OPS Transition Project

VOCATIONAL SERVICE COMMITTEE –  Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for OPS Transition Project

Last Thursday, March 19th, a ribbon cutting ceremony was held at the OPS Transition Program at the PVA, 7612 Maple Street.  The event marked the completion of the OPS Transition Program District 5650 multi-club grant project.  New sensory/vocational educational materials and storage units were purchased for students with the grant.  Northwest Rotary, lead club, and participating clubs, Omaha Downtown Rotary and Suburban Rotary received the District 5650 multi-club grant to fund the project costing about $2,900.00.  Members of Northwest Rotary; Omaha Downtown Rotary; the OPS Transition Program Teacher Leader, Amber Tjaden and Learning Supervisor, Shana Frodyma attended the ribbon cutting.

The Transition Program at the PVA is one of 14 alternative programs in the Omaha Public Schools District. The Transition Program provides special services – vocational training, adapted physical education and assistive technology – for students, aged 18-21, with disabilities (special physical, mental, or learning needs).

KPTM-TV covered the event and included a story about the project on their 9:00 p.m. Thursday evening news program.  The OPS District Communications video journalist also covered the ribbon cutting ceremony for the school district.

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The first photo features the large metal storage unit purchased to secure the materials purchased.  Amber Tjaden and Ken Backman are pictured in the first picture. Amber is shown with the containers of materials stored in the cabinet in the second photo.  The cabinet and containers all have the Rotary logo displayed.  The third picture includes two OPS Transition students using some of the new educational materials being assisted by Amber and Downtown Rotarian, Steve Cramer.

Our Club Foundation

Last year, the Omaha Downtown Rotary Club Foundation (us!) awarded $15,250 as local grants to five not-for-profit organizations serving education, armed services veterans and senior citizens.
We’re proud to share these success stories with you today! Moreover, the Foundation board  encourages you to promote and circulate our 2015 grant application (click here).


In the fall of 2014, At Ease submitted a grant proposal to the Omaha Downtown Rotary Foundation requesting $900 to purchase and assemble homeless care kits to area homeless veterans.  In response to the proposal, the Omaha Rotary Foundation provided $2,000 to complete this project.  Care kits were assembled by veterans throughout the Veteran Leader Corps and Peer Support Program at Bellevue University.  Through these dollars At Ease was able to provide tangible support to over 100 veterans and family members.  It is our hope that through projects such as this we will be able to show these individuals that they are not forgotten.— Bev Carlson, Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska.



Madonna Workshops received $1000 for an educational outing and some needed equipment. From Jay Dunlap:
The 2014 Downtown Rotary Club Foundation Grant supports Madonna services for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In particular, the grant has helped us increase the number and frequency of community outings available to the adults we serve. These outings enhance their quality of life with activities such as cooking classes, arts and crafts activities, swimming, bowling, and the like. Combined with the daily work and the regular pay check that gives their lives a sense of dignity and purpose, these outings help the people we serve live as full and active members of the Omaha community.

Through the generosity of the Omaha Downtown Club Foundation, we have been able deliver education in tandem with treatment: we’ve reduced reliance on emergency rooms, heightened awareness of healthy lifestyles, and provided oral health awareness on a mass scale to Omaha children who would have gone without.  The Ronald McDonald Care Mobile treated 1,800 smiles in 2014, all possible with help and purposeful collaboration of Downtown Rotary. — Lindsey Rai Reasner, Executive Director, Ronald McDonald House Charities in Omaha.

We are doing good work!  And YOU can share in this process as an advocate or sponsor for a worthy cause or effort. Don’t be bashful. This is a Rotary family effort!
-John Sullivan, Club Foundation Board member 

Operation Hippocrates

The Operation Hippocrates team has an emergency patient coming up from Belize on March 3.  His name is Ronald Gentle and is 22 years old.  He will be undergoing open heart surgery, so will be here for about three weeks.  If you are interested in helping the committee during his stay, please contact Anna Cramer.

We found out that Ron speaks excellent English and enjoys movies from Titanic to Transformers!  If you have any DVDs you can share with him during his stay, please bring them to a meeting.

Rotary Youth Exchange

Rotary Youth Exchange is an opportunity of a lifetime for more than 8,000 students who participate each year.  In our District, we normally have between 10 to 30 inbound and outbound students each year.  But club participation in this program has been lacking. This is our chance to learn more about the program and decide how our club will proceed.  At our January 7, 2015 we had member Steve Gerdes, who has changed the District’s program over the past 10 plus years, and Curt Peters, who is taking over the District program as our speakers.

Youth Exchange Basics

What is involved with Rotary Youth Exchange?  An agreement is made between our district and another in a different country to exchange students for a 8-10 month period.  Students must be between 15 and 19 years old and ideally will stay with more than one family in the host country and attend school during the year.

Each fall, outbound students are selected to be involved via District interviews, but students must be sponsored by a local club.  The students leave the following August, and about that same time we receive our student from the other country.  The inbound student stays with a host family for 3 to 6 months, and then rotates to another family.  Host families do not have to be Rotarians, and the District asks the outbound family to help recruit host families.  Ideally, the host family should live in the school district where the student will be attending.

To be able to send or host a youth exchange student, a club needs to have a Youth Exchange Officer and a Club Counselor to support the inbound student during their stay, and to help with the interviews for outbound students. Additional committee members are also needed to help and to keep both the inbound and outbound students involved with the local Rotary club – ideally a exchange student should visit the club monthly. The monetary cost for an inbound student to a Rotary Club is minimal: a $100 stipend is paid monthly to the student while they are here, and we also pay for group conferences for the students.  Total cost is about $1500 per student.

Additional resources for more details:

Club Poll

How do you feel about Rotary Youth Exchange? Here’s what we asked and what we found out.

  1. Indicate your feelings or knowledge on Rotary Youth Exchange:
    • I know what RYE is and the commitments involved
    • RYE is a valuable program for Rotary
    • Our club should host at least 1 student each year
    • Cost for RYE is a good value
  2. Are you willing to be a host family for RYE?
  3. Are you willing to be on the RYE committee?
  4. Should our club be involved with Rotary Youth Exchange?

RYE Chart

Club Elections 2015

The Nominating Committee reported to the Board of Directors on December 10th regarding the slate of candidates for the Board and for the Club President Nominee, and the announcement made to the club on December 17th.

The candidates for the Board of Directors, to start July 1, 2015 thru June 30, 2018 are:

  • Leah Bauer
  • Trevor Hamilton
  • Ken Hurt
  • Anna Cramer

The candidate for President Nominee for the Rotary year 2017-2018 is Bill Harvey.

Sean Olson is confirmed as President the Rotary year 2015-2016, and John Ewing will be President for the Rotary Year 2016-2017.

Another item to be announced is an update to the club’s bylaws.  Most of the changes are updating the bylaws to the latest suggested wording from Rotary International, and updating the section on Membership to fit with the new materials released this fall.  If you are interested in reading the summary of changes, or just reviewing all the club documents, you can click on the preceding links. The Club Election will be February 4, 2015.  Unless there are additional candidates proposed by the general membership, this election by a quorum at this meeting will confirm the nominees to their posts and approve the changes to the bylaws.

Happy Holidays from the three Santas

Can you identify Santa’s helpers in the picture below?

Santas at Holiday Party

Most people probably don’t know that we have three club members that make regular appearances for that Old St. Nick when he can’t be there himself.

The others in the pictures are two students from our Adopt-a-School partner J.P. Lord and teachers Joanie Tekippe and Sarah Monzu.  Thank you all for being at our Holiday Party on December 17th.

Outland Trophy update

The Rotary Club of Omaha has been part of the Outland Trophy Award since 1997.  As such, we are invited to attend the Semi-Finalist Reception at DJ’s Dugout on Thursday, November 20th.  Cost is $15.  Contact the Mancusos to attend, 402-346-8003 or click here.

Since the Outland Trophy winners from 1946 to 1989 did not receive the authentic Outland Trophy, our club is changing that, one person at a time.  This year, the Rotary Club of Omaha will honor Ross Browner from Notre Dame (1976).  Mr. Browner has gone on to play for ten seasons in the NFL, playing mainly for the Cincinnati Bengels.  For more information, please see http://www.showofficeonline.com/PastOutlandAwardWinner.html.  Mr. Browner, along with the to-be-named Outland Trophy recipient for 2014, will be our speakers at our annual Outland Trophy Luncheon on January 14, 2015 (click here to register).

The Outland Trophy Dinner will be Thursday, Janurary 15, 2015 at the Downtown DoubleTree Hotel.  Tickets are available by calling 402-346-8003 or click here.


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