“Books are incubators.” Jason Reynolds’ words resonate. I imagine books hatching open worlds, creating images, and stories not only of things we love but questions and conversations. Right now, we need the incubators of stories to cultivate empathy.
Librarians curate book collections, which represent our students, their backgrounds and stories. They are mirrors into their lives and windows into someone else’s life.
Now think of that favorite book as a child or even a current one. Did it mirror your life? What is it a window into someone else’s life? What is a sliding glass door where you became part of the story? When was the last time you or your family read a book with a character that looked different than you? Or had a religion or an experience that you did not understand?
I ask this because our books lack diversity, creating singular viewpoints of stories. Author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in her Ted Talk explains when she was young, she only saw windows into other people’s lives and didn’t know that her story too could exist in literature.
When we only hear one continual narrative about a culture, it creates stereotypes and that is the only story we hear. The need for diverse books is to expand the single story and use stories as incubators to begin the work of cultivating empathy and allowing us to have hard, vulnerable conversations.
The Junior League of Omaha is committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving communities through effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. As our Omaha community grapples with the sudden and life-changing challenges in this COVID-19 time, we want to respond and live out our mission by serving others and giving back to our community.
The Community Impact Council, along with the Management Team, have reached out to our partners in the new Focus Area: Hunger & Access to Healthy Foods to find ways we can get our members back into the community while understanding the personal decisions around each individual’s comfort and preference. Your participation is optional and certainly appreciated!
Join us for four ways to give in May with two incredible partners!
Heart Ministry Center – Virtual Food Drive
The Heart Ministry Center provides basic necessities, educational opportunities, health outreach events and support to individuals and families in north Omaha and surrounding areas. They are home to the largest food pantry in the state of Nebraska, distributing more than 3 million pounds of food per year and 1 million pounds of that total is fresh fruit and vegetables. Heart Ministry Center is able to purchase their food pantry goods at a very low cost, far lower than what we would be spending on physical goods.
Steps to Participate in the JLO Virtual Food Drive:
Click the link and give a donation of whatever you can.
In an effort to measure the monetary impact JLO is having on access to healthy food in the Omaha community, we request that you forward your giving receipt to firstname.lastname@example.org
Heart Ministry Center – Volunteer Opportunities Thursday, May 14 & Thursday, May 21 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Volunteers will work alongside Heart Ministry workers during their pantry hours as they provide drive thru service to 150-200 families. Volunteers will help by filling pantry bags, distributing bags to cars, loading/unloading food in the warehouse, and assisting with any other needs they may have that day.
Sign up on Digital Cheetah. Each shift is for four volunteers to adhere to CDC guidelines and social distancing rules. Bring your own mask and other gear (i.e. gloves, clothing, etc.) that make you comfortable to volunteer.
The Union for Contemporary Art – Physical Goods Donation Drive
The Union for Contemporary Art strengthens the cultural and social landscape of our community by using the arts as a vehicle to inspire positive social change. The Union’s Abundance Garden includes 960 square feet of raised garden beds, a geodesic dome greenhouse, a small fruit-tree orchard, composting facilities, a performance space, and an outdoor classroom used for community events and The Union’s Youth Engagement programs.
For the month of May, Junior League members can purchase items from the attached list and drop off the goods to anyone of these members’ homes at eight different Omaha locations around the city. These goods will be donated to the Union for inclusion into the Art+Life kids and CSA resources to families and seniors in the community.
Paige Reitz, Deputy Director of The Union for Contemporary Art, will be teaching us how to make both a no sew mask and a sewn mask. If you would like to donate any of the masks you make, the Heart Ministry will gladly accept them for their employees, clients, and pantry recipients.
Register on Digital Cheetah and by emailing Shannon Lang. Event registrants will receive the Google Hangout link along with a list of supplies needed.
Again, these activities are completely optional. We understand that lives have changed dramatically and we are trying to meet the needs of all members. We hope that you will consider participating if you feel comfortable and your new schedule allows.
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 email@example.com. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org!
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.
The 100th anniversary of the Junior League of Omaha is upon us, and the League has planned two events to mark this special occasion. The 100th Anniversary Celebratory Luncheon was held on March 15, at the Marriott Downtown at the Capitol District, and the 100th Anniversary Annual Meeting & Cocktail Reception will be on May 3, at the Joslyn Art Museum. These two events are truly “A Celebration of the Junior League of Omaha’s Past, Present and Future.”
Bethany Banister and Patricia Stillmock are the co-chairs of the 100th Anniversary committee, and they have been creating and executing the plans that surround the festivities for nearly three years. When asked how the history of the League influenced their preparations, they responded, “The team of historians and our committee did an amazing job looking into the history of the League, and it inspired all aspects of our planning.” The Joslyn Art Museum, for example, not only has historical connections to the Junior League, but the architecture of the building dates back to around the same time as the Junior League of Omaha’s establishment.
A great deal of time has been spent on making the 100th anniversary celebrations special, and this includes research into the past, as well as interviews with Sustainers and past members of the League. In addition to studying the records at Junior League of Omaha headquarters, the committee has worked with the Omaha World-Herald, the Durham Museum, and the Douglas County Historical Society to locate anecdotes, photos, and stories from the past. Sustainers have been generous with sharing their archives, and Banister and Stillmock agreed that these interactions have been “the most fun and rewarding part of this journey.”
Highlights from the luncheon include guest speaker, Yesterday’s Lady, Sue McLain, who shared the history of the little black dress. A ten thousand dollar gift was made to The Rose Theater, an organization with whom the Junior League of Omaha has a strong history. And lastly, the anniversary video debuted an interview with the oldest living Junior League of Omaha Past President, who also attended the event!
As we enjoy these special events, we remember the theme: A Celebration of the Junior League of Omaha’s Past, Present and Future. Bethany and Patricia hope that the “League continues to be a strong organization that teaches women how to be great volunteers while making great friendships.”
The Junior League Training Committee is halfway through their 2018/2019 event calendar, but far from finished with offering exciting trainings. I recently sat down with Training Chair, Mary Burnett, to recap the events held in the fall and see what exciting events they have coming this spring.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about the Training Committee and the committee’s role in the Junior League?
A: I always go back to the fact that the Junior League is first and foremost a training organization. We like to offer a combination of events that are focused on training women to be leaders in professional and volunteering roles, as well as trainings that offer a chance for League members to learn a fun new skill and network with other League women. This year we’ve already held trainings on financial acumen, parliamentary procedure, Google Drive, CPR/First Aid, cooking classes, mending clothes, and decorating ornaments with kids!
Q: How do you and your committee members come up with the types of training events offered? How many do you try to schedule in a year?
A: We use recommendations from multiple sources. We look at annual survey results, talk with League membership, and at the January General Membership Meeting we actually did live polling to help pick some events to plan for the spring. Since our committee has grown, we try to have each coordinator plan one or two events. This year we will have completed twelve trainings by May!
Q: What events do you have coming up this spring that you’d like our membership to be aware of?
A: We are super excited about the events this spring. Our big finale is going to be our “Margaritas and Mulligans” event on May 19. This will include a mini golf training and then a sign-up for a Nine-Hole Scramble. We are opening up this training to Sustainers as well. Also based on the live polling from the January General Membership Meeting, we are going to do a training on wine (that was by far the most popular choice) and meditation. “Meditation and Mimosas” will be held on March 8 and March 23. Mark your calendars! We also have one more event that we will plan for April that is TBD! So keep your eyes posted on the Hot Sheet and Facebook for updates.
Recruitment for next year’s New Member group begins in February. For more information about joining the Junior League of Omaha, visit https://www.jlomaha.org/join-us/.
This year, the Junior League of Omaha’s Big Red Block Party fundraiser hosted 108 people at the Scott Conference Center. The silent auction was a favorite among attendees with 62 fun, unique packages with a wide range of starting bids, appropriate for all spend levels! Attendees also enjoyed a delicious buffet with rotating, heavy appetizers, two bars, and yard games.
This was the final year for this special event, and Lauren Anderson, the Big Red Block Party Co-Chair, stated, “The most meaningful moment during the event was honoring the previous Chairs and talking about the fundraiser. This event has raised $176,000 for the League over the last nine years, and that deserves to be celebrated.”
Collaboration and communication were two key elements that contributed to Big Red Block Party’s success. As Lauren Anderson, Big Red Block Party Co-Chair, described, “Our committee worked really well together…between our (almost) weekly committee hot sheets and our committee meetings, we were able to efficiently plan our event.” Anderson also credited working with Jen Bartlet, their JLO Sustainer Advisor, and a past Big Red Block Party Chair, as a vital resource who gave both Co-Chair Hunter Taylor and herself additional insight into making the event a success.
When asked if she had any advice for future Junior League of Omaha fundraisers, Anderson responded, “Yes! Create a timeline and stick with it. Check in with your committee, but don’t bombard them with emails. Say thank you. And most importantly, seriously evaluate your event every year to make sure it’s still relevant.” For more information about upcoming Junior League of Omaha events or to become a member, visit our website at http://www.jlomaha.org.
The Junior League of Omaha Foundation hosted the annual Past Presidents and Sustainer Luncheon on a beautiful October day at Champions Run. Kathy Martin, Junior League of Omaha Foundation Board President, welcomed a large group to the luncheon, introducing past Junior League of Omaha Presidents and past Foundation Presidents. Current Junior League of Omaha President Lindsey Tonniges updated the Sustainers on the exciting projects with which the League is currently involved.
The 100th Anniversary Co-Chairs, Patricia Stillmock and Bethany Bannister, spoke on the upcoming events for the centennial celebration of the Junior League of Omaha in 2019. Foundation President Kathy Martin shared, “All the Sustainers are looking forward to attending the March 15th luncheon celebrating our 100th anniversary!” In addition, the Junior League of Omaha Cookbook Co-Chairs, Ashley Rich and Jamie Schneider, were there to promote A Century of Serving: A Centennial Celebration Cookbook.
The New Members kicked off their League year with their first meeting on Aug. 28 at Security National Bank, where the women got to know their core groups and learned about their upcoming year.
September’s New Member Meeting focused on Community Impact. The women enjoyed a football and fall theme with beer and pizza.
The Communications Council presented at the October New Member Meeting with a Halloween theme.
November activities included a social at the Makery and meeting at The Mattress Factory. New Members learned more about the 100th Year Anniversary Celebration and guest Marian Andersen shared her volunteerism background with the New Member Class.
Additionally so far this League year, New Members celebrated and acknowledged the significance of their membership class, complete with a hashtag they chose (#JLOClassOfTheCentury) and a special class logo.
New Member Committee Chair Megan Horn focused on creating a theme and tone of building League relationships and sharing the experiences and community impact opportunities available. The committee has revised the format of the meetings and focused more on providing experiences and helping build connections.
Recruitment for next year’s New Member group begins in February. For more information about joining the Junior League of Omaha, visit https://www.jlomaha.org/join-us/.
Omaha’s 2nd Annual blowout rummage sale, Bargain Bash, kicked off on August 24, 2018. This year’s event was a huge success, not only regarding League participation but also community engagement and returning shoppers from last year’s event. Over the three days the sale was running, including sorting and setup on Wednesday and Thursday, 50 volunteers helped set the stage for record crowds on Saturday, August 25, when the sale opened to the public.
“At the start of the bash on the first day, there was a line of people waiting that led out the door,” said Macey Morgan, Bargain Bash Inventory and Pick- Up Coordinator, “Many of the attendees were excited when they received their Borsheim’s bag for shopping, and we believe it encouraged them to purchase more as they shopped!”
The sale couldn’t have been as big of a success without all the donations from new, active, and sustaining members. The more than 3,500 items donated, included home goods, clothing, kitchen appliances, decor and even a tanning bed.
“Not only were we able to impact the community through our sales, but we partnered with other non-profits who collected our leftover items,” Morgan explained, “This partnership with other non-profit groups helps the league continue to lend a helping hand in our community. Overall the event grossed an amazing profit to help the League continue to impact the community with our projects and league engagement. Nothing could have been possible without the committee and commitment. A huge shout out goes to the entire committee for their hard work and for making it genuinely fun!”