Tag Archives: Urban League of Nebraska

July/August 2017 Giving Calendar

July 7 (7-10 p.m.)
Ales for Tails
Benefitting: Nebraska Humane Society
Location: Bärchen
—nehumanesociety.org

July 8 (8-11 a.m.)
5K Superhero Run and Post Race Party
Benefitting: CASA for Douglas County
Location: Turner Park at Midtown Crossing
—casaomaha.org/calendar/

July 10 (11:30 a.m.)
24th Annual Golf Classic
Benefitting: Keep Omaha Beautiful
Location: The Players Club at Deer Creek
—keepomahabeautiful.org

July 13 (6:30 p.m.)
Links to a Cure Golf Gala
Benefitting: Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
Location: Embassy Suites La Vista
—nelinkstoacure17.eventscff.org

July 14 (8:30 a.m.)
Links to a Cure Golf Tournament
Benefitting: Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
Location: Arborlinks Golf Course
—nelinkstoacure17.eventscff.org

July 15 (5-11 p.m.)
Relay for Life of Greater Omaha
Benefitting: American Cancer Society
Location: Stinson Park at Aksarben Village
—relay.acsevents.org

July 16 (noon-3 p.m.)
ULN Guild Men Who Cook
Benefitting: Urban League of Nebraska
Location: OPS Administrative Building Cafeteria
—urbanleagueneb.org

July 25 (6 p.m.)
Hope in the Heartland Gala
Benefitting: American Cancer Society
Location: Stinson Park in Aksarben Village
—gala.acsevents.org

July 28 (6-9:30 p.m.)
Screw Cancer Fundraiser 2017
Benefitting: Cancer Alliance of Nebraska
Location: Omaha Country Club
—cancerallianceofnebraska.org

July 29 (6:30-11 p.m.)
2017 Blue Water Bash
Benefitting: Boys Town Okoboji Camp
Location: Boys Town Okoboji Camp, Milford, Iowa
—boystown.org

July 29 (8-10:30 a.m.)
Omaha Head for the Cure (HFTC) 5K
Benefitting: Head for the Cure Foundation
Location: Lewis & Clark Landing
—headforthecure.org/omaha

July 29 (9-11 a.m.)
The Walk to End Pancreatic Cancer
Benefitting: PurpleStride Omaha
Location: Sinson Park at Aksarben Village
—support.pancan.org

July 29 (1:30-10 p.m.)
Golf 4 Lungs
Benefitting: New Hope 4 Lungs
Location: Eagle Hills Golf Course
—newhope4lungs.org

July 31 (11:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m.)
Help Build a House Golf Event
Benefitting: Gesu Housing
Location: Champions Run
—gesuhousing.com

July 31 (1-6 p.m.)
Swing 4 Kids Golf Benefit
Benefitting: Partnership 4 Kids
Location: Tiburon Golf Course
—p4k.org/2014-swing-4-kids-golf-benefit/

Aug. 4 (5-9 p.m.)
New American Arts Festival
Benefiting: Lutheran Family Services
Location: Benson First Friday, 60th-62nd and Maple streets
—bensonfirstfriday.com/news–events.html

Aug. 4 (6-10 p.m.)
Dance for a Chance
Benefitting: Youth Emergency Services
Location: Omaha Design Center
—yesomaha-org.presencehost.net/news-events/dance.html

Aug. 4 (6-11 p.m.)
River Bash N Brew
Benefitting: Visiting Nurses Association
Location: Lewis & Clark Landing
—thevnacares.org

Aug. 5 (6-9 p.m.)
10th Annual Nebraska Walk for Epilepsy
Benefitting: Lifestyle Innovations for Epilepsy
Location: Turner Park at Midtown Crossing
—nebraskaepilepsywalk.com

Aug. 5 (8 a.m.-noon)
Spirit of Courage Golf Tournament
Benefitting: Jennie Edmundson Hospital Cancer Center
Location: Dodge Riverside Golf Club
—jehfoundation.org

Aug. 5 (6-10 p.m.)
Spirit of Courage Gala
Benefitting: Jennie Edmundson Hospital Cancer Center
Location: Mid-America Center
—jehfoundation.org

Aug. 5 (6-9 p.m.)
Jefferson House “Stand Up for Kids” Comedy Night
Benefitting: Heartland Family Service
Location: Fremont Golf Club
—heartlandfamilyservice.org/events/stand-kids-comedy-night/

Aug. 6 (noon)
No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em Poker Tournament
Benefitting: Jennie Edmundson Hospital Cancer Center
Location: Mid-America Center
—jehfoundation.org

Aug.10 (7 a.m.-1 p.m.)
18th Annual Release Ministries Bill Ellett Memorial Golf Classic
Benefitting: Release Ministries
Location: Iron Horse Golf Club, Ashland, Nebraska
—releaseministries-org.presencehost.net/news-events

Aug. 11 (9 a.m.-noon)
Step Out for Seniors Walk-A-Thon
Benefitting: Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging
Location: Benson Park
—stepoutforseniors.weebly.com

Aug. 12 (8:30 a.m.)
HETRA’s Little Britches Horse Show
Benefitting: Heartland Equine Therapeutic Riding Academy
Location: HETRA, Gretna, Nebraska
—HETRA.org

Aug 12 (5:30 p.m.)
11th Annual Summer Bash for Childhood Cancer
Benefitting: Metro Area Youth Foundation
Location: Embassy Suite La Vista Convention Center
—summerbashforccc.org/

Aug. 13 (10 a.m.-3 p.m.)
Vintage Wheels at the Fort
Benefitting: Douglas County Historical Society
Location: Historic Fort Omaha
—douglascohistory.org/

Aug 14 (11 a.m.)
QLI Golf Challenge
Benefitting: QLI Tri-Dimensional Rehab
Location: The Players Club at Deer Creek
—teamqli.com/team_events/qli-golf-tournament

Aug. 18 (6-10 p.m.)
Exposed: Voice
Benefitting: Project Pink’d
Location: Hilton Downtown
—projectpinkd.org/exposed.html

Aug. 19 (day-long)
Paint-A-Thon
Benefitting: Brush Up Nebraska
Location: Various
—brushupnebraska.org

Aug. 19 (8 a.m.)
JDRF One Walk
Benefitting: JDRF Heartland Chapter
Location: Lewis & Clark Landing
2.jdrf.org

Aug. 20 (7-11 a.m.)
Boxer 500 Run and Walk
Benefitting: Great Plains Colon Cancer Task Force
Location: Werner Park
—coloncancertaskforce.org/boxer-500

Aug. 20 (7:30 a.m., end times vary)
Corporate Cycling Challenge
Benefitting: Eastern Nebraska Trails Network
Location: Heartland of America Park
— showofficeonline.com/CorporateCyclingChalleng

Aug. 21 (2-4 p.m.)
Grow with Us Gala
Benefitting: City Sprouts
Location: Metro Community College’s Institute for the Culinary Arts
—omahasprouts.org/gala

Aug. 22 (11:30 a.m.)
Annual Golf Classic
Benefitting: Methodist Hospital Foundation
Location: Tiburon Golf Club
—methodisthospitalfoundation.org

Aug. 24 (5:30-10 p.m.)
120th Anniversary of the Summer Fete
Benefitting: Joslyn Castle Trust
Location: Joslyn Castle lawn
—joslyncastle.org

Aug. 25 (5:30-8:30 p.m.)
Wine & Beer Event
Benefitting: ALS in the Heartland
Location: The Shops of Legacy
—alsintheheartland.org/news-events/

Aug. 26 (5-10 p.m.)
Gala 2017
Benefitting: Papillion-La Vista Schools
Location: TBD
—plvschoolsfoundation.org

Aug. 26 (5:30 p.m.)
Red, White & Madonna Blue
Benefitting: Madonna School
Location: CenturyLink Center Omaha
—madonnaschool.org/celebration

Aug. 26 (6-9 p.m.)
Mission: Possible
Benefitting: Angels Among Us
Location: Hilton Hotel downtown
—myangelsamongus.org/

Aug. 28 (11 a.m.)
10th Annual Jesuit Academy Golf Tournament
Benefitting: Jesuit Academy Tuition Assistance Fund
Location: Indian Creek Golf Course
—jesuitacademy.org/golf-tournament.html

Aug. 28 (noon)
19th Annual Goodwill Golf Classic
Benefitting: Goodwill’s Real Employment Assisting You (READY) & Business Solutions Programs
Location: The Players Club at Deer Creek
—goodwillomaha.org/events/golf/

Aug. 28 (11:30 a.m.-7 p.m.)
Golf Outing Invitational Fundraiser
Benefitting: Open Door Mission
Location: Oak Hills Country Club
—aunitedglass.com/golf-classic.html

Jason Fischer

April 19, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The design team for Omaha’s bold “We Don’t Coast” campaign included 30-something Jason Fischer, owner of boutique marketing-branding firm Surreal Media Lab.

“It’s great to know it’s been used so well and been so widely accepted,” Fischer says of the slogan.

This master visual stylist grew up drawing, airbrush illustrating, and acrylic painting. Then he turned to graphic art. He taught himself photography, film-video production, software programming, and computer coding as digital, Web-based platforms came in vogue. All the while, he fed wide-ranging interests in art, culture, media, and history.

“I just wanted to do something creative for a living. It’s nice to be able to have these disciplines and ultimately connect all these dots. I think that’s what really helps me be successful in the marketing-branding area. My brain lives on the big picture scale.

“I like the challenge behind the collaboration of taking what a client wants and creating something that is me but that captures their vision.”

His diverse clients span the metro but he’s done “a body of socially conscious work” for the Urban League of Nebraska, No More Empty Pots, Together, the Empowerment Network, and others.

“At one point I was asked by a few community leaders to get involved. I would be the fly on the wall at meetings and events. That led to opportunities. I really care about community and want to see changes. Everybody has their own part they play. I’m just doing my piece, using what my calling is, to be an advocate the best way I can.

“I am really inspired by the work these nonprofits are doing.”

His feature documentary Out of Frame gives voice and face to Omaha’s homeless. His short docs Project Ready and Work Their Best won festival awards. His new art film, I Do Not Use, puts images to Frank O’Neal’s powerful poem decrying the “N” word. He’s in-progress on another feature documentary, Grey Matter, about being biracial in America.

Fischer’s M.O. is “asking the right questions and getting people to tell their own story,” adding, “I go in with the end in mind but I’m fluid enough to be open to the unexpected. Then it’s piecing it together.”

He’s known tough times himself. Raised by a single mom who labored hard to make ends meet, he used that work ethic to build The Lab. Then a burglary nearly wiped him out. Insurance didn’t cover the loss.

“It put me at ground zero. I was fortunate to have enough resources to get a loan through the SBA (Small Business Administration).

He moved his business from North O to the Image Arts Building’s creative hub at 2626 Harney Street.

“If it hadn’t happened I feel like I would still be stuck doing the same thing, smaller jobs, just turning the wheel. The move brought greater expectations and bigger opportunities to express myself and raise the bar. Before, it was more the hustle of making the dollar. Then it switched from dollars to passion. I think the passion part has definitely shown through and propelled the work and the business.”

Visit surrealmedialab.com to learn more.

JasonFischer2

Brothers & Sisters

February 19, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Meeting Gene Haynes in a crowded breakfast place turned out to be a bit of a mistake. After all, the gregarious North High School principal had to begin his morning by making the rounds, chatting it up with table after table of familiar faces.

The onset of the interview was further delayed when, during the usual introductory niceties, the 47-year veteran of the Omaha Public Schools system queried, “Brother Williams, we already know each other…but from where?” The writer’s daughter, you see, had gone to North for her senior year. That was a distant 15 years ago. Out of the many thousands of students and parents that Haynes had encountered over that span of time, he could still instantly make out the face of a parent who a decade-and-a-half ago had been a North High Viking for one brief term, the equivalent of a cup of coffee.

“It brightens my day whenever I can reconnect with a parent of a former student and athlete [the writer’s daughter was a swimmer],” the former athletic director says. “These kinds of connections are what make being an educator in Omaha Public Schools such a great reward. And they’re also the kind of connections that make Omaha such a great city.”

Haynes, who began his career at the long-defunct Tech High School in 1967, was enshrined in the Omaha Public Schools Hall of Fame in September. Adding to his recent honors, the stretch of 36th Street abutting North High has been renamed Gene R. Haynes Street.

He was raised in the Mississippi of the Deep South at the advent of the Civil Rights Movement. “I vividly remember Emmett Till’s body being found in the Tallahatchie River,” Haynes says of the 14-year-old African-American teen who was brutally tortured and murdered by whites in 1955 after reportedly flirting with a young white woman. “Later, when an attempt was made to integrate the University of Mississippi, I remember seeing federal marshals on every corner as our school bus passed by. Those were troubled times, but—and this may seem strange—it made me a better person. I was blessed to have had great teachers, the kind that were called ‘Negro’ at the time. They saw and understood the world around us. They taught that you had to do more with less. They taught that you had to persevere. They stressed that the only way up was through education.”

He and his wife, Annie, a retired OPS teacher, became college sweethearts when they met at Rust College, a historically black institution in Holly Springs, Miss. Mirroring his parent’s pattern, son Jerel, now 38 and working as a producer in Los Angeles, courted the Hayne’s future daughter-in-law, Erin, now herself an educator, when the pair attended North when Haynes was vice-principal. He and Annie have two young grandchildren, Kaleb (6) and Jacob (almost 3). The couple recently celebrated their 46th wedding anniversary.

Haynes has been at North since 1987, but his reach also extends broadly across the community through his work with the Urban League of Nebraska, the NAACP, the Butler-Gast YMCA, and numerous other organizations. He and Annie worship at Salem Baptist Church.

“This has been my life,” Haynes says of his service to students, parents, faith, and the community. “Being an educator, by definition, means that you must also be involved in the community. You can’t see what’s going on inside a school if you don’t what’s happening outside of it. Educators who can’t do that, who can’t see a community’s dynamics at a high level, are the ones who struggle—the ones destined to be short-termers.”

And what is this most youthful-looking of 70-year-old’s timeline for retirement?

“I figure I still have at least of couple good years left in me,” Haynes says with his ever-present smile. “My philosophy at school, in the community, in sports, anything in life, has always been to give 110 percent. I’ll know it’ll be time to go when I can only give, say, 109 percent.”

The interview had continued in fits and starts as Haynes occasionally paused to greet or bid adieu to others in the coffee shop, addressing one and all as “Sister” or “Brother” so-and-so. It’s the same style he uses with students in the halls of North High School, where the use of the “Brother” or “Sister” appellation preceding a last name suggests a union of the familiar and the formal.

“It recognizes their identity,” Haynes says. “It recognizes that they matter, that they are a person who deserves and is worthy of your respect. Besides, last names are a whole lot easier to remember after almost a half century in education.”

20150121_bs_6859

Loyalty and Pride

February 8, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

When Ron Dotzler asked his future in-laws for permission to marry their daughter, her mother said no.

“No? Why?”

“Because you’re white.”

Dotzler grew up in rural Iowa, in a small town of about 300 people. “No diversity whatsoever until I went to college and played basketball. Met my wife, fell in love with her…” He shrugs. “I had no clue.”

After a few years of a successful career as a chemical engineer, starting a family, and building a brand new house out west, things settled down. Then Dotzler and his wife Twany announced they were moving to North Omaha as a sort of pit stop before serving overseas in missions. “Her mother went off on me,” Dotzler recalls. “‘We did all we could to get our daughter out of the ghetto, and you’re taking her back?’”

They’ve lived in North Omaha 25 years now. The Dotzlers never did make it overseas.

Instead, the couple works alongside a small staff and a large roster of volunteers as the Abide Network. The organization is one of many groups in the North Omaha area working to infuse neighborhoods north of Cuming Street and east of I-680 with new work, new homes, and new empowerment.

Its reputation

JoAnna LeFlore, interim program director of Bemis Center’s Carver Bank art gallery at 24th and Lake, calls these pockets of activity “bubbles.” “Brigitte over at The Union is a bubble,” she says, referring to Brigitte McQueen, director of the artist residency program at 24th and Burdette. “Love’s Jazz is a bubble. The Empowerment Network. We’re a bubble. If you didn’t grow up in North Omaha, you have no idea what vibrancy is here.”

It’s true that Omahans outside of the vague borders of North Omaha have a certain perception of the area. LeFlore recalls an exchange she had with a bank teller from Bennington after she read LeFlore’s business card. “24th and Lake?” the woman asked. “Isn’t that a bad neighborhood?”

“I just…I took a minute,” LeFlore says with a tired laugh. “And I said, ‘Why would you think that?’ And she said, ‘One of my friends is a police officer, and he told me not to go to that neighborhood.’” LeFlore reverted to her default reaction whenever she runs across someone who relates hearsay. “I listened, and I let her talk.” She pauses. “And then I just told her to come down to Carver Bank and get a sandwich at Big Mama’s.”

The sandwich shop next door to Carver Bank’s gallery and studio space is popular with Creighton students. Grace Krause, a graphic design graduate from Creighton University, has been an intern at Carver Bank for a couple weeks. “I grew up in North Omaha, kind of in the Florence area. I’ve always been a defendant of North Omaha. It’s a really great place; it just has a bad rap.”

JoAnna LeFlore is the interim program director of Bemis Center’s Carver Bank art gallery at 24th and Lake.

JoAnna LeFlore is the interim program director of Bemis Center’s Carver Bank art gallery at 24th and Lake.

LeFlore agrees. “Yes, there are things that happen in this neighborhood that are regrettable, but they also happen all over the city.”

Stats collected by the Abide Network suggest that, while violent crimes do happen all over the city, North Omaha still bears the brunt of them. Dotzler keeps a map covered in red pushpins for every murder (“It’s approximately 820 total”) that’s happened in the city in the 25 years he’s lived in North Omaha. “As you can see, two thirds of them take place right here,” he says, pointing to the area north of Dodge and east of 50th Street.

Its goals

However, Krause’s comments reflect another side of North Omaha, one that statisticians can’t discount. “When you meet people from North Omaha, they’re exceedingly loyal and proud of where they’re from,” says Othello Meadows, lawyer by profession, community developer by chance, and North Omahan by birth. “You always have this feeling of, like I owe something to where I grew up.” His work in Seventy-Five North Revitalization Corporation offers what he calls the best of both worlds. “It’s challenging work intellectually, but there’s also this greater good we’re trying to achieve.”

Through Seventy-Five North, Meadows wants to bring three elements of greater good to North Omaha: high-quality, mixed-income housing; a cradle-to-college educational pipeline; and a network of community services.

“Neighborhoods with good economic diversity are more resilient and economically stable,” Meadows says. “And we’ll create that with a combination of for-sale and for-rent homes.” That means multi-family apartments, single-family homes, and duplexes.

“When you meet people from North Omaha, they’re exceedingly loyal and proud of where they’re from.”
—Othello Meadows

The mixed-income housing is probably the closest of Seventy-Five North’s goals to becoming a reality. The organization owns 23 empty acres where a project called Pleasantview stood near 30th and Parker Streets when Meadows was a child. “If you grew up here, you knew about it,” he says. “It was a really tough place.” When he moved back from practicing law in Georgia in 2008, “they were tearing it down. The cost to rehab it was way more than it was to tear it down. Twenty-three acres with nothing on it. Kind of a rare find.” He plans to break ground on a new apartment building before 2015.

Dotzler, on the other hand, says moving away from rented housing is what the area needs. “Seventy percent of these homes are rental,” he says, referring to the neighborhood where Abide Network is based, “owned by landlords who receive money through Section 8 housing. There’s a reason it’s a good business,” he says. “It’s just bad for our community. Fifty-eight percent of rentals are owned by somebody outside of the community.” Dotzler says that rental properties move people around constantly, making a community lack stability.

Interestingly, lack of stability is what Meadows wants to solve as well but with a combination of rental and market-price homes. “Right now,” he says, “you can’t build a house for what you’d be able to sell it. It’s different to have houses that someone can qualify for versus someone who can pay market rate.”

“It’s important for people to have an option to stay here,” LeFlore agrees, though she also would prefer to see more home ownership in the next five years. 
“Jobs, living situations. Anything that celebrates what’s good will keep people living here.” She adds that another item on her five-year wish list for North Omaha is a strong community development organization. “Something like Othello’s doing,” she says, referring to Seventy-Five North. “Other cities do it. They engage the neighborhoods that exist, and they engage the city to redevelop the neighborhood. So I think in five years that needs to happen. There is no excuse. I think it’s urgent.”

For Dotzler, one point of urgency is neighborhood safety. “The police would tell you a cleaner neighborhood is a safer neighborhood,” Dotzler says, “so let’s mow lawns, let’s pick up trash, let’s fix broken windows, let’s paint over graffiti.” To that end, the Abide Network has for the last six years been steadily “adopting” small blocks of neighborhoods, about 20-25 houses with perhaps four people per house.

The red, dotted line indicates the 23 vacant acres where Pleasantview used to stand and where Seventy-Five North Revitalization Corp. plans to break ground with new apartments by early 2015.

The red, dotted line indicates the 23 vacant acres where Pleasantview used to stand and where Seventy-Five North Revitalization Corp. plans to break ground with new apartments by early 2015.

As Meadows says, “North Omaha is a huge geographic area. It’s critical to take a manageable bite. The person who says they’re going to change North Omaha is nuts. You have to say we’re going to go to work in this neighborhood. And then hopefully you can establish a model that’s replicable.”

That’s just what Abide Network is doing. Since that first block six years ago, the organization has adopted about 100 such neighborhoods, visiting at least once a month to address the fixes that Dotzler lists. They’d like to reach over 700.

Its determination

“We see a lot of emphasis on affordable housing, a lot of emphasis on education, a lot on community services,” Meadows says of the various programs working in North Omaha, “but independently, these don’t get a neighborhood to turn a corner and stay around that corner. You can’t implement these things in any kind of isolated fashion. They really have to work together.”

In fact, one of the reasons the old Pleasantview plot was so attractive to Seventy-Five North (in addition to the vacant 23 acres) was the existence of several already-strong community partners. Meadows lists off just a few: Charles Drew, a federally qualified low-income health-care provider; Salem Baptist Church, the largest African-American congregation in the state; and Urban League of Nebraska, which provides services from job training to parent education.

“It’s our role to coordinate the support that our residents can look forward to,” Meadows says. Housing, education, and services—those elements working together, he says, are what will turn the boat around in North Omaha.

“A small organization like Carver or The Union can only do so much,” LeFlore agrees. “To really market an area of the city, it has to be a communal effort. It has to be a commitment from—well, I don’t know who to put at the table. It’s everyone’s job. Find your place and sit there. Get to the table and have a seat.” She laughs but there’s an element of no-nonsense. “Don’t point the finger and don’t be the naysayer.” LeFlore says she’s tired of hearing ‘We tried that 20 years ago, and it didn’t work.’

“Maybe someone who you meet now can you help you do it right,” she says. “You have to be humble to start a movement. Your ego has to be gone.”