Omaha group asks residents to “give an hour.”

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July 1st, 2015

Often times when people think of service to their community, the prospect of donating a whole day’s worth of time is just too much. That’s why one Omaha organization is telling residents if you have an hour, you can make an impact.


Troy Romero is an associate professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. He’s also a founding member of “24 hours of Impact”, a small group with the big idea to get people to give a little bit of time.

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Part of the Omaha Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Omaha program, the idea of 24 Hours of Impact is to pick one day where everyone donates an hour of their time in service to their community.

Romero:

One of the elements that we wanted to focus on was, when people think of service sometimes, they think of “oh, I’ll donate a weekend or I’ll do all day” and it’s a big event that you have to plan around. But I think service in the greater context should be a state of mind. And our group started sort of kicking that around and we said, “okay, how can we promote service in a way that people can do it as a part of their life and it doesn’t have to be seven days of service—not that there’s anything wrong with those programs for sure, but if I have an hour to give, how can I do that? So we wanted to try and facilitate people’s thinking to consider serving more regularly in a fun and creative way where you can just do it; either by yourself, with your family, kids, potentially with a larger organization or group of people from where you work. From that pool of thinking, 24 Hours of Impact was born. We wanted to identify a day of service where people gave just an hour. I mean everyone has an hour where you can just go do something. And it doesn’t mean it has to change your whole day. That’s what kind of started our whole project, and July 24th hopefully it will be the first 24 Hours of Impact that we have and we’re pretty excited about it.

KVNO:

Quite a few local organizations partnered with you as well, right?

Romero:

Yes, I think right now 32 organizations, big and small, anywhere form neighborhood associations, church groups, to larger organizations like ConAgra Foods, Wells Fargo, Gavilon, Physcians Mutual, UNO, obviously—and at different degrees (of participation). We’ve all went to representatives of those organizations and said are you willing to encourage your employees to consider giving back to their community in a fun way for an hour a day. The response has been very warm and in some ways energizing.

KVNO:

What are some of the types or ways these 32 companies are giving back?

Romero:

They vary. One of the things we talk about is we want the events to be fun, but impactful. And we also want to try and compartmentalize them in an hour, so people can do them. So one organization, actually one of the student organizations at UNO, is going to volunteer their time to groom horses at a local equestrian institution, another organization is going to—they have service opportunities

that they provide their employees anyway—but they’re going to do fundraising for the Food Bank in Nebraska, the V.A. Hospital, and another organization where they’re just going to have their employees donate food, and they’ll collect them.

Another organization is going to repaint the play-ground games at a local elementary. Those are events that, doesn’t take that much time but if you have 10-15 people, you can get a whole playground painted for the hopscotch or other games. If you reflect back to when you were a child, that has an impact. You can see it. Kids will play anyways, but then gives some structure to their play.

KVNO:

Why is it important to give back? Why do this at all?

Romero:

That’s a great question. And I don’t want that to get lost in what we do. I think in general, the idea of service isn’t how can we benefit, because by helping our community, everybody benefits. Omaha in general is an incredibly philanthropic, giving community. In that respect, I think that’s why our program and what we’re putting together has been so warmly received. But I don’t think this is a message you have to stop saying.

KVNO:

It’s on July 24th. If people want to find out more about how they can get involved, what do they need to do?

Romero:

24hoursofimpact.com. All the information is there. People can contact me directly. My name is up there along with the other six founding members of 24 Hours of Impact. If you are an individual, you can participate. If you are part of an organization and want to kind of build a team or if you want to just help an organization that you’re already working with you can put something together. There’s room for everyone to have an impact and again, we’re only asking people to consider giving for an hour that day.

KVNO:

What are you going to be doing for that hour?

Romero:

I’m actually working with a couple of organizations. I’ll be doing some of the pet grooming, and I also am part of the group that will be potentially painting the playgrounds for the elementary school.

KVNO:

So you actually have three hours of impact?

Romero:

And I’ll do whatever else needs to be done. One thing we’re trying to help coordinate is people who want to participate that day and don’t have ideas, we’re helping generate ideas. And hopefully at some point I’ll be able to kind of sit back and kind of reflect that day.

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