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This past year has been like no other in recent memory regarding the great need for help so many in our community have experienced.  The statistics are staggering.  Catholic Charities has given out nearly six times the amount of food they usually do in a single year.  They have helped twice the amount of people.  That all takes funds and they are able to raise those funds with their 29th Annual Irish Fest Gala event.

Fr. Mike Eckley joined Mike Hogan "Live & Local" to discuss the massive volume of assistance, safety, comfort, and help Catholic Charities has provided and to invite one and all to join Irish Fest this year.

Top notch talent has gotten very creative to provide an evening of fun and entertainment for the entire family.   The livestream program will be produced and directed by nationally known Choreographer, Otis Sallid, and Founder of Broadway Dreams, Annette Tanner.  Sallid and Tanner have been bringing Broadway entertainment to people across the world for decades and have strong ties to the Omaha entertainment scene.

More information can be found at https://www.ccomaha.org/irish-fest-2021

Step Up to Quality, Nebraska’s Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) for child care and early childhood education providers, has reached a significant milestone: more than 500 programs across the state are participating, and have been rated.

Step Up to Quality Director, Lauri Cimino, spent some time with Mike Hogan of “Live & Local” recently to discuss the milestone and explain the multi-step program which helps improve the quality of childcare across the entire state.

If parents want information about what QRIS means for their children or if a childcare provider wants to know how to participate in the program, go to the website https://stepuptoquality.ne.gov

This month, SHARE Omaha turns two years old!  They have spent the past 730+ days connecting metro supporters throughout eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa to local causes. 

Executive Director Marjorie Maas spent a little time with KIOS-FM’s “Live & Local” host to talk about what everyone has been doing to help make this area a great place to live. 

She also discusses how as we enter 2021 with renewed energy, SHARE Omaha will continue to serve this eight-county metro region in Nebraska and southwest Iowa.  Continually expanding upon their mission of helping local nonprofits to fulfill their missions, year-round, by connecting everyday philanthropists – (that’s YOU!) -  to easy ways to do good.

For more information, go to the website https://shareomaha.org/stories/share-omaha-turns-two-years-old

The Nebraska Regional Officials Council (NROC) announces the launch of a statewide broadband mapping initiative.  Every Nebraskan is encouraged to partake in the one-minute speed test from any internet-enabled device, including cell phones.  Speed data will provide decision makers a better understanding of where internet accessibility is limited or not available, and where speeds are not meeting the needs of today’s users.

Tom Bliss, Executive Director of the Southeast Nebraska Development District, took the time to chat with Mike Hogan “Live & Local” about this important project.  During this two-part interview, Tom says the purpose of this initiative is to bridge the digital divide between urban and rural areas.  The captured information will provide statistically sound data that can be used by communities, counties, and key stakeholders as they plan for broadband infrastructure expansion or enhancement projects.

For more information or to participate in the speed test, one can go to the websites https://www.nebraskaspeedtest.org/ or www.speedtestne.org.  Thanks for helping!

Following a two-year search process, a unanimous decision, and a much-anticipated announcement, Ankush Kumar Bahl returns to Omaha to conduct his first performance as recently named Music Director Designate of the Omaha Symphony.  The Maestro takes the podium to  lead the orchestra in a jubilant program featuring Mendelssohn’s unfettered concert overture, “The Hebrides” and Sibelius’ colorful Symphony No. 2 in D Major.

Ankush recently sat down with Mike Hogan for a two-part "Live & Local" interview about his new role, how he stayed “fresh” during the shutdowns, and gave insights into his conducting heroes.

Performances with Ankush on the podium will take place at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, February 13 and 2 p.m. Sunday, February 14 at the Holland Performing Arts Center Peter Kiewit Hall. 

Performances at the Holland Performing Arts Center feature physically distanced seating and will only be seated at a maximum of 30 percent capacity.  All patrons will be required to complete a health screening questionnaire prior to accessing their mobile tickets via the Ticket Omaha app.  Masks are required at indoor Omaha Symphony performances.

For information, one can go to the website  https://www.omahasymphony.org/concerts/mendelssohn-sibelius

Due to concerns surrounding COVID-19, Max I. Walker has made the difficult decision to postpone the 2021 event.  

Due to space limitations Max I. Walker is only able to accept donations of long formal dresses and modern wedding gowns until further notice.

Steph Dorland and Casey Walker of Max I. Walker joined Mike Hogan on the “Live & Local” show to talk about the cancellation and the hope that this event will still take place sometime this year.  They have also asked that people please consider donating short or cocktail dresses, mother-of-the-bride dresses, and vintage or other dresses to another local charity at this time.

More information can be found at https://www.maxiwalker.com/ultra-chic-boutique/

Mentoring, at its core, guarantees young people that there is someone who cares about them, assures them they are not alone in dealing with day-to-day challenges, and makes them feel like they matter.  Research confirms that quality mentoring relationships have powerful positive effects on young people in a variety of personal, academic, and professional situations.

MENTOR Nebraska, formerly Midlands Mentoring Partnership, was launched in 1999 to improve the number and quality of mentoring programs available for Nebraska’s youth.  Training and Partnership Development  Manager, Marisa Hattab, joined Mike Hogan for a two-part interview discussing the rewards of mentoring, the recruiting drive currently underway, that no one is expected to be perfect, (just engage with the kids), and her favorite part of the job.

For more information, to donate, or to get involved, one can go to the website https://www.mentornebraska.org/

Inclusive Communities is a 501 (c)3 non-profit organization. Through their powerful human relations work, they are providing education and advocacy related to the topics of diversity and inclusion.

Dominic Green, Programs & Faculty Manager at Inclusive Communities, took some time to chat with Mike Hogan about the work performed with schools, businesses and the community. He also discusses the critical social justice work and how one can become a volunteer.

The Longest Day is one of the Alzheimer's Associations signature fundraising events.  Sherri Obermiller, member of The Longest Day planning committee for the Alzheimer’s Association-Nebraska Chapter, sat down with Mike Hogan “Live & Local” to discuss how Nebraskans can register to raise funds by doing the things they love, changes in the fundraising landscape in 2020 due to COVID and social distancing measures, and why she became involved with the Alzheimer's Association.

One can register or get more information at https://act.alz.org/site/TR?fr_id=14244&pg=entry.

As a part of his four year theme/mission, Dr. Derrick Fox, Director of Choral Activities at the University of Nebraska-Omaha put in place at UNO an initiative entitled” Reflections of Us.”  With this, he works to connect the UNO student community and the Omaha community. This iteration of the mission is subtitled “United in Song.”

What he did was send out a song survey this fall to local retirement homes, since they have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. He asked them to list songs that they connected with great memories and/or family. 

In the “Live & Local” chat with Mike Hogan, Derrick talks about how he made this list available to choral students who chose songs and recorded them. Those performances were then edited together and sent to the retirement homes for their residents to have during the holidays. 

Dr. Fox provided links to preview that initiative as well as others he has led.  The complete two-part interview is also below.

Retirement Home Preview - https://app.vidgrid.com/view/SSQne56cwpkR/?sr=hgCKoS

Professional Choral Collective Lesson Links - https://www.drderrickfox.com/the-professional-choral-collective

Country Music Association Foundation - Unified Voices for Music Education - https://cmafoundation.org/voicesformusiced/

Pandemic or not, it's still the holidays with the Omaha Symphony, though a little different this year!  No live audience allowed due to the pandemic, but that won’t stop the Omaha Symphony from providing a holiday extravaganza…Free of charge to all of the Greater Omaha metro!

Conductor Ernest Richardson and Stage Director/Choreographer Parker Esse joined Mike Hogan for a three-part “Live & Local” interview to discuss how they tackled the Herculean task of adapting, restaging, filming, and editing this huge production in a safe, healthy, and entertaining manner.  The holidays will not be stopped, and these two tell the story of how the holiday show was saved.

Omaha Symphony has teamed up with WOWT Channel 6 to broadcast “Physicians Mutual Presents: Home for the Holidays with the Omaha Symphony” straight to your home!  The holiday program audiences have grown to love will feature a physically distanced orchestra, singers, and dancers filmed remotely.  It is with great pride and a team effort that Omaha Symphony brings this holiday tradition safely to the homes of Omahans completely free of charge as a gift to the community.  The program will air December 23rd at 7:00 p.m. and December 25th at 1:00 p.m. on WOWT. 

For more information on how you can join them for Christmas pop tunes, orchestral features, and exciting dance numbers, or to see a program of the numbers, you can go to http://www.omahasymphony.org/concerts/home-for-the-holidays

OCP legend Camille Metoyer Moten makes her highly-anticipated return to the stage for an intimate holiday affair.  Christmas In My Heart is all the wonder and magic of the season in concert.  You can light your holiday candles, cozy up on the couch and let Camille’s soaring voice warm your heart with beloved holiday classics, contemporary Christmas melodies and everything in between.

Camille joined Mike Hogan for a "Live & Local" interview about the show, the changes that were made to keep it a safe and healthy experience for all, and to discuss her hall of fame career.

More information about how to stream the show is available at https://www.showtix4u.com/event-details/43129

The Omaha Public Library has been able to open all 12 of its branches, curbside pickup service is still available, as are many other services offered by the library. 

Marketing Manager of the Omaha Public Library, Emily Getzschman, joined Mike Hogan in a two-part "Live & Local" chat to catch us up on all the latest news from our largest repository of knowledge and entertainment.  She also gives her personal book recommendations!

For more information or to join the library, https://omahalibrary.org/

The Big Garden is working harder than ever to meet the increasing need for fresh, healthy produce in local pantries and food distribution programs in our community.  This year, the pandemic has caused a dramatic increase in food insecurity.  Families and individuals are struggling to make ends meet because of illness or job reduction.  According to Food Bank for the Heartland, 1 in 4 children in our area are food insecure.  The demand at local pantries has increased more than 50%.

As Development Director Cami Cavanaugh Rawlings explains to Mike Hogan on "Live & Local," The Big Garden has responded to the need this year by investing more heavily in food production than ever before.  As of this week, they’ve grown 15,000 pounds of fresh produce in 2020, all of which has been donated to people in need.  And they’re not done yet.  For the first time ever, they are firing up two 24x80 foot greenhouses to grow as much emergency food as possible throughout the winter months.

And there's more.  To find more information or discover how you can help feed our neighbors in need, you can go to www.BigGarden.org.

Nebraska Health Information Initiative (NEHII), a Health Information Exchange (HIE) joins forces with Unite Us, the technology company that connects health and social care providers, in a unique and innovative partnership that will transform service delivery and care coordination throughout Nebraska.

This partnership will break down existing barriers between clinical and social care providers, enabling them to work together to provide comprehensive, whole-person care with trackable outcomes data.

In the sound clips below, 'NEHII' CEO, Jaime Bland, and 'Unite Us' Founder and President, Taylor Justice, joined Mike Hogan "Live & Local" in a two-part interview to talk about the joint effort to improve the lives of Nebraskans.  

More information for getting help or volunteering can be found at https://nebraska.uniteus.com/ and https://nehii.org/

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