insideWLC – Spring Edition, April 2014


Mary Lopez Welcomes You

I am so proud of the WLC’s accomplishments in the past year. We have members actively involved in every aspect of our charge to “Educate – Volunteer – Invest.” From the UWM’s Community Investment Review Teams (CIRT) and World Cafés to WLC’s unique educational and volunteer opportunities such as the Lunch and Learn series (see article inside), our members are being exposed to both the sources and solutions to the most compelling local issues exposed in United Way’s community assessment this past year. The results of this major collection of data and community input are helping United Way select priority areas which will be announced at the annual meeting on May 30, 2014.

After carefully working to align WLC’s planning with that of United Way, we moved forward with finalizing our own governance and future leadership plan. Annette Smith will assume the role of WLC Chair in July 2014. I have worked closely with Annette through the WLC Steering Committee and I am so inspired by her energy, leadership and community concern.

I’m also pleased to announce that Rodrigo and I have been selected to chair the United Way of the Midlands Annual Campaign for 2014. We are honored to have this opportunity to engage directly with people who believe strongly in United Way’s work to create valuable community-level change in a clear and measurable way. We count on and appreciate your support, and look forward to the important work ahead.

Thank you for your continued commitment to United Way and the WLC.



April 28, 2014 – Lunch & Learn, Mental Health: It Affects Everyone

May 30, 2014 – Annual Meeting

August 21, 2014 – Lunch & Learn, United Way’s New Priorities

November 20, 2014 – Lunch & Learn, Details Coming Soon



The April 28 event will focus on our community’s mental health landscape.

The WLC Lunch and Learn Series continues on Monday, April 28, as the group explores important topics for the metropolitan area. “Mental Health: It Affects Everyone” will be moderated by Rhonda Hawks, president of The Hawks Foundation. She was a driving force for the creation of Omaha’s Lasting Hope Recovery Center.

The panelists will include Carole Boye, CEO of Community Alliance who will discuss the local incidence of mental illness, the stigma attached to it and the impact on our community as a whole.

Jeff Wibel will provide an overview of services available locally, the gaps in those services and the barriers to connecting with help. Wibel is Assistant Divisional Social Service Director for The Salvation Army.

Mental health advocate Kristy Gustafson will discuss the local continuum of care from the perspective of a family member’s personal experiences.
The April 28 event will take place at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska, 1919 Aksarben Dr., from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. RSVPs will be taken through April 24 at 402-522-7910 or



A key element of United Way’s strength is the careful process of investing donor dollars in local programs that address our neighbors’ urgent needs. At the heart of this effort are community volunteers who donate their time to review program requests and make the tough funding decisions.

Of the 150 members on Community Investment Review Teams (CIRTs), 18 are members of the Women’s Leadership Council. This group includes Jessica Pate, a member of the United Way of the Midlands Board of Directors, who is also chair of the WLC’s Community Impact Committee. Pate is in her second year of service on the funding team.

“The CIRT process is perhaps the most substantive, engaging volunteer opportunity I have ever had the good fortune to enjoy,” said Pate. “Painting a clearer picture of an issue and how it is being addressed comes within reach.”

In February, Pate and the other volunteers began poring over 2013 data from the programs in United Way’s safety net of local services. Right now, they’re visiting each program site and interviewing those who provide direct service to individuals and families throughout Douglas, Sarpy and Pottawattamie counties.

“By contrasting similar programs, volunteers are provided a much deeper understanding of the issues. And through this experience, volunteers connect directly with the service providers and their clients, not just the agency CEOs.”

Pate and other CIRT members will deliver their funding recommendations for a review-and-vote by the full United Way of the Midlands board in early June. The new funding cycle will run from July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015.



Books bring the entire world to a child’s fingertips. Reading them with an engaged adult brings those books to life, and the benefits can last a lifetime.

On February 17, Presidents Day, 12 members of the United Way Women’s Leadership Council read to youngsters at the North and South chapters of the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Midlands.

It was a great opportunity to interact with children who face some difficult life challenges. Those situations often have a negative effect on a child’s academic achievement; the extra attention from WLC members and others helps to reinforce what they’re learning in school. The goal is to help them become strong readers and successful students. Boys and Girls Club leaders say reading-at-grade-level makes it less likely that a child will get involved in crime or violence in the future.

Members of the WLC also helped serve lunch to club members who had the day off from school.



Results are in, United Way Prepares to Set Priorities

United Way’s robust community assessment is now complete. Rooted in strategic planning, the project has given voice to more than 4,700 individuals across the three-county area through opportunities:

Community Assessment Graphic

This thorough process yielded important information on our community’s current needs, and viable solutions. United Way’s Board of Directors is using this rich data to set the organization’s priorities; they’ll be announced at the May 30 annual meeting.



UWM Call Center Sees Increase in Contacts

The 2-1-1 call center at United Way of the Midlands celebrated its eleventh anniversary of service to Nebraska and Southwest Iowa on February 11, 2014.

A free, confidential call to 2-1-1 provides our neighbors with valuable referrals to a wide variety of public and nonprofit programs.
Requests for help with housing and utility bills accounted for half of the calls received in the 2-1-1 call center during 2013, but this category also includes calls about emergency shelter and the search for other available housing.

Altogether last year, people contacted the 2-1-1 center in Omaha 146,127 times by phone and on the center’s Nebraska website, That’s a 16% increase over total contacts in 2012.

Iowans can find the information they need at