Tag Archives: Fremont

What happens when a child ages out of foster care?

February 16, 2014 by

Being a child in the foster care system can be lonely and confusing. Just ask Tabitha. Shuffled from one home to another, one town to another—by the time she was in high school, she was an entire year behind in her studies. She lost track of the number of foster homes and families that she left behind. It wasn’t until she was 17—nearly out of the system—that she became part of a family.

While foster care is not ideal, there are a few people who provide some stability and support while you are part of the “system.” Your caseworker. Maybe your therapist. But once you turn 19, those connections are usually lost. There may not be one single, caring adult who asks if you are doing okay. If you have enough to eat or just need a little help. If you have a place to stay or a way to get to work—if you even have a job. Or a way to go to college.

Just one caring person can make all the difference for a young adult who ages out of foster care. On their own, many are simply lost. Without connections, the statistics are grim for these older teens and young adults. Within two years, half are essentially homeless. They may be couch-surfing just to have a warm place to sleep. They have no network to find a job. Few can afford a car or even know how to drive, since the State of Nebraska doesn’t take on the liability of state wards learning those skills. They are easy targets for pimps and human traffickers. Many become pregnant.

Now, Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska (LFS) has adopted the national “Family Finding” model. This model recognizes the urgency of helping these young people establish meaningful, supportive, permanent relationships with loving adults—simply as a matter of safety, to start.

LFS is currently the only Nebraska agency providing these types of permanency services to 19-26 year-olds previously in foster care. In July 2013, LFS’ Permanent Connections program began working to build bridges for young adults to biological family members, former foster parents, siblings, former case workers, or group home staff. Most recently, LFS began expanding this support to young adults in Fremont and surrounding areas.

The program starts by identifying 40 people who have somehow been involved in the life of the young person. From this group, a smaller team is chosen. This team includes those willing to make a long-term commitment to this young adult and be an active, stable part of their lives. It’s not as formal as adoption; more like a vow to be a friend.

Many youth who grow up in foster care or spend significant time in foster homes transition into adulthood alone. They lose contact with all the people in their lives who were once in a caring role. Permanent Connections helps these youth create ties with caring and supportive adults who can give them some stability and support.

In Bloom

November 25, 2012 by

In Bloom is a local, family-owned flower shop and home décor/gift store that serves businesses and individuals year-round with floral arrangements and seasonal decorating, as well as Christmas tree decorating seminars.

Since opening in 2008, the Fremont business has been able to grow through word-of-mouth and advertising in the local area and surrounding cities. “Due to our increasing customer base and expanded inventories, we were required to move to a larger building,” says owner Jenefer Backhaus. “Two years ago, we moved our business to its current location. Moving has allowed us to keep a larger fresh flower inventory, and it has enabled us to expand our gift lines.”

In Bloom’s mainly female clientele come from Fremont and surrounding areas to the shop because the shop offers unique gifts that aren’t available elsewhere. “Our customers like to stop in often to see what new items we have because our inventory is always changing. [But] some people just stop in to see [our dog] Lily, In Bloom’s four-legged mascot,” says Backhaus, who has designed arrangements for Ted Turner and Willy Theisen.

Backhaus, who friends describe as creative, funny, and a little crazy, wanted to be a florist since she was about 10 years old. She went to Metro Tech for floral design right after high school and has been doing it ever since. Throughout her 27 years of being a designer, she has had the opportunity to work with many talented designers, picking up little bits of knowledge from each of them along the way. “This has allowed me to create a style all my own,” she adds.

What Backhaus has learned while running In Bloom is that there are always challenges. “Some days have big challenges, but most days have only a few small challenges. A business owner just needs to learn how to manage stress.” But the challenges and stress of business are definitely outweighed by the personal satisfaction of Backhaus’ job. “Being in the floral business makes you find yourself being a small part of a person or family’s very important day, whether it’s a new baby, a wedding, or even a funeral. I always feel very honored to take part.”

In Bloom
520 North Main St.
Fremont, Neb.
402-721-5700
inbloomoffremont.com

Downtown Fremont, Neb.

October 25, 2012 by
Photography by Katie Anderson

New visitors to Fremont—a community of just over 26,000 nestled in the plain between the Platte and Elkhorn rivers 35 miles northwest of Omaha—might be surprised to discover what a vibrant downtown area the city has. Customers pop in and out of storefronts at a steady clip, business owners regularly stop over to visit with their neighbors, and cars pull in and out of parking stalls, which are snapped up quickly. The area is a buzz with activity—a claim many downtown areas, which have succumbed to urban sprawl, decay, and crime, would love to boast, but cannot.

Fremont businesses, many of them long-term tenants and family-operated, are immensely proud of their downtown business district, which spans Main Street and a few blocks beyond, and are happy to see a growing number of customers from outside city limits discovering what Fremont has to offer. At the same time, they’re working hard to retain the area’s small-town sense of community and quaint charm.

Michelle Kaiser, owner of Alotta Brownies Bakery

Michelle Kaiser, owner of Alotta Brownies Bakery

One of the longest-running businesses in Fremont’s downtown is Sampter’s, a men’s and women’s apparel and formals rental store on Main Street that dates back to 1890, when Nathan Sampter opened his doors. The founder’s great grandson, Bob Missel, who’s run the business since 1984, is a big proponent of Downtown Fremont. “I refer to our location in all my advertising as ‘historic Downtown Fremont,’” he says. “I love being downtown…the history, the people, a sense of place. We’ve been at the same location since 1925, so people know where to find us.”

Another longtime tenant is Park Avenue Antiques, owned by Duane and Nan Baker and John Wolfe. The shop specializes in pine and oak antique furniture and sells furniture made from recycled lumber from old barns, crafted by Duane’s two sons. Shoppers can also find gifts and home décor items in their adjoining gift store, Country Choice. “Fremont is a short distance from Omaha and a great little town with several stores to shop at, reminisce at, and make a day of it,” says Wolfe. “Our business has been here over 19 years.”

Sue Harr of The Studio and Nancy Hosher of Nancy's Boutique.

Sue Harr of The Studio and Nancy Hosher of Nancy’s Boutique.

L&L Gifts & Engraving, on historic Highway 30 on the east edge of town, has been in business for 31 years, says owners Lucinda and Leonard Brester. The store carries something for everyone, Lucinda said. “Precious Moments are still our top-sellers. But we also are a toy store, boutique, kitchen store, sell memorial items, Terry Redlin prints, special occasion gifts…Customers come from a 75-mile radius to shop here. [Fremont] offers a wide variety of specialty shops…and it’s laid out [so well], it’s easy to find streets.”

Buck’s Shoes just celebrated its 90th year. The Fremont shop is the last remaining of what was once a 30-plus chain throughout the Midwest. “We have a large inventory of name-brand shoes, boots, and accessories for both men and women,” says owner Kirk Brown. “Our niches include sizes and widths, especially narrows. We see customers from 40 states.” Brown credits the store’s survival in part to a very supportive business community. “There are many business owners and downtown employees who have worked diligently over the years…to keep downtown alive and thriving. And Buck’s has always been a member of Main Street Fremont and a supporter of its projects, including promotions, physical improvements, and beautification projects.”

Kirk Brown, owner of Buck's Shoes.

Kirk Brown, owner of Buck’s Shoes.

The Main Street Fremont group to which Brown refers is an independent business organization for Main Street businesses based downtown, headed by Director Sheryl Brown. The group and Sheryl Brown are credited by many as being key to downtown’s success.

Lisa Lamb, owner of My Blue Whimsy, a new bridal and special events studio carrying couture bridal gowns, bridesmaids dresses, children’s gowns, and more, is a big advocate as well. “I’ve recently become a member of Main Street Fremont, which is always developing ideas…to beautify, market, and mentor new businesses on Main Street,” she says. “[Sheryl Brown] has been a great asset to all the great change…I see the excitement in everyone downtown as they work together and see the changes and improvements being made. And I see the traffic flow building and curiosity peeking from other areas of Nebraska with new businesses coming in.”

Michelle Kaiser is also a newer business owner in Fremont, having opened Alotta Brownies Bakery on Main Street three years ago. The gourmet bakery and café is known for their wedding and specialty cakes and dessert bar buffets, but also sells bread, sandwiches, and other treats. Kaiser also has kudos for Brown, and others. “We have seen many changes in our Main Street with grants to better our downtown community…new street lights, sidewalks, plants, trees, benches. I credit Director Brown and all the business owners who put so much into helping the events become successful. Our Conventions and Visitors Bureau and Shannon Mollen have also helped drive business to Fremont, while our Chamber helps us educate residents about what we have to offer…Many people don’t realize what’s in their own backyard, our downtown.”

Tammy Russell, daughter of the Bresters, who own L&L Gifts and Engraving.

Tammy Russell, daughter of the Bresters, who own L&L Gifts and Engraving.

Nancy Hosher and Sue Harr, owners of Nancy’s Boutique and The Studio, not only support one another; they share space on Main Street. Cooperatively they provide select women’s accessories and apparel and custom jewelry design and repair. While trunk shows and open houses for new merchandise generate interest and traffic, Harr and Hosher say they enthusiastically participate in Main Street Fremont promotional events throughout the year also. Two of those events—Christmas Express, where businesses host seminars and demonstrations for guests and in-store specials (Nov. 8-10), and Christmas Walk, a downtown parade, which attracts hundreds of potential shoppers to the area (Nov. 23)—are on the horizon.

Jenefer Backhaus, owner of In Bloom, a full-service flower shop and gift store on Main Street offering quality artificial arrangements for home and holiday, will also be taking part in these Main Street Fremont holiday events. Backhaus, who’s owned the store for four years, says she’d like to see even more new businesses open downtown to enhance the shopping experience and boost traffic.

Jenefer Backhaus, owner of In Bloom.

Jenefer Backhaus, owner of In Bloom.

Fremont’s Main Street businesses are also benefiting from area attractions and entities growing in popularity, says Jen Struebing, general manager of Holiday Inn Express, off Highway 77 in Fremont. Among them, Midland University, Fremont Area Medical Center, Fremont Splash Station water park, and Fremont State Recreation Area. Omaha attractions and events mean spillover business for the hotel as well. “Summer months are always our busiest, especially June with the College World Series. We offer the small-town hospitality with the convenience of a big city nearby.”

Many business owners feel there’s even more that should be done to boost downtown traffic and sales. Fremont native Meldene Cushman with Interiors Plus, a home interiors showroom on 6th Street just two blocks off Main Street, now in its 31st year, would like to see more storefront improvements being initiated. She cites the downtown business district of Sioux Falls, S.D., as a model for Fremont businesses to follow.

Another proposal: “Have businesses adjust their hours so they stay open later, and put a park or some type of attraction in to draw families or people traveling through,” says Bryson of Bryson’s Airboat Tours, which hosts team-building events, corporate outings, and private groups for rides via airboat down the Platte River.

Jen Struebing and Lisa Shipman of Holiday Inn Express.

Jen Struebing and Lisa Shipman of Holiday Inn Express.

Ron Tillery, executive director for the Fremont Area Chamber of Commerce, says a rebranding initiative launched by the chamber in 2012 will further enhance Fremont’s appeal to prospective homebuyers, business owners, and shoppers. The “Fremont, Nebraska Pathfinders” campaign promotes the community as “[a city] that’s transforming…a place to thrive…where opportunities are made.

“The campaign is already utilizing print and outdoor advertising, and we plan to roll out additional radio and TV ads in coming months to reinforce that general theme,” Tillery says. “In 2013, they’re run in regional markets, including Omaha.

“We want to promote Fremont as a great stand-alone community, close enough that residents can enjoy amenities and attractions in Metro Omaha, and well positioned for families and businesses,” Tillery adds.

To learn more about Fremont business community, visit pathtofremont.com and mainstreetfremont.org.