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A publication of the Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging

December 2019 VOL. 44 • NO. 12

ENOA 4780 South 131st Street Omaha, NE 68137-1822


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New Horizons old • er 74 adul ts since 19


A De La Salle Christian brother for more than a half century, Brother William Woeger has served the Archdiocese of Omaha for more than 40 years. As a liturgical design consultant, Brother Woeger has advised architects during the construction of churches around the country including Omaha’s St. Cecilia Cathedral. In 1986, he founded the Cathedral Arts Project, an effort that has brought concerts, flower festivals, and art exhibits to the archdiocese. Leo Adam Biga’s profile of Brother Woeger begins on page 8.

Resource fair Douglas County Commissioner Mary Ann Borgeson with former Washington County Commissioner Duane Wilcox at the Celebrating Older Adults and Caregivers Resource Fair held at ENOA. See page 4.

Leadership Larry Courtnage, seen here with his wife, Kathy, started C & A Industries in 1969. After his daughter, Kim, took her life in 1986, Larry and Kathy established the Kim Foundation. See page 16.

Fremont Friendship Center You’re invited to visit the Fremont Friendship Center, 1730 W. 16th St. (Christensen Field), for the following: • Dec. 4: Music by Pam Kragt @ 10:30 a.m. • Dec. 7: Annual craft show from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. • Dec. 11: Music by Bill Chrastil @ 10:30 a.m. • Dec. 11: Monthly birthday party @ 11:30 a.m. • Dec. 18: Music by Billy Troy @ 10:30 a.m. • Dec. 18: Enjoy cinnamon rolls from Nye @ 8:45 a.m. • Dec. 19: Ugly Christmas sweater contest and a cookie/ candy exchange @ 10 a.m. • Dec. 19: White elephant bingo @ 10:30 a.m. The center will be closed on Dec. 24 & 25 for Christmas. Walking in the main arena Tuesday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. is encouraged. The Fremont Friendship Center is open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Lunch is served at 11:30 a.m. A $4 contribution is suggested for lunch. Reservations must be made by noon the business day prior to the meal you wish to enjoy. For meal reservations and more information, please call Laurie at 402-727-2815.

Millard Senior Center You’re invited to visit the Millard Senior Center at Montclair, 2304 S. 135th Ave., this month for the following: • Dec. 4: African dressmaking @ 9 a.m. • Dec. 6: Treat Day. Bring a snack or treat to share. • Dec. 9: Board meeting @ 9:45 a.m. • Dec. 11: Music by Bit of Bronze @ 10 a.m. • Dec. 17: Join us at the movies. Time and movie TBA later. • Dec. 17: Blood pressure checks @ 9:30 a.m. • Dec. 18: P.A.W.S. meeting @ 10 a.m. • Dec. 20: Christmas party @ 10 a.m. • Dec. 21: Visit the Holland Center for the Omaha’s Symphony’s Christmas show. We’ll load the buses @ 12:45 p.m. The facility will be closed on Christmas Day. The center is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Lunch is served @ 11:30 a.m. A $4 donation is suggested for the meal. Reservations are due by noon the business day prior to the meal the participant wishes to enjoy. Other center activities include walking, card games, dominoes, quilting, needlework, chair volleyball, and bingo. For reservations or more information, please call 402546-1270.

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Ten tips for reducing the cost of your energy bills Here are 10 easy ways homeowners can cut down the costs of their energy bills: • Install a programmable thermostat to keep temperatures from getting too hot or too cold when you’re not at home. It may be tempting to crank up the heat on cold days, but the lower the temperature inside a house, the slower the heat loss. • Turn off the lights when you leave a room. It’s one of the easiest ways to save money. It costs almost $20 a year to leave one light on for eight hours a day. While you’re at it, unplug appliances when they’re not in use. Keeping them plugged in drains energy. • Open your drapes for warmth, especially on southern-facing windows. Let your home soak up some natural sunlight instead of turning up the heat. • Plant trees outside your windows so the shade can help cut air conditioning costs in the summer. Fall is an ideal time to start digging. • Replace your air filters at least every three months. A dirty air filter slows down airflow and makes your system work harder. • Look for the ENERGY STAR® label when buying new windows — it means the windows meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. • Consider installing double or triplepane windows that have high-performance glass. The air, or in some cases gas, in between the windowpanes acts as extra insulation. Trained professionals can help homeowners decide what types of windows work best. They can install them according to local building codes and specifications. • Check for air leaks around windows, doors, and pipes. Many of these areas can be filled with caulk or special coverings. Additionally, ensure weather-stripping around windows and doors is in good condition and isn’t frayed or worn down. You can tell if there’s an air leak around your windows by holding your hand close to the edges and determining if there’s a draft, holding up incense to see if the smoke wavers, or if you see light coming through the edges. • Turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting to prevent surges in your bill. • Set up a professional energy audit to get a thorough assessment of your home’s energy use. You can find information on how to do it yourself or where to find a professional on the U.S Department of EnHorizonAD-2010:HorizonAD-08 2/4/10 8:00 AM ergy’s website.

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National Institute on Aging To help meet the urgent need for therapies that will effectively treat or prevent Alzheimer’s disease, the National Institute on Aging (NIA) has launched two new research centers with funding expected to total more than $73 million over the next five years. The Alzheimer Centers for the Discovery of New Medicines are designed to diversify and reinvigorate the Alzheimer’s disease drug development pipeline. The centers will provide added infrastructure for developing high-quality research tools and technologies needed to validate and advance the next generation of drug targets for Alzheimer’s disease. Data, research methodologies, and computational and experimental tools will be disseminated openly and free of charge to the broader research community – including academia and industry – for use in drug discovery and research to better understand the complex biology of the disease. With the growing aging population, Alzheimer’s disease is among the greatest public health challenges of the 21st century. It affects an estimated 5.6 million older Americans alone, a number that could rise as high as 14 million by 2050 without effective treatment and prevention. There are few treatments approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and several recent, late-stage clinical trials testing disease-modifying drug candidates have failed. “Scientists will advance drug discovery for new targets to the point of attracting external partners who can take them into clinical development,” said Lorenzo Refolo, Ph.D., program director for Alzheimer’s Translational Research at NIA.

AARP Information Center You’re invited to attend an AARP-sponsored musical program on Tuesday, Dec. 10 featuring singer Michael Lyon. The 1:30 p.m. program – which is for AARP members and non-members – will be held at AARP’s Nebraska Information Center, Suite 220 inside the Center Mall, 42nd and Center streets. For more information, please call 402398-9568. Volunteers are needed at AARP’s Information Center to answer telephones, provide information, register people for AARP-sponsored events, and help people who walk into the office. Training and orientation will be provided. Assistance is needed Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 1 to 4 p.m. For more information, please call 402Page 1 398-9568 or 402-393-2066.

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December 2019

Vols needed study to determine Located in Bellevue impact of handrails for persons Christmas Open House Dec. 8 who have Parkinson’s disease at the Sarpy County Museum


olunteers are invited to participate in a study at the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Biomechanics Research building. The study is investigating the effects of handrails on stability in persons affected by Parkinson’s disease. People with or without Parkinson’s disease are needed. The volunteers must be over age 60, have no orthopedic, vascular, cardiac, or other neurological disease, or who have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and are able to walk continuously for 15 minutes. Participants – who will receive a gift card as compensation – will be asked to answer questions about their health and daily activities, perform a series of balance tests, and walk on a treadmill. For more information, contact Meghan Prusia at or 402290-2983.


ou’re encouraged to visit the Sarpy County Museum – 2402 Clay St. in Bellevue – on Sunday, Dec. 8 for its annual Christmas Open House. The 2 to 4 p.m. festivities will include more than 25 nativity sets from around the world, a dozen Christmas trees sponsored by local organizations, holiday treats, and music by the Handbell Ministry. The open house will also feature door prizes and a drawing for the winner of the 201 Raffle quilt. Raffle tickets will be on sale at the museum. For more information, please call the Sarpy County Museum at 402-292-1880.

New Horizons New Horizons is the official publication of the Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging. The paper is distributed free to people over age 60 in Douglas, Sarpy, Dodge, Washington, and Cass counties. Those living outside the 5-county region may subscribe for $5 annually. Address all correspondence to: Jeff Reinhardt, Editor, 4780 S. 131st Street, Omaha, NE 68137-1822. Phone 402-444-6654. FAX 402-444-3076. E-mail: Advertisements appearing in New Horizons do not imply endorsement of the advertiser by the Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging. However, complaints about advertisers will be reviewed and, if warranted, their advertising discontinued. Display and insert advertising rates available on request. Open rates are commissionable, with discounts for extended runs. Circulation is 20,000 through direct mail and freehand distribution.

Editor....................................................Jeff Reinhardt Ad Mgr................Mitch Laudenback, 402-444-4148 Contributing Writers......Nick Schinker & Leo Biga ENOA Board of Governors: Mary Ann Borgeson, Douglas County, chairperson; Lisa Kramer, Washington County, vice-chairperson; Janet McCartney, Cass County, secretary; David Saalfeld, Dodge County, & Jim Warren, Sarpy County. The New Horizons and the Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging provide services without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, marital status, disability, or age.

December 2019

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Corrigan Senior Center

Borgeson, ENOA host resource fair for caregivers

You’re invited to visit the Corrigan Senior Center, 3819 X St., this month for: • Dec. 19: Toenail clinic @ 9:30 a.m. • Dec. 19: Christmas party featuring entertainment by Aaron Shoemaker @ 11 a.m. • Dec. 19: Music by students from Sts. Peter and Paul Elementary School @ 12:30 p.m. • Dec. 27: The Merrymakers present music by Tim Javorsky @ 11 a.m. • Dec. 31: Roaring Twenties New Year’s Eve Party @ 11 a.m. The center will be closed on Christmas Day. Other activities include craft and social hour Wednesday @ 10:30 a.m., bingo Monday and Thursday @ 1 p.m., ceramics class Wednesday @ 1 p.m., and Happy Hands crochet group Tuesday @ 10 a.m. The Corrigan Senior Center is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Lunch is served at noon. A $4 contribution is normally suggested for the meal. Reservations are normally due by noon the business day prior to the meal you wish to enjoy. For meal reservations or more information, please call 402-731-7210.

Alzheimer’s Association programs The Alzheimer’s Association is offering a series of free programs this month. For more information, please call 402-739-8636. Dec. 5 @ 6:30 p.m. Understanding Alzheimer’s and Dementia First Presbyterian Church 216 S. 34th St. Dec. 10 @ 12:15 p.m. Know the 10 Signs Armbrust YMCA 5404 S 168th St. Dec. 11 @ 1 p.m. Understanding Alzheimer’s and Dementia Adams Park Community Center 3230 JC Creighton Blvd.

New Horizons

was impressive. Thanks to ENOA for making a difference in the lives of others. It is a gift to be in your company,” she said. “One of the greatest honors is to care for those who once cared for us,” said Borgeson, who is also president of the National Association of Counties. “The Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging was proud to be a part of this important resource fair which was held during National Family Caregiver Month in the United States,” said Mike Osberg, who coordinates ENOA’s Caregiver Support Program.


aring for a loved one with dementia can be overwhelming -- physically, mentally, socially, and financially. Researchers at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and the University of California-San Francisco recently published a study in a major medical journal that found those with dementia had a 73% increased use of the emergency room if their caregivers suffered from depression. Among the 663 caregivers; 84 (12.7%) had depression when the study started. Emergency room use was higher among those whose caregivers had depression, versus those who did not have depression. Dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia. Steve Bonasera, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of geriatrics in the UNMC Department of Internal Medicine Division of Geriatrics, Gerontology, and Palliative Medicine, is one of the authors of the paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association-Neurology. He was the co-investigator of a $10 million grant funded by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation with UCSF supporting a study to provide caregivers with tools and information needed to manage the various issues involved in dementia care. Study participants included 467 women and 196 men with an average age of 65

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Mary Ann Borgeson selects a winning ticket for a prize given away during the resource fair.

Research shows persons with dementia likely to use ER if their caregivers have depression

Dec. 11 @ 2 p.m. Healthy Living for Your Brain and Body Southwest YMCA 13010 Atwood Ave.

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n a cool, crisp, sunny November day, dozens of men and women gathered valuable information and had many of their questions answered as they learned about the variety of community programs and services available to them at the Celebrating Older Adults and Caregivers Resource Fair. Sponsored by Douglas County Commissioner Mary Ann Borgeson with the Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging’s support, the event – held at the ENOA office – featured representatives from local agencies, information on caregiving and aging, memory screenings, information on respite services for caregivers, tips for responding to the challenges of dementia, and a wellness center. Dr. Julie Masters, chair of the department of gerontology at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, was among those in attendance. “ENOA is to be commended for a tremendous event. The layout was superb. The enthusiasm of the ENOA staff along with the community members was exceptional. It goes without saying – but needs to be said – the care and concern of ENOA for the community

December 2019

years who live in California, Nebraska, and Iowa. “As someone who takes care of patients with dementia, I’m not surprised at the results, but I am surprised they go to emergency rooms almost twice as much as those who aren’t diagnosed with depression,” Dr. Bonasera said. “As a general rule, we found those with dementia go to an emergency room almost one time a year. But for those who have caregivers with depression, we found the number is almost double.” He said some of the reasons for ER visits include infections and increased confusion and behavior problems. “We theorize that caregivers who are not depressed can manage better,” he said. “Those who are depressed might not be able to cope well. When caregivers lack the outpatient support or emotional reserve to face the progressively challenging needs of the patient with dementia, the emergency department may present a practical answer. That’s one way a scenario may play out,” he said. “Caregivers also need to know it’s alright to go to a health professional to say they have trouble coping, and if needed, get treated for depression. When we’re looking at treating dementia, it’s not just the patient, but we need to look at the support structure the caregiver relies on and not just the patient.” (UNMC provided this information.)

Notre Dame Housing/ Seven Oaks Senior Center You’re invited to visit the Notre Dame Housing/Seven Oaks Senior Center, 3439 State St. for the following: • Second, third, and fourth Friday: Community food pantry @ 1 p.m. • Third Wednesday: Community food pantry from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. • Dec. 2: Lunch & Learn program on Aging Well/Aging Health with Lisa Dempsey from Prime Home Care/Compassionate Care Hospice @ 12:30 p.m. • Dec. 17: Lunch & Learn program by the Douglas County Health Department about opioids. • Dec. 18: Christmas carols sung by students from Florence Elementary School @ 4:30 p.m. • Dec. 30: December birthday party featuring music by John Worsham sponsored by the Merrymakers @ 1:30 p.m. The center will be closed on Christmas Day. Enjoy the following programs: • Dec. 2: Balance clinic @ 1:30 p.m. • Dec. 3: Program on medical alert systems @ 10 a.m. • Dec. 5: Toenail clinic @ 10 a.m. • Dec. 10: Program on effective doctor visits @ 1:30 p.m. • Dec. 12: Diabetes clinic @ 1 p.m. • Dec. 18: Fair housing counselor @ 10 a.m.; Medicare/ Medicaid assistance @ 10 a.m.; Health clinic @ 10 a.m. Notre Dame Housing/Seven Oaks Senior Center is open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Lunch is served at noon. A $4 contribution is suggested for the meal. Reservations are due by 11 a.m. the business day prior to the lunch you wish to enjoy. For meals reservations and more information, please call Brenda at 402-451-4477, ext. 126.

City of Omaha community centers Men and women age 75 and older are encouraged to use the City of Omaha’s community centers at no cost for open gym, weight areas, open and lap swimming, aquacise, and ice skating. Tai Chi classes are offered at the following locations and times: • Adams Park 3230 John Creighton Blvd. Mondays & Wednesdays 9:15 a.m.

• Florence 2920 Bondesson Ave. Mondays & Wednesdays 10:30 a.m.

• Camelot 9270 Cady Ave Tuesdays & Fridays 10:30 a.m.

• Montclair 2304 S. 135th Ave. Thursdays 8:30 a.m.

For more information, please call 402-444-4228.

Videogames being used to treat stroke survivors Researchers at the University of East Anglia are pioneering virtual reality (VR) rehabilitation for stroke survivors, using low cost videogame technology. They’ve worked with the industry collaborator Evolv to create a new gaming platform to improve the lives of stroke patients suffering from complex neurological syndromes caused by their stroke. The new technology is being funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). There are millions of stroke survivors in the world and around 30 to 50 percent of them suffer a debilitating disorder called “hemispatial neglect.” The condition leaves people unaware of things located on one side of their body and greatly reduces their ability to live independently. “A stroke can damage the brain, so that it no longer receives information about the space around one side of the world,” said lead researcher Dr. Stephanie Rossit, from UEA’s school of Psychology. “If this happens, people may not be aware of anything on one side, usually the same side they also lost their movement. This is called hemispatial neglect. “These people tend to have very poor recovery and are left with long-term disability. Patients with this condition tell us that it’s terrifying. They bump into things or they’re scared to use a wheelchair, so it really is very severe and lifechanging.” Current rehabilitation

treatments involve different types of visual and physical coordination tasks (visuomotor) and cognitive exercises – many are paper and pen based. The new non-immersive VR technology being showcased updates these paper and pen tasks for the digital age using videogame technology instead. “We know that adherence is key to recovery - so we wanted to create something that makes it fun to stick to a rehabilitation task,” Dr. Rossit said. In one such game, the patient sees a random series of apples, some complete and some with a piece bitten off. The apples vibrate and move to provide greater stimulation to the patient. “The aim for the patient is to choose the maximum number of complete apples they see in the quickest time possible,” said David Fried, CEO of Evolv. “A person with visual neglect would quite often only see a small number of correct targets to the right-hand side of the screen. Therapists can control the complexity of the game by increasing or reducing the number of apples on the screen.” As well as aiding diagnosis, the new game aims to improve rehabilitation by including elements such as scoring and rewards to engage the patient and improve adherence to their treatment. “Traditional rehabilitation treatment is quite monotonous and boring, so this gamification aspect is really important to help people stick with their treatment,” Fried said. “Our goal is to use technology to make rehabilitation fun and engaging and we have applied this to our Spatial Neglect therapy solution. The great thing about it is that it can be used not only in clinics but also in patients’ homes, thereby giving them access to personalized rehabilitation without leaving their living room.” The team has previously worked with stroke survivors, caregivers, and clinicians to assess the feasibility, usability, and acceptability of new gaming technology. “This technology has the potential to improve both independence and quality of life of stroke survivors. We also anticipate other benefits such as improved cost-effectiveness of stroke rehabilitation for the NHS,” Dr. Rossit said. “This innovative therapy could improve long-term care after stroke by providing a low-cost enjoyable therapy that can be self-administered anywhere and anytime without the need for a therapist to be present on every occasion.”


Papillion Singing Seniors

he Papillion Singing Seniors are looking for additional members who can carry a tune, who have a sunny outlook, their

Tuesdays free, and who love to have fun. For more information, please contact Rajaena at or 402-650-8770.

Camelot Friendship Center You’re invited to visit the Camelot Friendship Center inside the Camelot Community Center, 9270 Cady Ave., this month for the following: • Dec. 4: Music by Tim Javorsky sponsored by the Merrymakers @ 11:45 a.m. • Dec. 5: VNA presentation on the Holiday Blues @11:45 a.m. • Dec. 6: See the Christmas trees at the Dodge House @ 12:30 p.m. • Dec. 12: Book club @ 10:15 a.m. • Dec. 13: Christmas party @ 5 p.m. The center will be closed that day until 5 p.m. • Dec. 18: Cookie exchange @ 12:15 p.m. • Dec. 20: Trivia about Christmas movies. The facility will be closed Dec. 25, 26, & 27 for Christmas. The center is open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Lunch is served at 11:30 a.m. A $4 contribution is suggested for the meal. Reservations are due by noon the business day prior to the meal you wish to enjoy. Regular center activities include chair yoga Monday & Friday @ 10:30 a.m., Tai Chi Tuesday & Thursday @ 10:30 a.m., chair volleyball Wednesday @ 10:30 a.m. For meals reservations or more information, please call 402-444-3091.

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Day of the Dead celebrated at ISC Reuben Escamilla enjoyed some of the delicious food served at the annual Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration at the Intercultural Senior Center, 5545 Center St. The Nov. 1 festivities also included music and dancing, altar displays, a Catrina costume contest, and activities for children.

Long-term Care Ombudsman Program The Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging is looking for men and women age 21 and older to join its Long-term Care Ombudsman Program which is co-sponsored by the Nebraska State Ombudsman Program. ENOA’s Long-term Care Ombudsmen volunteer in local long-term care facilities and assisted living communities to protect the residents’ rights, well-being, and quality of life. Long-term Care Ombudsmen must complete 20 hours of initial classroom training and 12 hours of ad-



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ditional training every two years. During the training, the volunteers learn about the residents’ rights, aging issues, Medicare, Medicaid, communication skills, how to investigate the residents’ complaints, the importance of confidentiality, and about the federal and state rules, regulations, and laws regarding Nebraska’s long-term care facilities and assisted living communities. Before being assigned to a long-term care facility or an assisted living community, new volunteers will make four visits to a site with an experienced Ombudsman Advocate to learn more about what the program entails. After a three-month probationary period, the new volunteers are certified as Ombudsman Advocates. Certified Ombudsman Advocates will be assigned to a long-term care facility or an assisted living community where they’ll visit for two hours a week to meet with administrators, residents, and the residents’ family members to address concerns.For more information about ENOA’s Longterm Care Ombudsman Program, please call Beth Nodes at 402-444-6536.

Eldercare Access Line


egal Aid of Nebraska operates a free telephone access line for Nebraskans age 60 and older. Information is offered to help the state’s older men and women with questions on topics like bankruptcy, homestead exemptions, collections, powers of attorney, Medicare, Medicaid, grandparent rights, and Section 8 housing. The telephone number for the Elder Access Line is 402-827-5656 in Omaha and 1-800-527-7249 statewide. This service is available to Nebraskans age 60 and older regardless of income, race, or ethnicity. Its hours of operation are 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 1 to 3 p.m. Friday. For more information, log on the Internet to

Via Christe library honors Father Clifford J. Stevens


ast month, a large group of well-wishers filled the lobby area at the Via Christe Assisted Living Community – 3636 California St. – on a beautiful fall afternoon. The men and women gathered as the facility dedicated its newly constructed library and social media center to honor Via Christe resident Father Clifford J. Stevens. Among those on hand were Father Michael Gutgsell, Father Steven Boes, Monsignor James Gilg, and many friends of Father Stevens’ including several Via Christe residents. The walls of the Father Clifford J. Stevens Library feature a series of photos chronicling Father Cliff’s teenage years as a Boys Town resident, his ordination as a Catholic priest in 1956, and his career in the United States Air Force. The library and social media center’s shelves include several of Father Stevens’ books about morality, religion, and religious history, including Legacy of Devotion, a biography of Boys Town founder Father Edward J. Flanagan.

Released earlier this year, Legacy of Devotion is the first major book about Father Flanagan written by someone who actually knew the man who started the safe haven for boys 10 miles west of Omaha in 1917. “We’re honoring Father Stevens for all his hard work in the Catholic Church,” said Nate Jensen, resident life director at Via Christe.

VAS to help with reviews

Medicare open enrollment period is scheduled through Dec. 7 Medicare’s 2019 annual open enrollment period runs through Dec. 7. This is the time to review your Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage coverage, and if needed, switch to a different plan for 2020. Even if you’re satisfied with your coverage, you should review your options for next year to see if there’s a plan that better meets your needs. Medicare beneficiaries could find a different plan that would cover their medications at a lower cost and/or with fewer restrictions. Medigap supplement policies aren’t subject to an annual open enrollment period. Last year, Volunteers Assisting Seniors (VAS) helped 1,911 people review their coverage during Medicare’s annual open enrollment period. Those who switched to a less expensive plan averaged a $1,116 savings in their prescription drug costs for 2019. VAS is scheduling appointments at various locations throughout the Omaha area to assist Medicare beneficiaries with Part D and Medicare Advantage plan reviews again this year. To schedule your appointment, call 402-444-6617. DOUGLAS COUNTY Monday, Dec. 2 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Doane University 4020 S. 147th St. #100

Friday, Dec. 6 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. VAS 1941 S. 42nd St. #312

Wednesday, Dec. 4 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. VAS 1941 S. 42nd St. #312

The New Horizons is brought to you each month by the Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging.

Father Clifford Stevens (third from left) with (from left): Father Michael Gutgsell, Father Steven Boes, and Monsignor James Gilg.

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Many doors have been opened, closed for Brother William Woeger

Woeger’s Cathedral Arts Project and Cathedral Flower Festival will celebrate 35 years in 2020. By Leo Adam Biga Contributing Writer


ducator, steward, artist, curator, designer, consultant, administrator, impresario, host, companion, and convener. Christian Brother William Woeger, 75, is all these and more. As a member of the teaching Christian Brothers religious order for more than 50 years, he’s taught in the classroom at Omaha’s

Rummel High (today’s Roncalli High School) and in liturgical workshops and lectures across the country. “I really do enjoy teaching. That’s why I became a Christian Brother,” he said. As the longtime director of the Office for Divine Worship for the Catholic Archdiocese of Omaha, Brother Woeger draws on deep theological and spirituality training to fulfill the duties of that position. But

he also works well outside its official parameters to feed a passion for the arts that began as a child in his native Missouri. He’s gained national prominence as a freelance liturgical consultant-designer on church restoration and building projects from coast to coast and as far away as Hawaii. Brother Woeger is also the founder-director of two Omaha cultural staples based at St. Cecilia’s Cathedral where he’s the director of liturgy: The Cathedral Arts Project (CAP) and The Cathedral Flower Festival. Each celebrates 35 years in 2020. The first is a presenting organization that brings exhibitions, concerts, lectures, and other events to the Cathedral which Woeger has activated as a busy community gathering spot and arts space. The second has become an annual tradition held the last weekend of January that draws thousands of patrons to see floral displays around a central theme. He was the driving force behind the creation of the Cathedral Cultural Center in the old parish high school building adjacent to St. Cecilia’s Cathedral. The center houses a museum that documents the history of the Cathedral and the life

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December 2019

Brother Woeger’s painting, Christ the Teacher, resides inside Omaha’s St. Cecilia’s Cathedral.

and career of its architect, Thomas Rogers Kimball. “I feel a great deference for Kimball,” Woeger said. Additionally, the center contains a lecture hall, a dining hall, and the Sunderland Gallery, which features rotating art exhibitions. Also housed there is the St. Cecilia Institute for Sacred Liturgy, Music, and the Arts, whose staff offer instruction on church instruments. Befitting the Cathedral’s Spanish Renaissance Revival design, Woeger has assembled a large Spanish Colonial Art Collection on permanent display in the East Ambulatory behind the main altar. It may seem a stretch for a Nebraska edifice to link itself to Spanish empire heritage, but Woeger said the Spanish were here. “They didn’t stay but they came through here. The Spanish and the French fought a battle in what is Columbus, Neb. where the Loup River meets the Platte. “So, having a collection of Spanish-influenced art made sense, and it’s a nice complement to the architecture.” Two decades ago, Brother Woeger oversaw a restoration of Omaha’s St. Cecilia’s Cathedral that brightened the interior to better highlight its architectural and sacred art splendor. Cleaning the bronze doors and applying new paint and light-

ing helped accentuate the limestone walls’ decorative plaster and mosaic tiles. “The color and the lighting really helped because before all the paintings were in monochromatic shades of gray and maroon,” Woeger said. “To reintroduce the yellows and golds and all that really made quite a difference.” Creative to the core, Brother William is also in demand as an icon artist. His work appears in many worship spaces including St. Cecilia’s Cathedral. “I don’t know anybody who gets to do as many things they like as I do,” he said. “The amazing thing about that is it’s not the result of any kind of a plan. I’ve certainly made decisions along the way, but all of it is really just a gift. One thing led to another. God opened doors and closed doors. To me that’s the awesome part of the whole thing. I could never have imagined or scripted out this, so I’m very grateful for that.”


illiam Woeger hails from a creative family outside of St. Louis. His father was a professional photographer for Monsanto. His mother, a seamstress and a knitter. Woeger’s own “Renaissance Man” interests and --Please turn to page 9.

Woeger’s life was changed after working with AIDS patients -Continued from page 8. skill sets are in service of the sacred. “Almost all of it either has to do with liturgy or spirituality. In my art and architecture work it’s about design. Most of that has to do with sacred design and so it somehow or other involves the theological things that underpin the decisions you would make architecturally.” He enjoys being hands on whenever possible. “There’s a real art to spotting a show, mounting it, and making the art look festive. “The Flower Festival in particular is enjoyable because it’s a real creative thing and I’m real hands on with that. Those are the real fun parts for me. I usually enjoy the events once they’re underway and you see everybody having a good time. The least fun part is raising the money to do all this stuff so people can come (for) free.” Dozens of local florists will interpret the theme of the Jan. 25 and 26, 2020 festival: For Everything a Season. “The displays for the most part have to do with specific days or occasions,” Brother Woeger said. “Lauritzen Gardens will be back again. They’re doing Arbor Day.” Live music performances, including by soprano Nola Jeanpierre, will permeate the festival’s sublime setting. The volunteer-staffed nonprofit Cathedral Arts Project is now one of Omaha’s longest-lived arts organizations. “It’s kind of a classic neverhave-so-few-done-so-much withso-little story because we don’t have a huge budget,” Woeger said.

“We’ve always stayed in the black. As a nonprofit we don’t really make a profit per se, but we try to carry over enough from year to year.” CAP programs enrich Omaha’s cultural landscape. Typical of its offerings are the Dec. 6 Christmas at the Cathedral event featuring the Omaha Symphonic Chorus and the Dec. 15 Magnificat: Cathedral Vespers, a choral festival with the St. Cecilia Cathedral Choir, the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral Choir, and other guest choirs. “One of the big additions to the Cathedral Arts Project over the last 15 years is the Pasi Opus 14 dualtemperament organ in the Cathedral. It is one of only three like it in the world. It’s an extraordinary resource. People literally come from around the world to play it and to hear it. It’s not just for people into art and music, it’s about creating organ culture and introducing new people to it who don’t even know they may like this because they’ve never been exposed to it. We’re doing a lot of that,” Woeger said. The organ’s acquisition was made possible by “a very significant gift” from Frank and Helen Matthews. The Omaha Cathedral’s campus has five organs. “That would be a whole other story – the educational work, the introduction, especially of young people, to organ, along with piano and voice,” Brother Woeger said. “It’s bringing people out of the ranks who will serve in the future as church choristers and instrumentalists.” All this activity, plus the usual slate of Masses, weddings, funerals,

confessions, and ordinations are part of a Cathedral’s role, according to Brother William. “Historically, the Cathedral was the center of things – the epicenter of the whole community growing – as the biggest place in town with a big square in front of it. That’s where everybody gathered. “Thus, it’s only natural to invite the embellishment of the Cathedral with art, artists, craftsmen, makers, whether calligraphy, printmaking, candle making, vestment making, stained glass, or stone carving. Even morality plays. “We do think of the arts as exposing people to beauty, which is one of the aspects of the divine beauty, truth, and goodness. So, it’s very fitting that we do this. It’s evangelical in that sense but not proselytizing. We’re not trying to attract an audience to make good Catholics out of them. But we make no apologies for the fact all of our effort goes into glorifying God through art,” he continued. “Even the liturgical worship we do here can’t be done without the arts because it encompasses music, movement, this, that, and the other (icons, stations of the cross, and stained-glass windows).” Some 60,000 visitors pass through the Cathedral annually. The flower festival is the single biggest draw. “People come from all over – from a wide spectrum geographically, economically, (and) ethnically,” Woeger said. Among Midwest Cathedrals, St. Cecilia’s stands out for “the breadth of what we do,” Brother Woeger said.

Brother William on the altar at Omaha’s St. Cecilia’s Cathedral. Two decades ago, Woeger oversaw restoration efforts at the church which highlighted its architectural splendor.

December 2019

“Any number of Cathedrals may have a concert series or host a touring performing artist, but a comprehensive program like ours that really involves the humanities with year-round music and art events is rare.” Its programming reflects Brother William’s own interests and passions. “Ever since I was a child I was exposed to art, music, theater; all of that, so I have a personal appreciation for it.” He credits the Sisters of the Precious Blood of O’Fallon, Mo. with instilling this love in him. “Later, in my adult travels, I became aware of the way the arts were actively integrated in Cathedral settings.” Woeger saw an opportunity to do the same at St. Cecilia’s.


t the height of the AIDS crisis, Woeger did pastoral care by offering accompaniment to the afflicted. He received training for that in San Francisco. ThenOmaha Archbishop Daniel Sheehan encouraged Brother Woeger along the way. Woeger became active in the AIDS Interfaith Network. “Fully a third of what I was doing was working with communitybased organizations like the Nebraska AIDS Project, which still exists today. I’m very proud of the way the archdiocese responded. We had healing services (and) prayer services here (St. Cecilia’s) once a month at the Our Lady of Nebraska Chapel.” Supporting AIDS patients, just like forming the Cathedral Arts Project, was not in Woeger’s job description. “The people around me have trusted me enough to encourage me in trying different things,” he said. Woeger served AIDS patients before there was a cure and when having it meant an almost sure death sentence. “People were going very fast. Someone was diagnosed and six months later they’re dead,” he said. Brother William, who lost his father at age 9, was familiar with grief and loss at an early age. Still, witnessing people come to terms with their own impending death was edifying to see that they could be transformed. “I saw that happening time and again with clients, mainly young people. Death was the last thing on their mind and here they were facing it with grace. The transforming was amazing,” Woeger said. The experience changed him. “I learned so much about boundaries. At the same time, I was doing that I was traveling across the country doing church projects. Every time it came time to get on a plane and go somewhere, I would get these negative feelings. Then I realized I’m not responsible for this person dying. It’s their death, it’s not mine, it’s not necessary for me --Please turn to page 10.

New Horizons

Page 9

Brother William’s church restoration efforts taking him to Hawaii --Continued from page 9. to be there the moment they die in order for them to die.”

English and art at Christian Brothers College in Memphis and fine arts at Creighton University and the University of Nebraska at Omaha hese days, Brother Woeger He called on all this knowledge continues to consult on as a consultant for the $72 million church restoration projects. transformation of the former Crystal “I’ve never advertised. It’s Cathedral in Garden Grove, Calif. just word of mouth and that has into Christ Cathedral. worked for 40 years. I choose care“The thing that made it so fasfully. I try to choose the projects cinating was remaking this glass where I think I can have the most encased landmark of televangelism influence.” built by the late Robert Schuller For any church design, Brother into the home church for the Orange William asks himself, “Is this County Catholic Diocese. building, this object, capable of “I really think Robert Schuller bearing the weight of mystery, or was the real deal. He and his wife, is it trite or some kind of confecArvella, were from around here tion? (Iowa). They met at school and then “I would like to think the averhe worked at some small Midwest age person would get some kind church before being sent to Orange of a sense of the transcendent County to establish a church out of standing at the Pyramid of Giza. the Dutch Reform tradition.” Something motivated those people The founding pastor’s only son, to build this incredible thing. Well, Robert H. Schuller, was to take over it’s the same with a grand Cathebut disputes with board members and dral,” he said. his siblings caused a split. As “We’re in a period right now attendance and donations dropped, where there’s a sort of a resurgence Crystal Cathedral Ministries went and a romantic interest of classical into debt. church architecture. I like Gothic “It was the father who made the and a lot of things, but I’m very decision it (the Cathedral) would go fond of the Beuronese style. to the Catholic Diocese of Orange The Beuron art school was County,” Woeger said. founded by Benedictine monks in Brother William was there in July the late 19th century and incorpowhen the building was consecrated rates elements of ancient Egyptian, and formally renamed Christ CatheGreek, Roman, Byzantine, and dral. early Christian art. “It always annoyed me when Woeger describes his own people talked about it like it was a aesthetic as “eclectic.” The art he secular space and now we’re going creates is inspired by the Byzanto make it a religious space. It was tine tradition. already a religious space,” Woeger He believes his far-ranging edu- said. cation gives him the background He calls Christ Cathedral “one of to approach diverse sacred archithe more adventurous projects” in his tecture and art. He studied philoso- career. phy and theology with minors in “I designed the candelabra of the


Although his duties as the Omaha Archdiocese’s director of worship will end next July, Brother Woeger is not ready to retire.

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New Horizons

Woeger helped transform Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral into the Christ Cathedral. The $72 million project was among the most adventurous efforts of Brother William’s career. cross that hangs over the altar. We fabricated it here (Omaha) with Wood Specialties, Hempel Sheet Metal Works, and Industrial Plating. Then we shipped it out there. It’s almost a given if I’m going to design it, then it has to be built here, so that I have oversight.” The scale of the Christ Cathedral project took some getting used to for Woeger. “I’ve dealt with large sums of money, but we went through the whole process and nobody ever talked about a budget. When it all came in, the bishop did not want to go out on a limb that far. So, we basically redesigned the whole thing and brought it in line with what they thought was a reasonable amount of money. “That was an interesting experience. They got two for the price of one.” Woeger’s latest project involves the coral stone Cathedral in Honolulu, Hawaii. He’s engaged Lambrecht Glass Studio in Omaha to make repairs to the church’s stained glass. Where Woeger once juggled multiple church projects at once, he said, “I’m trying to not do as much of that. Quite frankly it isn’t because I’m not interested in the projects, but flying is no fun anymore, so I’m looking to cutting back. I’ve managed it to where the only thing left is Honolulu. That project started 10 years ago.” He’s traveling to Hawaii in December to do another piece of the coral stone Cathedral which serves a very poor diocese on multiple islands. Brother William has many completed projects to look back on. “I think one of my better projects was the urban Spanish Missionstyle Visitation Church in Kansas City. You can’t be any better than your client and the client was really committed to doing it right.” A project closer to home he favors is Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Kearney, Neb.

December 2019

“All the stenciling is Beuronese. This church just knocks your socks off.” It’s just another example of Woeger’s edict that good art has integrity of purpose, place, and execution. For church projects, Brother William said he tries to find what fits the context of the community, the culture, the history, the architecture, the religious tradition, etc. “The liturgical piece is obviously why I’m supposed to be there, but the aesthetics and how you interpret all this is a whole other thing. I want the client to be open.” Given all the hats he’s worn, Woeger wouldn’t mind more time focusing on his own art. “It would be nice to just make art and not because it’s got to be some place by a certain date.”


rother Woeger’s duties as director of worship for the Omaha Archdiocese will end next July, but he’s not ready for retirement. “I want to continue to be of service. I will probably continue to office here (at the Cathedral Cultural Center) and hopefully help the new person transition into my worship office responsibilities. In a perfect world that person would also be executive director of the Cathedral Arts Project, but that doesn’t necessarily follow.” He counts himself blessed to have been able to pursue so many things that touch his heart and mind. “I was given a situation where I could use my creativity to not only do this, that, and the other thing, but to envision things.” Though not one to spend much time looking back, he conceded that he has been given many opportunities. For more information about activities at Omaha’s St. Cecilia’s Cathedral go online and visit (Read more of Biga’s work at

Training body, brain by combining mental tasks, physical movement

Omaha Holiday Caroling Festivities

By Lynn Even As we age, our bodies decline in function, especially if we’re not taking precautions. The same goes for the brain. The decline of our thinking ability (cognitive decline) is one of the largest factors in the loss of independence, and it’s an issue that’s growing worldwide. According to the World Health Organization, around 50 million people have dementia, and that number is projected to reach 82 million in 2030. Exercise, however, plays an important role in keeping people healthy both physically and mentally. Research indicates cognitive decline can improve with exercises that combine physical and cognitive elements. For years we’ve used exercise to stay fit and enhance muscular performance. Now we’re seeing a surge in the use of exercise to increase brain strength. “We can mitigate the degenerative cognitive loss commonly associated with normal aging by encouraging neuroplasticity,” says Janie Clark, M.A., president of the American Senior Fitness Association and author of Brain Fitness for Older Adults. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to change, adapt, and rewire itself based on new experiences. To train neuroplasticity, we combine mental tasks or brain games with physical movement. Movement doesn’t have to be intense. For brain training, mental tasks must take place during some form of coordinated physical movement. Consult your physician before beginning any exercise program and be sure to pick an activity appropriate to your level of physical ability. Here are examples of neuroplasticity training where the mind is working while the body is moving. • While walking with a friend, ask each other to list in reverse order what they did the previous day. • Make a list of fruits and vegetables while doing alternating forward lunges. List a fruit when lunging with the left leg; list a vegetable when lunging with the right leg. • Do a crossword puzzle, word find, math problems, or Sudoku while riding a stationary bike. • Play a Wii Fit™ game that requires you to do math and move at the same time. Exercise itself is also beneficial to the brain. “Studies have shown middle-aged and senior people who exercise regularly experience less age-associated cognitive decline,” says Catherine Sarkisian, M.D., a geriatrician and researcher at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “We also know from randomized trials of aerobic exercise programs that people who improve their cardiac fitness are also more likely to improve their cognitive function, especially in the domains of cognitive speed and attention,” she said. One reason for this is because blood flow to your brain increases with the increased cardiac output from the aerobic exercise. “Aerobic exercise in turn prevents cardiovascular disease and diabetes, both of which are risk factors for dementia, so it makes sense that people who maintain excellent cardiac fitness are at lower risk of developing dementia,” Sarkisian said. It may feel strange, frustrating, and even uncomfortable when you introduce brain games while you’re walking or exercising. Remember brain training can prove just as important as traditional movement to our overall health and aging. (Even is a certified personal trainer, a senior fitness specialist, and the owner of Second Wind Personal Training,)

Please see the ad on page 3

New Horizons Club membership roll rises $25 Elise Barnhart


ou’re invited to support, promote, and participate in the 45th annual Omaha Holiday Caroling Festivities. On Sunday, Dec. 15 from 2 to 4 p.m. carolers will sing for residents at the River City Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, 7410 Mercy Rd., and for patients at CHI Health CUMC Bergan Mercy Hospital, 7500 Mercy Rd. A post-caroling party will be held at Godfather’s Pizza, 2117 S. 67th St. For more information, please call Vince Leinen at 1-818-342-9336 or 1-818429-1563.

$15 Doris Higginson Nancy Goldberg $10 Betty Carpenter John Hamers Donald Vencil $5 Todd Hall K Koons Marcia Carlson Evelyn Van Horn

List reflects donations received through 11/22/19.

Widowed Persons Group of Omaha The Widowed Persons Group of Omaha hosts a luncheon the third Monday of each month at 11:30 a.m. at Jerico’s Restaurant, 11732 W. Dodge Rd. For more information, please call 402-278-1731 or 402493-0452.

Charles E. Dorwart Massih Law, LLC 38 years of legal experience • Wills • Living Trusts • Probate • Healthcare and Financial Powers of Attorney • Medicaid Planning • In-home consultations • Free Initial consultation 226 N. 114th Street • Omaha, NE 68154 Office: (402) 558-1404 or (402) 933-2111

December 2019

New Horizons

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Enjoy all four seasons of your life

Ralston Senior Center You’re invited to visit the Ralston Senior Center, 7301 Q St., this month for the following: • Dec. 3: Decorate the center for the holidays @ 11 a.m. • Dec. 4: The Merrymakers present music by John Worsham @ noon. • Dec. 10: Bus trip to WinnaVegas Casino in Sloan, Iowa. The bus leaves @ 7:30 a.m. and returns around 4 p.m. The cost is $5. Call Dorothy @ 402-553-4874 for reservations. • Dec. 11: Board meeting @ 10 a.m. • Dec. 12 & 26: Line dancing @ 10 a.m. No Thursday bingo during December. • Dec. 31: Remove the holiday decorations @ 11 a.m. The facility is closed on Dec. 24 & 25 for Christmas. Other activities include exercise on Tuesday and Friday @ 10 a.m. Lunch is catered in on Wednesdays. A $4.50 contribution is requested. Reservations are due by noon the Tuesday before the meal you wish to enjoy. Call Diane @ 402-8858895 for reservations. The handicapped-accessible facility can be used for weddings, memorial services, reunions, etc. on weekends. The center will be closed on any day the Ralston Public Schools are closed due to the weather. For more information, call Diane West @ 402-339-4926.

Fontenelle Tours

Omaha/Council Bluffs


Quoted prices are per person, double occupancy. For more information about our tours, please call Ward or Kathy Kinney at Fontenelle Tours at the number listed above.

Motorcoach Black Hills “Ski for Light”. January 25 – 31, 2020. Our sixth annual trip to Deadwood, South Dakota. A very rewarding week-long event for blind and physically challenged persons to participate in skiing and/or other outdoor activities. If you know of someone who might want to participate, call us. Volunteers are also needed to provide various types of assistance at the event. Financial assistance also needed to make this event more affordable for participants. Motorcoach will pick up at various points across Nebraska. Laughlin Laughlin in January. January 27 - 31. $329. Five days – four nights. Includes non-stop, round-trip airfare to Laughlin, Nevada, four nights lodging at the Riverside Resort and Casino on the banks of the Colorado River, and shuttle transportation to and from the airport. Entertainment at the Riverside Resort during your stay is musician Ty Herndon. Holy Land Pilgrimage Holy Land Pilgrimage. January 20 – 31, 2020. $2,995 plus airfare. 12 days – 11 nights. Walk in the footsteps of Jesus at many of the most important and well-known biblical locations in the Holy Land, including daily Mass. Discover the sites with an expert local guide, enjoy sightseeing including a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, Holy Hour in the Garden of Gethsemane, visit the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, travel to Cana, Nazareth, Jerusalem, and more. Contact 952-388-2736 at Magi Travel to register. In Partnership with Collette Vacations We started working with Collette in 2009 when we were looking for a way to offer international trips to our travelers. We wanted to find a company that shared our core values of providing quality tours, well hosted, at a reasonable price. We were not looking for a low-cost alternative. Our first personal experience was when we took about 24 people on the "Shades of Ireland" tour. It was an incredibly positive experience! Since then we have helped others to experience Collette Tours on: Historic Trains of California; New York City; Canada’s Atlantic Coast with Nova Scotia; Pilgrimage to Fatima & Lourdes; Austrian Delight - Oberammergau (coming up again in 2020); Pasadena Rose Parade; Islands of New England; Canadian Rockies & Glacier National Park; Islands of New England; Reflections of Italy; Canadian Rockies by Train; Tropical Costa Rica; Alaska Discovery Land & Cruise and others. Please call if you have one of Collette’s many destinations on your bucket list. We can help make it happen! Watch New Horizons and our website for our trip schedule. 2708 Franklin Ave, Council Bluffs, IA 51501

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New Horizons


ometimes it’s good to take a break from everyday living and do something special to nourish our souls. Last month, I followed my own advice and spent a day at the Joslyn Art Museum. One display especially spoke to my heart. It was a moving depiction of a tree transitioning through the four seasons in a few minutes. The lovely shape waves in the wind as it blossoms in spring; leaves of green mature in the summer; vivid colors emerge in the fall; leaves rain down revealing bare branches in the winter. Immediately the blossoms return and the cycle repeats. This is a great metaphor for our lives. Chapter One is our springtime as the freshness of youth reveals its own kind of beauty. Chapter Two is symbolized by the green leaves of summer— adulthood producing shade, seeds, and fruit. The Third Chapter is the autumn of life when unique colors reveal themselves as the chlorophyll recedes. It’s nature’s gift of one more beautiful phase to the life cycle. Reflecting on the autumn of our lives easily gives rise to feelings of melancholy. We have moved through the freshness of youth and the productivity of adulthood. What’s left? Like the trees, we still have the opportunity to manifest the exquisite beauty that comes from a life well-lived. It’s the beauty of wisdom and maturity. It’s the graciousness of letting go of those possessions we

held in earlier years that have now lost their importance. It’s the boldness of knowing that most difficulties pass, and that suffering may lead us to a deeper appreciation of life. I used to dislike fall because it was a pre-cursor of winter. Instead of living in the present, I was dreading what was to come. What a waste of a beautiful season. Death, like winter, will come when it comes.

Conscious Aging By Nancy Hemesath

Likewise, I’ve concluded the best preparation for death is to live in the present, enjoying our relationships, harvesting life’s lessons, and celebrating our blessings NOW. When I was in my first and second chapters, the thought of death spooked me. It was too much to comprehend so I pushed the thoughts of death away. I wondered how older people could bear to be so close to death and still be enjoying life. Thankfully my own thinking has matured. I now see death as completion and transformation. Isn’t it appropriate that the autumn season concludes with the Thanksgiving holiday? Would that every life end in a spirit of thanksgiving for all of our life seasons. (Hemesath is the owner of Encore Coaching. She is dedicated to supporting people in the Third Chapter of Life. Contact her at

Nebraska Wind Symphony You’re encouraged to attend the Nebraska Wind Symphony’s Homaha for the Holidays concert on Sunday, Dec. 8. The show begins at 3 p.m. at the Jan & John Christensen Concert Hall on the University of Nebraska at Omaha campus. The concert will feature Dr. Joshua Kearney, Keith Davis, and guest organist Dr. Marie Rubis Bauer. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students and seniors, and free for children under age 12. For more information, go to

Generations Community Center You’re invited to visit Heartland Family Service’s Generations Community Center, 4318 Fort St., this month for the following: • Dec. 10: Live music sponsored by the Merrymakers from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. • Dec. 12: Ugly sweater contest from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. • Dec. 20: Christmas party with music sponsored by the Merrymakers from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, please call Monica Miller at 402-552-7036.

Dora Bingel Senior Center

Christmas dinner

You’re invited to visit the Dora Bingel Senior Center, 923 N. 38th St., this month for the following: • Dec. 2, 9, 16, 23, & 30: Al-Anon meeting @ 7 p.m. • Dec. 3: Bible Bingo @ 10 a.m. TD Ameritrade will provide a free lunch. • Dec. 4, 6, 11, 13, 18, & 20: Ceramics class @ 9 a.m. • Dec. 4, 11, & 18: Tai Chi @ 11 a.m. • Dec. 11: Music by Billy Troy sponsored by the Merrymakers @11:30 a.m. Lunch is $3. • Dec. 12: Book Club meets at 10 a.m. • Dec. 18: Birthday party luncheon @ noon. Eat free if you have a December birthday. The center will be closed Dec. 23 through Jan. 2 and will reopen on Friday, Jan. 3. Lunch is served on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. A $1 donation is suggested for the meals, other than $3 for Merrymakers day. Round-trip transportation is available for $3. Reservations are required 24 hours in advance for all meals. Other activities offered at the facility include: Tuesday: Devotions @ 10 a.m., matinee @ 12:30 p.m., quilting @ 1 p.m. Wednesday: Devotions at 10:30 a.m. and bingo @ 12:30 p.m. Friday: Bible study @ 10:30 a.m. and bingo @ 12:30 p.m. For more information, please call 402-898-5854.

Omaha-area residents age 65 and older who otherwise will be alone on Christmas Day are invited to attend a 2 p.m. holiday dinner and celebration at St. Margaret Mary’s Catholic Church, 6116 Dodge St. Round-trip transportation is available. The program can also provide home-delivered dinners on Christmas Day to homebound older adults in the Omaha area. For reservations, please call Mary at 402-670-2224 by Friday, Dec. 20. Please indicate whether transportation or a home-delivered meal are needed.

December 2019

Older adults, caregivers needed for research study at UNO, UNMC


esearchers at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and the University of Nebraska Medical Center are looking for healthy adults and caregivers for an older adult with a chronic disease (e.g., dementia, cancer, or cardiovascular disease) to participate in a research study. The study involves two visits of 3.5 hours each. Compensation for study participation is available. The experiment involves completing questionnaires and computer tasks, taking samples of saliva for hormone analyses, and undergoing brain imaging. To be eligible for the study, participants must be 19 to 75 years of age, have

comprehension of written and spoken English, the mobility to travel to the UNO campus, and have completed a minimum of two years of high school or higher. You’re not eligible for the study if you have a diagnosis of a neurological or psychiatric disease (e.g., stroke, schizophrenia), vision, hearing or motor difficulties, or if you are pregnant, have metal implanted in your body, or are taking an antidepressant medication or glucocorticoid-based oral medication or cream (e.g., cortisone). For more information, please contact Janelle Beadle, Ph.D. at 402-5545961 or ABELabUNO@

Vols sought for Tax-Aide Program


olunteers are needed at nine Omaha-area sites for AARP’s Tax-Aide Program. Tax-Aide provides free tax-preparation services with a focus on older adults with low to moderate income. AARP membership is not required.  Tax-Aide volunteers receive materials from AARP and the IRS for reference and self-study, attend training sessions in December and January, and then prepare tax returns a few hours a week during the tax season alongside experienced volunteers.  Greeters, administrative, and technical support volunteers who aren’t directly involved with the tax preparation are also needed. More information is available at or by calling AARP at 402-398-9568. Please leave your name, phone number, and email address. Your information will be passed to the local supervisor who will contact you. 

Tips to help keep you safe during winter By Ginny Czechut Winter is here, and that means celebrations, family, and great food. While you’re enjoying the spirit of the season, remember there are important steps to make sure your holidays are safe and happy for everyone. • Home fires occur more often in the winter than any other months. That fireplace makes for lovely ambiance, but make sure it’s kept in good repair and cleaned regularly. Make sure space heaters are kept in good condition and a safe distance from people, pets, and flammable materials. Cooking is the biggest cause of residential fires in the winter. Always pay attention when you’re cooking to avoid fire. • Driving in snowy or icy weather can be a concern during the winter months. Always be prepared for winter driving to avoid injury. Plan your routes in advance, allow extra space between yourself and other drivers, and allow for extra time to arrive at your destination. • The cold weather increases your chances for frostbite and hypothermia. It’s extremely important that you dress appropriately for the weather – wear layers, a hat, and gloves. Keep an emergency kit in your car that includes a dry blanket in case of an emergency. • Carbon-monoxide poisoning is also a silent killer that strikes most often in the winter. Make sure to check your fireplace, wood stove, and furnace at the start of each winter season. Have your fireplace flue cleaned on a regular basis. If possible, install a carbon-monoxide detector in your sleeping area. While these detectors can save lives, only one-third of all Americans use them. • A host of winter injuries can occur as a result of clearing snow, winter sports, or even just walking to check the mail. In

slippery conditions, take shorter, slower steps. Listen to your body when spending time in the winter weather. Move inside if you become too cold or are short of breath. Push snow rather than scooping it, and wear safety equipment when engaging in winter sports. By understanding some of the risks associated with winter weather, you can take precautions to make sure this season is injury-free. Prevention is key to any safety plan, so think ahead and enjoy this time of year.   (Czechut is with Midwest Geriatrics, Inc. in Omaha.)

Be a Santa to a Senior Through Home Instead Senior Care’s Be a Santa to a Senior program, members of the community can give local older adults a special holiday gift. Visit one of the participating locations listed below and look for the Be a Santa to a Senior tree on display through Nov. 30. Each tree will be decorated with ornaments featuring older adults’ first names and gift suggestions. Holiday shoppers can choose an ornament, buy the requested gift, and return it to the store with the ornament attached. Volunteers and program partners will wrap and deliver the gifts to local older men and women in time for the holidays. Be a Santa to a Senior trees can be found at the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Department of Gerontology, Home Instead’s Center for Successful Aging @ 730 S. 38th Ave., and Hy-Vee stores at 14591 Stony Brook Blvd., 7910 Cass St., 747 N. 132nd St., 1000 S. 178th St., 10808 Fort St., and 3410 N. 156th St. For more information, call 402-9994542 or visit

ENOA honors O’Connor for her contributions to RSVP


aura Jean O’Connor, former manager of the Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging’s Papillion Senior Center, was honored recently by ENOA for her volunteer efforts on behalf of RSVP. RSVP volunteers – who must be at least age 55 – serve as resources at public and non-profit organizations, health institutions, food pantries, senior centers, and recycling facilities in Douglas, Sarpy, Dodge, Cass, and Washington counties. RSVP – which is funded by the Corporation for National Service – holds an annual recognition luncheon for its volunteers in Douglas, Sarpy, and Cass counties and a separate recognition luncheon annually for its volunteers in Dodge and Washington counLaura Jean O’Connor ties (see page 15). Each year, O’Connor, who also volunteers at ENOA’s Corrigan Senior Center, makes centerpieces for both RSVP recognition banquets. “Laura Jean hopes these centerpieces bring joy by sparking a memory or being a conversation piece,” said Sandy Blackman, who coordinates RSVP for ENOA.

December 2019

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Intercultural Senior Center You’re invited to visit the Intercultural Senior Center (ISC), 5545 Center St., this month for the following: • Mondays: Tai Chi class @ 9:15 & 9:55 a.m. Computer class @ 10:30 a.m. • Tuesdays: Tai Chi class @ 9:15 & 9:55 a.m. • Wednesdays: Zumba class @ 9:15 & 9:55 a.m. Computer class @ 10:30 a.m. • Thursdays: Salsa class @ 9:15 & 9:55 a.m. Spark Your Mind (trivia, word games, etc.) @ 10:30 a.m. • Fridays: Exercise w/ weights @ 9:15 & 9:55 a.m. Let’s Learn Spanish class @10:30 a.m. • Dec. 3, 12, & 17: Foot care clinic. Presentations: Dec. 6: What is cancer? @ 12:30 p.m. Dec. 17: Physical therapy @ 12:30 p.m. Haircuts are available during December. The facility will be closed Dec. 23 through Jan. 1. The Intercultural Senior Center is open weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Programs and activities run from 8 a.m. through 1:30 p.m. The center is open for

community groups from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. A light breakfast is served from 8 to 10 a.m. Lunch is served daily @ 11:30am. A voluntary contribution is suggested for lunch. Reservations are due by 9:30 a.m. the day the lunch is served. Please call 402-444-6529 for reservations. Round-trip transportation can be requested through a member of the ISC’s Social Services department. For more information, please call 402-444-6529.



HEOS, a social organization for singles age 60 and older, meets at 1:30 p.m. on the second Monday of each month at New Cassel, 900 N. 90th St. Older men and women are encouraged to meet for a fun afternoon and to sign up for other activities throughout the month. For more information, please call Dorothy at 402399-0759 or Mary at 402393-3052.

Respite care

UNMC/NASA research study

Life can bring on stress for many of us. Finding ways to relieve stress are important to our overall health and well-being. Caregivers are not immune to this stress.  Please contact Respite Across the Lifespan at 402559-5732 or to find out more about respite services and to locate resources in your area.

University of Nebraska Medical Center researchers are looking for volunteers age 60 to 70 for a research study. The study’s purpose is to investigate how the sensation of vibration on the bottom of the feet can potentially improve older adults’ ability to maneuver around obstacles without losing their balance. This study is funded by the NASA Nebraska Space Grant. Information gained could also be used to support the bodily awareness of astronauts in environments of partial weightlessness. Participants – who will be compensated with a gift card – will be asked to complete a 10-minute screening for balance and cognitive ability when they arrive at UNMC. They will also be asked to walk down a 10-foot walkway and step over two obstacles approximately one to two inches tall while wearing inserts in their shoes that vibrate slightly against the soles of the feet. The study will last less than two hours. If you’re interested in participating, or would like more information, please email or call 402-350-7427.



he National Active and Retired Federal Employees’ Chapter 144 meets the first Wednesday of each month at 11:30 a.m. at the Amazing Pizza Machine, 13955 S Plz. For more information, please call 402-292-1156. The National Active and Retired Federal Employees’ Aksarben Chapter 1370 meets the second Wednesday of each month at 11:30 a.m. at the Amazing Pizza Machine, 13955 S Plz. For more information, please call 402-342-4351.

Omaha Hearing Loss Group The Omaha Area Hearing Loss Association of America, a support group for hard of hearing adults, will meet next on Tuesday, Dec. 10 at Dundee Presbyterian Church, 5312 Underwood Ave. Participants are asked to enter the church on the Happy Hollow (east) side. The 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

meetings feature social time and a speaker. The Omaha Area Hearing Loss Association of America meets the second Tuesday of each month from September through December and March through August. For more information, please contact Verla Hamilton at 402-558-6449.

Alzheimer’s support groups The Alzheimer’s Association Nebraska Chapter offers several caregiver support groups and specialty support groups in Cass, Douglas, Washington, Dodge, and Sarpy counties. These support groups offer valuable space and educational opportunities for families impacted by Alzheimer’s disease or a related form of dementia to engage and learn. For more information about any of the groups listed below, please call 800-272-3900. DODGE COUNTY • FREMONT Second Tuesday @ 5:30 p.m. The Heritage at Shalimar Gardens 749 E. 29th St. DOUGLAS COUNTY • OMAHA Second Thursday @ 10 a.m. Second Thursday @ 5:30 p.m. Country House Residences 5030 S. 155th St. Call Christina @ 402-980-4995 for free adult day services. Every other Monday @ 7 p.m. Brighton Gardens 9220 Western Ave. First & third Monday @ 1:30 p.m. New Cassel’s Franciscan Centre 900 N. 90th St. Call Melanie @ 402-393-2113 for free adult day services. Third Tuesday @ 5 p.m. Immanuel Fontenelle First floor classroom 6809 N 68th Plz. Second Tuesday @ 6:45 p.m. For caregivers of individuals with an intellectual disabilty/dementia. Barbara Weitz Center 6001 Dodge St. (UNO campus) Third Monday @ 9 a.m. Intercultural Senior Center 5545 Center St. Offered in English and Spanish

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New Horizons

December 2019

First Thursday @ 6:45 p.m. King of Kings Lutheran Church CORE Conference Room 11615 I St. Call Karen @ 402-584-9088 to arrange for adult day services. Third Tuesday @ 6 p.m. Temple Israel 13111 Sterling Ridge Dr. SARPY COUNTY • BELLEVUE Third Monday @ 7 p.m. Bellevue Senior Center 109 W. 22nd Ave. First Wednesday @ 1 p.m. Eastern Nebraska Vets Home (Vets and non-vets welcome) 12505 S. 40th St. • PAPILLION Fourth Thursday @ 6 p.m. Hillcrest Grand Lodge 6021 Grand Lodge Ave. WASHINGTON COUNTY • BLAIR Third Wednesday @ 6 p.m. Memorial Community Hospital Howard Conference Room 810 N. 22nd St.

Vols in Dodge, Washington counties honored at RSVP luncheon in Fremont


group of 19 volunteers – each of whom volunteered more than 500 hours during the last year – were among the men and women honored recently at a recognition luncheon for RSVP volunteers in Dodge and Washington counties at the Nye Legacy in Fremont. The 500 Hours Award recipients were Bernard Anderson, Deborah Bobbitt, John Fink, Kathryn Forke, Rose Gude, Joy Horn, Kathleen Jones, Charles Karrick, Thomas Lichliter, Mavis Lidberg, Leroy Lidberg, William Lippincott, Walter Meier, George Miller, Opal Miller, John Niemoth, Dona Roy, Ed Siudzinski, and Priscilla Wells. Sponsored locally by the Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging, RSVP is funded by the Corporation for National Service. RSVP volunteers – who must be at least age 55 – serve as resources at public and non-profit organizations, health institutions, food pantries, senior centers, and recycling facilities in Douglas, Sarpy, Dodge, Cass, and Washington counties. The luncheon for the volunteers in Dodge and Washington counties featured a delicious meal, entertainment by Joe “Mr. Memories” Taylor, a keynote address by Julie Sliester, director of development and public relations for the Life House in Fremont, and the awarding of certificates to the volunteers by RSVP Coordinator Sandy Blackman. The RSVP staff wanted to thank table sponsors Don Peterson & Associates, The Fremont Dental Group, Fremont Health, Ludvigsen Mortuary, Nye Health Services, and Washington County Recycling.

Free Tai Chi for Balance classes The Visiting Nurse Association’s Healing Motion Physical Therapy clinic is offering free Tai Chi for Balance classes. Tai Chi is a great way for older adults to improve their balance and strength, while decreasing their chance of falling. Physical therapist Kris Lausterer –a certified Tai Chi for Balance instructor for two years – will teach the ongoing classes which are open to everyone regardless of their experience with Tai Chi. The classes are held on Tuesdays at 5:15 p.m. at the Visiting Nurse Association building, 12565 W. Center Rd.

Registration will occur immediately before the class. For more information, please contact Lausterer at 402-346-7772 or

Cancer Society


he American Cancer Society needs volunteers to help out at its office located at 9850 Nicholas St. Training will be provided for these men and women. For more information, please contact Sherry Welton at 402-393-5801, ext. 70760.

WHITMORE LAW OFFICE Wills • Trusts • Probate

Ask A Lawyer: Q — I have had my Will and other estate planning documents prepared by my attorney. What’s next? A — Because an original Will is usually needed by the probate court, it makes sense to store it in a strategic location. We normally recommend a fireproof safe or lock box at the client’s home. If your executor has access, a safety deposit box in a bank might be the solution. Sometimes it may be wise to file your Will with the Probate Court, if there is concern about the Will not being given effect by family members. You’ve taken the trouble to protect your assets and loved ones by creating an estate plan. Don’t leave its discovery to chance. Ensure that your executor or trustee can easily and reliably find it when the time comes to put it into effect.

Ruth and James Peterson, who volunteer at Washington County Recycling, were among the volunteers honored at the RSVP luncheon last month.


Military, political, toys, jewelry, fountain pens, pottery, kitchen ware, postcards, photos, books, and other old paper, old clothes, garden stuff, tools, old household, etc. Call anytime 402-397-0254 or 402-250-9389



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December 2019

New Horizons

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Courtnage starts firm to fill jobs, foundation to fight mental illness, suicide By Jeff Reinhardt New Horizons Editor


hat are the keys to starting a company with yourself as its only employee to establishing a firm that a half century later fills three buildings, including its headquarters on West Dodge Street with more than 700 staff members? “Being persistent, staying on top of the technology curve, training your employees to better serve their customers, and hiring the right people,” said Larry Courtnage, founder of Omaha’s C & A Industries, a global leader in corporate staffing and recruiting. Raised on a 160-acre family farm near Plainview, Neb., Courtnage was educated in a one-room schoolhouse before enrolling at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He graduated from UN-L in 1966 with a degree in electrical engineering.

“Being persistent, staying on top of the technology curve, training your employees to better serve their customers, and hiring the right people.” In the 1960s, Larry sold hope chest items like China and silverware door to door. Then in 1969, looking to expand his professional and sales horizons, Courtnage – equipped solely with a desk, a telephone, the Yellow Pages, and a Rolodex filled with 3 x 5 cards – started Personnel Search, a headhunting company that recruited architects and engineers in the Omaha area. Over the next 50 years, Personnel Search evolved into C & A (Courtnage & Associates) Industries, the nation’s 28th largest staffing firm with seven affiliates filling positions in a variety of industries in all 50 states. C & A Industries has been named one of the “Best Places to Work in Omaha” eight times. Kathy Courtnage, Larry’s wife for 20 years, has been with C & A for 35 years. She’s been a major reason for the company’s success, according to Courtnage. Her roles have included troubleshooting problems throughout the company, overseeing C & A’s administrative branch, and helping develop the firm’s sales and marketing efforts. “I’ve done whatever Larry needed to have done,” Kathy said, modestly. Larry and Kathy’s three living children – Vicki, Craig, and Mark – each fill executive level positions

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with C & A Industries. The couple has seven grandchildren, three great-grandkids, and a fourth great-grandchild due in May.


ourtnage’s hard work and success have been noted in the local business and academic communities. In 2018, he was inducted into the Business Hall of Fame by the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce. Last month, he received an honorary doctoral degree in commerce from Bellevue University where he serves on its board of directors. In addition to his role with Bellevue University, Courtnage’s local civic outreach includes membership in several service clubs, the Masonic Fraternity, the Tangier Shriner Center, and the Scottish Rite.


n October, C & A was sold to Medical Solutions in what was the largest acquisition of a medical staffing company in the industry’s history. Courtnage said it was time for him and Kathy to retire. They will continue spending half the year in Omaha and half the year in the Naples-Fort Myers, Fla. area. During their time in Florida, Larry and Kathy continue their philanthropic commitment to the communities they live in by strongly supporting Lee Health System’s Kids Minds Matter program, an effort that promotes mental and behavioral healthcare services for children in southwest Florida. Looking back at the last half century, Courtnage is proud of what he’s accomplished. “I’ve helped a lot of people develop and become successful, and that feels good.”


espite the business and personal success, Courtnage’s life has been deeply impacted by personal tragedy. In 1986, his daughter, Kim, took her life at age 24 after battling mental illness. Fifteen years later, Larry and Kathy started and funded the Kim Foundation, a nonprofit agency whose mission is to serve as a supportive resource and compassionate voice for lives touched by mental illness and suicide. The organization works to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental illness and suicide while helping ensure communities and individuals have resources to combat mental illness and suicide. The foundation’s board consists of Larry, Kathy, and their children. A six-person staff operates the foundation. While the organization receives some outside donations, the bulk of the funding continues to come from the Courtnage family. The foundation’s need is great as nearly 20% of Americans experience a mental illness. “Unfortunately, a stigma too often exists around mental illness and suicide, so the Kim Foundation strives to break down that stigma and normalize the conversation for

New Horizons

Larry Courtnage and his wife, Kathy, flank Julia Hebenstreit, executive director of the Kim Foundation. the community while providing valuable resources and education,” said Julia Hebenstreit, the foundation’s executive director.

“Larry Courtnage never imagined the Kim Foundation would be as impactful as he’s seen, but he’s proud of the legacy he’s been able to create in memory of his daughter, Kim.” “The Kim Foundation engages the community in conversation and education around mental illness and suicide prevention, so people reach out for help when needed, and lives are saved from suicide,” she added. The organization works closely with law enforcement to obtain data on local suicides and to provide vital services to families in crisis after the loss of a loved one to suicide. The data collected enables the foundation to run a targeted, successful suicide prevention awareness cam-

December 2019

paign throughout metro Omaha. Normalizing the conversation around these topics helps the foundation reach one of its main goals of getting society to view mental health the same way it does physical health. “To work toward this, the Kim Foundation leads several community-wide initiatives that bring people together to collaborate, increase awareness, and connect those needing help to available resources,” Hebenstreit said. “The Kim Foundation has led the local mental health awareness and suicide prevention efforts and values the strong community partnerships it has formed with organizations whose missions align with the foundation’s. “Not one group can do this alone, so these partnerships remain key to reaching those in need and saving lives,” Hebenstreit said. “Larry Courtnage never imagined the Kim Foundation would be as impactful as he’s seen, but he’s proud of the legacy he’s been able to create in memory of his daughter, Kim.” For more information, go online to or call 402891-6911.

Profile for Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging

New Horizons December 2019  

New Horizons is a publication of the Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging. Distributed free to people over age 60 in Douglas, Sarpy, Dodge, Wash...

New Horizons December 2019  

New Horizons is a publication of the Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging. Distributed free to people over age 60 in Douglas, Sarpy, Dodge, Wash...