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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Wells Fargo, 24 Hours of Impact Volunteers to Help with Book Fair at Completely KIDS

Completely KIDS will host a book fair on Friday, July 22, with the help of volunteers from Wells Fargo and 24 Hours of Impact Omaha, at its building, 2566 St. Mary’s Ave. The event will take place from 9 to 11 a.m. and is open to the public.

Volunteers will staff stations with various games and crafts while handing out books as prizes for children who participate in the activities. The Completely KIDS Book Fair is a great way to get books into the hands of low-income children whose access to books is limited.

“Through donations of books by numerous community members and groups, the book fair will build our children’s libraries at home,” said Sarah Croft, Completely KIDS Community Resource Manager. “It’s a great way to give the kids that jumpstart they need as they prepare to head back to school.”

Research shows that nationally, on average, children in middle-income neighborhoods have 13 books per child. For low-income children that statistic drops drastically to one book for every 300 children. Lack of access to books hinders a child’s ability to learn to read, which can be tied to behavioral and social problems, as well as higher dropout rates in high school.

The book fair ties in with 24 Hours of Impact Omaha, an initiative that connects companies with local nonprofit organizations to give back as many hours as possible during a 24-hour period.

“The 24 Hours of Impact effort is a fantastic way to partner with community-minded businesses and advance our mission,” said Penny Parker, Completely KIDS Executive Director. “We’re pleased to work together, utilizing donations from others, to send books home with children.”

Completely KIDS ensures that Omaha metro families have access to the knowledge and skills necessary to break the cycle of poverty. Their mission is to educate and empower kids and families to create a safe, healthy, successful and connected community. In supporting this mission, Completely KIDS has assisted more than 2,000 children and families each year in overcoming barriers, as a result of poverty, to their success. To learn more, visit Completely KIDS website.

-population-we™ blog post by Becky Bohan Brown
© 2016 population-we, LLC 
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Friday, June 17, 2016

pop-we Highlights 2016 Men's College World Series Lineup

The 2016 College World Series (CWS) will be played in Omaha, NE at Ameritrade Park from June 18 through June 28 or 29 if necessary. There will be no repeat this year as defending champion Virginia did not make it out of their regional. Only three of the national seeds made it to Omaha including top seed Florida. Two first time teams make the trip as representatives from both coast make their debuts.

The first game Saturday has 41-20 Oklahoma State against 42-18-1 UC Santa Barbara. Oklahoma State made their way to Omaha by sweeping host South Carolina 5-1 and 3-1 in the super regional. UC Santa Barbara claimed their super regional by shocking second seed Louisville by sweeping 4-2 and 4-3.

The Oklahoma State Cowboys are led by Head Coach Josh Holliday. They had a 16-8 conference record in the Big 12 and their campus is in Stillwater, OK. Their top eight hitters are Conor Costello (.367), J.R. Davis (.353), Donnie Walton (.342), Garrett Benge (.296), Corey Hassel (.285), Jon Littell (.263), Andrew Ross (.235) and Dustin Williams (.227) with Williams leading the team with 14 home runs followed by Hassel and Collin Theroux with six each. The team batting average is .268 and they average 5.9 runs a game. Their top three starting pitchers are Thomas Hatch (8-2, 2.04), Jensen Elliott (9-2, 3.27) and Trey Cobb (4-7, 3.33) with Tyler Buffett being their main closer with nine saves. Their team ERA is 3.27 and they have given up 3.8 runs per game. In the 2016 MLB draft they had 11 players taken: Hatch (Cubs, 3rd round), Walton (Mariners, 5th), Remey Reed (Marlins, 6th), Garrett Williams (Giants, 7th), Buffett (Astros, 7th), Cobb (Cubs, 12th), Michael Mertz (Marlins, 14th), Davis (Cardinals, 15th), Theroux (Athletics, 32nd) Costello (Dodgers, 32nd), and Dustin Williams (Pirates, 36th). This is their 20th CWS appearance and won the title in 1959.

The UC Santa Barbara Gauchos are led by Head Coach Andrew Checketts. They had a 13-11 conference record in the Big West and their campus is in Santa Barbara, CA. Their top eight hitters are Sam Cohen (.370), Devon Gradford (.336), J.J Muno (.294), Clay Fisher (.289), Dempsey Grover (.277), Ryan Clark (.270), Austin Bush (.269) and Andrew Calica (.265) with Bush leading the team with 11 home runs followed by Muno with five. Their team batting average is .262 and they average 5.4 runs per game. Their top three starting pitchers are Shane Bieber (12-3, 2.84), Joe Record (6-5, 3.91) and Noah Davis (6-4, 4.70) with Kyle Nelson being their main closer with nine saves. Their team ERA is 3.79 and they give up 4.4 runs per game. In the 2016 MLB draft they had five players taken: Bieber (Indians, 4th round), Calica (Indians, 11th), James Carter (Dodgers, 21st), Trevor Bettencourt (Phillies, 25th), and Justin Kelly (Angels, 33rd). This is their first appearance in the CWS.

The second game Saturday has 50-12 third seed Miami (FL) against 44-21 Arizona. Miami battled Boston College in their super regional taking the first game 12-7, losing the second 5-3 before clinching with a 9-4 victory. Arizona surprised sixth seed Mississippi State by sweeping 1-0 and 6-5 to advance to Omaha.

The Miami Hurricanes are led by Head Coach Jim Morris. They had a 21-7 conference record in the ACC and their campus is in Miami, FL. Their top eight hitters are Brandon Lopez (.385), Zack Collins (.357), Johnny Ruiz (.346), Carl Chester (.344), Willie Abreu (.286), Edgar Michelangeli (.274), Randy Batista (.268) and Christopher Barr (.260) with Collins leading the team with 15 home runs followed by Abreu with 12. Their team batting average is .300 and they have averaged 7.0 runs per game. Their top three starting pitchers are Jesse Lepore (9-0, 2.20), Michael Mediavilla (11-1, 3.11) and Danny Garcia (9-4, 3.48) with Bryan Garcia being their main closer with 18 saves. Their team ERA is 3.60 and they have given up 4.1 runs per game. In the 2016 MLB draft they had seven players taken: Collins (White Sox, 1st round), Abreu (Rockies, 6th), Bryan Garcia (Tigers, 6th), Lopez (Twins, 10th), Danny Garcia (Mariners, 15th), Jacob Heyward (Giants, 18th), and Ruiz (Astros, 28th). This is their 25th CWS appearance and they won the title four times in 1982, 1985, 1999 and 2001.

The Arizona Wildcats are led by Head Coach Jay Johnson. They had a 16-14 conference record in the PAC 10 and their campus is in Tucson, AZ. Their top eight hitters are Zach Gibbons (.381), Cody Ramer (.352), Ryan Aguilar (.311), J.J. Matijevic (.292), Cesar Salazar (.290), Bobby Dalbec (.270), Alfonso Rivas (.267) and Louis Boyd (.259) with Aguilar leading the team with eight home runs followed by Jared Oliva with seven. Their team batting average is .292 while scoring 6.0 runs per game. Their top three starting pitchers are Nathan Bannister (11-2, 2.71), J.C. Cloney (6-4, 2.86) and Cameron Ming (3-2, 3.72) with Dalbec being their main closer with seven saves. Their team ERA is 3.42 and they give up 4.0 runs per game. In the 2016 MLB draft they had four players taken: Dalbec (Red Sox, 4th round), Gibbons (Angels, 17th), Kevin Ginkel (Diamondbacks, 22nd), and Bannister (Mariners, 18th). This is their 17th CWS appearance and they won the title four times in 1976, 1980, 1986 and 2012.

The first game Sunday has 46-18 fifth seed Texas Tech taking on 47-16 TCU. Texas Tech was challenged in their super regional by East Carolina who beat Tech 8-6 in the first game before Tech rebounded to take the next two 3-1 and 11-0. TCU had a deja vu super regional against fourth seeded Texas A&M the second consecutive year while winning 8-2 in the first game, losing 7-1 in the second and clinching 4-1 in the deciding third game.

The Texas Tech Red Raiders are led by Head Coach Tim Tadlock. They had a 19-5 conference record in the Big 12 and their campus is in Lubbock, TX. Their top eight hitters are Tanner Gardner (.382), Eric Gutierrez (.326), Cory Raley (.323), Stephen Smith (.318), Tyler Neslony (.314), Hunter Hargrove (.302), Michael Davis (.274) and Orlando Garcia (.262) with Gutierrez leading the team with 12 home runs followed by Smith and Neslony with 10 each. The team batting average is .294 while scoring 7.0 runs per game. Their top three starting pitchers are Davis Martin (9-1, 2.73), Steven Gingery (4-2, 3.25) and Ty Damron (4-2, 6.52) with Hayden Howard being their main closer with eight saves. Their team ERA is 4.16 and they gave up 4.8 runs per game. In the 2016 MLB draft they had ten players taken: Ryan Moseley (Orioles, 8th round), Neslony (Braves, 9th), Smith (Diamondbacks, 10th), Howard (Nationals, 12th), Damron (Athletics, 15th), Robert Dugger (Mariners, 18th), Gutierrez (Marlins, 20th), Chandler Eden (Dodgers, 25th), Dalton Brown (Brewers, 30th) and Zach Davis (Cubs, 32nd). This is their second CWS appearance and they have not won the championship.

The Texas Christian Horned Frogs are led by Head Coach Jim Schlossnagle. They had a 15-9 conference record in the Big 12 and their campus is in Fort Worth, TX. Their top eight hitters are Luken Baker (.379), Elliot Barzilli (.352), Dane Steinhagen (.310), Cam Warner (.306), Evan Skoug (.299), Ryan Merrill (.298), Austen Wade (.292) and Josh Watson (.281) with Watson leading the team with 11 home runs followed by Baker and Skoug with nine each. Their team batting average is .304 while scoring 7.1 runs per game. Their top three starting pitchers are Baker (3-1, 1.70), Brian Howard (9-2, 3.29) and Dalton Horton (8-0, 2.58) with Derbin Feltman being their main closer with eight saves. Their team ERA is 3.17 and they gave up 3.7 runs per game. In the 2016 MLB draft they had six players taken: Brian Trieglaff (Yankees, 13th round), Mitchell Traver (Reds, 17th), Howard (Astros, 17th), Rex Hill (Royals, 27th), Barzilli (Astros, 29th) and Preston Guillory (Marlins, 31st). This is their fourth CWS appearance and all since 2010 but they have not won a championship.

The second game Sunday has 52-14 top seed Florida taking on 49-16 Coastal Carolina. Florida also had a deja vu super regional facing Florida State again who won the first game 3-0 before the Gators shut them down 5-0 and 7-0. Coastal Carolina drove the Upset Bus to their super regional as they swept eighth seed LSU 11-8 and 4-3.

The Florida Gators are led by Head Coach Kevin O'Sullivan. They had a 19-10 conference record in the SEC and their campus is in Gainesville, FL. Their top eight hitters are Peter Alonso (.373), Dalton Guthrie (.309), Jonathan India (.303), J.J. Schwarz (.295), Jeremy Vasquez (.286), Deacon Liput (.272), Nelson Maldonado (.262) and Buddy Reed (.261) with Alonso leading the team with 13 home runs followed by Mike Rivera with nine. Their team batting average is .280 while scoring 6.1 runs per game. Their top three starting pitchers are Logan Shore (12-0, 2.24), Alex Faedo (13-2, 3.25) and A.J. Puk (2-3, 3.05) with Shaun Anderson being their main closer with 13 saves. Their team ERA is 2.93 and they have allowed 3.3 runs per game. In the 2016 MLB draft they had eight players taken: Puk (Athletics, 1st round), Dane Dunning (Nationals, 1st), Shore (Athletics, 2nd), Reed (Padres, 2nd), Alonso (Mets, 2nd), Anderson (Red Sox, 3rd), Scott Moss (Reds, 10th) and Kirby Snead (Blue Jays, 10th). This is their 10th CWS appearance and have not won the championship.

The Coastal Carolina Chanticleers are led by Head Coach Gary Gilmore. They had a 21-3 conference record in the Big South and their campus is in Conway, SC. Their top eight hitters are Connor Owings (.379), Zach Remillard (.347), G.K. Young (.345), Billy Cooke (.344), Seth Lancaster (.326), Michael Paez (.287), Anthony Marks (.278) and Tyler Chadwick (.261) with Remillard leading the team with 19 home runs followed by Young with 17. Their team batting average is .300 while scoring 7.5 runs per game. Their top three starting pitchers are Andrew Beckwith (12-1, 2.12), Alex Cunningham (9-3, 3.58) and Bobby Holmes (6-2, 4.44) with Mike Morrison being their main closer with 11 saves. Their team ERA is 3.48 and they give up 4.3 runs per game. In the 2016 MLB draft they had six players taken: Paez (Mets, 4th round), Remillard (White Sox, 10th), Morrison (White Sox, 27th), Cunningham (Tigers, 28th), Young (Padres, 31st) and Owings (Diamondbacks, 34th). This is their first CWS appearance.

This year the two first time teams give a couple Cinderella options for the fans to root for. Plus multiple teams are making milestone visits to Omaha: Miami (25), Oklahoma State (20) and Florida (10). The ball will provide the familiar sounds of the ping against the bat and the pop against the leather glove as crowds cheer. Time for baseball at its finest.

-population-we blog post by John Bohan 
© 2016 population-we, LLC
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Monday, June 6, 2016

OAB to Host 30th Anniversary Benefit for Nebraska Spina Bifida

Did you know Omaha Area Bikers (OAB) held Omaha’s very first poker run benefit at Musette Bar in Benson, Neb.,  some 30 years ago? Guess what--OAB is still at it today!

Founded in 1986, OAB is a fraternal membership group made up of good hearted men and women who love for motorcycles and fellowship have made OAB stewards in the Omaha metropolitan community. Through over the road fellowship and a live concert, OAB will raise money for kids and families living with spina bifida in Nebraska on Saturday, June 11.

OAB strives to help reduce the emotional, physical, and economic burdens encountered on a daily basis by Nebraska families with spina bifida. Besides raising money OAB also raises awareness for Nebraska children who have spina bifida. Spina bifida literally means "split spine" and is the most common birth defect in the US. Spina bifida causes incomplete development of the spinal cord or its coverings. Every day about eight babies are born in the US with spine bifida or similar birth defects of the brain or spine.

Motorcycle enthusiasts and concert goers are invited to OAB's 30th Anniversary Benefit to help raise money for this cause. On Saturday, June 11, OAB will celebrate its 30th Anniversary Motorcycle Poker Run and live Concert featuring Bo’Dell & The Relics. It will take place at VFW Post #2503, 8904 Military Ave., in Omaha. Poker run sign up before from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., poker run $20 per hand with chance to win $1,000; concert from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., concert only $5 admission.

Silent Auction items available day of event. Proceeds from this year's 30th Anniversary Poker Run and Concert Benefit will go entirely to the Nebraska Spina Bifida Inc. To date, OAB has raised more than $564.000. For the past 25 years OAB has raised money specifically for the local organization, Nebraska Spina Bifida, Inc. OAB sponsors four charity events benefiting Nebraska Spina Bifida a year including: Cajun Dinner, Wild Game Feed, Pancake Feed, oldest annual Motorcycle Poker Run in Omaha.

Monies raised will help Nebraska Spina Bifida families with help financing their medical needs, holding support groups and socials, giving camp scholarships, and advocating to enhance public awareness.

Can’t make this year’s benefit and still want to help? Donations accepted online--just look for a donate button at OAB's website. Connect with OAB on Facebook as well as check out pictures from past OAB Nebraska Spina Bifida fundraising events.

-population-we™ blog post by Becky Bohan Brown
© 2016 population-we, LLC 
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Monday, May 2, 2016

Pella, Iowa: Where the Dutch settled in the USA And the Tulips and History live on today

Pella, Iowa, has a lot of what I think about to keep me going during a cold, long winter—Tulips! Their return each year in our yard symbolizes so much to me about faith, hope, God’s, love, and my Dutch heritage.

In route to celebrate a special occasion for my dad’s side of the family in Oskaloosa, Iowa, we had the good fortune to pass through Pella about a week or so after their annual Tulip Festival while rows upon rows of vibrant tulips still lined the streets and park. A relative living in Oskaloosa told me on a visit that they always assure that tulips will be at their peak during the festival no matter what it takes. We strolled through the park taking in the beautiful hues of the tulips on what I recall as a quiet and peaceful viewing. We also admired the charm of the downtown business district where all buildings had Dutch architecture.

I think it was after I had been to Pella, Iowa, that I realized that I had more family roots in this area on my mom’s side of the family. I had grown up believing that my Dutch line in America began when my great-grandmother whose maiden name was Eva Van Eperen came to American as a girl with her parents in 1888.

As an adult, I read a hardbound family history book that helped me piece together the fact that I had a skip in my direct line coming to America as my great- great-great grandparents did not make the voyage to America. However, I had great-great-great-great grandparents along with some of their children who immigrated to America. Well, I know that is a lot of greats and I sure hope I get them right! In reading the book, I found out that some of the relatives had settled and farmed in the Pella, Iowa, area. I feel drawn to this place where my relatives made their mark on the land and communities.

I have not made it to any of the 80 annual Tulip Time Festivals during the first full weekend in May, but I almost have a sense that the 81st festivities to be held May 5th, 6th, and 7th in 2016 have come to me.

Custom Costumes of Pella, Iowa
I have seen the 2016 Queen and her court pictures in both traditional Dutch Costumes and in formal gowns. Recently, I received a copy of “Dutch Costumes-A Look into the Past.”

Written by Jacki Craver & Phyllis Zylstra and photographed by Desha Bruxvoot. I am learning that there is so much more to traditional Dutch attire than the lace cap on the top of the head and the carved wooden shoes adorning the feet. I had no idea that there were so many styles of Dutch clothing and caps that varied from region to region and also changed over the four centuries represented in the book. I cherish the vibrant photos of people modeling Dutch attire against scenic Dutch backdrops. The book shows the intricacies of the clothing as well as the histories of the areas. Their handiwork with meticulous detail has been worn by the honorary Dutch courts during the annual Tulip Festival. One can see more of their work at their facebook page Custom Costumes, a local business in Pella, Iowa.

From my correspondence with Phyllis, I know that authenticity is very important to them as they sew period clothing. They have patterns available for those wanting to sew Dutch attire. At times, they have special limited edition items such as the 2016 Tulip Time Royalty Clutches that are handcrafted with fabrics bearing floral motifs.

Jaarsma, a Bakery in Pella, Iowa
Through a Dutch sampler that I ordered for my family from Jaarsma, a bakery in Pella, Iowa, we were able to taste Holland inspired goodness. They rush their shipments out so the items arrived bakery fresh. I will not itemize every highlight, but everything was beyond what I can adequately describe delicious. I do not speak the tongue of my Dutch ancestors, but I am thinking the double a’s in Jaarsma must stand for something like A+ amazing. My mother said of their almond butter cake that it was one of the best pastries that she ever had. Then, there were the Dutch Letters…. There is a reason why they are famous!
Duth Letters from Jaarsma Bakery.

Kristi Jaarsma Balk, the 4th generation to own the bakery, explains how her bakery and town are true to Dutch tradition. She explained to me:

“My great grandfather, Harmon Jaarsma started the bakery in 1898. He was an immigrant from the province of Friesland in the Netherlands. He brought with him many recipes from the Netherlands, which we still use today. We carry out the traditions he began over 100 years ago. All of our products are made from scratch as always. We specialize in traditionally Dutch pastries and have added some American favorites over the years. We love to travel to the Netherlands to look for new recipes to try here. Our most recent visit, inspired us to make stroopwafles, which are waffle cookies with a syrupy center. Our most popular Dutch pastries would include, Dutch Letters, Banket, Almond Filled Butter Cookie (gevulde koek), St. Nick cookies (speculaas) and Dutch Apple Bread. We are famous for our Dutch Letters.”

She expressed how there is a lot of Dutch pride in the Pella community. On her families visits to the Netherlands they feel like they are at home because according to her that Pella looks very Dutch.

Thistles, a Flower Shop in Pella, Iowa 
I have a place in my heart for neighborhood and small town florists and I communicated with Thistles located in Pella, Iowa to learn about their services. In the city that celebrates blooms, they give personal attention to their arrangements.

The owner, Lois Vermeer shared with me:

“Thistles proudly serves the Pella area. We are family-owned and operated. We are committed to offering only the finest floral arrangements and gifts, backed by service that is friendly and prompt. Because all of our customers are important, our professional staff is dedicated to making your experience a pleasant one. That is why we always go the extra mile to make your floral gift perfect.

The Thistles difference is our flower preparation so flowers look their best, unique designs, and desire to say it with flowers for our customers.”
Vermeer Mill courtesy of Pella Historical Society.
The shop has a wide array of flowers for every occasion. A recent caption on Thistles social media page begins Tis the Season and invites people to procure fresh and silk tulips for all their tulip time preparations. The tulips pictured were the lovely two-toned red and white variety.

After vicariously watching people on reality family history shows transformation as they sought to get in touch with their roots by visiting historical museums, I would love to visit the Pella Historical Society and Museum someday. Of course, it is not the same as an in person guided tour, but I did enjoy the information and pictures on the web site and social media of the town and historical village.

I learned how the Vermeer Mill, the tallest functional mill in the USA, has parts from the Netherlands and was assembled in Pella by Dutch craftsman. Wind power still grinds wheat into flower to this day.

A fun addition to the village that is aimed for children of all ages is the Doll Exhibit and Puppet Theater. There are toy exhibits, coloring pages, puppets, and costumes.

I am intrigued by the miniature display of Dutch architecture, clothing, and daily life as I have collected miniatures for years.

From my correspondence with the Pella Historical Society, I know that they are dedicated to preserving and honoring the past. For those with Pella roots, they will do research for a fee. This society is instrumental at Tulip Time and activities throughout the year celebrating Dutch life.

By the time the tulip festival takes place, many of tulips that we awaited and enjoyed their short season will have lost all their petals. As mine were blooming, Pella’s were budding and will be at their Zenith when the community comes together for their fun-filled event.

-population-we™ blog post by Barb Bohan
© 2016 population-we, LLC 
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Monday, April 25, 2016

Scatter Joy Acres Offers Animal Assisted Therapy In The City

The rescued animals at Scatter Joy Acres (SJA) with the assistance of Joy Bartling make some of the best therapists. During her years at the ranch, Joy who has a certification in Animal Assisted Therapy has witnessed animals boosting moods and healing hearts and minds. Animal assisted therapy is a type of therapy that involves animals as a form of treatment. Since opening the refuge 10 years ago, she expressed, “There are countless stories and as I sit back and think about them at times I am amazed in the last ten years how many people I have been blessed to be part of their life struggles and how together with my animals we were and are overcoming.”

Ashely and Lou saying hello.
She has seen how children and others who have experienced trauma or struggles respond to the stories of the animals at Scatter Joy Acres. She explained, “As they learn to trust the animals they learn that the animals are no different than they are and they too overcome obstacles and together the companionship helps to work on the issues.”

Most of the animals that reside at SJA have experienced trauma or neglect according to Joy. She shared the story of one of their horses named Jack who is 100 percent blind.

“… (Before) he came to SJA he was stuck in a stall most of his day (because) his owner didn't think he could get around in the paddock due to being blind. Upon arriving at SJA Jack was put out in the paddock with our donkey's and mini horses (where) he found a pasture mate name Lucky and she took it upon herself to show Jack around the paddock. I also took some time and hung out with Jack leading him around, as I spend time with Jack he has taught me to close my eyes and use my hearing and smell. It is amazing to close your eyes and take in the world as Jack does. Our eyes are windows to the ugly that goes on in this world, but if we take time to stop and just listen to the small still voice, we are never led astray.”

One of Joy’s chores growing up on her family farm was milking the cows. There were times when she felt dejected and the cows took their heads and wrapped her in their neck. She realized what comfort animals can be at this time.

Joy believes that the animals can help do God’s work. She feels that animals are so trusting and want to be hugged and petted by us. She compares their type of love to the unconditional love that Jesus gives us. She respects people’s choice of religion and welcomes people of different creeds to SJA. She does not push her faith on others. She does share some Biblical stories sometimes relating to the animals

Participants in my questionnaire marveled at having an animal refuge in the middle of an urban area in Omaha, Neb. SJC has served many groups over the year and has hosted groups from across the United States. SJC has programs for all ages, all levels of school, youth groups, assisted living homes and people with disabilities or critical health problems. It is also available for parties and corporate events.

Volunteers Needed
Scatter Joy Acres appreciates those who volunteer. Giving time and energy is one of the best ways for youth and adults to experience nature and the animals. There are a variety of ways to be of service and possibly learn new skills.

Volunteer: Teela Mickels Founder/CEO of Compassion In Action Inc./R.A.W. D.A.W.G.S. Youth Corps Gang Prevention Program
Hugs are welcome.
Omaha’s first and only gang prevention program, R.A.W. D.A.W.G.S and leader Teela Mickels have volunteered to work the land and help with the animals. The first trip involved relocating the ranch from one location to another. Teela feels that the youth are learning to give back, which adds value to their lives and builds character. They are learning hard work and the importance of planning according to Teela. She added that most of them have not been exposed to birds, pigs, chickens, ducks, and goats. She said, “Therefore, their time with the animals was better than any zoo because they were able to touch them and ride the horses. For many of the boys, it was the very first time they had seen or touched animals. So, yes, it was very positive.”

The youth have also visited just to have fun being on the land and to play with and pet the animals.

Teela has also made trips to the ranch with her grandchildren. The big shaggy dog was beloved by them and one grandchild would not leave the dog’s side. Purring cats, peacocks and goats were highlights of the day. One grandson bonded with the goats and kept petting them. All of them loved the gentle horses as they came up to the fence for petting.

Teela is an ordained minister and has worked with incarcerated individuals and their families for 30 years. She believes that Scatter Joy Acres is a miracle and that Joy is an instrument in the hand of God. I have known Teela for at least 40 years. I credit Teela with my introduction to Joy and Scatter Joy Acres as she shared pictures with her friends on social media. I thank her so much for this blessing in my life! Regarding Joy, she feels that she is a person full of compassion despite her many obstacles. She shared,” Her love for people is genuine and overflows from her love for God and respect for His creatures. I have a long history with Joy of more than 25 years and I have witnessed the sacrifices, the struggles and the strength of her faith and character to press in and give to others much more than she ever received for herself…”

Volunteer: Carrie Pease, OMNI Behavioral Health
Carrie Pease enjoyed the one on one interaction that her group was able to have with the animals while they volunteer at the ranch. They gained from these exchanges with the animals while learning skills. She said, “We are able to learn how to take care of the animals and help with other maintenance on the farm. It helps our organization give back to the community and we love the animals.”

Volunteer: Amy Prochaska
Rescued farm animals at Scatter Joy Acres.
Amy Prochaska has visited the ranch to volunteer and to attend a party. She recalled, “I was able to spend time outdoors with my friends helping prepare the farm for opening. We were around a number of animals and it just felt good to feel like we were out of the city and to help a great cause. The animals are always amazing to be around.” She is touched by the measures that Joy takes in rescuing animals. In addition, she feels the ranch is a very welcoming place. She relates, “It is a place where anyone can come and feel at home. It gives people who may never have chances to get out of the city the opportunity to feel truly free. Plus Paladin is awesome.” As a member of a family who adopted a grown Great Pyrenees like Paladin, I can attest to how wonderful those gentle giants.

Community Outreach
Joy takes the animals from the ranch out into the community. Whether it is a local homeless shelter or a nursing home or other setting, the animals are touching lives of people who may not have an opportunity to visit the ranch in person.

Community Outreach: Sabra Mackey, Recreation Therapy Coordinator with Douglas County Health Center
Joy visits Douglas County Health Center once a month accompanied by one or more of the animals. She typically visits 30 to 60 people that evening. Sabra Mackey told me that sheltering formerly abused animals and turning them into healthy and happy animals is only a portion of the story. She sad, “The Farm is also a healing place for people.”

During Joy’s visits with the animals to the center, Sabra has witnessed the positive interactions with the residents. “People who don't smile normally - will have their faces light up. People who don't normally talk, will initiate conversation,” according to Sabra.

Sabra has seen Joy’s love in action. She revealed, “It is definitely Joy that makes Scatter Joy Acres special. She has so much love for people as well as animals and she brings that love to so many people through her ministry. “

Sabra believes that SJC is a worthy cause to support. She added, “If you are looking for a place to support with your time, talent or treasure. Scatter Joy Acres is a wonderful investment in people and animal's lives."

Volunteer / Community Outreach: Sheryl Gehrls CFCI Omaha Base Director/ Urban Plunge Christ For the City International
Sabrina and Cinnamon having a moment.
I witnessed the work of the many hands from Urban Plunge at the ranch through pictures on social media. Sheryl Gehrls informed me that she has known Joy for several years and meets with her regularly as Urban Plunge partners with Scatter Joy Acres. She said this partnership allows Urban Plunge volunteers to have experiences with animals in ways that may be new to them. In addition to working on the ranch, they assist Joy as they travel off site to petting zoos, live nativities, assisted living homes and parades. She said, “They learn that animals can truly be a means of real blessing and healing to many less fortunate than themselves. It's also unique to find a totally farm setting in the middle of a large urban area! They've been a great ministry partner for us, as we seek to explore ministry possibilities for our Plunge participants.”

Care of the Animals and Need for Donations
Sheltering and providing proper care for the llamas, pigs, horses, cows, goats, peacocks, dogs, chickens, and cats etc. costs on average from #3000 to $4000 a month. SCJ relies on donations to fed, vet, and rehabilitate the animals. Joy said that the ranch would like to add some of the following animals in the future: “, a kangaroo, zebra, reindeer and another camel for Balthazar to hang out with.”

Joy and the animals at SJC have been instruments of positive change. Reflecting on what she likes best about SJC, Joy said,” I love seeing people change, the moments of peace that goes through them. I love being an instrument through my own struggles in life and being able to help people see that they are worth a million bucks even thou life maybe throwing arrows at them.”

Scatter Joy Acres is a place that animals that were formerly neglected and hungry are given tender loving care because those involved recognize that animals are a gift.

(Editor's note: All photographs courtesy of Scatter Joy Acres).
-population-we™ blog post by Barb Bohan
© 2016 population-we, LLC 
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Monday, April 11, 2016

I Love Bernie

Most population-we™ readers probably already know this blog stays away from politics. With that being said I want to declare Bernie has stolen my heart. He's not the Bernie currently in the headlines; this Bernie is of the four-legged variety, as well as pint-sized in nature. He has debonair white whiskers and a white and tan spotted coat too match. Let's not forget about those eyes twinkling back at you! Bernie is also a vegetarian who especially likes celery stalks as a mid-afternoon treat. He always welcomes you with a hello hop and itty-bitter swagger too. So, this National Pet Day--I've decided to declare my love for our niece's guinea pig, Bernie. I love Bernie!

-population-we™ blog post by Becky Bohan Brown
© 2016 population-we, LLC 
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Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Most Read pop-we Headlines of 2015

Nebraska City Festival. Divecations. Book Reviews. The list of top stories for 2015 included its share of diverse subjects. But the story that perhaps struck our readers the most involved a Marian High School teacher who has catapulted herself to a world-renowned author and motivational speaker, MK Mueller. Here are the news stories of the year, as selected by population-we™(pop-we) readers.

1) Teacher Appreciation Week Post Honors Mary Kay Mueller
Worldwide this week May 4-8 is Teacher Appreciation Week. In honor of teachers past and present population-we™ (pop-we) dedicates this week's post to Marian High School teacher Ms. Mary Kay Mueller.

2) Nebraska City Welcomes AppleJack Festival and More
Harvest time in Nebraska City, NE is the time for the annual AppleJack Festival where apples will be on center stage from Sept. 18-20. The city where Arbor Day traces its history honors its heritage while providing all the elements for an old-fashioned family friendly celebration.

3) pop-we Reviews Works of Author Mitali Perkins
Culture is a way of life. I recall students parroting back this simple definition to my grade school teacher during Social Studies class. Though my young mind had limited understanding of the phrase, I have always enjoyed learning about different cultures.

4) Shark Week Footage of Shark Feed Dive
This spring, Brian and I celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary with a scuba diving divecation on a liveaboard in the Bahamas. Since our Blackbeard's shark feed dive, Shark Week is every day in our household. Why? Because we got to enjoy the majesty of these underwater creatures in their natural habitat.

5) pop-we Reviews Alyssa Auch's Inito
I am optimistic that imagination is alive and well in The Digital Age. I have seen it in the rising generations who have viewed computer screens and other media since they were babies. Of course, one of the most abundant sources of a vivid imagination is a fantasy writer. I am excited to share an interview with Alyssa Auch, a fantasy writer who majored in Marriage and Family Relations in college. She gives tips on tapping into our imaginations.

6) Giving Your Condolences via Social Media
With the advent of social media one would think it would be easier to give condolences. This was tested recently when I had two dear friends whose parents passed away. Unlike years passed it wasn't from a phone call that alerted me to the news but via a Facebook post and a text message. Therefore, I felt responding with my condolences in the same manner was appropriate.

7) Wedding Reception Missteps Worth Blogging About
Sitting with my grandfather at the back of our wedding reception I was apologizing for everything he witnessed at our reception. At the time he was 78, and he’d seen a lot of his grandkids get married. He announced to me with a grin, “This was probably the most memorable reception of a grandchild I’ve been too!” I was truly mortified.

8) pop-we Highlights 2015 Men's College World Series Lineup
The 2015 College World Series will be played in Omaha, NE at Ameritrade Park from June 13 through June 23 or 24 if necessary. There are numerous reasons to be especially excited this year. The field of eight that made it to Omaha is stacked with traditional powers that have been made the trip before. 2014 Champion Vanderbilt returns and will try to repeat. The talent level showcased will be high with four of the top ten players selected in the 2015 MLB draft including the top two. Finally the redesigned baseball has produced more home runs nationwide this season but the test will be to see how they play at Ameritrade Park which has kept hitters in check the previous two years.

9) It's Camping Divecation Time
Yes, you read the headline right--it’s time for a Camping Divecation! No problem you can pack your scuba gear in your sleep but what if you are planning a sleepover. In this case, it isn’t at a hotel but in the great outdoors. If you prepare well ahead of time--you can sit back and enjoy the great outdoors without any regrets. Because what goes better together than scuba diving and a camping trip? Read on for a list on what will make your next camping divecation a success.

10) Red Nose Day Comes to America
Red Nose Day has been a tradition in the UK that happens every two years where people do something funny at home, school or work for money. A telethon is held on BBC with comedy and entertainment to inspire watchers to give generously to the UK's number one fundraising event. After 30 years it is crossing the ocean as Red Nose Day USA when NBC will have a three hour special on May 21, 2015 at 8 p.m. Eastern\7 p.m. Central.

~From the pop-we archive and contributors Barb Bohan, Becky Bohan Brown and John Bohan.
© 2016 population-we, LLC 
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