Official Nebraska Government Website

Serve Nebraska Logo

First Lady’s Outstanding Community Service Awards 2013 Honorees

The First Lady’s Awards program pdf (printable version) provides information about the award recipients and ceremony.


Nebraska Vonunteer Service Commission

National Service Award
Jessie Gotsdiner, Omaha

Jessie Gotsdiner and Jenny Wysocky are College Possible Omaha AmeriCorps members who serve as senior coaches at Omaha South Magnet and Benson Magnet High Schools. As coaches they work with disadvantaged seniors to achieve college admission, apply for scholarships and financial aid. This year 69 seniors participated and 100% have applied to college with 75% accepted to date. The students have received over $120,000 in scholarships, and three who have won the statewide Horatio Alger competition. Jessie and Jenny have truly made College Possible for these students and future graduates.

(Jessie is pictured with First Lady Sally Ganem. Jenny is not pictured)


Nebraska Vonunteer Service Commission

Outstanding Volunteer Group of the Year
Annie Jeffrey Volunteers, Osceola

Annie Jeffrey Volunteers are an energetic group of women who give their time, talent and energy to help Polk County build a stronger community. They volunteer at the Annie Jeffrey Health Center thrift shop and, since their inception in 1994, have donated over $93,000 to the Health Center with proceeds from the shop. The dedicated AJ Volunteers help with other community activities, such as helping at health fairs and assisting local nursing homes. The AJ Volunteers enjoy the gratification that comes from community service and volunteering.

(Pictured L to R, Sally Bresnahan, Rogene McMeekin, Ardie Hayes, First Lady Sally Ganem, Mary Lou Stallings, Doris Theis and Gloria Oquist)


Nebraska Vonunteer Service Commission

Outstanding Volunteer of the Year
Col. Jan Kaufman, Lincoln

Col. Jan Kaufman has spent the last two decades playing secret elf for tens of thousands of Lancaster County children from low-income families. In 1991, she volunteered to start a fundraising auction for Santa Cop, a philanthropy project of the Lincoln Police Union charities. Santa Cop provides toys every Christmas for thousands of children living in poverty in Lancaster County. Jan has applied her professional auctioneering skills in asking businesses and individuals for donations of products and services to make each year’s auction a success.

(Jan is pictured with First Lady Sally Ganem)


Nebraska Vonunteer Service Commission

Professional Commitment to Service-Debra Hartmann Award
Wayne Svoboda, Lincoln

Wayne Svoboda is the former Executive Director of Volunteer Partners, Lincoln, where he served since its inception in 2002. Under his 10-year leadership, Volunteer Partners has thrived in carrying out its mission to: “Promote and support volunteerism to connect volunteers with nonprofit agencies in Lincoln, Lancaster County and Nebraska.” As the agency’s lone full-time employee, Wayne successfully implemented specialty programs that served the community in a unique way and focused on youth, emergency needs, corporate volunteers, business professionals, board diversity and training. Wayne has been a true ambassador of community service to the Lincoln community.

(Wayne is pictured with First Lady Sally Ganem)


Nebraska Vonunteer Service Commission

Outstanding Service-Learning Program Sacred Circle Service
Learning Project, Omaha

Sacred Circle service-learning project is focused on mentoring that promotes American Indian culture by bringing together University of Nebraska at Omaha Native American Studies students with Native American students at Omaha South Magnet High School. Sacred Circle has seen significant outcomes to the community and increased student leadership through this sustainable program. UNO and South High students have served over 100 hours, developed mentor relationships and provided a greater connection to culture in the tribal community, and increased graduation rates of participants.

(Pictured L to R, Dr. Edouardo Zendejas, UNO Native American Studies Chair; Monica Zendejas, volunteer; First Lady Sally Ganem; Cindy Krafka, UNO Multicultural Affairs; Michaela Smith, Omaha South High School; Katie D’Agosto, UNO Graduate Assistant)


Nebraska Vonunteer Service Commission

Outstanding Student Leader
Mikayla Flott, Omaha

Mikayla Flott is a successful achiever and her community involvement is substantial and diverse. Highlights of her recent honors include: Ten Outstanding Young Omahans; National Honor Society Volunteer of the Year; and a member of Creighton University’s elite Freshman Leadership Program; and the Dean’s List. Mikayla is very active at Creighton. She was recently inducted into Wareham for Women Who Lead, is an officer for the National PanHellenic Council, serves on the New Student Orientation Board, is a C.U. Star tour guide and is the assistant editor for the Creightonian. In total, she has volunteered over 1,300 hours throughout the past 6 years and helped raise almost $100,000 for her high school, university, and community.

(Mikayla is pictured with First Lady Sally Ganem)


Nebraska Vonunteer Service Commission

Outstanding Community Partnership in Education F Street Community Center, Lincoln
(Dorothy Skorupa, Jerry Taylor, Rick Lingard)

F Street Community Center is successful because of the dedication of center directors Dorothy Skorupa, Jerry Taylor and Rick Lingard. They are committed to creating a safe, fun, education and recreation-based environment where children, adults and senior citizens come together. In partnership with AmeriCorps members, the center directors have been able to increase the education, fitness and nutrition programs for at-risk youth in the community. The programs help to encourage youth to stay focused, healthy and in school.

(Pictured L to R, Matt Emerton, Rick Lingard, First Lady Sally Ganem, Jerry Taylor and Mema-Shua Grant, Dorothy Skorupa not pictured)


Nebraska Vonunteer Service Commission

Outstanding School Volunteer Program
Completely KIDS, Norris Middle School, Omaha

Norris Middle School is home to a tremendous school volunteer program called Redbird 108. This program is a collaborative effort between the school, Completely KIDS, and the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Initially targeted for at-risk youth as a method of getting students involved, it has grown into creating service as a way for Norris “Redbirds” to identify themselves. The student-led volunteer group provides support to students and families who are struggling with specific needs. The goal for every student is to complete 40 hours of service and currently students have completed 600 hours. The success of the program is driven by student leadership opportunities.

(Pictured L to R, Claudia Escandon, Completely KIDS; First Lady Sally Ganem, Ruben Cano, Norris M.S. Principal; and Daniel Walsh, UNO Graduate Assistant )


Nebraska Vonunteer Service Commission

Outstanding Community Service Project
Miss Amazing, Inc., Papillion

In 2007, Jordan Somer founded Miss Amazing Inc. at the age of thirteen. The mission of Miss Amazing Inc., is to build confidence and self-esteem in girls and women with disabilities in a positive environment through the skills learned in pageantry. Her hard work, along with many other volunteers, has helped to grow the organization and it is now located in 24 states.

(Kimberly Somer is pictured with First Lady Sally Ganem, Jordan Somer is not pictured)


Nebraska Vonunteer Service Commission

Lifetime Achievement in Volunteer Service
Bill Olson, Oshkosh

Bill Olson has been a community volunteer in Garden County for the past fifty years. Bill takes pride in his community, especially when it comes to beautification of the local landscape such as the golf course and parks. Bill often personally donates to community projects. One such project was the design, construction and installation of a sign for the Centennial celebration. He has provided substantial volunteer time and resources for the hospital, nursing home and swimming pool reconstruction. Bill lives to help other people.

(Bill is pictured with First Lady Sally Ganem)


Nominate Your Favorite Volunteer!

ServeNebraska accepts award nominations year round
-- Quarterly Governor’s Points of Light Awards
-- First Lady’s Outstanding Community Service Awards

To learn more, visit us online.