Tag Archives: community service

Top 10 Positive Parenting Resolutions

January 2, 2014 by

The start of a new year is the perfect time for a fresh start in many areas of your life, including parenting. Chances are if you’re like me, you had your fair share of parenting dilemmas this past year. Here’s my Top 10 List for positive parenting resolutions we can all work on together:

  1. Spend less. Spend less time nagging, pleading, and bribing your child. Instead, spend more time teaching them what you expect so you can spend more time together making memories.
  2. Eat right. Take time to eat together as a family. Meals eaten around the family dinner table help children learn important social and life skills.
  3. Get organized. My family can be extremely disorganized, which causes our days to be crazy! Work together to make fun and workable routines. My suggestion: Have each person create index cards with their activities and put them on the fridge.
  4. Get out of debt. De-stress your life and reduce greedy behavior by spending less on gadgets that kids don’t need to be successful. You get to save money and spend time as a family.
  5. Help others. Be a role model and help your children learn what’s really important in life. Have each person choose their favorite community charity and learn as a family the important lessons of giving to others.
  6. No bad language. Do not call your kids names like lazy, bratty, stupid, wimpy, or grumpy. Negative words can hinder a child’s potential to grow and learn. If they have a behavior that has you frustrated, let them know, but don’t let it become the description of your child.
  7. Kick bad habits. I have the bad habit of losing my temper with my teenager. This year, I’m going to try doing the opposite of what she does. In other words, whatever she does that pushes my buttons (rolling her eyes, arguing, or raising her voice), I will do the opposite (focus calmly on her eyes, talk less, speak calmly) to teach her the skill of being calm.
  8. Read more. There are many great television programs out there now for kids, but nothing can replace reading and learning together. Pick out Julia Cook’s latest book to help teach social skills to your young child.
  9. Reduce your screen time. Turn your smartphone off. I know you feel like you need to be connected all the time and always be available. When you’re home, though, that’s time reserved for your family. The only ones you should be available to are your kids.
  10. Keep your resolutions. If you need some help or additional parenting tips, check out one of our Common Sense Parenting classes in your neighborhood, visit Parenting.org, or order a DVD to watch in your home.

Bridget Barnes is the Boys Town Common Sense Parenting® Director

Heartland Family Service’s Salute to Families

November 23, 2013 by and
Photography by Billings Photography Studio

Every year, Heartland Family Service honors families from Nebraska and Iowa with their Salute to Families Celebration during the annual Heartland Family Service Family Week. The local families are recognized for their strong family life, community service, and leadership.

 COMMITMENT TO FAMILY

Robert-&-Thresia-Hettinger-Family-(NE).-Photo-by-Billings-Photography-Studio

Robert and Thresia Hettinger of Papillion and their five children sat down and had a serious discussion about how they could help their family after Robert’s sister passed away from multiple myeloma cancer. After rearranging their home and lives to accommodate a big change, they officially adopted six of Robert’s sister’s children while the others stayed with their father. Recently, the family added their nephew, bringing their family total to 14. Robert, a District Network Specialist for Millard Public Schools, and Thresia, a stay-at-home mom, teach by example. Monday nights are solid family home nights reserved so that everyone can focus on enriching their spiritual lives through lessons, activities, songs, and prayer. The children are respectful and disciplined, big on sports, and genuinely focused on what they can do to help others.

Pastor-Nathan-&-Tina-Sherrill-Family-(NE).-Photo-by-Billings-Photography-Studio

Pastor Nathan and Tina Sherrill of Council Bluffs, Iowa are intentional role models for their children. Together, they worship, study, work, and play. Nathan is pastor of St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, where he is an active promoter of Christian education and has helped establish an Early Childhood Center, Music Conservatory, Christ Academy, Camp Creation, and other opportunities. Tina has a degree in elementary education and homeschools three of their six children. Because of her natural love for both children and music, she also teaches 12 piano students, has accompanied church and school choirs, and teaches Sunday school. The oldest three children are piano students of their mother and perform in recitals and local music festivals, as well as with St. Paul’s Children’s Choir.

CHALLENGED AND SUCCESSFUL

Patti-Richardson-Family-(NE).-Photo-by-Billings-Photography-Studio

Patti Richardson of Omaha is all about kids. For 30 years, Patti has opened her arms to special needs foster children, adopting several of them. Ragina, 22, was born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, ADHD, and congenital heart disease; Wesley, 10, has ADHD after being exposed to methamphetamine before birth; Aidan, 7, has congenital heart disease and had open heart surgery at just 2 mos; Anahla, 5, had a liver, small bowel, and pancreas transplant when she was just a year old; and Lasia, 4, is the only adopted child with no health problems. She also has three biological children—William, Jeffery, and Mikayla—who share her pain in losing son Andrew to brain cancer. The family suffered a second loss with Corey, a shaken baby who Patti fostered at nine months and adopted at 3. While the family has had their share of misfortune, Patti believes the humor they share helps them work through the difficult times.

Chris-&-Nicole-Shives-Family.-Photo-by-Billings-Photography-Studio

Chris and Nicole Shives of Council Bluffs, Iowa met at Iowa Western Community College, where she was a Certified Athletic Trainer and he was the Head Golf Coach. In 2008, an MRI revealed a lesion on the left side of Nicole’s brain. Over the next two years, Chris and Nicole married and had their first child, Jaxson—a pregnancy that required a C-section, a blood transfusion, and hospitalization for Nicole. In 2010, Nicole learned the tumor in her brain was a malignant cancer called anaplastic astrocytoma and began radiation therapy. Meanwhile, Nicole started a new career as a college instructor, obtained a second master’s degree, and kept up her duties as a full-time mother and wife. Chris left his job to be home with Nicole and eventually became a Corporate Events Director with the American Heart Association. Today, Nicole is cancer-free. She also gave birth to their second child, Ashlyn, in April 2012.

COMMUNITY SERVICE

Joel-&-Felicia-Rogers-Family-(NE).-Photo-by-Billings-Photography-Studio.jpg

Joel and Felicia Rogers of Papillion have raised their family to value spiritual growth, family honor, commitment to excellence, heritage, and service to the country. They have seven children—Javin, Clifton, Blake, Darnell, Dwayne, Ryan, and Zoe. Joel is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and now serves as Legislative Policy Analyst with U.S. Strategic Command at Offutt Air Force Base. Throughout his 28-year military career, he led outreach and volunteer efforts, earning numerous honors including the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal. Currently, he volunteers with the Papillion Recreation Organization (PRO) and Toys for Tots. Felicia serves as the District Director for U.S. Congressman Lee Terry. She has been heavily involved with Wesley House Leadership Academy, Toys for Tots, Girls Clubs of Omaha, and she served as a 2nd Lieutenant with the 99th Pursuit Squadron of Civil Air Patrol.

Dave-&-Sheri-Smith-Family-(IA).-Photo-by-Billings-Photography-Studio.jpg

Dave and Sheri Smith of Crescent, Iowa felt a calling to reach out to children of fatherless families. Together, they founded Trailblazers of the Heartland Ministry to defend the cause of the fatherless, inspiring hope for their family’s future that is rooted in everlasting love. Today, Trailblazers has programs tailored to all ages from newborns to seniors, involving more than 300 at-risk children and 170 families in building healthy, positive reciprocal relationships with each other. The Smiths and Trailblazers have received many awards and honors including the State of Iowa’s National Guard Family Program Community Award in 2011 and the Iowa Governor’s volunteer award in 2012. In addition to Trailblazers, Dave volunteers about 300 hours a year to the MICAH House homeless shelter, and Sheri has worked part-time for the Phoenix House domestic abuse shelter. All five children follow in their parents’ community service footsteps as well.

 LEADERSHIP

James-&-Nancy-Armitage-Family-(NE).-Photo-by-Billings-Photography-Studio.jpg

Dr. James and Nancy Armitage of Omaha have provided leadership in the Omaha community and contributed to the medical profession. Jim is an internationally renowned hematologist-oncologist with expertise in bone marrow transplantation and the management and classification of lymphoma. He is the Joe Shapiro Professor of Medicine at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, and received the Robert A. Kyle Award from the Mayo Clinic last year. Nancy practiced psychiatric and intensive care nursing until the demands of family and children took priority. Since then, she volunteered on local boards and committees for schools, churches, and nonprofits. The couple was honored as Samaritans of the Year by the Samaritan Counseling Center of the Midlands, and they currently serve as board members and trustees of several community organizations, including the University of Nebraska Medical Center Auxiliary and Faculty Wives Club, Munroe Meyer Institute Guild, and the Nature Conservancy of Nebraska.

Dan-&-Martha-Peterson-Family-(IA).-Photo-by-Billings-Photography-Studio

Dan and Martha Peterson of Neola, Iowa own Peterson Angus Farms and have provided leadership to Southwest Iowa communities for more than a decade. Dan and Martha have supported Iowa Western Community College for almost a decade, serving on several boards and committees, chairing and co-chairing special events and projects, procuring auction items, working with youth, and hosting dinners in their home. In addition to IWCC, they are involved with the Council Bluffs Guild of the Omaha Symphony, Bluffs Arts Council, Alegent Charitable Council, Children’s Square, Visiting Nurse Association, and Heartland Family Service. Their children, Alexandra, Anna, Aiden, and Andrew, all belong to 4-H and incorporate the leadership qualities they learned from their parents in the own lives. The family also volunteers in Red Cross Blood Drives.

 

Salute to Families – Iowa will be held Nov. 14 at Mid-America Center (One Arena Way) in Council Bluffs from 6-8:30 p.m. $25 adults, $10 children. For more information, visit heartlandfamilyservice.org or call 712-435-5350.

Salute to Families – Nebraska will be held Nov. 21 at Happy Hollow Club (1701 S. 105th St.) in Omaha from 6-8:30 p.m. $45 adults, $15 children. For more information, visit heartlandfamilyservice.org or call 402-553-3000.

Lutheran Family Services

October 30, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Lutheran Family Services President and CEO Ruth Henrichs remembers meeting a young man a year ago who had a tattoo on his lower arm that read “Born to Lose.” When she asked him about it, he told her that life had always been against him—that he had been “born to lose.” That was, of course, until he came to LFS, he said.

“There are lots of people who come to LFS on a daily basis who have this sort of invisible tattoo on their hearts that says ‘Born to Lose,’” Henrichs says. “I want them to leave here after receiving help with a different invisible tattoo.”

Strengthening the individual, the family, and the community is how LFS intends to change those heart tattoos. And that’s exactly the mission the organization has followed since its humble beginnings in 1892.

“When you work somewhere like LFS, no matter how difficult the day is, you always go home knowing that someone’s life was changed because you came to work.” —Ruth Henrichs

Over its many years within the Omaha community, LFS has grown into a faith-based nonprofit providing multiple services in over 30 locations across Nebraska, Iowa, and Kansas to over 35,000 individuals annually regardless of age, race, religion, or income. In other words, just because it’s called Lutheran Family Services doesn’t mean you have to be Lutheran to receive aid.

Mental health counseling, sexual abuse treatment, substance abuse treatment, foster care, adoption, pregnancy counseling, family support services, immigrant and refugee services—they do it all and more for people 
in need.

“When you work somewhere like LFS, no matter how difficult the day is, you always go home knowing that someone’s life was changed because you came to work,” says Henrichs, who worked as a pregnancy and adoption counselor, a marriage and family therapist, and Interim CEO with LFS before she became its leader in 1985.

She believes LFS’ work is part of the fabric of the community. For many years, nonprofits used to work alone, focusing only on their own work. Now, however, many organizations, including LFS, embrace the idea of uniting their limited resources with other organizations’ limited resources to provide a bigger impact.

“There’s a rich diversity of nonprofits in the Omaha community, and we all offer difference services. Together, we have a collective impact. It’s important that we all work cooperatively so that our community can be strong. Communities are only as strong as their weakest link. Everyone has problems in life. Sometimes, those problems are so great that people need the help of the community. When the community helps those people, it strengthens the community as a whole.”

Nancy K. Johnson, volunteer and president of LFS’ Forever Families Guild, agrees. “Children are the future, as cliché as it sounds,” she says. “If, for example, we can get in there and help a single parent learn to be a better parent, that trickles down into our community to make it stronger.”

“We work with families and children to increase academic performance and help with obstacles, like attendance, to make sure the students are doing well with their education.” —Nellie Beyan

Johnson, who also works in real estate as the senior vice president of CBRE-MEGA, was introduced to LFS about 15 years ago through Adoption Links Worldwide, which later aligned with LFS. She began attending fundraising events for the organization and met Cheryl Murray, who was the executive director of Adoption Links at that time. “I really admire Cheryl a lot. She’s passionate and dedicated to the cause of helping young women and children. She’s one of those kinds of gals that you can’t say no to,” she laughs.

Clearly, Johnson couldn’t say no to Murray, now a development officer and guild liaison for LFS, because she was drawn into more volunteer work with LFS. “I started volunteering more for them, and I became the president for LFS’ Forever Families [Guild].”

As the guild president, Johnson works to increase fundraising and gain more exposure through other organizations. “There’s an organization called CREW (Commercial Real Estate Women) that I’ve been involved with before through my real estate work. So I mentioned the Forever Families Guild to them, and they’ve picked the guild up as their philanthropy of choice for the next year.

“People are always afraid to volunteer because they think it takes too much time or money, but it really is simple…LFS can do a lot on limited funds and time because the group is so passionate.”

One such passionate supporter is Nellie Beyan, who works as a Family Support Liaison with LFS in the Omaha community and the Omaha Public Schools district.

“We work with families and children to increase academic performance and help with obstacles, like attendance, to make sure the students are doing well with their education,” Beyan says. “OPS has a large population of Burmese refugees [the Karen] that we work with, too.”

Working with refugees and immigrants comes easily for Beyan because she, herself, is an Omaha transplant. She moved in April 2000 from her home country of Liberia to work as an international volunteer with LFS. Later, she enrolled at University of Nebraska-Omaha to get her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work with the help of sponsors Mr. and Mrs. Howard Hawks and Mr. and Mrs. Jeff Alseth.

“I underwent a similar experience and hardships that most non-Americans undergo when they first come to America…I can put myself in their shoes because I know exactly what it’s like to come into a country with a new culture and new way of life, leaving family behind. It’s a difficult thing, the assimilation process. It’s very gradual, but it’s made easier by the available resources.”

“People are always afraid to volunteer because they think it takes too much time or money, but it really is simple.” —Nancy K. Johnson

Beyan likes working with LFS because she feels that the organization is everywhere in the community. “Imagine what Omaha would be like without LFS,” she muses. “I can’t even picture that. Without all that they have to offer, especially for all of the immigrants and refugees, people would be totally lost.”

Understanding just how many people in the community rely on LFS, Henrichs and the Board of Directors are taking major steps to improve LFS’ outreach and work in Omaha.

“Whether we’re talking children’s needs or refugee and immigrant needs, we’ve recently decided our focus in the program development should be primarily on prevention and early intervention,” she explains. “Many services are ‘fire truck’ in that they respond when a crisis happens. We need to become ‘smoke detectors’ and catch issues before they become bigger problems.”

Another improvement? They’ve been at their 24th & Dodge location for more than a decade, and they’ve slowly been acquiring the city block between Dodge and Douglas streets in order to renovate and build more space. “Many that we serve are in the heart of the city,” Henrichs says. “We’re going to stay right here.”

And here is exactly where the community wants them to stay.

Lutheran Family Services will host their annual Wicker & Wine® Basket Auction fundraiser on Nov. 7 at Mid-America Center (One Arena Way) in Council Bluffs, Iowa, from 5-7:30 p.m. Tickets are $40. For more information, visit lfsneb.org or call 402-342-7038.

Community Service

October 29, 2013 by

I don’t feel that most teenagers have anything against community service. We just don’t know how to go about it.

When you’re my age, the benefits of community service far outweigh the negatives. You can have fun with your friends while doing something that helps out the people in your life that you may not come into contact with that often, but who are important nonetheless.

When I look for volunteer work, I think of two things: How does this help the group I’m volunteering for, and how much are my accomplishments going to be valued? Everything that’s done to pitch in matters, but sometimes, if I don’t feel that my contributions are going toward a goal, it’s hard to keep track of why I’m volunteering in the first place.

Despite the clichéd sayings about volunteer work, my reasons for choosing to volunteer have always been selfish. Is it shallow of me to admit that I enjoy the welling up of pride in my chest from a job well done and knowing that I helped someone in the process?

Self-satisfaction is as good a reason as any to pitch in for the community’s sake. There are always opportunities for teens to get out there. My advice would be to find something that appeals to you—something that you can get fulfillment out of—and pursue it. That way, when the time comes that you are asked to do community service for school or other organizations, you know exactly what you like to do.

When you’ve figured out what you like to do for community service, stick with it. No one will ever tell you that you have to branch out with your volunteering. As long as you’re able to find a volunteering experience that is rewarding to you, everyone will end up happy—you included.

Derek Nosbisch is a student at 
Millard North High School