As we may find ourselves cooped up in our homes for the time being, the League will be doing our best to share some activities for our members and their families. Today’s is brought to you by Project Management Vice Chair and elementary librarian Jess Winter!
First up, Julia Cook’s Book Ends!
Julia is nationally recognized as an award-winning children’s book author and parenting expert.She has presented in thousands of schools across the country and abroad, regularly speaks at national education and counseling conferences. She has published nearly 100 children’s books on a wide range of characters and social development topics. Her books showcase her innate ability to enter the worldview of a child through storybooks, giving children both the “what to say” and the “how to say it.”
She was my first author visit as a librarian. I remember meeting her and seeing her empathy and compassion towards our kids.
Every Monday and Friday, she will read one of her books. She focuses on social emotional learning such as anxiety. But also regular kid things like not picking your nose and blurting out.
Right now, more than ever, she’s an asset as our kids as their schedules are upended and in disarray.
She recognizes the trauma, reassures kids and families that it will be ok, and we can support one another through this time.
As an elementary librarian, right now, she’d be my top choice to explain big feelings to kids.
You can check out her story times on Facebook. You can learn more about Julia Cook on her website.
Also, for more children’s activities head over to our Pinterest, give us a follow and check out the other awesome options that Jess Winter has put together.
Did you know that Sustaining Members make up almost 60% of The Junior League of Omaha’s total membership of 682 members? Sustainers are the true backbone of our organization, providing support in a variety of ways. Whether it is offering advice and guidance to the Board, financially supporting a fundraiser, or training a group of members on a professional or personal skill, Sustainer support is an integral piece of JLO’s ongoing success.
One of the strategic priorities going into the 2020-2021 League year is to provide additional quality opportunities for Sustaining members to connect with the organization and with each other. We know this membership group is looking for unique and varying ways to engage, including through mentoring, community service, socials, providing guidance and advice, and training.
Sustainers spoke… and we listened! The Junior League of Omaha has formed a NEW group to prioritize these efforts. The Sustainer Engagement Committee (SEC) will sit on the Management Team and be responsible for planning and implementing engagement opportunities. The committee leaders will collaborate closely with the president and Management Team to bridge the gap between New and Active Members and Sustainers. Current Board Member-at-Large Lisa Buckentine was selected this month to serve as chair for 2020-2021. Lisa is excited for next year and says, “We have so many wonderful Sustainers looking to engage more with our Active and New Members. I believe that this committee can provide opportunities for more Sustainers to share their thoughts, talents and time with the League!”
Stay tuned for more exciting news about Sustainer engagement!
Learn more about Ashley Rich, Corresponding Secretary
Ashley is originally from Milwaukee, WI, and moved to Omaha 12 years ago. She joined the League a few years after moving here, because she has always had an interest in volunteering and was looking for a way to meet new friends.
Rich’s and her husband Brandon have been married for six years and together for 14. Growing up, Ashley competed in pageants and met Brandon 16 years ago because of it. They became friends as they both worked for the pageant and dated long distance while they finished college before Ashley moved to Omaha.
Being active is one of Ashley’s passions. She teaches Pure Barre classes and also loves indoor cycling and running. She has run seven half marathons and one full marathon.
Traveling is one of Ashley and her husband’s favorite things to do. Their favorite place to travel to is St. Maarten, but some of their favorite things that they have done on vacation were attending the French Open in Paris and hiking in Cinque Terre.
Besides Ashley and her husband, they have a three year-old son named Preston who loves swimming, reading and playing with trains. Back in November they welcomed their second baby boy, Fordham Haskell. On the weekends you can find they playing at the park or museum. They also have two maltipoos, Giavanna and Madison.
Roses are red, Violets are blue, February was busy, And lots of fun, too!
As I mentioned last month, the League has many resolutions and goals for 2020. The Strategic Task Force, led by President-Elect Katie Triplett, met in February to finalize the draft of the 2020-2023 Strategic Plan. We are very excited about the new things coming for our League! Once the plan is approved, we will be sure to share it with all of our members.
Restructuring took place in February, thanks to the help of Placement Chair Jen Teusink. We have many exciting placements for Active Members next year! We are also excited to announce the approval of the Sustainer Engagement Committee, which will gear up this spring and provide opportunities for Sustainers all year long. This committee will sit on the Management Team and will be chaired by current Member-at-Large Lisa Buckentine.
A huge thank you goes to Corresponding Secretary Ashley Rich for the support during this busy time of year as we begin to wrap up 2019-2020 and prepare for 2020-2021. If you have not yet paid your dues, or want to learn more about your membership options, please reach out directly to Ashley at firstname.lastname@example.org. She can also assist you with payment options and payment plans as well.
Speaking of membership options, New Member recruitment is up and running! We hope you will consider spreading the word to any potential New Members! Informational sessions will take place this spring. New Member Committee Vice Chair Courtney Kastalic is eager to welcome another group of amazing leaders to our community. If you have someone you would like us to connect with, please send her name to email@example.com!
In hopes to communicate with our growing membership, President-Elect Katie Triplett and I will be hosting informal conversations this spring as well. Please join us at one of the following “Convo’s with Katie and Kerri” to provide feedback, bring suggestions and ask questions. RSVP on Digital Cheetah: Thursday, March 26 – 5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m., HQ and Tuesday, April 14 – post GMM, Field Club of Omaha. As we move out of the cold month of February and into the (hopefully) warmer spring weather, don’t forget to set aside your donations for Bargain Bash from spring cleaning! The committee would greatly appreciate marking the bags/boxes of items as specifically as possible.
Alysia is an Interior Designer at RDG Planning & Design. She’s been there since graduating and really enjoys it. Alysia said the firm treats everyone like family and is extremely supportive in helping individuals succeed and pursue their interests. Like being involved in the community!
Speaking of community involvement, Alysia stays busy! Having been born and raised in Omaha (technically Elkhorn), she has a deep passion for investing in the community and helping make it a better place for everyone. She currently serves as the President of the Friends of Nebraska Children, serves on the Greater Omaha Chamber’s Young Professional Council, sits on Opera Omaha’s Community Advisory Panel, volunteers for the American Heart and Stroke Association … ALL while being an active member of the Junior League.
Alysia considers herself a cat lady, but not a crazy cat lady. Gus is her main squeeze, and she’s constantly teetering on whether or not to adopt another passive aggressive cuddle bug. Check back in a few weeks.
She thoroughly enjoy party planning and dinner parties. Which is also why she enjoys working out. Life is all about balance.
This year she is taking some sort of creative class each month. She previously enrolled in pottery classes at the Union for Contemporary Art and cooking classes Metro Community College. Have any suggestions? Send them her way!
The Junior League of Omaha wrapped up the year and the decade with the announcement of an exciting new focus area: hunger and access to healthy foods. On December 2, the Board of Directors decided on this focus area after assessing criteria including membership interest, opportunity in the community to make an impact, sustainability, variety of volunteer opportunities and potential barriers.
The decision comes as a result of a tireless process led by the Community Research and Development (CRaD) committee. They assessed needs in the Omaha metro in three different areas: hunger and access to healthy foods, abuse of women and children and opportunity youth.
The CRaD committee worked to set up and host around 30 service learning opportunities in these three areas between June and November. Members completed the service learning opportunities and provided valuable feedback which was compiled by the committee. This feedback was critical in making a decision on a new focus area.
“The CRaD team has been working diligently all year to ensure that education and volunteer opportunities were available for members to learn and participate in with the three focus areas. The focus area and research teams have collaborated with local organizations to envision future strategic goals and programming for years to come. We are grateful to have such passionate women involved in this process and for the participation and feedback from all of our membership,” said Emily Barr,| Junior League of Omaha Community Research and Development Chair.
Building on the impact made over the last 100 years, the Junior League of Omaha is entering this new decade with an exciting area of focus and renewed commitment to voluntarism.
This year our League president, Kerri Palmesano has turned our focus towards extending kindness. In the spirit of her theme, “Throw Kindness Like Confetti”, we have included some ways that you too can spread kindness.
Leave a note tucked in the pages of a book for a stranger to find
Deliver homemade baked goods to your neighbor(s)
Pay someone a genuine compliment
Clean up the trash in a public place
Offer to run an errand for a busy friend
Buy a book that you think a friend will like and give it to her
Hold a door for someone
Our League kicked the year off by learning from Ferial Pearson, the founder of The Secret Kindness Agents. Ferial provided thought provoking conversations with our members this past fall that has catalyzed our work to be more inclusive and equitable. We commend her work to spread kindness and encourage you to watch her TEDx Talk.
Please click here if you would like to join Secret Kindness Agents mailing list.
Lisa was born and raised in West Central Iowa and her parents still live on the farm she was raised on.
She went to Iowa State University to major in Agriculture Business and ended up with a dual degree in Economics and minors in International Agriculture and Speech Communications. Lisa loves Iowa State and Agriculture!
Buckentine joined the Junior League of Omaha because of her good friend and fellow League member Jessica Holdenried. Jessica encouraged a whole group to join and Lisa says the group has had a great time meeting new people in the League!
Lisa and her husband, Adam Buckentine, live on an acreage south of Council Bluffs with their Bichon, Lucy. They hope to have more animals in the future including mini cows, goats and horses!
Lisa loves biking! She regularly rides on the Wabash Trace Trail by her house for Taco Ride and looks forward to RAGBRAI every year!
This year certainly has flown by. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words…so below is a short review of the first part of the League year in photos!
I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to be part of the Junior League of Omaha. I can’t tell you how much I have learned from fellow new, active and sustaining members. You all make this experience so fulfilling. I look forward to seeing what 2020 brings us all!
Kerri Palmesano, President
Mark your calendars for Brunch 5K on April 18 at Askarben Village.
How to follow us: Instagram, Twitter and Facebook: @JLOmaha Don’t forget to like, tag us and share!
Our member spotlight series features one of our current active members and their contributions to the League and our community. First up is Sammi Kaisser, 2019-2020 Nominating Chair.
Sammi grew up in Woodland Park, CO and is a mountain girl at heart. Pikes Peak is in her parents’ backyard and she love visiting the mountains.
She was the Rotary Southern Colorado Athlete of the Year her senior year. Her two sports were basketball and volleyball – she was a guard in basketball and averaged 10 points a game!
Sammi is currently working her dream job as the Director of the Academic and Career Development Center at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Connecting students to opportunities is her passion and she feels fortunate to get to do it her job every day! Her most recent work-related endeavor is finishing up her final degree. She is set to graduate with her PhD in Educational Leadership and Higher Education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln this August!
She met her husband Steve in college at UNL. People joked, and still do joke, that they are a lot alike. In fact, they share three of the same top five CliftonStrengths (Woo, Positivity and Includer).
Finally, Sammi loves being a mom to two kids Will and Whitney. Will is a construction loving three year-old who is fearless at the pool and likes to catch bugs. Whitney is a six-month old sweetheart who just started solid foods and loves her big brother.