What a tremendous meeting this week, courtesy of our own Omaha Downtown Rotary Club Foundation Board. We had the opportunity to meet and hear about so many great organizations in our community, and the good that your donations to our Club Foundation are doing. The presentation by Tim McAlpin was the highlight of the day. Tim and his organization, Javelan, are making a real difference in the lives of veterans, their families, and the service dogs they are training to help veterans. We also had the privilege of meeting one of Javelan’s veteran beneficiaries, Stephanie and her dog Apollo. What an honor it is for our club to be able to help Javelan and so many other worthy causes. Following is a summary of the grants our Foundation made, in the focus areas of education, seniors, and veterans, at this week’s meeting:
 
Rotary Club of Council Bluffs: $3,333 ($1,000 from the Club, $2,333 from the Foundation) for the Fairmount Park Renovation Project – the centennial project for the Council Bluffs Rotary which we seeded 102 years ago! This is our final installment of three and concludes our gift of $10,000 total to Council Bluffs Rotary for the Fairmount Park Restoration Project.
 
Henry Doorly Zoo: $500 to assist with the Zoo’s STEM Ecosystem – that’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. The Zoo is creating a STEM collaborative to help our young people gain access and have success in STEM fields.
 
Partnership 4 Kids: $500 to fund Campus Tours for 144 seventh-graders at Metropolitan Community College South and 120 sixth-graders at Bellevue University in the coming school year. This effort supports the “Kindergarten to Careers” pathway.
 
Omaha Home for Boys: $1,000 to support Omaha Home for Boys Residential Care – Educational Curriculum with academic intervention. To address behavior, reduce truancy, improve GPA and increase graduation rates.
 
Assistance League of Omaha: $1,000 to support Operation School Bell in our public and parochial schools. Providing new clothing, shoes and boots, and a new book for K-8 children. These basic needs will be met in October of this year and JC Penneys and Payless Shoe Source provide a generous discount.
 
College of St. Mary: $1,000 to provide high-quality and practical instruction to teachers through the College’s Elementary Science Teachers Workshop series. Focusing on Physical and Life Science – AND- Physics and Engineering.
 
Literacy Center of the Midlands: $2,000 to provide more than 1,000 bus passes for able-bodied and disabled adult-learners to attend classes at the Literacy Center. 85% of adult learners live on less than $20,000 per year. And door-to-door transportation for disabled adults can be especially hard to come by. There are no other sources of funds for transportation of this kind.
 
Autism Action Partnership: $2,000 to support the Circle of Friends program – building peer interaction and relationships for children on the autism spectrum in 235 Omaha schools. Peers help autistic students navigate the school day, learn new skills and offer friendship and support.
 
ENCAP (Eastern Nebraska Community Action Partnership): $2,675 to purchase supplies and technology to re-launch the Mini-Pros Screen Printing Lab. The program will develop youth ages 14-18 to prepare them to secure and sustain employment; and understand how to create, market and sustain a small business. Each youth will create a personalized employment and education plan and each will have a coach to guide their transition from the program. All in a super fun t-shirt design environment.
 
Our own Rotary Honor Roll Scholarship Committee: $9,000 to fund Scholarships for six of our Rotary Honor Roll Students who have now graduated from high school and are on their way to college. This is our largest single award and sustains a program which is now in its 91st year.
 
MerryMakers: $1,000 to provide monthly professional musical entertainment for senior living at The Rehabilitation Center of Omaha and Immanuel Courtyard. At no cost to our seniors, The MerryMakers Association serves 141 senior living facilities throughout Nebraska and Iowa each month and achieves more than 50,000 direct contact hours with seniors each year.
 
InterCultural Senior Center: $4,000 to fund interpreters for the Center’s senior refugee communities, speaking Nepali, Karen, Karenni and other languages. Interpreters assist with daily activity, legal assistance and doctor’s visits, helping the seniors gain independence. This assistance cannot be found anywhere else. Our Foundation was particularly impressed with the strength of mission, community partners and modest budget of this organization serving primarily senior citizens.
 
Patriotic Productions: $1,000. We presented Bill Williams with a check on March 15th of this year. Patriotic Productions has arranged honor flights for veterans of World War II to Vietnam, and their latest project is the portable “Remembering Our Fallen Tribute Towers.”
 
HETRA (Heartland Equine Therapeutic Riding Academy): $500 to provide military veterans with a one-time experience to introduce them to equine assisted activities – a combination of physical activity and animal-assisted therapy. Working with horses focuses on action, not talking. Horses respond to nonverbal communication, allowing our vets to be in the moment. One vet said, “I leave the barn a little more calm, more relaxed and less anxious…ready to face the week ahead.”
 
Boy Scouts of America, Mid-America Council: $1,000 to assist with Flag Day – a free event for Veterans, their families and scouts, providing a continental breakfast, a flag retirement ceremony and keynote speakers. All in collaboration with the 55th Wing at Offutt and Valmont Industries.
 
Javelan, Inc: $2,750 ($2,500 from the Foundation and $250 from our Club’s People with Disabilities Committee) to acquire a service dog and training for a disabled veteran. Javelan serves primarily disabled vets, most with PTSD and brain injuries. Last year, they placed and trained 118 dogs. Veterans are applying at a rate of 6 to 8 per week for this much-needed service. The service is offered regardless of ability to pay, enabling vets to return to productive, meaningful independent living. If you have an interest in helping Javelan achieve the full cost of one team (which is $3,500), please see Steve McCollister.
 
Thanks again to Foundation Board President John Sullivan and the entire Foundation Board for a great presentation.
 
If you believe in the mission of Rotary and our Omaha Downtown Rotary Foundation to serve our seniors, veterans and our children through education, please consider including the Foundation in your estate or life insurance planning. We have a great start with nearly $100,000 in pledged bequests from current members. If you are interested, please contact Gary Perkins.
 
REMEMBER – NO CLUB MEETING AUGUST 9. See you at District Conference August 11-12 (see below for details)!
Bill
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