2679 Farnam Street, Suite 205
Omaha, NE 68131
Youth Emergency Services assists youth experiencing homelessness
and near homelessness by providing critically-needed resources
which support them in their desire to be self-sufficient.
From South Sudan to YES, Elizabeth Continues to Work Hard to Give Aisha a Brighter Future

Elizabeth has come a long way since her childhood in Rumbek, South Sudan.
Before arriving in the United States -- first in Chicago and then moving to Omaha -- several years ago after living in a refugee camp in Kenya, Elizabeth imagined America as a "paradise."
Suffice it to say, despite the cold winters and her ongoing challenge of having English as her second language, her life in the states has been all that she imagined and more.
Everything she does today -- going to school to become a nurse, working as a CNA and taking care of her one-year-old daughter, Aisha, with the assistance and guidance of YES' Maternity Group Home (MGH) staff -- is so she can give Aisha a life free from the struggles and challenges she's had.
"I don't know where I'd be right now if it wasn't for YES," said Elizabeth, who came to YES at the suggestion of a former teacher after Elizabeth had been homeless when her aunt learned of her pregnancy.
"The staff helped me during my pregnancy, gave me a place to live and have helped me take care of Aisha. Through some of the toughest times in my life, YES has been there for me."
Eight years ago as a result of ongoing danger due to Sudan's War in Darfur that tortured and persecuted minorities and resulted in ethnic genocide that killed between 300,000 and 500,000, Elizabeth, her dad and her brother fled to Kenya. Her mother, stepmom and other family stayed behind.
After living in a refugee camp, Elizabeth and her family moved to Chicago to live with her aunt. Two years later, they moved to Omaha because of the established and still-growing Sudanese population who also fled the country to the United States.
But when Elizabeth, who was a student at Benson High School and studied English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, became pregnant and told her aunt, she kicked her out of the house.
Fortunately, her ESL teacher, Ann Dike, took her into her home long enough for Elizabeth to apply for and gain acceptance into YES' Maternity Group Home.
"Miss Pattie and Miss Candice as well as the other people who work here have taught me so many things that I didn't know before, like how to manage my money, how to drive and how to balance life and school, and when Aisha arrived, how to take care of her to make sure she has all the things I didn't as a kid," Elizabeth said.
After 18 months in the program, Elizabeth, who studies nursing at Metro Community College when she's not working as a traveling CNA or taking care of Aisha, is leaving the Maternity Group Home to get her own place and begin a more independent life in June.
While her mom still lives in South Sudan and her father passed away a few years ago, Elizabeth still has her aunt, with whom she's improved her relationship, nearby for assistance.
She said she's confident that her time at YES has prepared her to live on her own -- but she said she takes comfort in knowing that everyone at MGH and YES will still be available if and when she needs them.
"Everyone at YES will always be family to me, so I know they are there for me and Aisha if we need help," said Elizabeth, who said she has learned to love hot dogs and country music during her time in the states.
"This is an excellent program to get into as long as you focus on what resources are available and follow the rules, which really aren't that tough. In many ways, YES saved me and Aisha because I don't know what would have happened to us if we had stayed on the street. It's been a great experience."
Many Meals Needed to Feed Youth this Summer

YES serves hundreds of meals each month through our Street Outreach Program.

We're only able to do this BECAUSE OF YOU -- and we need your help filling the meal calendars for our Street Outreach Center for June and July!

Our Center, which serves homeless and near-homeless youth in the community, welcomes donations of catered and frozen meals due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Meals should be large enough to feed between 20 and 25 youth. Further details can be found on our Meals Donation Page*.

Please contact Maren with any questions.

Thank you for signing up today so our youth don't go hungry!

*Your donations are tax deductible.
We are finalizing dancers, decorations and everything else that will make this year's Dance for a Chance: The Roaring Twenty-Twenties presented by Lindsay Corporation UNIQUE and SPECIAL!

Please stayed tuned for more details on our website, social media and HERE as they become available!
Getting to Know...
Kellie Harry
YES Board Vice President

YES Board Vice President Kellie Harry is an Iowa native who found her way to Nebraska for school and never left.

An attorney with Mutual of Omaha, wife to Bill (also an attorney) and a mother of two preteens and two active dogs, Kellie joined the YES board a few years ago and absolutely finds the mission to be moving and important in our community -- in any community.

Please join us in getting to know Kellie and what she finds most rewarding about her role as a member of the YES board.

What led you to become a board member for YES?
I became aware of YES through my service on the guild partnership board at the Women’s Center for Advancement and during Omaha Gives!, and was really pleased when an opportunity to join the board was brought to my attention by my employer, Mutual of Omaha.
How long have you been on the board? Are you on other community organization's boards? 
I’ve served on the board since 2018. I’ve just recently completed my second term with the UNMC Chancellor’s Advisory Board, I was with the WCA Guild Board for 8 years and served as its President, I sit on the OneWorld Community Health Center Advisory Board, was part of Leadership Nebraska Class IX, and I have served for many years on the United Way Community Investment Review Team.
For decades, boards were largely made up of white men, but that continues to change. What does it mean to you to be part of that ongoing change, particularly at YES?
For many years, there was an expectation that governing boards were for men and volunteer guilds were for women, or that women first had to serve as volunteers to be considered for a board, if at all, while men were placed without this precursor.

While this issue persists to some extent, I think enough information is available to demonstrate that employers and boards are most successful when they drive diversity, and the tides are changing. I have seen this continue to evolve over the 20+ years that I have been volunteering, but must admit I would still like to see more male participation on the volunteer side.

YES was focused on increasing diversity before I joined, and is more mindful than ever to embed diversity, equity and inclusion best practices into its mission and strategies.

What about YES' mission speaks to you? What keeps you engaged/motivated to want to help? 

The intentional desire to understand and address the needs of those experiencing youth homelessness really sets YES apart. It is an incredible community resource that helps support vulnerable individuals in finding their voice and their path.

YES works to fulfill its mission everyday with dedicated staff, volunteers, and executives that treat clients with acceptance, respect and dignity. Hearing success stories from those that work most closely with the clients in our Moment for Mission brings that experience to the forefront and is always very inspiring.  
YES' board is 50-50 men/women and working to become more diverse. How important is that to you, particularly as board VP?
I think it’s key to the success of the board and YES as a whole to ensure different voices and perspectives are represented at every level. Research has repeatedly shown that Boards are most effective when they are diverse, inclusive and equity-focused. YES truly takes this effort to heart and continues to focus on ways to improve.
How long have you been with Mutual of Omaha? Was it important to you to work for an organization that gives back to the community and encourages employees to do the same? 
I have been with Mutual of Omaha since 2008, and am currently an Associate General Counsel in Law Operations, managing litigation matters in a number of states. Not a day goes by at Mutual where the messages of community service aren’t acknowledged, promoted and demonstrated from the top down.

I think Mutual is unparalleled in how it embraces the commitment to charitable giving and community involvement. This really resonates in our culture and is part of what makes it a great place to work.

What would you say to other women (and men) who are considering becoming part of a volunteer board, especially for a nonprofit? What have you learned, where have you experienced growth, etc. from being part of YES' board? 
There are so many things competing for our time and energy, and we often think we can’t fit one more thing into our day. However, I would encourage anyone interested in a particular cause to volunteer or serve in some capacity, as it takes your understanding and appreciation for the cause to a whole new level.

Board service provides the opportunity to collaborate with leadership and staff, help to direct strategy and spending, and if you have a specialized skill or expertise that could benefit to a nonprofit board’s work, that can be incredibly valuable. It’s also a powerful way to develop new skill sets and expand your peer and professional network. Like most things, you will get out of it what you put in.

If you won a million dollars, what would you do to help change the world? 

It would be an incredible feeling to make such a substantial pledge to a passion project like YES. I also have a real soft spot for animals, so operating an animal sanctuary with my kids would be a distinct possibility. Obviously, the vast majority of us do not have an option of this level, but it doesn’t make our contributions any less impactful.

Every dollar matters, and every donor has the potential to be a lifelong supporter and champion of a cause they care about. It’s one of the reasons I’m in awe of the many generous individual donors, as well as the foundations and trusts, that are dedicated to serving and supporting our community.
Where do you see your opportunity to make the greatest impact/difference in the lives of homeless youth through your association with YES? 

I hope that by remaining engaged and inquisitive, speaking out as an ambassador, and sharing the mission and vision of YES with personal and professional connections that I can help alert people to a problem that exists right in our own backyard and the programs specifically designed to address these concerns.

YES has been identifying, addressing and pivoting to the greatest needs of the area’s youth for over 45 years, and I believe YES is poised to make some incredible strides for the youth in our community, and potentially at a national level, in the coming years.
YES Shows its Pride!

June is Pride Month, and YES is celebrating along with the rest of the city and country.

Look for our table at the Heartland Pride event July 9-10 at Baxter Arena.

Be sure to stop by and learn more about the services and resources we provide to help LGBTQ+ youth find safe housing, education and/or employment and, in some cases, escape from trafficking and traffickers in conjunction with the Women's Center for Advancement's Indigo Program.

We look forward to seeing you!
YES is Here, There
and Everywhere!

We love telling you about the great things we do every day to change the lives of homeless and near-homeless youth -- and here's proof!

*Through June 2021, 101.9 FM The Keg will run public service announcements (PSAs) about YES, our programs and our events. Thank you to St. Gregory Recovery Center and NRG Media for choosing YES for these complimentary PSAs. We are most grateful!
We have some exciting EVENTS coming up.
We hope we can count on your support!

August 30 -- YES Golf Outing, sponsored by Union Pacific
presented by Lindsay Corporation
November 30 -- Giving Tuesday 2021

If you'd like more information about participation or
sponsorship opportunities, please contact Barb. Spots are filling up quickly!
Like What We're
Saying? Please Share!

Please share this newsletter with friends and family, and if you aren't seeing something you want to know about YES -- please let us know!

Look for the July 2021 issue of YES News in your mailbox Thursday, July 1!

Thank you for helping us spread the word about the great things happening at YES!