Dear Junior League of Omaha members,
As I write this month’s President’s Perspective, I’m acutely aware we are all feeling the weight of the global pandemic, the deaths of Black Americans across the country and the economic downturn. In the wake of such significant events, it can be challenging to identify how we can help individually and as an organization. While the start of this League year certainly looks different, I’m confident we will continue to thrive and be a force for positive change in the Omaha community. While I’ve chosen to highlight this month the work JLO is doing in our community and advancing equity, diversity and inclusion, I know all of our members are giving back to our organization, to Omaha and to each other. Thank you for your service and leadership during these difficult times.
As a reminder, JLO’s COVID-19 Summer Operational Guidelines can be found here.
For the first time in three years, our League has a new program aligned with our community impact focus area, hunger and access to healthy foods. Despite the social distancing required by the COVID-19 pandemic, our Food Access Committee led by Chair Shannon Lang has been passionate about providing engagement opportunities to members. Throughout June and July, JLO volunteers have been working outdoors in Together’s new community gardens planting, weeding and watering. Together aims to prevent and end homelessness in Omaha. Their case managers utilize tools to either rapidly rehouse or keep a household in their home.
JLO members have been able to sign up to work with Heart Ministry Center, which provides basic necessities, educational opportunities, health outreach and support to individuals and families in north Omaha and surrounding areas. Volunteers have assisted with food pantry operations, including unloading food in the warehouse, packing pantry boxes and loading boxes into cars.
There have also been volunteer shifts scheduled with No More Empty Pots, an organization that provides emergency response to urgent community needs for food relief. Each Wednesday, JLO volunteers portion out the prepared meals then package, label and bag them for distribution to the community.
For those members who aren’t yet ready to volunteer in-person, the Food Access Committee organized various Google Meet virtual shifts in June in which volunteers compiled recipes of quick, easy and affordable meals. They then catalogued the recipes by ingredient so that our community partners can quickly find and print them to share with their clients. These recipes have been provided to local pantries, meal services and community-supported agriculture programs for distribution to community members who are unsure on how to utilize various food items.
Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
On June 3, 2020, the new Board of Directors issued a public statement in response to the deaths of George Floyd and James Scurlock, and the nation-wide protests against racial inequality. Our organization calls on each member to “…commit to listening and educating ourselves. We must do the work, we must speak out, and we must be visible.” The full statement is available on our website here.
The JLO Diversity & Inclusion Committee has been working hard to bring opportunities for doing the work, speaking out and being visible. May’s “What is My Role in Advancing Racial Equity?” and “Gender Inclusive Language and Practices” prompted members to evaluate their intrinsic racial and gender biases and intentionally begin reframing thought patterns. “Undesign the Redline,” presented by The Union for Contemporary Art on June 25, was a virtual version of the in-person exhibition designed exclusively for JLO members. Sue Stroesser from The Union engaged our members in a dialogue surrounding the history of the redline in Omaha along with how it is currently impacting our community. The recording of “Undesign the Redline” will be available for JLO members soon – stay tuned!
Communications Project Management Chair Jess Winter, who is a school librarian with OPS, recently wrote a post on JLO’s Connections Blog titled “Books are incubators” – Stories Cultivating Empathy. I encourage you to read it here. My family and I are making a conscious effort to expand our family book collection to include works that incorporate diversity. In her post, Jess discusses why it is important to amplify diverse voices and includes resources for adding to your library.
Also in June, D&I Committee Chair Stephanie Kidd and I hosted our first D&I Leadership Roundtable for committee chairs, Council leaders, Management Team and Board. We will continue these roundtables throughout the year to provide our League members the opportunity to ask honest questions and learn from each other. The next D&I Leadership Roundtable will be held on Thursday, July 30, at 7 p.m. Please sign up on Digital Cheetah. Stephanie and I are looking forward to hosting a roundtable for all JLO members early this fall.
Finally, you may have noticed a new standing feature in the weekly Hot Sheet, the D&I Corner. The committee has been using this space to share information, updates and resources related to equity, diversity and inclusion. Some of the weeks will include links to external resources. I encourage you to take advantage of these learning opportunities and send Stephanie and her team any resources you think might be beneficial to share.
Getting to Know You
Each month we will feature a new League leader to get to know in the President’s Perspective. This month I’m sharing a bit about myself.
I grew up in Dallas, TX and my family lives in Rapid City, SD. I’m married to Adam, who grew up in Blair, and we have two cute kiddos: Tommy is four and Vivian is 13 months. I’m a nurse practitioner and oversee risk management and regulatory standards for Methodist Hospital and Women’s Hospital.
I joined Junior League in Minneapolis, MN and was a member in Corpus Christi, TX before moving back to Nebraska. I’ve held various placement in JLO, including Big Red Block Party chair, communications chair and Executive Vice President.
When I’m not spending time with my family or working, I enjoy reading, trying new restaurants and drinking wine. Adam and I also love to travel; our favorite destinations are Hawaii and Napa Valley.
Stay safe and well! Have a wonderful month and thank you for all you do for JLO and for our community.
Katie Triplett | Junior League of Omaha