Junior League of Omaha Members Out and About Enjoying Autumn Events

Vivid colored leaves still hang from trees in Omaha. The ones that have made their way to the ground, crunch and crackle under step. It is autumn, or fall, in the heartland and there is one thing on which we can all agree…

Autumn leaves are most beautiful when being raked by someone else.

There was a steady cool breeze in the air this weekend and many Junior League of Omaha members reached for their tall boots and vests officially marking the start of Han Solo Season.

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The cool air inspires many League members to fire up the oven or the slow cooker and whip up something delicious. Tracy Cartwright baked a batch of Mini Pumpkin Poppers.

Tracy Weis made a batch of yummy taco soup and cornbread. (Make something similar with this recipe.) And now that the slow cooker is working overtime, make sure it stays squeaky clean.

Melissa Carlberg and her husband Zach hosted a fall-theme dinner party for friends featuring recipes that gave a nod to the season including: roasted walnuts, apple parsnip soup and baked apple roses.

Other League members ventured out and about this weekend.

Many members attended the Women’s Center for Advancement TGIF event. Angela Cutler was one of three co-chairs for the western-themed event and Veronica Wortman served on the silent auction committee. Many league members put together silent auction items and attended the event that raised money to help women in the Omaha area out of domestic crisis.

Junior League of Omaha members attended the 2015 Women's Center for Advancement's TGIF event include: Angela Kros Cutler, Veronica Wortman, Melissa Hoeman Carlberg, Kate Hansen, Jen Olson Alloway (sustainer), Meghan Hope, Shelly Marsh, Tina Nelson, Chaley Smith Chandler, Mary Jane Tritsch, Lindsey Snyder, Alysia Radica and Liz Akert (not pictured)
Junior League of Omaha members attended the 2015 Women’s Center for Advancement’s TGIF event include: Angela Cutler, Veronica Wortman, Melissa Carlberg, Kate Hansen,  Jen Alloway (sustainer), Lindsey Buchanan, Meghan Hope, Shelly Marsh, Tina Nelson, Chaley Chandler, Mary Jane Tritsch, Lindsey Snyder, Alysia Radica and Liz Akert (not pictured)

League sustainer Catherine McAllister and her friend served as co-chairs for Omaha’s Great Pumpkin event this weekend. The event supports Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska‘s adoption and foster care awareness. Catherine has been involved in supporting the organization for five years.

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Done in a Day project organized volunteers to assist with the Omaha Symphony Spooktacular. League members helped decorate the lobby of the Holland Performing Arts Center, set up trick-or-treat stations, run pre-concert activities including instrument petting zoo, costume contest, and a Halloween-themed craft. Thank you to Kristen Bladt, Kelly Brooks, Melissa Hoeman Carlberg, Beverly Gorman, Kimberly Johnston, Racheal McMahon, Meghan Bothe, Caroline Drumm, Erin Fairchild, Megan Gerwick, Katie Lange Allebone, Terri Sharpe, Leigh Shea, Sarah Smith, and Ashlee Young for participating.

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Other League members were in the Halloween spirit. Megan Riebe and friends went to the Ranch of Terror at the Bellevue Berry Farm.

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Heather Vanourney ran the Bones 5K this weekend. The Omaha Running Club sponsored the run through the moonlit trails of Standing Bear Lake. Runners’ hearts raced in fear of all things that go bump in the night, according to the event page.

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Katie Triplett and Veronica Wortman spent an afternoon decorating Halloween and fall cookies to share with friends and colleagues.

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Before heading out to Trick-or-Treat with the kiddos, the Omaha Fire Department suggests several safety tips, such as adding a strip of reflective tape to trick-or-treat bags or clothing and costumes for greater visibility.

Going to a costume party? Revisit recent pop culture phenomenon for inspiration in creating a costume. Kelly Giese and her husband Matt, created this Double Rainbow costume.
(It was soo beautiful.)

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The party doesn’t stop when we put Halloween 2015 in the books. Tickets to the 3rd annual Barn Bash are available now through the Junior League of Omaha website. The event features a chili cook-off, BINGO, cash bar, pumpkin pie martinis, bonfire and s’mores. Members, significant others and friends welcome at the event.

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Before Joining a Guild: Ask Yourself These Questions

A guild is an association of people for mutual aid or the pursuit of a common goal. Most nonprofit organizations have a guild made up of volunteers who support the organization through volunteering, fundraising and generating awareness for the organization. Each organization’s guild has their own set of rules, terms and responsibilities. Chances are, if you are the type of person who performs well in the professional world or is a strong community volunteer you may be approached to join a guild. It is an honor to be thought of and invited. Guilds and board are fantastic ways to support organizations within your community and become a more well-rounded individual through service and development. But before you join, consider asking a few questions. We asked League members and one of our sustainers to suggests questions.
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League member Katie Triplett looks to understand if joining a guild is going to result in a mutually beneficial relationship for both her and the organization. “In many cases the guild position is just like a job, you want to ensure it’s the right fit for both the potential member and the guild,” says Katie.
  • Does my skill set match what the guild is looking for in their members?
  • Will my experiences be of benefit to the guild?
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Because each guild is different, you’ll find that some groups are very structured with clear roles and responsibilities while others are organized in a more casual fashion.  It’s helpful to know this before making a decision.
  • What is the organizational structure of the guild?
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Defining clear expectations before joining a guild is also important. “I like to ensure I’m am working alongside a group of volunteers who all are on the same page in terms of commitment of time and resources,” says Katie.
  • What is the level of engagement of guild members and what will the expectations be?
League member Angela Kros Cutler also focuses on logistics before she commits to adding something to her already busy schedule. She is interested in understanding expectations but also the requirements for the position.
  • Do I have time to contribute at the level that is expected with my other obligations to family/work/organizations?
  • Will there be program volunteer opportunities?
  • Is the guild expected to fundraise?
  • Is there a fun/social aspect?
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Sustaining member of the League, Kate Schafer, asks direct questions about financial commitment of the organization and philosophical questions of herself when evaluating her involvement. “Ask specifically about the financial requirements. Some guilds ask for more than others and there’s nothing wrong with considering your budget. In terms of being passionate, there are so many guilds you can join, don’t join a guild if you don’t believe in the cause,” says Kate.
  • How much should I expect to contribute financially by paying dues, making donations, funding events?
  • Am I passionate about this organization or cause?
  • Will I enjoy the work this organization is doing?
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And you have several offers on the table, League member Ashley Hall offers advise about widening your circle. “Sometimes if I’m split between two choices, I may choose the one where I’ll get to work with a whole new group of amazing people and learn from them,” says Ashley.

Shine On: 2015 Omaha Color Run a Little Bit Brighter

A dedicated volunteer group made up of Junior League Omaha members and community volunteers were up before dawn to staff the 2015 Omaha Color Run. One group in particular had signed up to volunteer months prior to the event, at the very first suggestion that there would be a glitter station at the end of the race. “The only three words I heard of the announcement were “glitter” and “Color Run,” so I picked up my phone and text the chair of the event. locking in my participation,” says Veronica Wortman, League member and station captain. “I think I sent the text before the chair was even done making the announcement.”

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The Color Run is a traveling fun 5K run with a community purpose. In each city, a designated nonprofit organization receives recognition and financial contribution for supporting the volunteer staffing of the event. Known as the happiest 5K on the planet, the Color Run plasters runners with colored corn starch mixture as they run. The event ends with a short rave-like party where the gathered crowd is blasted with more color. The Color Run announced a new theme this year on their website. “The Shine Tour is designed to uplift and inspire runners to stand out from the crowd, sweat sparkles, and continue to live their lives in a happy and healthy way.”

Within a week all of the “Shine Station” volunteer slots were filled. Over the course of the five hour volunteer shift, 16 women tossed 500 pounds of shimmery silver cornstarch compound over runners as they crossed the finish line. Covered in shine, and resembling the Wizard of Oz Tin Man, the women recall memories created that day.

“I had a great time with the fellow Shine Station ladies.  I loved meeting some fairly new League members and catching up with some women I haven’t seen in a while.  I personally loved being covered in shine!  It reminded me of junior high when we’d slather ourselves with drugstore shimmer powder and jam to *NSync.” says Katie Triplett, League member and Shine Station volunteer.

“I would recommend bringing a SARS mask, hat and sunglasses. You’ll look ridiculous, but definitely worth it because really, it is about spending time with friends and making a difference to other in the community,” says Alysia Radicia, League member and Shine Station volunteer.  She also laughed when admitting that by the end of the event she had so much shine in her hair that she had a good idea of how she would look when she aged. “I know that I can pull off the silver-grey hair look, which is a life goal of mine.”

League member and Shine Station volunteer, Claire Stevens recalls, “We had an awesome crew and this was a wonderful way to fulfill a fundraising shift requirement for the League with a fun group of girls.” Following the Color Run rules of tossing color at runner’s torsos rather than faces, Claire realized quickly she had limited aim and ended up getting more silver shine on herself. “That’s okay, I have always wanted to look like a twilight vampire- dream fulfilled.”

Color Run Shine Station volunteers, before and after.
2015 Omaha Color Run Shine Station volunteers, before and after.

The Shine Station was staffed by Junior League of Omaha members and community volunteers. League members: Claire Stevens, Meghan Hope, Veronica Wortman, Jennifer Anderson, Katie Triplett, Teresa Riesberg, Sarah Hanify, Kristen Robert Buell, Kayla Petersen, Lauren Taylor Anderson, Ashley Wampler-Gloystein and Kati Jurgens Davis. Community Volunteers: Amy Morris, Caitlin Morris

The 2015 Omaha Color Run was an overall success. Check out the quick facts about the race in the below infographic.

Omaha, Neb. 2015 Color Run, Shine Tour infographic
Omaha, Neb. 2015 Color Run, Shine Tour infographic

5 Pro Tips for the Silent Auction Organizer

Organizing a silent auction is not for the faint of heart. The task needs a dedicated leader who is process driven with exceptional organizational skills. This leader must also build enough wiggle room into their plan to grant a little grace to the volunteers helping with the project. When orchestrated well, a solid silent auction can bring in a substantial amount of money at an event.

5 Pro Tips for the Silent Auction Organizer

Ashley Hall is a second year active in the Junior League of Omaha. As the Silent Auction Coordinator for one of the League’s largest fundraisers, Big Red Block Party, her committee’s efforts raised over $14,000 in silent auction revenue. The overall event raised over $32,000.

Members of the League regard Ashley as an authority on silent auction organization. Her committee chair and fellow League member, Katie Triplett agrees. “Ashley goes above and beyond in her organization of a silent auction by creating a donation tracking system that allows for detailed and accurate record-keeping while streamlining the packaging process.  In my experience, Ashley delivers package, price, and descriptions for all items well in advance of an event.” says Katie.

5 Pro Tips for the Silent Auction Organizer

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1. Filters are Your Friend.
“Knowing how to use Excel will save you hours and many, many headaches. Get ready for 20 columns, a master key of colors and highlights, and figuring out just who is lucky enough to have editing permission if sharing the document,” says Ashley.

2. Take it Piece by Piece.
“And I mean, literally, piece by piece. Assuming someone else is handling supervising solicitations, your job starts when the donations roll in. Number everything. The first donation becomes 1. If there are three items in the package they are items 1a, 1b, and 1c. Every single item that is donated gets it’s own line in the spread sheet and gets a tag with that same item number on it. When it comes time to make packages, you make package numbers on your spreadsheet and move the items around. Once you’re happy with the way things look, you can physically find the items you’ve selected for each package and store them together with the materials that will be used to showcase and send home the package,” Ashley advises.

3. Perfection Comes in Layers.
“You don’t have to have the perfect package name or package items right the first time. What’s important is to start somewhere, make your first round of package groupings, or descriptions, or what have you, and then reassess from there. If you shoot for perfection on the first try, it will be extremely overwhelming.” says Ashley.

4. Getting Real = Getting it Right.
“Marking off an area that is equal in size to the true arrangement you will be setting up is crucial. Making a diagram of what packages are going to be showcased in what section and on what support boxes well before the day of the event gives you more time to troubleshoot other issues as they come up on the day of the event. Setting up will take hours regardless, so best be prepared,” says Ashley.
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5. Create a Support Team or Committee.
“While organization is a key element to the silent auction, there are many parts that will need a lot of hands. You’ll need a dedicated team who is fun to work with and plan on spending the upwards of 200 hours of working on your silent auction. If you put together a strong committee you’ll make new best friends. If you don’t focus on the strength of your committee, you’ll end up with a disaster and doing most of the work yourself,” says Ashley.

In an ideal world there would be enough volunteers for everyone to take on one of the following tasks:

  • Figuring out the silent auction layout at the event
  • Writing witty package names and descriptions
  • Designing and printing labels for bid sheets, packages, the bags the packages go home in, etc…
  • Writing social media posts to tease the items prior to the event spots
  • Creating gift certificates for package winners who don’t have an item to take home, as in they won an experience.

Be sure to call on friends and other community members to understand what they have seen work well at other silent auctions. Recognize that there is always room for improvement and improvise. With hard work, dedication and organization, your silent auction will look fantastic!

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Special thanks to Ashley Hall and her team Kelly Giese, Lakelyn Hogan and Jessica Dugger  for such a successful production and sharing best practices.