Tag Archives: Omaha

DACA and Omaha Identity

December 12, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

In the aftermath of President Donald Trump’s Sept. 5 announcement to terminate Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, local Omaha DACA recipients, former DACA recipients, and applicants to DACA shared their stories with Omaha Magazine.


Luisa Trujillo Estrada, 28

My name is Luisa Trujillo Estrada. I was born in Mexico—Michoacan. I came to the U.S. when I was 10 years old, so I’ve been here—it is going to be 18 years in February. I’ve been here for a long time.

What is your immigration status?

Right now, currently, I am a DACA recipient. I actually am engaged, my fiancé, he is a wonderful man. He is born and raised in the U.S. so he is a citizen. When the decision about DACA came, when it was announced about two weeks ago, we didn’t really know what to expect because we had a certain plan. We got engaged back in February, so our plans kind of changed whether to get married now, should we wait until May how we had planned? I just renewed my DACA, so we are going to continue with that right now. So, currently, I am a DACA recipient.

What does DACA mean to you?

DACA, to me, means opportunities. It means being able to run out of the shadows and just trying to have a better life for yourself and for your family. It means the American Dream, like what everyone that comes to the U.S. wants, the “American Dream.” Just having a better life, having better opportunities, whether it is education, job, living. Many other countries are very poor, the conditions, or whether it’s the politics or whatnot, so many reasons why people come to the U.S. So, just having those opportunities, better opportunities than we probably didn’t have before. And just making sure that we leave a legacy for our children of a better life and better opportunities.

What does it mean to be a Dreamer in Omaha?

It goes along with wanting a better life for yourself. I guess I could speak for myself, to me being a Dreamer means wanting a better life for myself, for my mom, showing her that everything she did to bring us here to the U.S. was worth it. I actually didn’t want to come to the U.S. I actually had made a deal with my mom and said, well, we’re only going to go there for six months, because I didn’t want to come. I was so little I really didn’t understand the situation, or why she was making that decision. So, she agreed to six months, and now it’s going to be 18 years. Now that I am older and I understand all the struggles, everything that she went through, it means showing her that everything that she went through, it was worth it because now I can say I have a good job, I went to school, high school and college, and I am always looking for better opportunities for myself, but also for her.

How is Omaha part of your identity?

It is basically everything that I am. A lot of people from my country, a lot of my family, when they ask me how long have you been in the U.S.? I tell them it’s going to be 18 years, that is more than half of my life. It is double more than half of my life. That is basically everything that I am, everything that I have learned through elementary school, middle school, high school, college, and in the workforce, now working in human resources. Everything that I am as a person is Omaha. From the environment, to my friends, family-wise it is only my mom, my sister, my niece, and two uncles, and that’s it. I really don’t have any more family. A lot of people have big families, but I don’t, so to me Omaha is the place where I was raised. I wasn’t born here, but I was raised here and it is me, basically, it is where I belong.

With the termination of DACA, what are your concerns about the future?

Some of my fears, now with the new decision in regards to DACA, are…Thankfully, thank God I have a way to citizenship, to residency. Anything could happen. Life is not predicted, but as of now that is the plan, but I do have a lot of friends and family that are DACA recipients, like my sister and my niece. What is going to happen to them? We talked to my sister in regards to this, and she jokingly said, “Well, you can go back and visit me to Mexico” and I’m like don’t say that, that breaks my heart just thinking them having to go back because she was little, too. She was 12 years old, so she doesn’t know what life is back in our country. Not that we don’t like that life, not that we wouldn’t want to go back, it is just that we are accustomed to this life here in the U.S. and the big fear of going back to the shadows, and not being able to show your full potential and everything good we can bring as citizens to not just our community or Latino community, but to everyone in Omaha, in the U.S. in general, just showing everyone what we can bring. So we are kind of like on hold, and right now we’re in like limbo, because we do not know what is going to happen.

Would you like to share any additional insights?

I just really hope, and I do pray every night that there is a change, there has got to be a change. We have shown that we deserve this. We are not criminals, we are not here to do anything wrong, because of the requirements of that. You are supposed to have a clean record, if you do anything bad it is taken away from you. So we have shown that we are good citizens and that we deserve to stay here. That was the way that we had to prove that we can do it, that we can be what the government wants, that we can be those good citizens. I personally love animals, and I am an advocate of animals, and I love saving lives. I like to donate blood. I like to do everything that a good citizen should do for its own community, for its own country. So I just really, really pray that something is done, and we’re just hoping for the best.

David Isla Ramirez, 30

I was born in Morelos, Mexico. I am 30 years old, and right now I am doing health care processing for a living.

What does DACA mean to you?

DACA means hope. DACA means the chance to do what we came here for. I didn’t really have a chance, I didn’t really have the opportunity to choose either stay in Mexico or come to the U.S. My mom and dad got divorced, and the only choice was either my mom or dad. When my mom got divorced, she didn’t really have much, so she had the chance to come here, and my only decision was either stay with my dad or go with my mom. Really, with my dad, I didn’t have a really good relationship. He was working most of the time, so I didn’t really know much about my dad, so, of course, I had to choose my mom. DACA was a chance to become something that my mom was expecting for us, the future she was expecting for us. So it was a pick of hope for us to do something here in the U.S.

What does it mean to be a Dreamer in Omaha?

Being a Dreamer, for me, means [being] able to do, or able to move up in life. When I came to the U.S. I was able to go to high school. I had the chance to go to college, and after college, it was pretty much the end for me. After graduating from college and getting a bachelor’s degree in psychology, major, communications minor, I wasn’t able to move up because I had to be a legal resident in order for me to get any type of help; to either get a master’s or get a job, like the job I was going for. So, being a Dreamer means [being] able to move up to where I wanted to be. I had the chance to go from working in a restaurant to go and work on a desk. I was able to have a decent schedule now. I want to at least practice some of the things I went for and actually had to pay my college to get through it, so that’s what it means: it means able to move up, able to accomplish something, which I think that’s what we all came for.

How is Omaha part of your identity?

I will have to say Omaha is my home. I’ve been here for a while—16 years—went to high school and college, and I don’t really know any other place that I can say, “I know this place. This is my home.” I know where everything’s at. If I have a problem, I know where to go to. If something’s going on, I know the number to call. I know where to go, the people that can help me. That’s what you call home. Something like that. So, that’s what it means. It means Omaha is my home.

With the termination of DACA, what are your concerns about the future?

More than anything, I will have to say fear. I’m afraid of what’s gonna happen, you know, what’s next for us. Like I said before, this is my home. Right now, as many people know, there was an earthquake in Mexico. That’s where my dad’s house was—if there’s any left of what it was. My hometown, my childhood, that’s basically gone. The whole place is basically destroyed by the earthquake. Watching those videos, watching the news, made me think about what’s going to happen to me. Where am I going to end up going? If DACA ends I’m not really sure what’s going to be next for me, where, you know, everything I worked for, all the effort I put into—it’s pretty much done. That’s my only concern—what’s going to happen to us. I’m not the only one who worked really hard—I know other people can relate to my story and they say, “Yeah, we did work hard for this, and it’s pretty much gone.” And going back to a place where I haven’t been there since 16 years, watching the videos where there’s pretty much nothing left, if there’s something left out of the house, it’s not really something I can live in. Going back to my dad since after a long time, I talked to him on the phone which is not the same. He still sees me as a little kid. That’s how he left me; that’s the image that he’d get from me. So, that’s my fear.

Would you like to share any additional insights?

Like everybody else, I just really hope someone listens—our stories, and has a little bit of compassion to us, and at least help us. You know, if not something better, at least stay where we are. We’ve been good people, and we just need a chance.

Yanira Garcia, 28

I was born in Michoacán, Mexico, and I am a former DACA. As of March of this year, I became a legal permanent resident.

What does DACA mean to you?

DACA, to me, meant an opportunity to become a full human being in the American society or in the United States, here in Omaha, because before that I was just a person hiding in the shadows. Through DACA, I was able to do simple things like get a driver’s license and drive. Obviously once that was also available to our legislature, and then I’m also able—I was also able to work, I was also able to travel, simple things like that. But more importantly, I think I was able to feel a hundred percent part of this community, of this society, without having to be ashamed of not having the proper documentation or an ID. When you go to a bank or when you go to some important high-security place where you need to have documentation, there was a lot of things like that that I couldn’t do before that I was able to do once I got DACA.

What does it mean to be a Dreamer in Omaha?

It means being able to, again, be part of this thriving force. As I understand right now, there’s about 3000 of us here in Omaha and I keep saying us, because once a Dreamer, always a Dreamer, and I lived that experience, so I can still identify to DACA or Dreamers, even though I’m technically not one anymore. So it just means being able to be part of the community, it means being able to continue to dream, to continue to fulfil a goal, a dream, which is to get a higher education. That’s how it started, and then to go on to become professional something, right, to be a professional someone, and then to be able to live out that dream fearless and unashamed.

How is Omaha part of your identity?

Omaha has been my home for the past 20 years. I don’t know any other place other than Omaha; I mean, I was raised for the first eight to nine years of my life in Mexico, but that’s so long ago that it’s been longer the time that I’ve lived here in Omaha. To me, Omaha is my home and it’s part of who I am, everywhere I go. Omaha is what I refer to as home, and where all my childhood experiences and a dozen experiences and now young adult experiences are happening.

With the termination of DACA, what are your concerns about the future?

As a former DACA, personally it doesn’t really affect me because now I’m a legal permanent resident, but I still feel and I still hurt for all of my friends, all of my siblings, and family members. We all have cousins, or we all know somebody very closely that is still DACAmented. I’m still fighting the battle with them, I’m still standing with them, and it still breaks my heart. It still hurts to see our government hurt such a powerful and talented group of people, that all they want to do is live in this country like everybody else and fulfill a dream and contribute and give back financially, through volunteer work, through skills, through just…everything that we’ve learned, and so, it’s dis-encouraging, but at the same time, it kind of reminds me that we started this battle long ago, and if we need to keep fighting, we’re gonna have to do that.

Would you like to share any additional insights?

I’d just like to share with whoever is watching this video that I want them to know and support Dreamers, to if they have any questions, to reach out to all the local nonprofits and all the local groups that are advocating for the dream to continue, or for DACA to continue, and even the better dream now would be for DACA to stop being an executive action or an executive order and become a law, something that can be permanent, so that people can stop fearing, so that this uncertainty can just stop, and for all these 800,000 DACAmented people in the nation right now can just step completely out of the shadows and live a completely fearless life and integrate a hundred percent into their American dream.

Armando Becerril, 24

I was originally born in Mexico City, and I am currently a DACA recipient.

What does DACA mean to you?

DACA seriously means everything. It’s provided me the opportunity to go to college, start my career with an accounting firm, and just develop as an American more than anything. At the end of the day, we’re not U.S. citizens on paper, but we’ve lived in American communities our entire lives, so it has really allowed me to step out of the shadows and contribute as a full American, as we consider to be a citizen.

What does it mean to be a Dreamer in Omaha?

It means that I’ve been given a different status, legal status, by immigration, but I feel like it hasn’t really hindered me. Yeah, there are some areas where we don’t have full rights, like we can’t leave the country and a few other situations that are similar to that, but other than that, we’re just Omaha folks, just living day to day, going to school, going to work, buying groceries, going to baseball games, College World Series, Creighton basketball games. So, you know, they tried to put this label on us, but at the end of the day, I just feel like we’re just like me and you, we’re doing the same things on a day-to-day basis, so, even though it has provided that different status for us, it is a blessing, I still feel like I’m an integral and I’ve integrated into the Omaha community.

How is Omaha part of your identity?

Well, Omaha’s part of my identity because it’s where I started my career. Just, almost a year ago, and so it’s shaped me, and it’s helped me develop as a professional and as an overall better human being, because that’s added that responsibility of what I have to deliver to the client, to myself, to my firm. So just in that aspect it’s made me also grow, not just professionally, but personally because I’ve had it be on my own in a city a hundred miles away from where my mom’s at, so it’s really helped me develop, and will continue to help me develop in a positive direction.

With the termination of DACA, what are your concerns about the future?

My main concern is that there’s so much uncertainty. There’s a lot of rhetoric going around of which way DACA will go, if the DREAM Act will be passed, if some variation of the DREAM Act will be passed, if it will be attached to border security or just some other economic-related budget or bill. So it’s tough to really have an exact feeling, because one day they say, “oh, it’s going in the right direction, we’ve had talks with the GOP and the Trump Administration,” and the next day it’s like “oh, now we’re looking at this, we’re looking to revise the bill,” x y z, and so it’s pretty hard, because like I said, there’s so much uncertainty that we’re trying to figure our lives out day by day while at the same time trying to live with this huge level of uncertainty.

Would you like to share any additional insights?

Just for anyone that watches this to understand our situation. It’s a very unique, particular situation, and more than anything—we have a lot of support; for example, I’ve recently read that Tim Cook is saying that DACA is one of the most important issues of our time. And I can attest to that because we contribute economically, socially; any way that you think about it, we’re contributing. Since DACA passed, our wages and salaries have increased from an average of 20,000 to roughly 35,000 or so. And that’s a huge impact, because that’s, for the fiscal conservatives, that adds tax revenue to every state, municipality, and the federal government as well. We’re working hard. We don’t get any federal financial aid from the government. We work through school, and we don’t receive any benefits, like welfare, Medicaid, any of that sort of—because we don’t qualify, so when people maybe think of, “oh, you know they’re here maybe just leaching and taking U.S. citizens’ benefits,” I just want to tell them to please do their research, because it’s nothing like that. We’re just here, working hard, and all we’re asking for is an opportunity to continue to be blessed in the greatest country in the world.

Daniela Rojas, 24

Hi, my name is Daniela Rojas, and I am originally from Colombia. I work as an admissions counselor at the College of St. Mary, and I have been here in Omaha since 2007so about 10 years.

What is your immigration status?

I was very fortunate to meet somebody who, at the time, had the opportunity to become a citizen. So when we met he was a resident. We didn’t know if he was going to be able to become a citizen. And very, very fortunately, he was able to. So, because I became immediate family to him, we were able to apply for me to become a U.S. resident. So, right now I am a resident.

What does DACA mean to you?

For me, DACA means having an opportunity to have a voice. A lot of the people who have DACA currently didn’t have a chance to speak up in the past when their parents brought them here when they were very young, and for me DACA is that opportunity for young people to have their voice heard, to have their opinions and their dreams heard, and be able to be successful, and be able to contribute to our community. That’s what DACA means to me.

What does it mean to be a Dreamer in Omaha?

Being a Dreamer is wanting more than what you were initially given. Being a Dreamer means to stand up for yourself and know that your voice is going to be heard. Being a Dreamer means having an opportunity and a chance to have a life worth living, just like anybody else. Personally, I think people who are Dreamers deserve a chance more than anyone else. Because, basically, I think people who are Dreamers have a better opportunity and a bigger chance and deserve that opportunity more than others, because their childhood had been basically arranged from the very beginning. Being a Dreamer, for me, is being able to be an asset to our community, to be somebody worth putting trust in, and I think that’s what these Dreamers want. They just want trust. They want to be able to contribute, to work, to be someone in our community.

How is Omaha part of your identity?

I often talk to my parents about this. I think I am more American, I am more of an Omahan, now than I have ever been. I grew up here, my beliefs, my character, who I am as a person, my whole teenage years were here. There are a lot of customs in Colombia that I am no longer familiar with. I am an Omahan. I am part of the city, and I want to see it succeed. I think that part of that comes with all the dreams that these people have of contributing to our city, contributing to our surrounding towns, not just Omaha. So, I personally think if I were to go back to Colombia and start my life over there I don’t even know where to begin. I am completely, 100 percent, an Omahan. I have Colombian roots, but what I believe, where I live, and what I do for a living is to better this community here.

With termination of DACA, what are your concerns about the future?

I’m actually not a DACA recipient, I was never granted that opportunity. When I applied for DACA, the decision came back saying that I had arrived to the U.S. too late. So, basically there was a cutoff date, I believe it was June of 2007, and I got here in October of 2007. So, I met the criteria, I had a 4.0, I was an excellent student, I volunteered in everything I could do, but because of those few months, I was not able to get DACA. So, for me, hearing that this opportunity is getting taken away to others, I know what that heartbreak feels like. I know what the discouragement feels like. For me, it is a lack of moral responsibility from President Donald Trump. I think his lack of initiative to fix this issue and his lack of commitment to our community is clearer than ever. The lack of commitment he has for our young immigrants is going to have huge repercussions to Omaha, to our whole country. I was never able to get DACA. I was never able to have had that opportunity given to me as a young adult. So, for me, it is that idea of dreams getting crushed, people losing hope, of young people getting discouraged and turning to other things, that hopefully they don’t have to. Something needs to get done.

Would you like to share any additional insights?

I hope that our representatives take the time to take a stand. They have a moral obligation to our community, to our young people, and I feel like there is just so much room for the city to improve, there is so much room for us to grow as a whole, as a community, and it is up to them now to make that choice. Whether or not they are standing with immigration reform or not, this is people’s lives, this is people’s future, this is our future as a community, and I personally feel there is so much they can do, but they just need to take a stand and say whether they want to help or whether they want to see this city crumble. This city was built by immigrants. It was built on land that is not anybody’s but Native Americans, so it is only right for them to do what is morally correct.

Learn more about what it means to be an undocumented youth growing up in Omaha from the November/December 2017 issue of Omaha Magazine.

Quick and Easy

December 8, 2017 by
Photography by Di Tendenza

This chili is a perfect chilly day recipe. Keep these ingredients on hand for busy days. No worry about thawing chicken for this recipe. Simply open a few cans, add some spices, and within 20 minutes serve a warm and hearty meal.


  • Two 15-oz. cans cannelloni bean (use liquid in the can)
  • One 15-oz. can chili beans (drain and rinse)
  • One 15-oz.can black beans (drain and rinse)
  • One 15-oz. can garbanzo beans (drain and rinse)
  • One 28-oz. can diced tomatoes
  • One 10-oz. can chicken breast chunks in water
  • One tablespoon chili powder
  • One teaspoon cumin
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper


1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, combine beans, diced tomatoes, spices, salt, and pepper, then mix in chicken breast chunks.

2. Bring to a simmer, turn the heat to low, and let cook 5 to 10 minutes.

3. Serve with crusty bread and a sprinkle of cheese, if desired.

Time: 20 Minutes
Serves: 6

This recipe was originally printed in the Winter 2018 edition of Family Guide.

Ally In

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Like many pre-teen girls, Ally Dworak loves animals. Unlike most 12 year olds, Ally doesn’t just think about animals. She raises them, studies them, and has made it her life’s mission to create a better world for her four-legged friends.

While most elementary school students are years from choosing a career path, this future veterinarian already comes with references. She understands that it is going to take a lot of schoolwork—specifically eight years of college—to reach that goal, but that doesn’t phase her.

“I love studying science and nature, I love animals, and I love meeting new people. Being a vet is just a way to combine all of these things I love,” she says.

The title “veterinarian” could cover anything from poodles to porpoises, and Ally loves them all. She fully understands that at some point, she’s going to have to narrow her field of study, and she’s thinking about going in a unique direction.

“I think I’d really like to learn more and maybe work with wolves. There’s a sanctuary in Colorado I’d really love to visit, and maybe study at,” Ally says. “They’re so pretty, and it’s so cool how they work in ranks. I like the way they work together. They’re kind of like us.”

She really loves dogs, which is not uncommon for a future vet. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, in 2016, 65.5 percent of all private-practice vets were in companion-animal exclusive practices, and 61.2 percent of those vets were women.

But Ally’s pony, Buttercup, also needs care, and Ally might want to work with horses. Mom Shellee Dworak is helping her to figure this out.

“My mom is working to set things up for me to spend a day with a vet,” Ally says. “Dr. Michael Thomassen at Nebraska Equine Veterinary Clinic is going to let me come with him and learn what he does all day. He gives horses their vaccinations and checkups, makes sure they’re healthy before a family takes them in. He does everything and he’s really so great!”

She wanted to spend the day there last year, but Dr. Thomassen said she needed to be at least 12 before shadowing him. Most students shadow in high school. Shellee is also looking at the possibility of Ally shadowing at Ralston Vet Clinic, where the family takes their small animals.

In the meantime, the Elkhorn Grandview sixth grader has been pushing her animal care dreams along on her own. She has been a member of 4-H since starting Clover Kids at age 5, and has successfully raised, and shown, several animals.

“Last year I showed a sheep,” she says.

Actually, she didn’t just show a sheep. She won Reserve Champion Junior Sheep Lead. The champion was her sister, Kate.

This year, Ally pulled no punches. In addition to her schoolwork, family obligations, and maintaining her social calendar, she intensely prepared several animals for scrutiny.

“I showed a pig, a sheep, a goat, a chicken, and a horse. At the last minute, I decided to show my pet green-cheeked conure (small parrot), Sherbet. He won first place!”

As did her goat, chicken, and horse. It took many hours of care to prepare for the fair, including learning more about veterinary science. Aggie the pig got a hernia in June. Concerned about what to do for her ailing pig, she peppered their veterinarian, Dr. Lupin, with questions.

With the help of the veterinarian, and the future veterinarian, Aggie recovered well. He then placed a respectable third at the fair.

Ally brings out the winning spirit in her charges. Her tireless enthusiasm is as much a sight as the creatures she nurtures to award-winning health and status.

This future veterinarian is well on her way to nursing, as well as nurturing, animals.

This article was originally printed in the Winter 2018 edition of Family Guide.


Photography by Bill Sitzmann

It happens. A child who spent the day happily, healthily, playing with his friend wakes up at night with a fever of 102 degrees. When the child and family can’t get in to see the doctor, it is sometimes hard for them to know what to do.

In years past, the answer was the emergency room, a term synonymous with blaring sirens and fatally wounded patients. Today’s families have a number of health care options that serve as an alternative to the traditional emergency room.

Urgent care facilities have become one of the fastest growing areas in health care as the demand for more affordable care outside of regular business hours continues to rise.

“Today’s families are busier than ever and their lives don’t always fit into a doctor’s regular office hours,” says Matthew Gibson, M.D., pediatrician at Methodist Physicians Clinic. “Immediate care clinics have become a more accessible and convenient solution for minor illnesses and injuries without the longer waits and bigger fees you typically have with an emergency room.”

Situations in which people might visit an immediate care clinic include minor illnesses like colds, fevers, flu, rashes, and mild infections. Many urgent and immediate care clinics can also perform X-rays, blood work, pregnancy tests, urinalysis, and strep screens, and apply casts, splints, and stitches.

According to surveys conducted by the Urgent Care Association of America, approximately 90 percent of urgent care visits take 60 minutes or less, while the average wait for an emergency room visit is four hours. The Urgent Care Association also reported in 2014 that nearly half of all visits to urgent care centers result in an average charge of less than $150—compared to the average cost of an emergency room visit, $1,354.

Urgent care clinics are typically open evenings after most doctor’s offices have closed, as well as on weekends and holidays. Unlike emergency rooms, they are not open 24/7. Some are stand-alone clinics, while most in the Omaha area are doctor’s offices during the day and transition to urgent care after hours.

Methodist has five urgent care clinics around town and Nebraska Medicine has four. They both bill visits the same as a regular doctor’s visit. 

Children’s Hospital & Medical Center offers three urgent care sites in Omaha and one in Council Bluffs that specialize in pediatric care, including pediatric sports injuries.

CHI Health operates six urgent care centers in six clinic locations and as well as 10 Quick Care Clinics inside area Hy-Vee stores in Omaha and Council Bluffs. These Quick Care clinics are convenient walk-in clinics that provide care for minor medical problems for patients 18 months or older. The clinics are open evenings and on weekends, with no appointment necessary.

A visit to an emergency room would be warranted for more serious problems such as shortness of breath; chest palpitations; difficulty speaking; sudden dizziness; numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg; chest pain; uncontrollable cough; severe abdominal or pelvic pain; fractures with bones showing; loss of consciousness; dehydration; or gunshot wounds.

“If it’s not life-threatening and you’re not sure what to do, call your doctor first,” says Dr. Gibson. “Most pediatric offices have an after-hours nurse line who can help direct you to the right place.”

Patrick Anderl, M.D., family practitioner at Nebraska Medicine, agrees. “I always recommend calling your doctor first since they know you and your history. If you can’t reach your doctor or get in to see him or her in a timely fashion and it’s an acute problem, then you should consider immediate care.”

Another care option offered by Methodist and CHI is telemedicine and virtual care. These services offer care around the clock via phone or video (such as Skype, FaceTime, or video chat). Patients who use virtual care are connected with a licensed health care provider who can help diagnose and make treatment recommendations for a variety of common conditions like colds, sinus symptoms, urinary tract infections, sore throat, pink eye, or a rash. Prescriptions can also be filled, when required.

Methodist offers this service for a flat fee of $39 per visit. CHI Health is offering the service for $10 with a credit card for a limited time.

“This is just another way to give families access to care after the urgent care clinic has closed,” says Gibson. “You may be a mother at home with other children in bed and leaving the house may not be an option. This allows you to talk to a health care provider about your child’s illness instead of having to wait until the next day. It’s all about making care more accessible and convenient.” FamilyGuide

Visit chihealth.com, bestcare.org, childrens-omaha.org, or nebraskamed.com for more information about the services mentioned in this article.

This article was originally printed in the Winter 2018 edition of Family Guide.

No Sick Days Allowed

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

A badly congested and bleary-eyed man pokes his head through a door and intones, “Dave, I’m sorry to interrupt. I’ve got to take a sick day tomorrow.”

The recipient of the man’s pronouncement isn’t his boss, but a brown-eyed toddler standing in his crib with a quizzical look on his little face.

This TV commercial for a cold medicine elicits chuckles, but the underlying message is nothing to sneeze at: Moms and dads who care for their children can’t take days off.

As germs begin to outnumber snowflakes, take comfort. Several basic, commonsense, and proactive approaches to keep bugs at bay exist, as outlined by a medical doctor, a registered dietitian, and a mental health expert.

For The Body

Wash Your Hands

Good hand hygiene ranks No. 1 on the prevention list of Dr. Emily Hill Bowman, a physician at Boys Town Internal Medicine. That means frequently washing your hands with soap and water, or, in their absence, using a hand sanitizer.

“Contact with hands is a frequent cause of transmission for viral infections,” says Hill Bowman, and that includes touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Medical guidelines recommend a good scrubbing for 20 seconds, or about the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice.

Cover Your Mouth

Viral illnesses can spread through respiratory secretions. “Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, then wash your hands,” cautions the internist.

Get a Flu Shot

Because influenza can lead to serious consequences, especially for younger children and the elderly, Hill Bowman recommends everyone over the age of six months should get a flu shot to prevent the spread of the virus. ”Typically, the influenza vaccine is an inactive vaccine so it does not cause influenza,” reassures Hill Bowman, allaying concerns a flu shot might do more harm than good.

Take Vitamin D

Healthy habits make your immune system fight infection. That means eating right, exercising, and getting enough sleep. “But we don’t get enough vitamin D in our diet and we don’t get enough [vitamin D] from the sun after September, which is why vitamin D is always my starting point with people,” says registered dietician and exercise physiologist Rebecca Mohning, owner of Expert Nutrition in Omaha. “It boosts the immune system and it’s naturally occurring in mushrooms and egg yolks, but not in the amount we need on a daily basis.”

Eat Fiber

Mohning says fiber, particularly that found in oats, barley, and nuts, has protective compounds that boost the immune system.

Probiotics—the Friendly Bacteria

Those good live cultures found in yogurt or in the fermented milk drink kefir also boost your body’s ability to fight infection, as do fermented foods like sauerkraut. Not a fan? Take a probiotic supplement, says Mohning.

Drink Water

Getting enough water during the winter months can be more difficult because you may not feel as thirsty. But nothing beats water for flushing toxins from your body. Try drinking a 12-oz. mug of hot water with one teaspoon of lemon juice for a healthy way to warm up.

For The Mind

Does anyone in your family turn on all the lights in the house as soon as the sun makes an early exit during the winter? Seasonal affective disorder, also called the winter blues, affects about 15 million Americans, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. The depressive disorder can sap your energy and bring on moodiness. Treatment for SAD can include a light box and, in extreme cases, talking with a mental health practitioner.

Plan Activities and Stick to the Plan

Heading off the blues before they arrive can be as simple as marking a calendar, says Jennifer Harsh, Ph.D., director of behavioral medicine for General Internal Medicine at UNMC. “If we know the cold weather season can be difficult for us mentally, we can plan ahead,” she says.

As a family therapist, Harsh believes strongly that keeping the mind and the body active can help your physical, emotional, and social well-being.

“Plan activities as a family or with a partner, whether they include games indoors or physical exercise elsewhere. Put them on a schedule or calendar and hold it with the same importance as you would hold going to work every day,” she says. “That way you act according to the schedule instead of according to your mood.”

Harsh says you can stave off emotional difficulties when you have something planned ahead of time that you value.

Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself

Maintaining good mental health should hold fast to the commonsense, basic, proactive approach that characterizes a healthy body discipline.

“Make your goals specific, attainable, and measureable,” says Harsh. “When you engage your family or a partner, you’re more likely to follow through.”

This article was originally printed in the Winter 2018 edition of Family Guide.

New Technology

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

When Dr. Manju Hapke finished medical school more than 40 years ago in India, the latest technology at her school was an X-ray machine.

Since then, the CHI Health Clinic physician completed residencies at New York Hospital Medical Center of Queens and the University of Nebraska College of Medicine.

Hapke has worked in Omaha as a family medicine physician for more than 20 years. During that time, the doctor has seen lots of technological changes, especially in the field of diagnostics.

“We used to solely rely on a physical exam,” Hapke says. “That’s how we made our diagnoses. Now we have such good diagnoses thanks to scans and other diagnostics.”

Dr. Paul Paulman, a professor with the UNMC Department of Family Medicine and a primary care physician, agrees that diagnostics have come a long way, especially in the last five years.

“The radiologists and other imaging professionals have really improved imaging technology,” Paulman says. “Ultrasound is becoming bedside now.”

That is good news, especially in pediatrics. One common use of ultrasound in pediatrics is for appendicitis, which affects 70,000 children in the United States annually.

While ultrasound is leading the way in imaging technology, faster, more compact CT scans and MRIs may not be far behind.

“Pictures are getting sharper, so they can hone in on areas [of the body],” Paulman says. “It’s an area that is constantly improving as computers get faster.”

Ultimately, Hapke is most excited to see what direction diagnostics will take in the future. “I think at some point what will happen is that a patient will walk into a room with equipment and when they walk out we will have all sorts of details about their organs and how they’re functioning. It will be like a diagnostic walkthrough.”

Until that day comes, Hapke has found a technological way to enhance her patients’ care while eliminating some time on data entry.

“I was one of the first physicians who launched the use of Google Glass in Omaha,” Hapke says.

Google Glass is an electronic device that connects to the internet. When it appeared on the scene in 2013, the tech community initially touted it as the next great advancement. The high price point and imbedded camera ultimately resulted in few people using the device, but in July 2017, Google’s parent company, Alphabet, announced that Google Glass 2.0 is coming—this time geared to specific professions, including medicine.

Around the same time as the first Google Glass arrived, regulations on electronic health records became stricter, causing doctors to spend more time on data entry and less time with patients. Hapke realized that by using Google Glass, she could look at her patients, not a computer screen, during a visit.

“There’s so much information the patient gives you with their expressions that you just don’t get through the words,” she says.

A child, especially, might mention having a “tummy ache,” but point at their lower right portion of the abdomen where the appendix resides.

Google Glass works in conjunction with a remote human scribe. The scribe can see and hear the doctor and patient. The doctor must verify and approve the notes that the scribe took during the visit; the notes do not become permanent until the doctor gives the OK.

The scribe can also deliver information to the doctor in real time during the patient visit.

“When you do it in real time, you get a lot more of the information down. When you depend on your memory, you will forget half of it. Google Glass enables me to get both information and cues from the patient,” she says.

According to Hapke, the other advantage is the patient can hear what she is telling the scribe. She asks the patient if he/she understands what’s being said, which helps encourage the patient to ask questions.

Hapke can also have her scribe look up information electronically in the patient’s chart. So if she wants to know the results of a particular test or procedure, the information is available immediately.

“It’s like I have an assistant with me all the time. Because we only have so much time to be with each patient, this helps me maximize my interactions. I can practice old-fashioned medicine with good bedside manner but at the same time have state-of-the-art results at my fingertips,” Hapke says.

She’s been using the technology for about two years and estimates it saves her about 20 hours a week.

Hapke finds keeping up with new procedures and technology easy, especially since she loves to read and admits to being fascinated with medicine.

“It’s not that hard to keep up in this day and age. I am more impressed with my forefathers and how they kept up with everything, and how they advanced medicine to where it is today,” she says. 

Visit chihealth.com for more information.

This article was originally printed in the Winter 2018 edition of Family Guide.

New Year’s Eve Parties

Photography by provided | Reverb photo by Joi Katskee

Where should you ring in the new year? Local options range from downtown dance parties to kicking it cowboy-style in the suburbs and everything in between. No matter if your preference is champagne and cocktail dresses or margaritas, one of these suggestions will take you into 2018 with style.

The Max
1417 Jackson St.

Omaha’s original gay nightclub will once again host its annual New Year’s Eve bash. Every corner of the club will be decorated with balloons and other festive décor. Bartenders will sling drinks at all five bars, but be sure to arrive to this celebration early. Party-goers will pack both dance floors, and lines overflowing onto downtown streets are also part of the tradition. The party starts at 9 p.m.

Voodoo Bar
304 N. 168th Circle

Did someone say, “free champagne?” You heard right—Voodoo Bar will continue its tradition of a free champagne toast for party people this New Year’s Eve. Guests will also be treated to free hors d’oeuvres and a DJ. Dancing, drinks, and music begin at 9 p.m.

Reverb lounge
6121 Military Ave.

Count down the final hours of 2017 with EDM duo String Theory at Reverb, one of several local bands that will bring the year to a close in the heart of Benson. Dance, drink, and celebrate the connecting powers of music with dazzling performances. The bash will begin at 9 p.m.

Bushwackers Dance Hall
and Saloon
7401 Main St., Ralston

If your perfect party includes line dancing, say “howdy” to this Ralston favorite. Two-step into the new year with hip-hop and pop hits thrown into the primarily country-music mix and drink specials from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. City slickers and country folk alike will get a kick out of this celebration.

New Year’s Eve Fireworks Spectacular,
Gene Leahy Mall
14th and Farnam streets

While you’re out and about this New Year’s Eve, don’t forget to stop by Gene Leahy Mall. The spectacular fireworks show is expected to draw over 30,000 people—so be sure to arrive early. If crowds aren’t your thing, then head into the park for a quiet stroll with loved ones or simply enjoy the glimmering holiday lights. Fireworks start at 7 p.m.

This article was originally printed in the November/December 2017 edition of Omaha Magazine.

Women in Business

Photography by Jeremy Allen Wieczorek

This sponsored content appeared in the Winter 2018 edition of B2B. To view, click here: https://issuu.com/omahapublications/docs/final_20bb0118/30

According to a 2010 study by the U.S. Department of Labor, women comprised 47 percent of the total U.S. labor force. That same study found that women comprise 91.1 percent of registered nurses, but also 66.1 percent of tax examiners, collectors, and revenue agents, and 59.3 percent of all insurance writers.

The National Association of Women Business Owners revealed in 2015 that women-owned firms account for 31 percent of all privately held firms.

The women on these sponsored pages own or represent businesses that have been traditionally male-dominated and work for companies that encourage diversity in the workplace. They are advertising professionals, equestrian center owners, saleswomen for industrial products, and more.


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Hey, Mr. DJ

December 7, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

When United States Army veteran Stephen Bils was deployed to Afghanistan, someone stole his first set of turntables, as well as all the vinyl records he’d collected over the years. The 29-year-old Clearwater, Florida, native had picked up the turntables at a flea market in North Carolina, right outside of Fort Bragg.

“They were garbage, but I loved them so much,” Bils says.

In a way, that was a pivotal moment in his life. Bils, who had relocated to Omaha in 1997 with his parents and two older sisters, returned to Nebraska to find a friend had donated a pair of (controllers) for him to use in the interim. From there, he began DJing all over Omaha—most notably at the now-defunct House of Loom.

“We played all over town,” he says. “The rest is history. It’s led me here to where I am now. It’s been nothing short of a good time.”

With each gig, the Benson High School graduate was finally able to publicly express his passion for music, something that began when he was a child. His mother, Trudi Bils, taught him how to play the guitar around 11 or 12 years old.

“I’ve always been in a musical environment,” Bils explains. “I played in bands, churches, high school concert band, jazz band, marching band, pep band—you name it. I was on drum line and played trap set in jazz band. In my free time, I played in bands with my friends.”

As a teenager, Bils started to gravitate toward electronic dance music.

“I love house music,” he says. “I can’t say that enough. Disco, funk, deep, soulful, techno—I love it all. I also enjoy trap and hip-hop, and jazz has a special spot in my heart, too.”

Bils doesn’t perform as much as he used to, but earlier this year, he became Encounter magazine’s resident DJ, which he says has been “amazing.” He also works with the Old Market-based Bar 415, where he brings in talent and occasionally plays shows.

“I’ll be doing a few friends’ weddings and some private parties this year, but with work, life, and everything going on, I can’t do it nearly as often as I used to,” he says. “Back when I was busy as a career DJ, I was holding down residencies with clubs like the Capitol, The Max, House of Loom, Sake Bombers, and Tavern. I was DJing gigs with touring bands, international DJs, producers, and working with organizations like the Open
Door Mission.”

Over the last few years, Bils has blossomed into a savvy entrepreneur. After high school, he briefly attended the University of Nebraska at Omaha where he enjoyed studying journalism, but three years into his college education, Bils left to pursue his own business—something he’s been working on ever since.

After watching his family struggle with finding quality care for his grandparents, Bils was motivated to establish BellaCare, an in-home health care agency focused on providing care to seniors and people with disabilities.

“There is such a huge demand for in-home care and a huge shortage of caregivers,” Bils says. “There are now, more than ever, a tremendous amount of people turning 65 everyday—somewhere around 15,000 people every day turn 65—and that will continue for another 15 to 20 years. And aside from being a good business opportunity, it’s a great way to do good for our community. It’s a much-needed service, and we are proud to offer it.”

While his commitment to BellaCare is one he clearly takes seriously, music will always be his first love. Anyone who has seen Bils touch a set of turntables (or CJDs) is typically moved by his form of artistic expression.

“House music is difficult to explain,” he says. “There’s a deep and soulful feeling that creates a connection or bond, like a symbiotic relationship between me and the people dancing. The rhythm and bass, topped with the voices of gospel, love or triumph, driven by wailing horns, or keyboards, or some kind of sample loop, just carries you over the dance floor like nobody’s watching. It’s a beautiful thing.”

Visit bellacare.us for more information about Bils’ business.

This article printed in the November/December 2017 edition of Encounter.

House of Trains

December 6, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

David Mrsny can show customers how model trains have changed since his grandfather opened the family’s sales and service shop 81 years ago with a three-part answer pulled from storage: First, there is a clunky metal 1930s-era model train caboose, with rudimentary windows and few other details. Second comes a train car kit from 1940 (in the original box), comprised of wood and metal bits that require complete assembly.

He contrasted these ancient pieces with a modern-day N-scale engine car—a three-inch long piece of mechanical wizardry complete with sounds and tiny details, including impossibly small blades in the roof’s air vents. No assembly required.

Like the trains themselves, the model train business and its technology has changed dramatically throughout the decades at the House of Trains, a Benson neighborhood fixture since Leonard and Verna Mrsny moved their shop from east Omaha to 81st and Maple streets in 1952.

David and his father, Dick Mrsny, bought the shop from grandpa Leonard in 1989. Today, David and his wife, Marci, keep the trains running for hundreds of model train hobbyists. Dick also runs Omaha Stamp Co. next door, another long-running family enterprise.

Operating a hobby store, David says, has been transformed by technology where parts and advice can be sought online, and in a culture where iPads and other electronic toys have replaced traditional hobby pursuits.

“Being able to help people has helped keep it going, especially in the last five years,“ says David, who also repairs unique items such as music boxes and electronic Christmas ornaments to boost his revenue. “I like being able to help people enjoy the hobby. [Because it is] altruistic…you can make a living doing that,“ David explains with a laugh.

The clientele is diverse, but a common thread is older men with extra time and disposable income who remember when model train sets were the hobby of their youth.

House of Trains customer George Sinos remembers those days well.

“I’m in my 60s, and growing up in the ’50 and ’60s, a model train was like the Xbox of today,“ says Sinos, who retired after a long career at OPPD. “Model railroads were something you did as a kid, and then you get away from it. Then with more time and money, you drift back in.“

When Sinos re-caught the model train bug in 2013, he turned to David, who gave him pointers about the hobby and helped him build his setup.

Sinos finds pleasure in newfangled digital control systems and the electronics behind how the trains work. Others, David says, like the pre-made setups that came on the scene more than a decade ago. Some like the assembly, which today is less about constructing trains and more about putting together the parts to create a train environment, including buildings and even whole cities.

Marci sums up the appeal of modern-day model railroading by stating, “We’ve had a lot of people tell us that they can shut themselves off from work and it’s like their own little world. They can do what they want and can make the hobby as hectic or as relaxing as they want it to be.“

Visit houseoftrains.net for more information.

This article published in the Fall 2017 edition of B2B.

David Mrsny