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.
The New Members kicked off their League year with their first meeting in August at Security National Bank, where the women got to know their core groups and learned about their upcoming year.
Our growing population of New Members is exciting to see each year.
In September, New Members volunteered at CASA Douglas County. CASA, or Court Appointed Special Advocates, supports advocates for children who are abused or neglected to provide them with a safe, healthy environment in a permanent home. New Members learned more about CASA while volunteering and cleaned storage rooms.
October activities included diversity and inclusion training from an external trainer, Ashlei Spivey. Diversity, equity and inclusion are core vales of the Junior League. New Members learned the importance of courageous conversations and more about equity and inclusion.
In November, New Members and the New Member Committee planned to join Board and Management for Friendsgiving; however, the Omaha weather got in our way! We look forward to celebrating the season with New Members at the holiday social in December.
New Member Committee is focused on building a knowledge base for New Members and sharing the training and community impact opportunities available to League members. The committee is focused on engagements which provide experiences and build lasting connections both within the League and out in the community.
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/.
I have decided to change up the formatting of the letter this month. Ultimately, my message is that I am extremely thankful for the Junior League and each and every one of our members. Being a member of Omaha’s chapter has brought me wonderful experiences in the community and within our League. It has also introduced me to so many wonderful volunteers, leaders and friends, like you! Thank you for all you do for the League and our community. We are extremely lucky to have you as a member.
I am . . .
THE 100 YEARS of HISTORY – The Junior League of Omaha has a rich history and continues to evolve as we learn more and grow. Dominique Morgan engaged 18 participants on November 9, in identifying their “why” for being involved in Diversity and Inclusion work, experiencing a deeper understanding of intersectionality, and assessing their power, influence and access.
HEADQUARTERS – Our newly renovated space is almost one year old and I can’t imagine our growing League without it! It is a central zone for members, a gathering space for productivity and learning and a place where so many positive relationships have developed. The renovation that took place last year was able to provide us with two meeting spaces that are often both being used. Thank you for helping keep our “HQ” such a professional and welcoming place to be.
AWESOME SUSTAINERS – Including our November GMM guest speaker, Wendy Moore. Wendy discussed her experiences with CASA as well as her experience as a foster parent, raising nieces and a nephew. Sustiners, we hope you join us for the holiday social in December! It will take place December 10 at Champions, from 6-8:00 p.m. You can RSVP at email@example.com
NEW MEMBERS – Our growing population of New Members is exciting to see each year. The New Members had planned to join Board and Management for Friendsgiving this month; however, the Omaha weather got in our way! We look forward to seeing as many New Members as possible at the holiday social in December!
KNOWLEDGE – I am blown away by the amount of knowledge in our League members. We are lucky to have such an intelligent, hard-working, dedicated and enthusiastic members. Not to mention kindness! Thank you for taking the theme this year and throwing kindness like confetti. Continue to show appreciation to those around you as we move into the busy holiday season!
FOUNDATION – We are so grateful for the Foundation. President Cathi Arnold attended our October GMM and presented us with a check for $14,000…their largest donation to date! Thank you to all of the members of the Foundation and all those that contribute to the Foundation.
UNLIMITED OPPORTUNITY – I am always fascinated by the various opportunities the League has to offer! A plethora of training and social events are on the calendar in addition to book clubs and affinity groups. As we move into the second semester of our League year, I encourage all members to look at how you might get involved with the League!
LEAGUE FOCUS & IMPACT – The Community Research and Development Committee has spent the last year researching our three focus areas. The Board of Directors will determine the next focus area with the help of all the data collected throughout this League year and communicate that to everyone in December. The three focus areas have all been identified as needs in Omaha and I am certain the Junior League of Omaha will have great impact regardless of what focus area we start with.
In the spirit of fall, I tested out my baking skills with these applesauce muffins. A recipe from the new Junior League of Omaha Cookbook. They’re easy to make, filled my kitchen with the cozy scents of the season and they’re super tasty!
I had most of the ingredients in my kitchen. Straying from the recipe slightly, I opted to use whole wheat flour and baked these as full size muffins because I don’t own a mini-muffin pan.
Once all the ingredients were blended together, I poured my mix into the muffin tray and stuck them in the oven. Despite making larger muffins, they were pretty well baked through in the same amount of time called for in the recipe.
Then, I dipped each delicious muffin top in butter and rolled them in my cinnamon-sugar mix for an absolutely divine topper!
These were simple to whip up and they’re a crowd pleaser! I highly recommend.
If you don’t already have your own copy of A Century of Serving: A Centennial Cookbook Celebration, you can purchase online via the Junior League of Omaha website.
The Junior League of Omaha (JLO) hosted its third annual Bargain Bash at the Ralston Arena on Saturday, August 10, 2019 and Sunday, August 11, 2019. The event raised funds which help JLO to support community programming throughout the year.
The rummage sale featured designer and name-brand clothing, shoes and jewelry for men, women and children as well as baby supplies, toys, kitchenware, home decor and furniture. One of the standout items for sale this year was a 10 piece, hand-painted bedroom set.
For a $20 donation, early bird shoppers could shop 90 minutes before the official opening to get their first pick of the items for sale and enjoy coffee with donuts.
Bargain Bash co-chairs said the committee sold 50 presale tickets and they were elated to see a line of customers waiting Saturday morning when the event officially opened to the public. In total, shoppers purchased $14,000 in merchandise throughout the weekend.
Also of note, nothing went to waste. JLO donated unsold inventory to Heartland Hope Mission, where items will be donated directly to flood victims who lost their homes and personal belongings.
Still not sold on shopping secondhand? Here’s a little more motivation to thrift:
Find unique pieces and valuable items at great prices
Reduce waste through reusing gently loved goods
Think of thrifting as a treasure hunt – you never know what you might find
One-of-a-kind goods that tell a story
Are you feeling motivated to shop secondhand?
Comment with some of your favorite thrifted purchases below!
bRUNch 5k is excited to announce that for this year’s event, the League is whisking away to Aksarben Village on May 4, 2019.
I visited with Jess Winter, Communications Project Manager for the event, about why people should consider participating in the Junior League of Omaha’s annual bRUNch 5K. She shared, “Running with a group is a great way to build community. Exercise groups empower one another and can be your best cheerleaders. You’re all in it together.”
Are you beginning to prepare for bRUNch 5k? Consider downloading apps that feature running programs for beginners, such as Couch to 5K. These programs combine walking and running each week until reaching a continuous run.
Already a seasoned runner? Cross-training options that will add to your endurance include weight training and barre classes.
Jess Winter offered additional insight for those who are unsure about running. “If you are hesitant about running, start slowly and modify if needed. Essentially, you want to set yourself up for success, and if you feel like you’re doing too much, then take a step back and train one less day until you feel confident. If you have knee issues, recovering from an injury or had physical therapy, talk your physical therapist. They are a great resource in supporting your goals and can give some great exercises, stretches and programming if needed.”
Most importantly, Jess advised, “Share your goals! People want to support you.”
Run, brunch, or both! Enjoy the best of both worlds at bRUNch 5K
Additional local resources to keep you motivated and offer support, whether you are an experienced runner or just starting out, can be found at locations below.
Omaha Running Club
Moms on the Run
Pure Barre West Omaha and Loveland locations
Barre Code West Omaha and Dundee locations
Moms Run this Town – Facebook Group
Junior League of Omaha bRUNch 5K Committee members pose during the 2018 event.
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.