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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

NANCY WILLIAMS, NO MORE EMPTY POTS

Nancy-Williams

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.
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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!
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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.