Assistance League of Omaha
Celebrating 45 Years in 2020-2021!
ASSISTANCE LEAGUE OF OMAHA HISTORY
On February 13, 1973, an Assistance League Guild of Omaha was formed with Fran Batchelder as president. The office was in the basement of the Old Town House on 70th and Dodge. Ninety-five members met in the homes of members during the first year. In 1974, Assistance League of Omaha meetings moved to Countryside Community Church. In the 1974-75 year, the volunteer hours reported were 7,450 supporting two projects: Omaha Community Calendar and Jobs for Seniors. In 1976, meetings were held at First United Methodist Church and the first Christmas Caravan was organized. Assistance League of Omaha was chartered with Assistance League® on May 26, 1976.
By 1985, the programs had expanded to include the following: ACT/PSAT Review, (preparation for college testing administered by the College Board), Braille Trail at Fontenelle Forest, Clothing Resource for Santa Monica, Inc., Western Heritage Museum Docents, Midwest Drug Educational Conference, New Friends, and Operation School Bell®. The fundraisers developed to support the philanthropic programs included an Antique Seminar, sales of Born Rich, by Margaret Killian (a history of Omaha), Christmas Caravan, Crafts Committee, Memory Mats, Silk Screen Prints (Judith Welk), and Way Station Gift Shop at Western Heritage Museum. By 1990, three more fundraising activities were added: Ladies Golf Scramble, Assistance League of Omaha Cookbook, and Fun Run.
A Strategic Plan reviews the goals and objectives of the various philanthropic programs every two years to enhance their effectiveness. This careful evaluation may result in the elimination of some programs (e.g. because of duplication of service) and creation of new philanthropic programs through the identification of additional needs in our community.
By 2002, the philanthropic programs included: ACT/PSAT Review Seminars, Assault Survivor Kits®, Brush-up Nebraska, Operation Bear Hug, Kaps for Kids, Operation Eyeglasses, Operation School Bell, Operation Teen Parent, and Operation Recovery (Santa Monica).
On May 17, 1994, Assistance League of Omaha purchased the building at 3569 Leavenworth St. It was with great pleasure that we were able to have the building paid for in three years. Our thrift shop, formerly located in this building, opened in 1995. Our earliest accounts of sales are from 1998-99 at $39,911. By 2014-15, our thrift shop revenue had increased to over $138,000. Thanks to generous donations from our members and friends, a hard-working crew of ‘lofty ladies’, volunteers who staff the shop weekly, and creative, diligent, organized thrift shop managers, it is our golden egg that keeps us in revenue year-round.
In July 2019, Assistance League of Omaha purchased a new and larger building at 8502 West Center Road. We purchased this building because we needed to enlarge our thrift shop to serve our community and to support our philanthropic programs. Over the next year, we hired an architect and contractor and renovated the former office building so it could serve as our chapter house and thrift shop. In Fall 2022, we sold our building on Leavenworth Street, moved to our newly renovated building at 5502 West Center Road, and reopened our thrift shop which had been closed since March 2020 due to the pandemic. The new, large, and beautiful shop is very popular with our members as well as our thrift shop customers. Business is booming.
We began the 2020-2021 year with approximately 330 dedicated members. Our current philanthropic programs include Assault Survivor Kits, Operation Literacy, Operation Bear Hug, Operation School Bell, Operation Recovery and Operation Teen Parent. Major fundraising is accomplished through our popular thrift shop, Christmas Caravan, Annual Campaign, grants, and donations from our members and the Omaha community. Assistance League of Omaha receives no city, state, or federal monies. In 2020, the Christmas Caravan was cancelled due to the pandemic, but a Caravan fundraiser brought in significant donations.
Today we are one of 120 Assistance League chapters whose 26,000 members have donated 3.2 million hours of volunteer service, serving 1.5 million people, and returning $38.8 million to their local communities. Our national website can be viewed at www.assistanceleague.org.