Nonprofits gain new supporters, volunteers find their ‘fit’

Melanie Phelan taking part in a business coaching day with RISE.

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Melanie Phelan has found it: her nonprofit fit. She was exploring and by narrowing down her search, found RISE. Melanie uses her talents to serve this nonprofit which aims to help incarcerated individuals transition to a productive life after release.

Givers in the Omaha/Council Bluffs metro have discovered SHARE Omaha is a tool to easily to find ways to make a difference.

SHARE Omaha works to connect those interested in giving back to the community with an opportunity that fits their skills and interests. Whether you're looking for ways to donate money, time or goods, SHARE Omaha makes it easy to “do good” across the Omaha metro.

Phelan sees her experience finding and serving RISE as life-changing.

"I chose to volunteer with RISE because I figured I could help with the business coaching. I had no idea how much meaning was behind this work and that I would be forever changed by it," Phelan said.

After one day of listening to personal stories and business pitches from individuals in the program, she decided she had found her fit and registered to volunteer again.

“A moment, near the end of the day, when the program participants got to see family after years of separation, was a moment I will never forget. You see, I lost my dad in October to a heart attack and I knew that he had volunteered in a prison ministry years ago, so he was on my mind that day. After a full day of hearing incredible business pitches by incarcerated men and feeling truly inspired, tears welled up when I watched a dad meet his daughter after ten years of being apart. In their moment of embrace, I was thinking of my dad and how I wished I could hug him. A volunteer next to me wept as she explained that she lost her dad when she was only six years old. These girls had just six and nine years of knowing their fathers. I got 27 years with my dad on this earth and in my life. I realized how blessed I am to have had all of those hugs over the years and THAT realization from my day with RISE is why I will continue to go back.” -Melanie Phelan

"Volunteers are priceless to our organization and to our program participants (Builders). Our volunteers not only provide guidance for professional scenarios our Builders will face upon reentering the community but offer a familiar face, mentorship and hope to help build a thriving community," said McKenzie Ring, Storyteller with RISE.

Phelan is not alone in her positive experience of volunteering with RISE. Other volunteers have said:

"The first time I volunteered for a RISE event, someone thanked me for treating them like a human. That was enough to bring me back a second time.”

"You see Builders who start their RISE journey with no self-confidence. No self-worth. Each time you volunteer and return to prison, you begin to see heads held a little bit higher. Genuine smiles. A sense of pride.”

"These individuals are filled with so much passion, creativity, and motivation - and RISE is able to bring that to the forefront.”

"The reason I continue to volunteer and be a huge supporter of RISE is that I've seen the impact the program has on incarcerated individuals and their families. It is a program that works, and it's making a huge difference in those who challenge themselves."

RISE has an upcoming Business Pitch Competition and is in need of volunteers at the Omaha Correctional Center. Click here to learn more about this opportunity and apply to volunteer.

There are thousands of ways to make a difference in the Omaha/Council Bluffs metro. Find your fit at

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RISE graduates celebrate their completion of the RISE Program and receiving a certificate from
University of Nebraska Omaha's School of Business in Job Readiness.