WCW: Candace Gregory-Open Door Mission

For over 60 years the Open Door Mission has been committed to breaking the cycle of homelessness and poverty. They serve over 2,000 hot, nutritious meals everyday. EVERY. DAY. Many of the people’s lives they change are veterans of the U.S. armed forces and survivors of abusive households. The average age for a homeless child in America? 9 years old.


I was invited to a Brunch and Learn at the Open Door Mission a few weeks ago and came out with a very different perspective than I had going in. Candace Gregory, the Mission President/CEO and fearless leader had ignited me. She had absolutely broken my heart, filled it again and then set it on fire. In a good way. Hearing the FACTS about the nations homeless population and seeing her pure dedication and passion in doing the best work she can in OUR city-was tremendous. I looked over at my Mom and said, “I want THAT.” Meaning, that illuminated drive and purpose she was sharing with all of us. It was so palpable, I haven’t shaken it off. I’ve absorbed part of her mission and have been working to spend some of my time and energy to do work for the Open Door Mission and Lydia House as well. (The Lydia house takes in women and children) There are VERY many ways to donate and serve the Open Door Mission, who takes no federal funding and operates from private donations.

So it’s my pleasure to include Candace Gregory as my Woman Crush on this Wednesday.



What gets you out of bed in the morning? My kids…..bahahaha….I actually do not require that much sleep so I am usually up and going at the crack of dawn.

 What is your motto/mantra? It is what it is….

 Who has been the biggest inspiration in your life when it comes to what you do? Next to Jesus, my parents have been the biggest influence on me and mt life. Their faith, work ethic and integrity.

What are your personal core values? Faith, Trustworthy, Work Ethic and Joy.

Why do you do what you do? It’s my calling to serve others and I want to be obedient to God.

 3 Things you can’t live without. Dark Almond Chocolate milk, my kindle and lobster.

 What do you want people to know about your job? It’s rewarding to see lives changed everyday, to see God at work in people’s lives but its overwhelming and discouraging at times the amount of need that is going unmet.

 Who is your rock? Next to God, my husband, Steve.

 Working at a Non-Profit in Omaha is: awesome.

What is the biggest unfairness in your world? Social Injustice

What is the biggest joy? Several joy’s come to mind – Graduation day and hearing the informational stories of life change….volunteers that are faithful and serving ….and the ocean.

 Something you think but never say. Seriously, are you out of your ever loving mind….

Quote that just “gets you.” If you can not feed everyone than feed one…Mother Theresa

What is your theme song? Overcomer by Mandisa
How can people be involved in your organization and why is it so important? The Open Door Mission could not do what they do …without volunteers. We love volunteers. You are never to young or too old to make a difference. Time changes lives. Please visit http://www.opendoormission.org and click on the volunteer button, today.

Small thoughts on empathy

Life is precious and wonderful and fleeting.

And when there is terror happening across the world in waves I’ve never known before it illuminates just how fragile it truly is. How it can be so easily disregarded by some who have chosen to abandon it’s value.

I’ve spoken before about how becoming a mother had made me so much more anxious and vulnerable. And it has. I’m going to admit something so embarrassing right now. But maybe I share this with others. When bad things happen, when there are high profile terrorist attacks or shootings–I google the victims. I Facebook them and hold on dear to them as a constant reminder that WE are ONE. The only thing that separates me from them is time and place. That’s the only thing that separates any of us. And that thought is an utter brick in my chest, but also, it’s a blessing.

I want to have that empathy. I want to have the realization that I am not invincible. There is no “that couldn’t be me” about it. Because it gives me hope that others are thinking that same way, shrouding themselves in the kind of empathy that is born of fear and uncertainty. Hoping that the culmination of all of our prayers for peace and for others somehow lift us into a better, safer place-as a planet.


I don’t like the way it makes me feel…doing that. I feel nervous to leave my house, anxious and edgy. And so much sadness. But beneath that, I feel so intrinsically grateful for every night I get to go to sleep with my family and every morning I wake up to them-days that I can fill with purpose. That gratitude is really what keeps me moving forward some days–getting out of bed despite taking the weight of the world on my shoulders. My husband sometimes has to remind me not to do that. Watch certain things, read certain things–because they become a part of my personality and I can’t shake them off very easily. This dichotomy of grief and gratitude is where I’ve found my drive. My momentum to do…anything and everything I can. NOW.

I let go of faith in a religious way, a long time ago.

I DO believe in higher power, in vibrations, in this mysterious universe with all of it’s unanswered questions. But I REALLY believe in people. I believe in communication, in helping others and truly, in empathy. Even when I have been the MOST PISSED EVER, I was still considering the other persons perspective. And if there is some kind of faith I can build from THAT and gratitude and connection, that would be the one for me.

When I connect with someone that was lost in a tragic way-I feel as though I take a small part of them with me. I want to live MY dreams, because they lost theirs. I want to hug my child tighter, where they can no longer hug theirs. I want to honor their lives by LIVING and never forgetting that WE are ONE. And always, always remembering that they matter.


WCW: Nancy Williams-No More Empty Pots

Woo Hoo! My first Woman Crush Wednesday is finally here!

I have been fortunate enough to be surrounded by powerful, hard-working, talented and entrepreneurial women my entire life. And many of those women have found their passion in Non-Profit roles throughout Omaha. I wanted to ask not only about their chosen professions but also about themselves. The woman behind the magic. What makes them get out of bed and make helping the people of their city a priority. Life in a Non-Profit is challenging, sobering and extremely rewarding–

Honestly, I’m getting goosebumps. So here is my first profile: Nancy Williams, who has graced my life with her presence since I was a child. Please read to learn how she is leading healthy food initiatives across the city and hungry for more. Enjoy! Every Wednesday!



Org mission:
No More Empty Pots (NMEP) connects people to local food. We are a grassroots non-profit with a mission to improve self-sufficiency, regional food security and economic resilience in urban and rural communities. We value education, stewardship and sustainability. NMEP serves as a catalyst for identifying individuals and groups to address challenges to improve self-sufficiency in urban and rural communities.

No More Empty Cups: No More Empty Cups is a not-for-profit coffee shop and cafe dedicated to connecting community through good food, great drinks and amazing people. BUILD COMMUNITY: We build community by connecting local farms with local business. TRAIN ENTREPRENEURS: Our mentorship program will connect entrepreneurs with resources to develop and test a viable business plan. The goal is to increase the number of small businesses that flourish. SUSTAINABILITY: We serve sustainably produced coffee and locally produced baked goods.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
The chance to do something different. To experience discovery. Challenge status quo. Witness the impossible and unexpected. Live the life that I have been given. To leave wherever I am better than when I arrived. Whenever I can to help others live a life following their passion and making the most of each opportunity.

Right now our big project is the food hub. Here is a link to that page and what it is about: http://www.nmepomaha.org/foodhub

What is your motto/mantra?
There are many women who have come before me who have done more with less. Let’s get it!
It is what it is.

 Who has been the biggest inspiration in your life when it comes to what you do?
My mother, grandmothers, women who believe in me and trust me, my kids – the folks I randomly see in everyday life who make something out of seemingly nothing, who summon whatever it takes to keep reaching and trying to make things better.

What are your personal core values?
I am not sure if I have personal core values but if I do they might trust and respect.My values might be summed up in a quote by Maya Angelou, “Just do right.”

 Why do you do what you do?
I like challenges, puzzles, problem solving, AHA moments, and witnessing extraordinary outcomes.

3 Things you can’t live without.
good food, my family, music/art/laughter

What do you want people to know about your job?
I want people to know that my job is about people and possibility. I want people to know that we are a community organization that believes in the power of community and what can be accomplished when we work together. I want people to know that we believe that everyone has something unique and powerful to contribute.

Who is your rock?
I depend on a lot of people for different things. There are people at work and people in my personal life. I get support from family, friends, mentors and mentees. But if I had to pick one person, it would be my mom. She can get to the heart of anything and once she “pleads the blood covenant of Jesus on it”, forget about it; it’s done.

Working at a Non-Profit in Omaha is:
Exhilarating and frightening, depending on the stage of growth and your role in the organization

What is the biggest unfairness in your world?
I don’t know if there is a biggest unfairness but equity is a huge issue everywhere. The lack of basic humanity is surprising sometimes. We sometimes see each other through different lenses instead of just human beings.

 What is the biggest joy?
When I get to witness someone realizing their passion and purpose. When other people get what we are trying to accomplish with this work.

Something you think but never say.
I am nearly 50 years old. I rarely experience thinking something without verbalizing it. And many times, I think that I am saying it to myself but realize that I have spoken it aloud when someone responds to it.

I probably don’t tell people how much I care about them or admire them enough. I am supposed to be working on that.

Quote that just “gets you.”
If I understand this correctly, it would be, “Just do right,” by Maya Angelou. It is succinct and to the point. It encompasses character values and how to treat people all at once.

 What is your theme song?
I keep adding songs to my Spotify playlists so it is hard to have one theme song. I will tell you though that the songs that I love always have a tight bass line and/or kick ass drums. The rhythm section has to be right.

How can people be involved in your organization and why is it so important?
There are so many ways for people to be involved in our organization. It is important because most of us want to belong to something greater than ourselves and have something meaningful to contribute. We are creating a space for continuous learning, acceptance and engagement where the sum of all of us is greater than any of us alone. When our passions and strengths align, the results are overwhelmingly powerful. Following is a short list of how people can get involved:

•Volunteer: gardens, cooking demos, special events, advisory teams, board of directors
•Provide technical support: evaluation, processes, data collection
•Share our story with others that might value what we do
•Collaborate on projects and programs
•Engage in marketing campaigns
•Contribute financially
•Be creative and share feedback

Parting words:
There is a convergence of initiatives that favor the engagement of women. I believe that when women employ our collective strengths, really good stuff happens.


This is SUCH an exciting week.


And I blame THESE things: Coffee, great people and support, purpose. You know when you feel like you’re on the right path?

YOUR path?

I’m on it!!

That’s really all I have to say for right now. Hahaha.

I am so excited to announce that starting on Wednesday I will be launching a 10-week blog series-right here. Focusing on women in Non-profits in Omaha. These women are contributing so much to the communities that we live in and changing lives everyday. I want to dig a little deeper into their psyches and share what they have to say with you!! The reach they have in this world extends FAR beyond this city and there are women (and men) out there working to make America a safer, more inclusive, healthier and more prosperous place. I admire these types of people and truly feel we can use some more of this in our newsfeed and in our faces.

So Wednesday!!

Off blogging,


I don’t have Beyonces time, memes.

Do you ever just have to check in with yourself?

“It’s SO hard to find the time, sometimes.”

I used to think that was just an excuse people made. I had A LOT of time to do A LOT of nothing. And now, I find every second is precious and annoying.

Precious-because the 60 minutes I love spending drooling over the drama on Real Housewives IS the same 60 minutes I could spend–blogging, raking leaves, laundry, reading, writing, kissing my baby…

Annoying-because I never fully relax thinking about all the things I should be doing!

When I was a Party-Girl I maximized my time by attending every event, drinking every glass of free wine, working and wasting time in the wrong relationships. (People say it’s not time wasted, you learn, but come on, if you need 4 years to learn a lesson you learned 6 months in, it’s wasted time) 

Now, obviously, ALL of that has changed.

Do I, tho? 

And when a Type A personality meets real responsibility–it can be a game changer. The coffee industry has a new life-long consumer, and all of the gripes that came before mine I now see are incredibly legit. I don’t have enough hours in the day! People say we have as much time as Beyonce, but no way, that chick has a team of 30 and a pact with God. She at LEAST gets 50 hours a day. At least. I have to do lists, running mental tabs, sticky notes, alarms–and it seems I can’t be satisfied with my accomplishments. I need MORE TIME, MORE items ticked off my list. I’m like the Veruca Salt of goals, right now.

When I am producing and getting shit done and in the zone–I feel on FIRE–apparently I am also LESS patient, very blunt, kinda mean, and pretty intense–to my family. As my husband let me know while keeping a great physical space between us.

The truth is, I recognized it. I don’t WANT to hear that, I’d like to think I have everything perfectly balanced and I’m as sweet as pie about it.

But, HAHA, nope.

Because I never relax I’ve incidentally imposed this ‘VIBE’ that no one can relax fully, lest they hear from me, the ‘Keeping Busy’ police. And although I deeply value motivation, activation and ALL the other “ations” that apply, my intention can get lost in the dictation. I can wrap myself up so deeply in the strive to accomplish and the yearning to make other peoples lives better, that I ignore the lives right here in my home. Making it possible for me to live this way. It’s a hard pill to swallow when all I want to do is point out HIS SHIT, HIS FLAWS–but when I don’t do that and I just sit with what he said and how that vibe could make me feel, I understand it. I know how I can be. I probably bully myself more than I bully anyone else.

Ughhh, why didn’t I finish this degree five years ago? Great, I woke up late AGAIN–because I stayed up late, AGAIN. GET OFF OF FACEBOOK! OMG, it’s raining and I left the stroller out and I knew it was gonna rain but I left it anyway and I’m so lazy. 

If these are my internal thoughts I wonder how what comes out of my mouth sounds like.

So I’m having to check in with myself.

I want to achieve-but WITH my family, not to their detriment. I want to be nicer to myself, while still working hard. I want to master being direct, without the passive-aggression that can arise from ALL of this. I want to take the time to SAVOR my boys, because I know that we are in the “good old days” right now. And the truth is, NOTHING truly does give me more pleasure than just BEING with Shine and Rob. I don’t give that accomplishment credit enough.

I can’t make up for lost time. And no amount of self-inflicted mental abuse is going to make it so. My family is IN my corner, not some inconvenience. Some box to check off. Did I Mom today? Did I wife today? Okay, leave me alone. I already lost an hour this week!! My goals ARE important -and I can’t reach them alone. Rob has always been unwaveringly supportive-standing at each proverbial finish line, proudly. So, checking in, I’m learning to become a little more teammate and a little less coach.

Off yelling again,