Great Books For Great Kids

Did you know that reading skills are the greatest single predictor of future academic success?* Yet, 16% of people in the Omaha area are functionally illiterate. This means they struggle getting through the day because they can’t read well enough to order from a menu, fill out a job application, or help their kids with homework.** Nationally, on average, children in middle-income neighborhoods have 13 books per child. In contrast, for low-income children there is an estimated 1 book for every 300 children.

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The Junior League of Omaha has never hesitated to step up and help out with what the community needs. Through its own community project, A Book of My Own (ABOMO), the Junior League of Omaha has been helping to promote literacy and provide books at home to under-served children ages 0-18. Throughout the year, new and gently-used books are collected and ABOMO partners with community organizations such as schools, churches, Heartland Family Service, and the Boys and Girls Club to distribute books to children in need. Since 2011, ABOMO has distributed over 80,000 books in the Omaha community and worked with more than 70 community partners.img_9793

Recently, the Junior League of Omaha partnered with Runza® Restaurants for the 14th annual Great Books for Great Kids fundraiser. The funds collected benefited the Junior League of Omaha’s A Book of My Own community project. The League’s Board of Directors and project committee members staffed each of the 15 Runza locations to provide members of the community more information about the Great Books for Great Kids event as well as general information about the league. The event was a great success again this year and more than $5,000 was raised for the community project. ABOMO plans on using the funds to purchase books for upcoming distributions.

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If you are looking to give back and want to contribute to the community project, here are a variety of ways that you can donate to ABOMO.

  1. Donate books. A Book of My Own needs new and gently-used books. Donation bins are located at the following locations:

Back and Neck Care Center, 2055 N. 156th Street, Omaha, NE

Ridgeview Animal Hospital, 18142 Wright Street, Omaha, NE

Walnut Creek Veterinary Clinic, 96th and HWY 370, Papillion, NE

Roots and Wings, Countryside Village, 8712 Pacific Street, Omaha, NE

Bare Body Shop, Rockbrook Village, 10811 Prairie Brook Road, Omaha, NE

You can also contact the Junior League of Omaha office at 402.493.8818 or book@jlomaha.org to schedule a drop-off appointment. If you donate gently-used books, we would appreciate books that are in saleable condition with no torn cover, ripped pages or chewed marks. Also, we do not distribute books that have been wet or have mold or mildew.

  1. Donate money. 100% of monetary donations are used to purchase new books for the project. Donations can be sent to the Junior League of Omaha office.
  2. Host a book drive. Plan and host a book drive at your school, church or office. Contact the Junior League of Omaha office at 402.493.8818 or book@jlomaha.org for further information.
  3. Volunteer. Volunteers are needed to sort and prepare books for distribution. Contact the Junior League of Omaha office at 402.493.8818 or book@jlomaha.org for volunteer opportunities.

Visit the Junior League of Omaha’s Facebook and Instagram page, or follow the #JLOmaha to see more of this successful event. Special thank you to the A Book of My Own committee members who make this project successful: Liz Akert, Katie Anderson, Megan Black, Becca Bode, Meghan Bothe, Anne Bowen, Sarah Carse, Kristyn Chapman, Beverly Gorman, Erica Goven, Miranda Griffiths, Sara Hanke, Becky Heckman, Elizabeth Jamrog, Jessica Kozel, Steffanie Luteran, Katie Martens, Meghan McClain, Erica McDonald, Maria Michaelis, Kristi Mitchell, Summer Nabity, Kimberly Nolan, Taylor Pugh, Nicole Seckman, Tina Spatz, Jessica Thompson, and Lisa Tonjes Moritz.

*National Assessment of Educational Progress

**Literacy Center of the Midlands

JLO Summer Wrap-Up

In just a few days, the Junior League of Omaha will be kicking off its 98th year with the first General Membership Meeting. It has been a busy summer for our League filled with training sessions, committees kicking off their projects and fundraisers and meetings to gear up for the upcoming year.

Many of our members have already been hard at work throughout the summer donating their time to various projects. In July, many members volunteered at the Color Run during packet pick-up and on race day at water and color stations throughout the race course.

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Done-In-A-Day partnered with FITGirl, Inc. and provided volunteers for the FITGirl Empowerment Camp for girls ages 8-14. Junior League of Omaha members were assigned a group of girls and assisted them through activities during the day that included focusing on fitness, good eating choices and group team building activities.

Project shifts have also started with volunteers sorting books for A Book Of My Own and getting backpacks ready for distribution through Project Hope Pack. In addition to all of the volunteer opportunities for our Active Members, the League is also excited to welcome 92 New Members to our organization this year.

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Each year, the incoming President is tasked with choosing a theme for the League year. For 2016-2017, our President, Chaley Chandler, selected the theme of “Giving Back is Always in Style.” Giving back is just one part of the mission of The Junior League of Omaha and voluntarism has always been second nature to our members. All of our League Members share many different strengths that make make an impact on each other and our actions. Our members gain training and knowledge from both our General and Committee meetings, and also from each other. Supporting other League Members, learning from each other and giving back to one another are all of the keys we’ll need to have a successful year. Our mission and our relentless act of giving back to the community and to each other will always be in style! You’ll be seeing this year’s logo all year long to help serve as a reminder of the one goal we all are working towards.

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As fall rapidly approaches, there’s even more exciting things to look forward to beginning with Barn Bash on September 9th. There will be salsa and guacamole tasting, a nacho bar and BINGO! The League will also be hosting the American Girl Fashion Show Grand Finale on October 8th and 9th at Shadow Ridge Country Club. Please join other League Members as we commemorate the Fashion Show and how it has created shining stars out of both children and adults. Rounding out the season is the seventh annual Big Red Block Party on November 5th. Watch the Nebraska vs. Ohio State football game on multiple big screen TVs while enjoying tailgate-themed faire and the opportunity to bid on a wide variety of silent auction items. Finally, Our Cookbook Committee is also hard at work and needs your submissions. If you have any great recipes to share, please visit www.JLOCookbook.com.

Runza Restaurants Break Fundraising Record with Junior League of Omaha Project

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Recently Runza® Restaurants conducted the 13th annual Great Books for Great Kids fundraiser. This year the funds raised benefited the Junior League of Omaha’s A Book of My Own community project. The League’s Board of Directors and project committee members staffed each location to provide members of the community more information about the Great Books for Great Kids event as well as general information about the league.

Blake (daughter of League President-Elect, Chaley Chandler) and Soren (son of League member Lexie Fraham enjoyed their frozen treats from Runza. A portion of sales from the day supported the League's community project.
Blake (daughter of League President-Elect, Chaley Chandler) and Soren (son of League member Lexie Fraham enjoyed their frozen treats from Runza. A portion of sales from the day supported the League’s community project.

Fourteen Omaha area Runza® Restaurants each pledged 15 percent of sales that day to the project. A record-breaking $8,162.07 was raised that day. Runza® has been a longtime supporter of reading. “Reading is vital to lifelong success and provides an excellent opportunity for families to spend time together,” stated Becky Perrett, director of marketing for Runza® National. “Donating funds for books and promoting literacy is an important endeavor for children and the community.”

League member and A Book of My Own community project Co-Chair, Cindy Guenzel and her children supported the event that raised over $6,0000.
League member and A Book of My Own community project Co-Chair, Cindy Guenzel and her children supported the event that raised over $8,100.

A Book of My Own has distributed close to 70,000 books to children in the Omaha area since the community project began in 2011. Visit the Junior League of Omaha’s Facebook Runza Great Books for Great Kids photo album to see more of this successful event. Special thank you to the A Book of My Own committee members who make this project successful: Britt Dudzinski, Cindy Guenzel, Katie Anderson, Becca Bode, Lyndsey Canning, Leigh Garvin, Gina Murante, Liz Akert, Maria Michaelis, Erin Glidden, Becky Heckman, Katie Martens, Sara Hemley, Laura Snyder, Chinh Doan, Emily Flom, Meghan Bothe, Sarah Carse, Amy Niederee, Melissa O’Neill, Megan Guenther, Nicole Seckman Jilek and Steffanie Luteran.

League member and Communications Chair, Melissa Hoeman Carlberg along with her several of her Nebraska Medicine colleagues supported the event by lunching at Runza that day.
League member and Communications Chair, Melissa Hoeman Carlberg, along with her several of her Nebraska Medicine colleagues, supported the event by lunching at Runza that day.

An Interview with Penny Parker

Tell us a little bit about your current position with Completely Kids and the role Completely KIDS plays in the community. 

I have been the Executive Director of Completely KIDS for 23 years. Our agency plays a critical role in providing after school and family strengthening programs for some of our community’s poorest families. We operate in seven inner city OPS schools, the Completely KIDS building and three homeless shelters.

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How has A Book of My Own (ABOMO) worked with Completely KIDS in the past?

The donations that we have received from ABOMO have been critical to our reading program by providing resources for our program staff and books for the children to take home. Many of the children do not have books at home so it means a great deal to them. The distribution has been to all of our elementary programs and most recently to one of the our middle school programs. Continue reading “An Interview with Penny Parker”