Luncheon gets Aksarben Ball rolling

Aksarben Women’s Ball Committee Chairwoman Stephanie Murphy, center, with the new members of the committee, from left, Anne Jetter, Sheri Shonka, Kim Burkhalter, Julie Liakos, Christie Oberto and Judy Pritza. The 2016 Aksarben Women’s Ball Committee kickoff luncheon was held Jan. 7 at Happy Hollow Club.

The Happy Hollow Club was the setting Jan. 7 for the 2016 Aksarben Women’s Ball Committee kickoff luncheon.

The 19-member committee plans the Aksarben Coronation and Scholarship Ball, which is set for Oct. 29 at Baxter Arena.

Jeffrey Taxman, in his role as Quivira prime minister, announced the six new committee members: Kim Burkhalter, Anne Jetter, Julie Liakos, Christie Oberto, Judy Pritza and Sheri Shonka.

The committee honored six retiring members: Jennifer Bettger, Kate Grabill, Kimberly Hord, Suzanne Kotula, Buffy Ricceri and Kim Simon. Simon was chairwoman of the 2014 Women’s Ball Committee.

A key focus of the ball is fundraising for the four-year college scholarships and community college scholarships that the Aksarben Foundation awards each year.

Also announced at the luncheon were members of the 2016 Coronation Ball Committee: George Little, chairman; David Scott, vice chairman; Jeanie Jones, adviser and past chairwoman of the Women’s Ball Committee; and Stephanie Murphy, chairwoman of the Women’s Ball Committee.

Murphy announced Women’s Ball Committee assignments for the 2016 ball. Positions are chairmanships unless otherwise noted:

Kim Banat – heartland princess, Aksarben Friends liaison

Kim Burkhalter – standard bearer, page assistant, page luncheon assistant

Linda Chloupek – Court of Honor, regale co-chairman, treasurer

Kim Falk – page

Lisa Gravelle – production

Carrie Jenkins – escort

Anne Jetter – Royal Court luncheon, Royal Court welcome assistant, yearbook

Beth Kramer – scholarship, Royal Court brunch, regale assistant, and gifts, courtesy and tribute cards

Julie Liakos – page luncheon, production assistant scenario

Karen Nelsen – Royal Court supper, Royal Court welcome

Christie Oberto – invitations, production assistant inventory, Women’s Ball Committee concierge, scholarship assistant

Erin Owen – publicity and social media, regale assistant

Judy Pritza – program, community support, Royal Court supper assistant, and photography and historian

Andee Scioli – heartland escort, regale co-chairman

Sheri Shonka – reservations, files and lists, Royal Court brunch assistant, and photography and historian assistant

Karen Sundell – princess

Jennifer Zatechka – site, social

Methodist VIP

Happy Hollow Club was the setting Dec. 11 for the Methodist Volunteers In Partnership (VIP) annual meeting and recognition luncheon.

The organization supports Methodist Hospital, Methodist Women’s Hospital and its affiliates through volunteer service and special event fundraising.

Results of Methodist VIP’s two major 2015 fundraisers, combined with hospital gift shop revenue, allowed the organization to contribute $300,000 toward purchase of a HeRO monitoring system for the neonatal intensive care unit at Methodist Women’s Hospital.

The meeting, which drew 225, included induction of the 2016 VIP board: Glynnis Dittrick, president; Laura Stevenson, president-elect; Karen Olson, secretary; Carly Cronk, treasurer; Kirsten Hosman, education vice president; Sandra Passer, social vice president; and Beth Koukol, adviser.

These awards were presented:

20 years of service – Gretchen Mack and Mary Sis

Special Service Award – Patty Corwin and Brenda Krings

Friend of the Board – Melodee Thompson

Goodwill Award – Sherry Coufal

Edith Clark Spirit of Volunteering Award – Susan Burns

Spirit of Caring Award – Janet Mardis

Louise Martin Leadership Award – Kirsten Hosman

VolunTeen Senior Scholarships – Molly Byers, Lainey Fleener, Julia Griffin, Emma Milenkovich, Shradh Sivamani and Makenzie Smith

Vision Beyond Sight

Fifteen years of operation as a nonprofit provided plenty of reason to celebrate Nov. 20 during the Outlook Nebraska Inc. (ONI) Vision Beyond Sight Banquet at Embassy Suites La Vista.

ONI, which manufactures paper products and employs many who are blind or visually impaired, showcased its operation to banquet attendees through a video and other presentations, including testimonials from employees about how the organization helped them find a place in the workforce.

Awards included recognition of Teddy Nippert as 2015 Associate of the Year and Michelle Poteet as Blind Associate of the Year. ONI employee Johnny Botsford was recognized for completing the Emerging Professionals Program and receiving the National Industries for the Blind Emerging Professional Certificate.

“Every time we have this kind of event, we have the opportunity to introduce ourselves to someone new,” said ONI CEO Eric Stueckrath. “The opportunity to spread the word about all the capabilities we give to the blind is priceless.”

Following dinner, attendees were encouraged to don sleep shades that completely obscured their vision. Dessert was then served. The exercise, called “Dessert in the Dark,” allowed sighted diners to gain a small sense of what those who are blind or visually impaired experience every day.

The banquet drew more than 400 and raised more than $35,000, with proceeds going toward ONI’s employee empowerment and community technology training efforts.


JAN. 30

Congé, Duchesne Academy, Embassy Suites La Vista, $150,

FEB. 5

Hopeful Hearts Dinner, Our Lady of Lourdes-St. Adalbert Parish, Livestock Exchange Building, $50, 402-346-0900.

MarianFEST, Marian High School, Baxter Arena, $150,

FEB. 13

Carnival of Love Gala, Heartland Family Service, Embassy Suites La Vista, $125, Charissa Hauge at 402-552-7424 or

Swing Under the Wings dinner and dance, Strategic Air & Space Museum, held at the museum in Ashland, $75, 402-944-3100 or

FEB. 20

Cruise Away to Mardi Gras, Stephen Center, Champions Run, $125, Rosie Matz, 402-616-1878.

Fiesta 2016 “A League of Their Own,” Mercy High School, Embassy Suites La Vista, $125,

Rockin’ Rosie 2016, Rose Theater Guild, Hilton Omaha, $125, 402-345-4849.

FEB. 21

Art & Soup, Visiting Nurse Association, Embassy Suites La Vista, $50,


Celebrity Chef featuring Anne Burrell, Food Bank for the Heartland, Embassy Suites La Vista, $150, 402-331-1213.


Semele Gala, Opera Omaha, Paxton & Vierling Steel Co., 501 Ave. H in Carter Lake; $300, 402-346-4398.


Omaha Press Club Show, Omaha Press Club Foundation, Holland Performing Arts Center, $150 ($125 for ages 35 and younger), or 402-551-8526.

If you have news for Around and About, send it to Howard K. Marcus, Follow him on Twitter @OWHhoward.

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