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Omaha Serves

Serving Omaha Seven Days at a Time

Over 1,500 volunteers spend spring break helping others.
Serving Omaha Seven Days at a Time
Published on April 5, 2011

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Few events spotlight Omaha volunteerism better than spring break at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. For the ninth consecutive year, UNO hosted a Seven Days of Service during its spring break. Over the previous eight years, Seven Days of Service contributed over $2 million in volunteer service hours to the betterment of Omaha. As Kathleen R. Oleson Lyons, Assistant Director of the Service-Learning Academy at UNO, pointed out, “Seven Days of Service continues to grow and be an amazing demonstration of collaboration and service between the greater metropolitan community and the university. Each year, the magnitude of accomplishments grow as we unite in building and strengthening our greater metropolitan community.” During this year’s spring break, UNO students endured rain, snow, and freezing winds to give back to Omaha. More than 1,500 students volunteered at 22 various project sites throughout metropolitan Omaha. Omaha Serves, along with other partners, joined the Seven Days of Service effort. UNO’s Seven Days of Service complements the Omaha Serves vision to call on Omaha citizens to do their part in making Omaha a better place to live, work, and play. Omaha Serves AmeriCorps VISTAs volunteered as team leaders for various sites, including HELP Adult Services, Lauritzen Garden, Stolley Prairie, YMCA and Together, Inc.  At HELP Adult Services, UNO Students worked to inventory and clean medical equipment and work in the medical equipment recycle drive. Nousha Sabet, Program Community Liaison for HELP Adult Services, said, “We were delighted to have 24 volunteers participate during the Seven Days of Service event. It became quickly evident that all of them came to us with a strong sense of mission and positive attitude.” UNO students volunteering at Together, Inc.Seven Days of Service, however, represents more than just one-week volunteerism. The students learn the importance of giving to the community. During lunch breaks, site representatives inform students how the volunteer work contributes to the mission of that particular organization.   For example, the students who volunteered at Together, Inc. learned that their work enabled people in need to perhaps have a meal that evening, or clothes to keep warm the next day. By educating students on the community impact of volunteerism, Seven Days of Service helps to recruit a new generation of volunteerism to Omaha.   Jessie Bowman, Omaha Serves director of the Lemonade Day initiative, observed some of this education firsthand at the YMCA site. “After seeing the students from UNO show up early on a Friday morning during spring break,” she noted, “I was already impressed.” The volunteers would learn that their service hours helped to provide “clothing, toys, and other items which alleviate the stress and poverty for others in that area of their life.”   According to Ms. Sabet of HELP Adult Services, “We know that what motivates a person to devote seven days of their life is different for each individual. Our hope is that we were able to accomplish everyone’s deeper personal mission during the Seven Days of Service.” Ms. Sabet also emphasized how one person’s personal mission of volunteering accomplishes so much for so many other people.   Thus, spring break brought forth a new generation continuing the tradition of volunteering to make our metropolitan area a better place to live, work and play.  
scarlettCraig Howell is an Omaha Serves AmeriCorps VISTAs volunteer and Director of Volunteer Boot Camp Initiative

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