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AmeriCorps members kick-start year at ServeNebraska conference

Serve NE Conference 2

To celebrate the beginning of the 2021-22 service year, College Possible Omaha’s AmeriCorps coaches attended the ServeNebraska AmeriCorps Kick-Off Conference Oct. 5, 2021. The conference was held at the Nebraska Innovation Campus in Lincoln, Nebraska.

College Possible service members had the opportunity to learn about various topics and connect with other AmeriCorps members from across the state. Aubrey Rawles, a high school senior coach, stated, “I was really impressed by the scope of AmeriCorps in Nebraska, there’s no end to what we can do for others. As diverse as our day-to-day responsibilities are, we’re all bound together by a common goal: service. At the conference, we fostered a sense of community through our shared mission that I will take with me through my term of service and beyond.”

This conference was a great opportunity for all streams of service to get together to network and get to know each other. We are so thankful we could do this in person and learn together,” said Cathleen Plager, executive director of ServeNebraska.

The day began with an opening speech from Senator Patty Pansing Brooks, who was elected to the Nebraska legislature in 2014 and reelected in 2018. She described her career serving others through the YWCA, the United Way of Lancaster County and the Lincoln School System. Her opening remarks set the tone on opportunities AmeriCorps members have for continuously serving their communities.

The conference not only provides high quality professional development and training, but it also gives AmeriCorps members a chance to meet and network with other members from across the state. It’s powerful to see the impact AmeriCorps service has in Nebraska all in one room, and to learn about all the incredible projects and organizations AmeriCorps members support. It’s so much bigger than what we do in our own community,” said Katie Cunningham, College Possible’s senior program director.

Kam Bany, a tech-connected college coach, stated that his favorite part of the conference was the age-diverse turnout. “It was motivating to see how committed people from different age groups and backgrounds were willing and eager to serve their fellow citizens with enthusiasm,” he said.

Service members had opportunities to split up and attend workshops focusing on a variety of topics such as finding your core values and connections, managing life outside of AmeriCorps, supporting families living in poverty, and more.

AmeriCorps members also learned from an AmeriCorps alumni panel, consisting of Yen Huynh, who served for Partnership 4 Kids in Omaha, Nebraska, and Craig Howell, serving for AmeriCorps VISTA in Omaha. The day ended with a talk by Julie Burney, a communication specialist, humorist and author.

The annual ServeNebraska conference is held to bring AmeriCorps together and kick-start the year. It is a foundational event that teaches service members more about their commitment and inspires them to be lifelong service members in their communities.

At ServeNebraska, we believe strongly in service and the tremendous work AmeriCorps members do across the state. We are excited for our new year and to work with local organizations to serve our community,” said Michelle Zinke, ServeNebraska’s program officer.

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