Around and about: 'Foodies' team up for food bank

Members of the 2013 Omaha Symphony Debutante Ball Committee are, front row, from left, Brigid Wilkening, Denise Fitzgerald and Kim Lubeck; second row, Patty Jansen, Anne Baxter, Shelley Homa and Kim Banat; third row, Julie Fritz, Anne Jetter and Kyle Nelson; fourth row, Laura Luther, Laura Doll, Toody Moffatt, Teresa Johns, Julie Liakos and Beth Pusic.

Their official name is Food Bank for the Heartland Friends, but they are better known as the “Foodies.”

“We want the group to accomplish something for the food bank and make it fun,” said Jayne Timmerman, a founding member and the group's first president. “We think it will be a success because the food bank is such a great cause. What better organization to lend our time and support to.”

The newly created guild will support the food bank through volunteerism, fundraising and promotion of community awareness.

It was started after Timmerman served as one of the patron party co-chairs for the Food Bank for the Heartland's Celebrity Chef event last February. She asked Cindy Hansen, the food bank's event planning specialist, about starting a guild for the organization.

“I wanted to support the food bank. There is so much more to it than what the average person realizes,” she said. “It is the largest food bank in Nebraska and Iowa and distributes food to more than 325 pantries and feeding programs.”

The inaugural board has 30 members and a five-person executive committee. To form the executive committee, Timmerman said she asked volunteers that she had worked with in the past who she thought would be interested in the fledgling organization.

“No one said 'no'!” she added.

Joining Timmerman on the executive committee are Shelley Siemers, president-elect; Kim Reeves, treasurer; Mary Kerr, secretary; Melissa Marvin, adviser; and Hansen, staff liaison.

In November, the group held an orientation and tour of the food bank, and they recently took part in a membership mailing. Board meetings will be held four times a year.

“We won't meet as often as some groups, and we will be doing hands-on activities that won't always involve our members coming and sitting at a meeting,” Timmerman said. “After our first board meeting next month, members can stay and help pack and sort food.”

Plans in the works include a culinary series fundraiser in which local chefs prepare foods in the food bank's kitchen and guests can learn skills and sample the fare, hosting events to introduce people to the food bank, hosting a mobile pantry and forming a high school volunteer group.

“We are thrilled to have a group of experienced and talented volunteers who will help get the message of ending hunger out to the larger community,” said Susan Ogborn, president and CEO of the Food Bank for the Heartland.

Memberships, which are tax deductible, start at $25. For more information, contact Hansen at 402-905-4810.

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New members of the Omaha Symphony Guild Debutante Ball Committee made their debut Jan. 15 at the Happy Hollow Club.

Denise Fitzgerald, 2013 Debutante Ball chairwoman, introduced Laura Doll, Teresa Johns, Julie Liakos, Laura Luther, Toody Moffatt and Beth Pusic, immediate past president of the Symphony Guild.

The kick-off luncheon was organized by former Deb Ball chairwoman and adviser Karen German. Tables for the luncheon showcased a variety of centerpieces that were used at the 2012 Debutante Ball. The attendees dined on jalapeno-tortilla soup, chicken tacos and warm cinnamon sopaipillas for dessert.

Kim Lubeck, past chairwoman and new adviser, thanked the 2012 committee members for a successful year; they raised $150,000. The guild's 2013 ball is set for Dec. 27. Names of the 2013 debutantes and stags will be revealed at a brunch this spring.

Committee assignments for 2013 are:

Denise Fitzgerald, ball chairwoman; Brigid Wilkening, associate chairwoman, long range planning and courtesy/correspondence; Kim Lubeck, adviser; Patty Jansen, arrangements; Beth Pusic, community files and underwriting; Kyle Nelson, data entry; Julie Liakos, public relations, photography, scrapbook and associate data entry; Anne Jetter, Debutantes; Laura Luther, associate Debutantes; Laura Doll, decorations; Anne Baxter, invitations, programs and printing; Shelley Homa, presentation; Julie Fritz, reservations; Kim Banat, Stags; Toody Moffatt, associate Stags; and Teresa Johns, treasurer.

Banat, Wilkening and Johns will be committee social chairwomen representing each class.

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Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Mark Melancon was on hand for the Dobleman Head and Neck Cancer One Pitch at a Time baseball clinic, dinner and auction Jan. 13 at Omaha Roncalli High School.

The clinic started the day's activities as 70 area kids learned baseball skills such as hitting, pitching, fielding, catching and bunting.

“The One Pitch at a Time event was a way to reach kids early before they begin the habit of chew or smokeless tobacco. To hear the message from a Major League Baseball pitcher and area coaches while they are having fun in a clinic may bring the message home,” said Dr. Tom Dobleman.

The clinic ended with hot dogs and popcorn and Melancon signing autographs for participants.

At a dinner and silent auction, tenor Thomas LaHood sang the national anthem. Dobleman spoke on the dangers of smokeless tobacco, the warning signs of head and neck cancer and the work of the Thomas J. Dobleman Head and Neck Cancer Institute.

The event raised more than $30,000 and will go to head and neck cancer research, free cancer screens in Omaha and surrounding communities, and the Dobleman Head and Neck Cancer fellowship program.

To share information about benefits or social news, contact Karen Sundell at

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