Heartland United Way campaign kicks off with Tom Osborne

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Heartland United Way campaign kicks off with Tom Osborne
By Kelli Rollin
Oct 20, 2017 Updated Oct 21, 2017   (0)
The Heartland United Way kicked off its campaign as the first event to be held in the new Bosselman Conference Center on South Locust. The keynote speaker for the event was Tom Osborne.
Karen Rathke, president of the Heartland United Way, said the team goal for the organization is to reduce childhood poverty.
“This is a fight we must win,” Rathke said.
Twenty-one representatives of community partners, such as the YWCA and Teammates, shared statements of their “wins.” The 21 people held a red balloon with a key word of what they do written on the balloon.
Stephanie Kissler, campaign and community investment specialist said the campaign goal this year is $1.4 million.
“We know that it takes a team of dedicated volunteers to help reach that goal,” Kissler said.
The campaign chairs for Hall County are Tom and Becky Gdowski, and the chair for Hamilton County is Kurt Johnson. The chairs for Merrick County are Donna Jorgensen and Jill Purvis, and the chair for Howard County is Linda Kezoer.
Kissler said about 45 percent of the campaign goal has already been reached, with $625,655 raised.
Tom Osborne, who started Teammates, began his speech with a story.
He told of a zoo who had a gorilla die, so they needed someone to dress up as a gorilla until they got a new one. The moral of the story was “many times things really aren’t as they seem,” Osborne said.
“I would say that’s true of a lot of our young people today,” he said.
Osborne outlined many differences he sees from youth today from the youth of the past. He said when he recruited for college football, there weren’t as many young people who grew up in single- or no-parent homes as there are now. He said he saw the drug culture begin to change as Nebraska football began drug testing their players. Osborne said in the 1960s, that would’ve been unheard of. He also said the messages from entertainment today tell young people different messages, and that an increase and change in technology has affected youth, too. He said on the football team, rides to games used to be quite vocal as players would mingle and converse. He said now, youth text each other from five feet away.
“I think it’s really important to pay attention to what’s going on with your young people,” Osborne said.
He referenced Teammates, among many other organizations, as dedicated to helping and mentoring young people.
“The greatest gift that some of us can give is our time,” Osborne said. He said most people can make more money, but you can’t make more time.
Osborne said giving someone a “slice of your life” is huge.
A Teammate mentee shared his success story of being matched when he attended Barr Middle School to now attending Grand Island Senior High. The mentee said his mentor was always a positive influence in his life, as his parents divorced when he was 9 years old.
Osborne said hearing those success stories are great to see real-life examples of how important mentoring can be. As Hastings is his hometown, he said this part of the country holds a special place for him. He said he wants to fill his time helping others, as he fills his time with the Teammates mentoring program.
“I think that retirement is overblown,” Osborne said.
He said he hopes people would walk away with the urge to help others, just as the Heartland United Way promotes.
“We’re all called to serve,” Osborne said.