THE SERVICES AND SUPPORTS OF OMAHA YOUTH THAT IT OFFERS, TRAUMA WOULD BE LEFT ON A PATH OF AND HOMELESSNESS. ~ RANDY MCCOY
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, METRO AREA CONTINUUM OF CARE FOR THE HOMELESS
yes HAS CAPTURED THE ABILITY TO adjust TO THE changing NEEDS OF OUR YOUTH WHO NEED HELP.
~ CINDY HADSELL TRUSTEE, YOUTH EMERGENCY SERVICES
youth emergency services THE BIG CONNECTION
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cool runnings Having opened this past winter, the new dog park addition at Dewey Park is the cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s third, but its innovative amenities have been extremely well-received and are serving as a model for the next generation of Omaha dog parks now in development.
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stOry by KARA SCHWEISS | PhOtOgraPhy by ROGER HUMPHRIES
dewey dog park
THE 15,000-SQUARE-FOOT dog park addition at dewey Park debuted ON A CHILLY DAY IN EARLY DECEMBER last year. but the weather was no deterrent to area dogs and their owners, said THEN-director brook bench of the city’s Parks, recreation & Public ProPerty dePartment. the dog Park, which is oPen to everyone, has been a hit since day one.
“i also think the umbrella sunshades are pretty cool.”
Pooch and people parties
dewey Park, which is located along turner boulevard south of harney street in the midtown area, has multiple people amenities including tennis and handball courts, basketball hoops and playground equipment. the dog park addition is separated by six-foot perimeter fencing “a lot of dog owners will like to hear that there’s no mud,” and provides owners with pet waste bag dispensers and bench said, explaining that foot and paw traffic can trash receptacles, so the canine occupants don’t interfere quickly turn a grassy area bare. “at dewey it’s all turf— with other park activities. the area allocated for the dog no grass—and the whole thing is irrigated so it can be park was a former green space, bench said, so nothing flushed and go straight to sewer. so if we have several had to be compromised to accommodate the addition. a days without rain, we can turn on the irrigation system Parks department building at the site, once used for and let it run so it can clean the whole facility.” teaching health and safety classes, has meeting spaces and staff work spaces to support a full schedule of Doggie delight the park boasts two synthetic-turf play areas including activities, many of them canine-friendly. one designated for smaller dogs, an elevated play platform, agility features, sunshades with bench seating, “we really want to start the activation of the park; we’re going to start a whole new line of events we’ve never and a water play area open in warmer months. it’s distinctly different from the city’s other dog park areas at done at any of our dog parks,” bench said, adding that fundraising efforts for the park has created some new hanscom Park in midtown and hefflinger Park in partnerships that he hopes will foster ongoing northwest omaha. programming and reach people in the area who are not “we reached out and talked to many different folks about aware of or haven’t taken advantage of what city parks what they would like to see if we built something like and facilities have to offer. this,” bench said. dewey Park was an ideal site, he added. the midtown location is surrounded by condos and key donors for the project included cella Quinn of cella other multi-family residences, meaning many of the dog Quinn investment services, urban village development, owners in the neighborhood don’t have yards for their Jill slupe with the omaha west rotary foundation, four-legged friends to run in and there were limited omaha dog Park advocates, midtown crossing and large, dog-friendly spaces in the area. mutual of omaha, the nebraska humane society, and baxter subaru. community members can still support city landscape architect and Park Planner John williams the project by contributing to is ongoing maintenance said he found multiple sources of inspiration for the through the omaha Parks foundation park’s design. (omahaparksfoundation.org). “i looked at images of other dog parks across the country to see what they did and also brainstormed with a few other park planners in my department to come up with ideas,” he said. “one thing i knew i wanted, given the limited space, was as big of an open area as possible to allow the dogs to have unobstructed running room.” williams said his favorite dog park elements are the water features.
CAPTIONS PROVIDED BY PARTNER/SOURCE
CAPTIONS PROVIDED BY PARTNER/SOURCE
feedback from the public has been overwhelmingly positive, bench said. the city is planning similar dog park additions at miller Park in north omaha and as part of the gene leahy mall renovation downtown, and is also expecting to eventually open a dog park near the riverfront. “we’re going to be very busy,” bench said.
dewey dog park OMAHA PARKS AND RECREATION
CAPTIONS PROVIDED BY PARTNER/SOURCE
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Marjorie M. Maas, SHARE Omaha executive director
lifting up do-gooders
• share omaha
DOING GOOD IS for the dogs…and cats Who is a do-gooder? Either you are one, or you know a few. SHARE Omaha deﬁnes do-gooders as those who see a need and do good for others or the community; those who raise their hands to help when a crisis or challenge arises around them; and those who regularly prioritize this good work, even in the light of personal sacriﬁce. SHARE Omaha tells stories of volunteers, donors and general do-gooders regularly on our blog at SHAREomaha.org, and with this column we seek to act as a megaphone for those making our community and metro area better. These dogooders could be individuals, businesses, families or nonproﬁt organizations.
Give them a GRRIN
Why did Woods gravitate toward a shelter? “Animals are always so happy to see you and never want something in exchange,” she said, adding that this not only applies to every dog, but that cats also want attention. “(There’s) never an animal that doesn’t want a piece of you.”
marjorie m. maas
Woods makes a case for those unfamiliar with animal shelters. “People go in there thinking (the animals) are just in a cage. I could never get behind that. (The dogs and cats) get walked, exercise, cookies. It is not a negative thing for an animal to be in a shelter.”
GRRIN, or Golden Retriever Rescue in Nebraska, attracted Jacki Wild to foster for the ﬁrst time in May 2019. She and her family have a dog and wanted to ﬁnd him Kori Nelson, director of development and marketing for MHS, said the a friend. After a little research, she found GRRIN, and the story of the organization’s urgent needs include gifts of time. organization’s dedication to the memory of a fallen hero and devoted golden retriever friend “tugged at (her) heartstrings.” Quickly after beginning her ﬁrst “Fostering animals, particularly kittens, is almost always a need, along with people fostering experience, with a golden named Zoey, she realized how much Zoey wanting to learn to work with dogs who need extra training and attention before they can be placed with a family. Volunteers would give us extra hands, possibly meant to her and her household. taking our dogs oﬀsite to help them experience the outside world, making them more adoptable.” “She was ours,”Wild said of Zoey. The foster dog was nine years old and had recently been diagnosed with a cancerous tumor. Zoey’s time with Wild turned Woods also fosters kittens and said she is grateful for the opportunity to support into more of a hospice experience until the dog’s passing in December 2019. Midlands Humane Society at home, too. She is a foster parent of new cat moms with babies and orphan kittens. MHS provides all the tools to become a successful “I wouldn’t trade a minute of it,”Wild recounted of nursing Zoey. Wild’s family has since been fostering another golden through GRRIN, a puppy this time, during the foster parent: kitty litter, food, toys, beds, linens and medical supplies if needed. “The best part of being a foster parent is that I get to surround myself with kittens COVID-19 period. anytime I want!” she said. Wild said she has the utmost respect for the organization and that GRRIN’s process and integrity impresses her greatly. The team does this work selﬂessly, all Woods added that her work with the Midlands Humane Society makes her feel “so good.”That motivates her to keep coming back, she said, and “the people are as volunteers, and GRRIN celebrates 30 years of service in 2021. pretty awesome, too.”Woods said she credits the camaraderie to shared passion, “The dedication (the Wild family) demonstrated in caring for Zoey is representative and that the hope the human team has for these animals is overwhelmingly of the care we at GRRIN give all of our foster dogs, but as a ﬁrst-time foster family, positive. “I guess you have to go in there and see it.” they were incredible,” GRRIN’s local leader, Barb Garrett, said. “Most of the dogs that come into GRRIN’s care simply could not be kept by their original families, and I am extremely proud of the foster system we have in place to give them a comfortable home during their transition.” Wild said she encourages others to foster pets. “It is a leap to become a foster… but once you take that leap, it is the easiest thing.”
Be humane about it Teresa Woods, a consistent community volunteer, tried something new two years ago: serving at an animal shelter. She has exceeded 300 hours of service each year at Midlands Humane Society (MHS) in Council Bluﬀs. “I usually spend all day Sunday at the shelter starting at 7 a.m.: walking dogs, spoiling them and giving them treats. For the rest of the day I help with cat care: cleaning their colonies, dishes, laundry and windows. And my day doesn’t feel complete until the ﬂoor is mopped and looking good.” 38
Who are your do-gooders? We bet you can think of people like these devoted animal lovers: people who have been extremely moved by a cause close to their hearts and lives. Tell us! Shoot an email to info@SHAREomaha.org or ﬁnd us on social media. SHARE Omaha exists to be a conduit between nonproﬁt needs and public doing good. The best ways, we think, to spur that action is to inspire through telling stories of do-gooder actions and emphasizing that tiny acts of goodness add up to a healthy and engaged community. Find your ﬁt for volunteering and supporting the causes you care about at SHAREomaha.org.
mmagazine • JUne 2020
Photos courtesy of SHARE Omaha
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Donna Kush, President and CEO
• omaha Community Foundation
LEADING THROUGH CRISIS: FACING THE challenges OF OUR community The events of the last three months have changed us all; they have changed our community, our businesses, and nonprofits. How we work, where we work, and how we live is different, new and unchartered. And there is historic unrest locally and around the nation as we grapple with untangling decades of systemic racism. I took the helm of the Omaha Community Foundation in mid-March, just as the country— and this community—was starting to feel the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. Though a challenging time to start a new role, it was also a rewarding time to join the Foundation at this period in its 38-year history. OCF has earned a reputation for helping direct strategic investment throughout the region, and for cultivating philanthropy and making it accessible to more people through programs like Omaha Gives!. We have spent the past four years learning through The Landscape, our community indicator research that has shed light on where there are opportunities as a community for us to make progress. I’m proud of the Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund, which was launched within days of the arrival of the coronavirus in our community and has now raised well over $1 million. It’s a great example of how an innovative and nimble organization should work. The grants made through the fund are a reflection of the Landscape research, addressing those basic and urgent needs such as food, rent/mortgages, financial assistance, health care, mental health and PPE (personal protective equipment). We immediately understood that many of our most vulnerable residents would need support at a level not seen in modern times. Our work has given us a deep understanding of our community, specifically our residents at risk during this time and the nonprofits working to address their needs. Support of our nonprofits and the work they do has never been stronger, as was evident by the number of donors and donations during Omaha Gives!. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has only amplified some of the disparities that already existed in the Omaha-Council Bluffs metropolitan area; disparities such as health outcomes, education, housing and more. We are learning every day from our nonprofit community, many of whom
are on the front lines of the pandemic. They are sharing not only what they are seeing on the ground, but how their organizations are adapting and responding to this unprecedented need. In addition to the pandemic, our country and community has shared tremendous grief in the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man killed by law enforcement officers in donna kush Minneapolis, Minnesota, and many racially motivated crimes in our country and in our own community. We stand in solidarity with movement leaders and community members in their call for justice on behalf of George Floyd, the anguish over the death of James Scurlock and others in our own city, and the loss of far too many other black lives in America. We understand that a thriving community cannot exist where all are not welcome, protected, and regarded as equals. Therefore, our team will continue to use our power and thought leadership to support the most vulnerable in our community, ensuring all can lead a life by their own design. Understanding and promoting equity will drive our work for the foreseeable future. We will continue to share our knowledge with the community and use it to guide decisions and investments. And we will continue to inspire a new generation of philanthropy with equity and justice as cornerstones of our efforts. How we do our work may never be the same, but why we do the work endures: to strengthen this community and provide opportunity for all. I am fortunate to be leading the Foundation through this next chapter and working alongside you to create substantive and equitable change. We invite anyone to join us in learning more about the work of the Omaha Community Foundation and our COVID-19 Response Fund by visiting omahafoundation.org or calling (402) 342-3458.
mmagazine • JUne 2020
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mary e. VandenaCK Mary Vandenack, while a lawyer by profession, has studied extensively in mind/body areas of fitness and wellness. She is Yoga Alliance RYT-200, Power Pilates certified and ACE certified.
WHAT HAS gratitude practice “Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson THERE ARE A LOT OF QUALITIES THAT MAKE GOOD LEADERS. PRACTICING MINDFULNESS CAN CULTIVATE THESE QUALITIES. Scientific studies have shown that gratitude can improve our health, our wellbeing and our resilience. Engaging in a practice of gratitude can result in a person having a greater capacity for positive emotions.
~ William Shakespeare
What exactly is gratitude? Various dictionaries define gratitude as “the state of being thankful.” A definition found in psychiatric research is “the appreciation of what is valuable and meaningful to oneself and represents a general state of thankfulness and/or appreciation.” Robert A. Emmons, author of the book Thanks, writes that gratitude consists of two components. The first is acknowledgement of goodness in our lives. We may have something that exists already in our lives or we might receive something that we appreciate. The second aspect involves recognition of goodness that exists outside ourselves (although many of us also need to acknowledge that goodness exists within). Why is gratitude important? A regular gratitude practice can deepen well-being, improve relationships, result in greater ability to deal with difficult life situations and help one refocus on that which is positive when life circumstances are difficult. A gratitude practice can help one with both mental and physical health. How do I practice gratitude? Gratitude meditation: Many think of meditation as sitting on a mat in a quiet space; however, meditations can be achieved in many forms. As an alternate to a sitting meditation, one might engage in a walking meditation. Personally, during the summer, I love a walk before everyone else is up. There are numerous guided gratitude meditations readily available on the internet or through a meditation app. The key to a gratitude meditation is simply focusing on that which you are grateful for.
Gratitude journal: Keep a gratitude journal. You can write detailed lists of things you are grateful for or you can note a word or two. In my gratitude journal, I save notes and articles given to me by others. While reducing home clutter recently, I was going through a drawer and planned to toss everything in it. However, I came across an old gratitude journal that contained a collection of notes and articles I had received during one of my most grateful life periods. I moved that journal to a more readily available location. Gratitude jar: One year, a friend gave me a blessings jar for Christmas. He made me a pile of slips on which I could note blessings and put a few samples in the jar for me. Over a period of time, I filled the blessings jar with slips. Then, when I felt down, I would pull several of the slips from the blessings jar and read those notes to help me refocus on what I am grateful for. Opening conversations with gratitude: I used to love teaching parent/child yoga classes. At the end of each class, I would ask both parent and child to express one thing about the other for which each was grateful. Those moments often resulted in hugs, tears, and expressions of love between parent and child that were unforgettable to me.
ENVISION YOUR FUTURE: PREVENT DISEASE DISCOVER HEALTH! YOU DESERVE A BEAUTIFUL, HEALTHY SMILE!
Dr. Stephanie Vondrak • Dr. Ashley Rainbolt Vondrak Dental (402) 289-2313 email@example.com
THE CHOICE IS YOURS! 41
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• with Vw law
CONGRESS ADDS flexibility FOR ppp borrowers The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), loans for small businesses, has been a popular program but subject to multiple and constant changes in the applicable rules. In June, Congress made changes that generally enhance flexibility for borrowers and will make forgiveness of the PPP loans easier to attain.
mary e. vandenack and michael j. weaver
The original legislation required that borrowers use the loan proceeds within eight weeks and that 75 percent of the forgivable portion of such proceeds be used for payroll costs. The original eight-week timeframe was extended to 24 weeks for borrowers who needed more time to make full use of the funds. This provision was very helpful for businesses who were shut down in part or totally and reopening in phases. The requirement that 75 percent of the loan proceeds must be spent on payroll costs was relaxed to 60 percent. This provided borrowers greater flexibility in allocating PPP funds between payroll and non-payroll costs. Under the June rules, most borrowers should be able to develop a strategy to satisfy the“60-percent test.” The June legislation indicated there would be no forgiveness for borrowers who do not meet the“60-percent test.”Fortunately, the U.S. Treasury Department and the Small Business Administration released a joint statement abolishing such a cliff. This means if a borrower spends less than 60 percent of the PPP loan amount for expenses that otherwise would be forgivable for payroll, state payroll taxes, group health insurance and retirement plans during the eight-week or 24-week testing period, then that borrower will get some forgiveness, rather than no forgiveness. In earlier versions of PPP forgiveness legislation, employers were required to call employees back to work no later than June 30, 2020. The June legislation provides employers the opportunity to restore their workforce and compensation at any time prior to December 31. The legislation also includes two new“safe harbors”for borrowers to avoid penalties if they cannot fully restore all employees. Borrowers will not be penalized if they could not find qualified employees after a good-faith search, or if they were unable to restore business operations to pre-pandemic levels due to COVID-19-related operating restrictions. Borrowers on loans made on or after June 5 will have five years to repay any non-forgiven amounts rather than two years. Lenders are permitted, by mutual agreement, to extend existing loans from two years to five years. Deferral of loan payments for employers runs until such time as the lender receives the determination of the forgiveness amount from the Small Business Administration. Previously, the deferral was set to expire six months after the loan date. Borrowers will have up to 10 months after the end of the covered period to apply for forgiveness before payments on nonforgiven amounts. 42
Businesses receiving PPP forgiveness will also be permitted to defer payroll tax. The provision permits businesses to defer up to one-half of payroll taxes coming due in 2020 and pay those taxes in 2021 and 2022.The deferral had been previously limited to businesses not receiving PPP forgiveness.
In addition to the June legislation, some additional guidance has emerged with respect to the forgiveness process: using weekly or bi-weekly pay periods may align their • Borrowers covered period with their pay periods by delaying the commencement of their covered period to the first day of the next pay period beginning after the loan origination date. Borrowers using other pay periods are not permitted to make this adjustment. “incurred” during the covered period can still be included as • Costforgivable expenses if they are paid by the next pay date or due date after the expiration of the covered period. to the cap on compensation for any one employee, • Subject additional payments for “hazard pay” or bonuses will count as forgivable payroll costs. with more than one business will be limited to • Owner-employees the capped amount across all businesses.
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• swartzbaugh-Farber & assoCiates, inC.
ARE you prepared? WHAT DO the Boy Scouts, Bill Gates, and a good financial advisor have in common? Preparation. The Boy Scouts of America credo is “Be Prepared.” Scouts earn merit badges in all areas of life: crafts, first aid, elementary finance, athletics, construction, etc., to get them ready to be productive adults. They are taught good lifetime habits. In 2015 Bill Gates produced a video description of what a health pandemic could do if we didn’t prepare and take advantage of lessons learned from the Spanish Flu pandemic and Ebola outbreak. He urged to prepare now, and he described how to do it. A good financial advisor educates and counsels clients on the importance of being prepared for financial independence by establishing consistent and continuous savings and investment habits, and managing risk. For those of us beyond Scouting age and not able to directly influence national policy, we can concentrate on being financially prepared; in this case, one out of three isn’t bad. Some will see the events of the last three or four months as a wakeup call, others may be okay with minor adjustments. Market corrections are part of long-term investing. Short-term volatility of a 10- to 30-percent drop occurs a couple of times in each generation, and has been followed by an upturn that restores the losses about 80 percent of the time after two to three years and the market continues upward. The latest correction in March happened when the S&P 500 was at record heights.
Corrections are recorded as far back as 1688, according to Jason Zweig in a March Wall Street Journal article. How can these periods be avoided? They cannot. Periods of prosperity have always been followed by adjustments due jim farber to changing business cycles, profittaking, or world-changing events such as wars or health calamities. So there is always risk. Risk cannot be avoided, but it can be managed. This is where good planning comes in: 1) Establish or review saving habits. 2) Determine your risk tolerance and invest in an IRA, and/or 3) Invest in your employer’s 401(k).
These are basic steps. As part of the process, acquiring the advice of a good financial planner will help flesh out a customized path that can lead to financial security. Items like immediate cash requirements, dollar cost averaging (buying at a discount when markets decline), debt management, budgeting and desired retirement income are all part of planning and it is never too early to start. BE PREPARED. For more information, please contact your trusted advisor at Swartzbaugh-Farber – ‘Client Centered – Client Advocates™’. Securities and Investment Advisory services offered through M Holdings Securities, Inc., a Registered Broker/Dealer and Investment Advisor, Member FINRA/SIPC. Swartzbaugh-Farber and Associates, Inc. is independently owned and operated.
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event galleries | save the date
save the date updated event dates WHEN YOU SEE THE “BIG RED” LEARN MORE ABOUT THESE ORGANIZATIONS IN THE GIVING GUIDE 2020!
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many charitable events were postponed or canceled. Many rescheduled events remain in an ongoing state of flux and readjustment. In the pages that follow we have partnered with participating nonprofits to provide the latest information available. Please check with all organizations and visit our COMMUNITY CALENDAR webpage at SpiritofOmaha.com for continuously revised updates!
! r e h t e g o t s i h t ! 0 n i 2 l l 0 a 2 e n r i a d e e t w c e n n o c u o y g n keepi 45
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Photos courtesy of Girl Scouts Spirit of Nebraska
Adventures Girl Scouts Spirit of Nebraska artVenture Goes Virtual! When: March 24-28, 2020 Where: Virtual! Our original event partner was UNO's Mammel Hall CAPTIONS
Why: artVenture is a silent auction benefiting Girl Scouts Spirit of Nebraska, featuring nearly 200 original works of art. Girl Scouts are matched with professional area artists and work in collaboration to create original works of art to be sold at the event. The artists are also invited to submit their own works into the silent auction. Caterer: Catering Creations Multimedia: MacRae Lighting and Sound Attendance: 200 remote bidders Amount Raised: $143,000 Mission: Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place.
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For more information: (402) 558- 8189, www.girlscoutsnebraska.org
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Photos courtesy of Brownell Talbot College Preparatory School
Brownell Talbot College Preparatory School Brownell Talbot, 68132 When: April 10-May 9, 2020 Where: Facebook and brownell.edu/gala KRISTI GIBBS
SAMANTHA, DEB, JACK, AND JIM DODD
Why: Gala is Brownell Talbot College Preparatory School's most important annual fundraising event, which supports students, faculty, and school throughout the year. Special Guests: Actress Gabrielle Carteris made an impromptu appearance at a Zoom event to encourage bids shortly before the close of the auction. Amount Raised: $975,000 Mission: Brownell Talbot College Preparatory School. Every student. Every mind. Every heart. Known. Inspired. Challenged. About: Nebraska's only private, independent day school for students age 3 to grade 12.
LARRY AND LIZ MAZZOTTA
GRACE, ’20, RICK, KATHERINE, SUE, AND LAUREN, ’17 THADEN
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For more information: (402) 556-3772 and brownell.edu
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Photos courtesy of Omaha Children’s Museum
Omaha Children’s Museum For the Kids Benefit (Virtual) When: April 22 – May 2, 2020 Where: Online
2020 RAINBOW CONNECTORS GUILD
Why: For the Kids Benefit is the largest annual fundraiser supporting Omaha Children's Museum. The benefit is critically important to the museum's operations, raising more than $300,000 annually. The fundraiser was even more important this year. Contributions raised at this year's online fundraiser will sustain the museum during its extended closure and ensure it reopens ready to serve our community with fresh exhibits, new programs and a beloved staff who understand and care about our children. Every donation to this event $100 and over was generously matched by an anonymous donor up to $20,000. Amount Raised: $238,650 For more information: (402) 342-6164, firstname.lastname@example.org
THE KENTUCKY DERBY THEMED EVENT BROUGHT SOUTHERN INSPIRED PACKAGES SUCH AS A PRIVATE SHRIMP BOIL
CELEBRATING THE EVENT ON ZOOM
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Photos courtesy of Nebraska Wildlife Rehab, inc.
NIGHT OF THE
Nebraska Wildlife Rehab, Inc. Bats Fly Free at Virtual Event
When: April 21, 2020 Where: Nebraska Wildlife Rehab Why: Each year Nebraska Wildlife Rehab rehabilitates more than 400 bats during their winter hibernation time. In the spring, when the weather is good and insects are plentiful, these bats are released back into the wild where they belong! Attendance: 10 (the gathering limit due to COVID-19) Amount Raised: $1,355 Mission: Our mission is to rehabilitate native Nebraska wildlife and migratory birds for return to the wild; to preserve and restore native habitats; to educate youth and adults about the importance of wildlife and ecosystems by engaging them in projects and activities that contribute to the well-being of our natural environment and inspire them to take action to protect it; and to support others engaged in similar projects and activities. For more information: (402) 234-2473, www.nebraskawildliferehab.org
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note these events! ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
EDITOR’S NOTE: DUE TO THE COVID19 PANDEMIC many events remain “in flux”… Our normal event calendar format is therefore suspended indefinitely.
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• WITH STEPHANIE VONDRAK
COVID-19: A mixed blessing Defined by Webster: “The tipping point: the critical point in a situation, process, or system beyond which a significant and often unstoppable effect or change takes place.” For those of you unfamiliar with “the tipping point,” it is the concept that an escalating amount of stimulus will initiate unstoppable change in an individual’s life and, similarly, in the world. Never have I felt this theory to be so relevant as I did March 10, 2020, the day the government shutdown forced me to lay oﬀ all of my employees/team/mothers/friends. This is the day the COVID pandemic became real in my life. The idea that as a dentist I would have to learn how unemployment compensation works, advise my team members on safe practices among the threat of aerosols, and implement plans to care for my patients on an emergency basis only was—needless to say—surreal. To give you a bit more context, the week leading up to the COVID pandemic was one of the most challenging in my life. My mother, who has so bravely battled ALS for the last two years, was hospitalized and forced to face the devastation of her progressing disease. To say I was slightly distracted from the looming virus would be akin to saying the Titanic sinking was a mild disaster.
What I ﬁnd amazing about this shutdown is the roller-coaster eﬀect it has had on the masses. In fact, I’m going to boldly state that as a species we—humans—have never been more connected. We have universally experienced many stephanie vondrak d.d.s. of the same feelings at the same time. From fear of getting sick to sadness for those who are sick to grief for those who have died to confusion about how to maintain a sense of normalcy in our lives, we are all in this together. For me personally, COVID has been a mixed blessing. I have experienced the loss of community and purpose without the ability to care for my patients and team. I have felt the ﬁnancial burden of lost income and the pressure of being the sole provider in my household. But I have also found the gift of time, a commodity that has eluded my life for many years. You see, I’ve always been a hard charger, a driver. One of those high-energy people with a deep desire to impact the world around me, and I’ve been lucky. I have had the opportunity to work with amazing patients. Fantastic individuals that have trusted me to treat their jaw pain, straighten their teeth, cosmetically transform their smiles, and most importantly, be a part of their lives. I’ve worked diligently to create a thriving atmosphere for my dental team. I have been honored to lecture throughout the U.S., I’ve written a book, and I’ve met inspiring people during my continuing education pursuits. Now, meet COVID-19. (Insert pandemic arrives.) Prepare for a jolt. Crank the emergency brake. Stop dead in your tracks. Everything is ON HOLD. Then BREATHE. The pandemic, with all its fear and uncertainty, has given me many blessings as well. I’ve spent time with my parents to care for their medical needs, to sit and talk, to conduct FaceTime conversations with my 97-year-old grandpa and to enjoy my mom’s impromptu drive-by birthday party. I have had the of gift of cooking actual meals with my kids that we sit down and eat together. Without the stress of busy sports schedules, I have spread mulch in the yard with my 13year-old son, captured earthworms as pets for my little guy, and taken a 10-hour drive to fulﬁll my daughter’s dream: her very own mini dachshund puppy, Paisley. The pandemic has offered me permission to slow down without question or guilt, the chance to create a tipping point in my own life giving me the opportunity to choose to make an impact on my own small world. My hope is that as you read this column the concept of humans as a collective group with similar challenges and feelings rings true. I hope you can visualize a few mixed blessings in your own life and that you have some time to reﬂect on your potential tipping points before moving forward. We all have a long way to go in 2020, much to be learned and much to be gained. But what we know for certain is that we—humans—are all in this together!
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