Big Returns From Omaha Gives

By: Jeff Sabin, John Chapman, Chase Moffitt Email
By: Jeff Sabin, John Chapman, Chase Moffitt Email
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Twenty-four hours of giving Wednesday helped raise more than $3 million for metro nonprofit organizations. The funds raised during Omaha Gives will be put to good use in many ways.

Preschool is one of several programs offered at the Kids Can Community Center at 49th and Q streets in Omaha. Whether it's before and after school programs, preschool or the all-day summer program, the center serves more than 600 children year-round.

“We do have a fee-based service, but some of our parents struggle with that so we want to make sure that no matter what a family situation is, that their children have consistent care,” says Kids Can CEO Robert Patterson.

Wednesday’s Omaha Gives event raised more than $1,700 for the center. “It really kind of helps us leverage our resources to be able to do more for our families then we were able to do before,” says Patterson.

At VODEC (Vocational Development Center) in Council Bluffs, intellectually disabled adults like Derek Taylor get a chance to work and be more independent. “I have a bunch of friends that work here, so coming here I talk to my friends and work so it's a good environment.” Eventually, Derek would like to get a job working in a comic book shop.

Many of us take it for granted that we can jump in our car and drive to work, but for clients of VODEC that can be a challenge in itself and that's why VODEC plans to use some of this donated money through Omaha Gives to help clients get back and forth to work. VODEC will also use some of the $1,400 raised to provide more social and leisure activities. “We're able to use that money to take it one step further to help with the quality of life,” says VODEC's Daryn Richardson.

More than 300 nonprofits in Douglas, Sarpy and Pottawattamie counties took part in the Omaha Gives online event. One of those was the New Hope Life Center for Women. From a tiny office, the staff is making changes in the lives of troubled women throughout the metro.

Christine Newton is a staff member and she arrived the hard way. "I spent time in and out of county jail and actually ended up in federal prison due to drugs, lost my family and my children. I lost it all."

It’s that experience that helps Christine now help others who are traveling down the same road. “When they hear where I've been and what I've gone through it really brings them a lot of hope and that what they need is a lot of hope that things can be different.”

Things are different for 500 women a year who come through the program. The success rate is very high. Former Douglas County Board member and OPS School Board member Kathleen McCallister is the president.

“It’s about giving women an opportunity who are coming out of drugs and alcohol addiction and offering them an opportunity to transition from a lifestyle of failure to a lifestyle of success, where they become clean and sober and productive members of the Omaha community.”

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