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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 
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1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the information on this wonderful organization! A hope for a brighter future is what we all deserve. I am impressed with the work being done by the staff and volunteers to provide that hope.