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Monday, October 31, 2011

pop-we Dinner Club Reviews Shucks Fish House Oyster Bar

169th Wright Plaza Location
Aw Shucks!! This month population-we™ Dinner Club member Michelle decided we should cast off at Shucks, which has two locations around Omaha: 16901 Wright Plaza and 1218 South 119th St.

Shucks is owned by Absolutely Fresh Seafood, so it is not only a restaurant but also a sea food market. We went to the 16901 Wright Plaza location. It is a small eatery but they sure do pack the people in. You notice when you walk in a long bar along the wall with a huge seafood display. Other fishing decor is also scattered throughout the restaurant. Since 1979, Absolutely Fresh Seafood Market has been trucking and flying in multiple shipments of fresh fish every day of the week.

Oyster platter
I ordered up their Louisiana gumbo to which I was disappointed. The gumbo was good but even for $4.25 it was extremely small...again tasted good but very small. I also ordered a crab cake, which was served with french fries. The breading on the crab cake is not over powering so you can taste the crab, it was well prepared and tasted great. In the past I have tried oysters and did not enjoy them at all. A few members talked me into giving them another try with a little Tabasco and lemon. I was skeptical but I have to say they were actually quite good.

After compiling the surveys from the other foodies the pop-we Dinner Club gives Shucks: 4.08 star average on a scale of 1-5.

Atmosphere/Decor – 3.8

Cleanliness – 4

Wait Staff – 4.4

Menu – 4.2

Food Presentation – 4.1

Food Portions – 4

Food Taste – 4.6

Cost (was the cost worth meal?) – 3.9

Noise Level – 3.5

Overall Experience – 4.3

Fellow population-we™ readers, if you’ve been to the Shucks leave us a comment and tell us what you thought?

Want to do this yourself? To review how to start your own dinner club, visit our January post about doing just that. Remember it is a template; tweak it to fit you and your friends’ tastes. pop-we Dinner Club: good food…good friends…good times.
Shucks Fish House and Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon
- population-we blog post by Brian Brown
© 2011 population-we, LLC 
If you enjoyed this post, then make sure to leave a comment or 'Like' it.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Giving Back Hope in the North Omaha Community with Help from the Hope Center for Kids

Some say location is everything -- enter the Hope Center for Kids -- located at 2200 N. 20th Street in Omaha, NE. For 11 years, the Hope Center for Kids has been fulfilling its mission by changing the tide of "hopelessness" for Omaha’s inner-city youth. For these at-risk youth, the center offers a safe place after school, a daily hot meal program and a weekend skate adventure. Most importantly, staff and volunteers also provide educational support, mentoring, social skills training, Bible studies, job creation and economic development.

Whether it’s helping pack weekend “To-Go Totes” or staffing a hole at the annual golf tournament, the Hope Center for Kids could not function without its volunteers.

“We have community members who volunteer more than 300 hours a week to help fight our daily battle to end the life condition of ‘hopelessness’ in the North Omaha community,” said Ty Schenzel, executive director for Hope Center for Kids.

Breaking the cycle of “hopelessness” and providing refuge for Omaha’s inner-city youth and children through faith, education, employment and collaboration are the mission of the center, which has been in business for over a decade.

Stats from Hope Center for Kids:

• Provides services to more than 1,000 youth ages five-19 years old;

• Hope Skate offers a safe, fun place for 400 kids every weekend;

• Serves more than 30,000 hot meals to children;

• 92 percent of high school seniors graduated compared to the statewide average of 47 percent for African-American youth; and

• 69 percent of high school graduates went on to college.

“We also have made huge strides in collaborating with area schools, similar after-school organizations and various mentoring programs to become an even more prominent presence in the lives of our youth and children,” said Deb Johnson, program director for Hope.

The University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) Service-Learning Academy along with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Mutual of Omaha Foundation have partnered with Hope. Kids and teens from the center now volunteer along side UNO students for service projects in the community.

Hope Skate offers a safe, fun place to skate
Besides helping with the Hope Center’s curriculum, UNO has partnered with the Hope Center on different service projects. “We’ve used their facility, done a couple different service events while partnering with their students for volunteer projects like the MLK Day one year and clean up during our fall Three Days of Service, ” said Dr. Kathe Oleson Lyons, assistant director of UNO's Service Learning Academy.

In 2008, the “Hearts for Hope Guild” was formed to be a volunteer arm for Hope. It focuses on assisting Hope with special events and increasing awareness of the center’s mission.

“Our Guild members jumped in with both feet and got right to work,” said Leah Parodi, president of Hope Center for Kids Guild.

All of these programs and initiatives below are volunteered supported.

  • Friday “snack pack” program
    Each Friday kids are sent home with a “To-Go Tote” filled with nonperishable food items to nourish the kids and their families throughout the weekend.

  • Hope Learning Academy
    Children and youth receive homework help and participate in educational enrichment activities after school and during the summer months to provide them with support with the goal of high school graduation.

  • Annual Hope Center for Kids' Golf Tournament
    Funds raised during this annual tournament help offset program costs. 

  • Summer Kids Across America Camp 
    Last summer 43 kids got to experience camp for the first time.

  • Annual “Hip Hope Fest”
    A night of Hip Hop music & entertainment with proceeds going towards Hope.

“Thanks to the Guild's involvement! They found many businesses to sponsor, individuals to participate and others to help volunteer at this year’s golf tournament,” said Brenda Block, development director for Hope. “The Guild's commitment to the event was one of the very reasons it was our highest grossing golf event in Hope history.”

Anyone interested in being a part of the Guild or other volunteer opportunities should contact Hope Center for Kids at or call 402.341.HOPE (extension 1003).

For upcoming events or for donations, visit 
- population-we blog post by Becky Bohan Brown
© 2011 population-we, LLC 
If you enjoyed this post, then make sure to leave a comment or 'Like' it.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Halloween Haunts in the Metro that Give Back More Than a Fright

When one thinks of Halloween they usually don't equate it to giving. In the Omaha and Lincoln metropolitan area many attractions this year have partnered with local charities. Some Halloween haunts are collecting items for their local food banks and others are donating a portion of their proceeds to a designated charity. Some area nonprofits are even getting into the Halloween spirit by offering spooky attractions. Still looking for that perfect pumpkin? A few area churches are also selling pumpkins this year for what organizers are calling "Pumpkins for a Cause." Proceeds go to missionary work and operating costs for these area churches.

Join area nonprofits and churches for "Pumpkins for a Cause."  
Here's a list of what a couple population-we™ staffers are calling Halloween with a Heart:

Now through Halloween (Oct. 31)

- Big Red Barn and Pumpkin Farm, 132nd Street and Bennington Road, Bennington, NE
Pumpkin patch, pony rides, face-painting, music, hayrides, petting zoo, apple cider and food. 
Details: Admission $7 per person. Children ages 2 and younger are free. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Oct. 31. Bring a canned food item to donate to the Omaha Food Bank and receive 50 cents off admission. 
More info: 402.238.2696.

- Cobweb Castle: The Omaha Children's Museum, 500 S. 20th St., Omaha, NE 
Cobweb Castle,  Omaha Children's Museum G-Rated Haunted House, offers a maze of the Ghostly Graveyard, creepy trees in the Find-Your-Way Forest and the castle's Vampire's Batty Bedroom, Pirates Parlor, Kooky Kitchen and Casper's Closet. 
Details: Admission is free with regular museum admission. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays; and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays.
More info:

- Mystery Manor, 716 N 18th St., Omaha, NE
Mystery Manor, Omaha's oldest haunted house. Built in 1887, it has been widely rumored that the ghost of William Hall still wanders these halls every October waiting for strangers to come so that he might resume his terrible vengeance upon any soul who enters Hall Manor. To this day, the murder of John Martin remains a mystery – hence the name "Mystery Manor." Supports Matt's Dream Foundation.
Details: General admission is $10 and Fast Manor Pass is $20. Dates and times vary check website.
More info:

- Nightmare on Q Street: 
Fun-Plex Amusement Park, 7003 Q St., Omaha, NE
A Nightmare on Q Street, is part of the Fun-Plex Amusement Park, and is Omaha's newest professional haunted house and scream park. The amusement park has been transformed to allow for a true haunted, hectic and insidious event. Twisted encounters and thrills of a lifetime will meet you as demons and horror movie villains scare you throughout the park as you hop from ride to ride. Proud supporters of the Ronald McDonald House.
Details: Admission is $10. Open dusk until 10:30 p.m./12:30 p.m. check website for dates.
More info:

- Pumpkin Patch on the Hill: Elkhorn Hills United Methodist Church, 20227 Veterans Drive, Elkhorn, NE
Select a pumpkin to buy from the giant  jack-o'-lantern carved in the side of the hill.
Details: Free admission. 10 a.m. until dusk through Oct. 31. 
More info: 402. 289.4764.

Oct. 21
- A Sudden Chill Ghost Ballads Tour: Nebraska History Museum, 15th and P Streets, Lincoln, NE 
During this night's tour, Judy Cook of Laurel, Md., sings ghost ballads to patrons. 
Details: Admission is free. Donations of nonperishable food items are welcome for the Lincoln Food Bank. 7 p.m.
More info: or 402.471.4754.

Oct. 23, 24 and 30
- Haunted Safari: Wildlife Safari, Exit 426 off Interstate 80 (just past the Platte River)
Haunted hike, fireside dinner and spooky ride. Wear costumes, but be advised to dress warm. 
Details: $15 a person and children must be accompanied by an adult. 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
More info: Reservations required at 402.738.2092.

Oct. 24
- Annual Growl-O-Ween: Three Dog Bakery, Village Pointe Shopping Center, 17151 Davenport St., Omaha, NE
Fury trick-or-treaters are welcome. Costumed dogs and their human companions can join in on games and a costume contest. During the evening, canines and their companions are also invited to trick-or-treat at participating Village Pointe stores. Each store will be identified with signs on the door. The Nebraska Humane Society PAW Mobile will be present. 
Details:  A $10 donation per dog will benefit the Nebraska Humane Society. 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
More info: R.S.V.P. by calling 402.614.3647. 

- Annual Safe Night Out - Everyday Hero Costume Contest: Northeast Police Precinct, 30th and Taylor Streets, Omaha, NE 
Come as an everyday hero. It's someone who helps people as part of his or her job: a police officer, a doctor, a teacher, a firefighter or a construction worker. There will be will be a SWAT truck, a firetruck, Campus Crime Stoppers, candy and face-painting available.
Details: The costume party is free and open to the public from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.  

-Spook-O-Rama: Papillion-La Vista High School DECA Club, Tara Hills Park, Papillion, NE
Families are invited to take a haunted walk through the Tara Hills Park where areas along the path will be decorated as childhood fears and nightmares. 
Details: Admission: $5. 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. All proceeds benefit Heartland Family Services.

Oct. 25
- Spooktacular: Henry Doorly Zoo, 3701 S. 10th St., Omaha, NE
Trick-or-treating, spooky train ride on the Terror Train and 1 p.m. costume parade. 
Details: Free with zoo admission. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
More info:

- A Children's Ministry - Not-so-scary Halloween: St. Luke United Methodist Church, 120th Street and West Dodge Road, Omaha, NE
Open house with games, prizes and food are planned.
Details: Good will donations. 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

- Annual Enchanted Forest: Hitchcock Nature Center, 27792 Ski Hill Loop, Honey Creek, Iowa.
Costumes welcome. Meet one of your favorite “Alice in Wonderland” characters in the forest. After the hike, visitors can enjoy refreshments, apple bobbing, pumpkin painting and carving (while supplies last). 
Details: For admission, meet at the Trailhead, near the Loess Hills Lodge. All ages welcome. Admission: $5 per family. 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
More info: call Tina Popson at 712.545.3283.

Oct. 26-30
- Boo at the Zoo: Lincoln Children's Zoo, 1222 S. 27th St., Lincoln, NE 
Annual fundraiser for the zoo, offers kid-friendly trick-or-treating.
Details: Admission is $6 (free for children under 2); $3 extra if you wish to collect treats and $2 for a train ride. 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
More info: Buy tickets in at advance at or 402.475.6741.

Oct. 29
- Family-Friendly Halloween Party: UNO Campus Recreation, Health, Physical Education and Recreation (HPER) Building on the UNO campus, 6001 Dodge Streets, Omaha, NE
There will be a haunted house, carnival games, candy, prizes and much more! Activities are aimed for children ages 12 and younger. Also, attendees can register to win one of four children’s costumes provided by
Details: The party is open to all ages and is free for everyone to attend. 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

Oct. 31
- 2011 Halloween Safe Night and Fall Festival: Papillion-La Vista South High School, 10799 Nebraska 370, Papillion, NE
The event is sponsored by local organizations that want to insure that kids have a safe environment to participate in Halloween activities. Children and families can partake in games, bounce houses, a costume contest and classroom-to-classroom trick-or-treating. Kids will have the opportunity to win prizes, refreshments, candy and more.  
Details: Free and open to the public with a canned food or nonperishable food donation. 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. R.S.V.P. is not required except for the costume contest. Pre-registration for that begins at 6 p.m.
More info: 402.597.2041.

*If we missed your organization we apologize. population-we™ staffers plan to make this an annual list, contact either of the Bloggers below this time next year.

Mystery Manor partners with Matt's Dream to fight against Of Age Drinking and Driving.

So, this Halloween pint size ghouls and goblins wont be the only one's receiving gifts this Halloween season. The gift of giving has infiltrated this hauntingly fun time of the year, which is definitely population-we™ news worth reporting about. Whether you're looking for that perfect pumpkin to carve, a place for date night or to take the kids--why not patronize one of these "Halloween with a Heart" haunts.
- population-we blog post by *Becky Bohan Brown and *Brian Brown 
© 2011 population-we, LLC 
If you enjoyed this post, then make sure to leave a comment or 'Like' it.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Takes Time to Reflect on the 150th Anniversary of U.S. Civil War

Our nation went to war against itself 150 years ago. Many in the South felt they could no longer tolerate policies enacted by the federal government they perceived to violate their rights as states protected in the Constitution. Many in the North felt the South had been acting like a spoiled child that only asked for more.  Many of the federal policies enacted were put in place as a compromise, meant to keep a balance between the slave holding South and the free North. Everything came to a head with the Presidential Election of 1860.  Several Southern states followed through on their promise to leave the Union if Abraham Lincoln was elected and war shortly followed.

Civil War Map courtesy of
The United States has cautiously approached the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War. Several newspapers and websites have created special Civil War sections. Federal and state governments have struggled with how to remember the Civil War.  The specter of slavery and racism casts a shadow that is still felt today. In this age of political correctness some are afraid to speak about the war for fear of offending another’s sensitivities. Others state slavery had nothing to do with the war.  Having the extreme opposites in opinion dictate to the majority can lead to trouble. 

The reality is that the American Civil War should be remembered for what it was. Next to the American Revolution, it is the most important event in our history. Before the war many Americans saw themselves as citizens of states first, especially in the South. The war eradicated slavery, helped open the country to more industrialization and transportation with the growth of railroads and helped unite people into being Americans first. Six future presidents served with Union armies during the Civil War. The American Civil War also gave us our greatest president, Abraham Lincoln.

It is important to remember the war and the impact it had on our nation. Thousands of books have been written and numerous websites are dedicated to the subject if you don’t want to leave the comforts of home.  For those that enjoy travel, there are museums and battlefields across the country. Those opportunities are closer than you think if you live in Nebraska. Battlefields can be experienced as close as Kansas and Missouri. Museums have or will have sections dedicated to the war and its impact. Across the river in Council Bluffs, Iowa, is the Dodge House, former home of Grenville Dodge. Dodge is most famous for his work with the railroads. He served in the in what was known as the Western Theater of the Civil War. The Durham Museum in Omaha had an Abraham Lincoln collection last winter.

When you break everything down, the people, the decisions they made and the impact they had on our nation are fascinating. Abraham Lincoln became our greatest president yet for was born in poverty. He worked hard to improve himself, learned from his mistakes and treated people fairly. He also suffered from depression throughout his life, saw two sons die and hundreds of thousands were killed as a direct result of his election.  Robert E. Lee was the commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia from 1862-1865. History remembers him as one of America’s greatest battlefield generals. He was a member of one of the first families of Virginia. His father accumulated a crushing debt and forced Robert and his family out of their plantation home. Both his mother and wife were sickly people. He loved cats. Everyday people are perhaps the most fascinating. What compelled a poor cotton farmer from Georgia to join the fight for slavery and States rights?  Why would Ely Parker, a member of the Seneca Tribe, choose to serve with the Union Army and how did he come to play a role at the Confederate surrender at Appomattox?  It is the people, the decisions they made and the impact they had on our country that make remembering the Civil War so important.  Please take the time to learn a little about Civil War during the 150th Anniversary.
– population-we™ blog post by Ron Wiley
© 2011 population-we, LLC 

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Monday, October 3, 2011

Buy a 'Pottery of Hope' for Escuela de Sordo in Nicaragua This Sunday

Shop for a cause this Sunday, Oct. 9th! Pick up some one-of-a-kind pieces of pottery and give impoverished deaf children from a third world country a chance at learning. Two professors from the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) are leading this America to Americas humanitarian effort.

Escuela de Sordos kids
Drs. Julie Delkamiller and Ann Coyne from UNO, manage a small school for deaf children in Leon, Nicaragua, called Escuela de Sordos. Outside the duo’s regular UNO activities and teaching obligations they both are volunteering their time at a school in another hemisphere. In order to fund this endeavor, they purchase original, hand-made, world-renowned Nicaraguan pottery and crafts from a local artist while in Nicaragua and bring them back to Omaha, Neb.

"The sale of these items then provides much needed funds to run the school and purchase teaching tools," said Dr. Delkamille from UNO's Department of Special Education.

Though the Republic of Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America it is among one of the poorest. According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), 48 percent of the population in Nicaragua live below the poverty line and 79.9 percent of the population live with less than $2 per day.

It comes as no surprise that the living conditions are obstacles of learning but there is even more to the story, according to Dr. Delkamiller, "Largely due to unsanitary conditions in Nicaragua, the rate of deafness is much higher there than in the United States. With a new Nicaraguan Sign Language that is less than 30 years old, very minimal teacher training and limited materials, education for deaf/hard of hearing children in Nicaragua continues to be barely adequate."

population-we™ staffers proudly supports this humanitarian effort and encourages those who can to buy a "Pottery of Hope." Sale items will include pottery pieces, small size for $12 and larger pieces for $45, as well as jewelry and wooden puzzle boxes.

Samples of pottery that will be for sale
"We cannot trust (or afford) the shipping so when we make a trip, we always bring back whatever pottery we can fit," Dr. Delkamiller said. "Please join us for our fundraiser to benefit the Escuela de Sordos in Nicaragua."

Event Details:

"So, please take a few minutes to stop by and check out the beautiful pottery. Profits from every purchase go directly to the school," Dr. Delkamiller said. "Many pieces are available, so please feel free to invite your friends!"

Sale questions? Contact Dr. Delkamiller by email at

"We hope to see you on Sunday, October 9th," Dr. Delkamiller said.
- population-we blog post by Becky Bohan Brown 
© 2011 population-we, LLC 
If you enjoyed this post, then make sure to leave a comment or 'Like' it.