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Strength in Service - Omaha Serves

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Omaha has joined over 100 other U.S. cities as a city of service. Omaha Serves calls on citizens to volunteer their time and talents to make the city a vibrant community for all its inhabitants.

WE HAVE ALL READ about selfless people for whom volunteering is a way of life. They are mentors and soup kitchen volunteers. They raise money and awareness for African children orphaned by HIV. They sign up for Fun Runs and are the first to say yes when their workplace United Way captain asks for a donation. I wonder where they get the time and energy to champion so many worthwhile causes when I have difficulty chauffeuring kids to and from soccer practice and making sure my family has clean (and matching) socks each day.

But then I remember that service comes in all shapes and sizes and my ability to serve others varies with the stage of life in which I find myself. That’s the beauty of volunteerism. It’s flexible and adaptive to my changing schedule and interests, and involved as I want it to be. As a child, my family visited the elderly at area nursing homes. I call on the example my parents established when my children and I take Christmas treats to the Poor Clare and Servant of Mary nuns over our Christmas break.

We go just once a year, but the joy brought by handmade cards and cookies is significant. I was privileged to serve meals at the Siena-Francis House as a young adult. My schedule now doesn’t accommodate breaking away at dinner, but I can collect much needed coffee, condiments and other supplies so others can.

“Volunteerism doesn’t care about ‘societal trappings’ like educational level and bank account balances,” says Kirsten Case-Penrod, Chief Service Officer of the City of Omaha. “Everyone has something to give, and you don’t have to belong to an organization to do it.”

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