A popular Millard park gets spruced up for spring, homes see restored plumbing, and a thrift shop gets the help of dozens of extra hands. It's just the start of the impact we'll see from ServeNebraska Week. The statewide event calls on every Nebraskan to make a positive difference in their community April 20-26.
"Volunteerism is a way of life in Nebraska," said ServeNebraska Commissioner Kevin Warneke. He sees people usually helping each other out without even thinking about it, but sometimes we need an extra push.
"You want someone to need you," Warneke tells WOWT. "ServeNebraska is asking. Religious organizations, schools, non-profits, your neighbors, they all need help. So here's the callout. Please get involved."
DECA students at Millard South will answer the call by spending hours picking up trash at Omaha's Walnut Grove Park during two days this week. People who frequent the park's trails were thrilled to hear their favorite park had help on the way. "I was thinking about calling a boy scout troop or calling one of the schools," walker Elizabeth Smith said, pointing out piles of trash in the pond.
"We're just gonna jump in," Millard South DECA Student Taylor Riedel tells us. "Make it better so it's not as dirty for kids."
Over at the Steier Group, employees will head to the Stephen Center's Thrift Shop on Friday. There's a good chance you'll catch the staff in jeans. Employees can pay a fee to go casual on Fridays, and the money goes to a metro-area non-profit. Company President Nic Prenger says that kind of active community involvement is part of what attracts employees to work there in the first place.
"What we do every single day is work with non-profits. We're going out and working with them and helping with fund raising," said Prenger. "We don't just want it to be part of our professional lives. We also think it's important for it to be part of our personal lives, so we've got a good group here. We like to come together and be able to help out."
Commissioner Warneke tells WOWT he's seen the impact of volunteers firsthand, calling them the lifeblood of non-profits. "Previously at the Ronald McDonald house we relied on volunteers just to get through the week. They helped us help the families that we served, and so it was a critical component of our daily operation."
He stresses the same level of service is needed daily in our neighborhoods as well, whether it's carrying a neighbor's groceries or mowing the lawn of an elderly friend.
If your business, family, or group has special plans to give back during ServeNebraska week, you can register your activity at www.serve.nebraska.gov. The state will track participation and impact across the state. The website also lists volunteer ambassadors by county so you can find a fitting volunteer opportunity.