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In 2020, metroMAGAZINE explored how the COVID-19 pandemic affected our local nonprofits’ operations and how they continued to serve the community despite unforeseeable demands on staff and resources. Now we look at how they are moving forward in 2021.

Although hope is rising that the end of the COVID-19 pandemic is coming, it's still not over. The last year has been emotionally and sometimes financially draining to nearly everyone, but the people of our community’s hospitals have been on the front lines the entire time. The impact for these healthcare heroes goes beyond managing direct care of COVID-19 patients, and the challenges have evolved along with the pandemic. However, innovation can be the brainchild of crisis, and the pandemic has presented other opportunities including the discovery of resiliency.

The COVID-19 pandemic finally, painfully enters 2021 with fresh hope as a vaccine for COVID-19 becomes more widely available, but the effects of the pandemic on area nonprofits still linger as they close in on a full year of serving the community in challenging circumstances including a growth in community needs, superhuman demands on staff, and a reduction in support.

As we enter the autumn months, the COVID-19 pandemic has persisted for more than half a year. Our local nonprofits continue to persist as well, staying connected to the community and providing services and enriching lives through new channels despite increased demands on staff and resources.

A new partnership between two groups with a commitment to philanthropy—SHARE Omaha and the Omaha Community Foundation—provides area supporters a convenient online source to find giving and volunteer opportunities, and makes it possible for each organization to focus on their strengths.

Kali Baker’s colleagues, friends and family reflect on her successful career with the Omaha Community Foundation and her commitment to bettering the community, but also remember their loved one as a remarkable individual.

The COVID-19 pandemic has continued through the summer of 2020. Challenged by diminished volunteer hours and reduced fundraising revenue due to postponed or canceled events and a troubled economy, area nonprofits are nevertheless finding ways to help some of our most vulnerable neighbors meet basic needs, extend a hand in a crisis, develop our youth for a lifetime of success, foster a better future for individuals and families experiencing or challenges, and enhance the community.

A century after opening in 1920 as a single house for “orphaned, neglected and wayward boys,” Omaha Home for Boys—long known in the community simply as OHB—now serves more than 1,300 youth, young adults, children and families every year. A continuum of services addresses basic needs and provides the skills and confidence clients need to lead independent, productive lives.

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Donna Kush launched her career in the corporate sector, but she’s always been active in the community. As Omaha Community Foundation’s new president and CEO, Kush brings both valuable professional experience and a unique perspective to the role.

Even in a pandemic, nonprofits continue to help the homeless and near-homeless, keep feeding the hungry, tirelessly advocate for and elevate children and families in poverty or crisis, and go on responding to emergencies and disasters.

MORE THAN EVER Southwest Iowa is a wonderful place to live, work and play. The communities in the region offer ample opportunities and attractions such as innovative educational initiatives; a thriving philanthropic community; a robust economy with tremendous support for businesses; and an appealing quality of life for citizens of all ages. As Donna Dostal, a resident of the area and President/CEO of the Pottawattamie County Community Foundation puts it: “It's the most amazing time to be living in Southwest Iowa.”

Siena Francis House's new emergency shelter addition provides up to 450 men and women a safe place to sleep and eliminates the overcrowding of years past. Not only does the new facility make it possible for the organization to serve its homeless guests with greater dignity, it provides space that enhances efforts to connect people with services that can get them back into housing.