Creating Bonds-How Donors Make an Impact in the District


Imagine 200 of your neighbors coming home one day only to find they no longer have a place to call “home,” not knowing where they will go, not having any of their belongings – only left with uncertainty.

Imagine your child needing help with anxiety, depression, bullying, trauma or other behavioral health issues, but their school nurses not having the resources and tools to help them during the school day.

These are just some of the situations and issues that our Omaha Public Schools (OPS) students face. Luckily, Omaha Public Schools Foundation (OPSF) is in the heart of a generous community that comes together to make gifts toward emergency situations, like when 600 supporters came together in 48 hours to raise $69,000 for families displaced by the Yale Apartment closing. Our donors also fund on-going needs like resources for mental health counselors in schools throughout the district so they can provide critical behavioral health care to OPS students.

There are many ways that people and businesses can support students, teachers and staff throughout the district. By donating gifts of stocks, bonds, cash, checks, online donations, gifts in kind, planned gifts, charitable bequests and more, donors make learning opportunities and essential resources possible and accessible for students, teachers and staff. At OPSF, our role is to ensure that the contributions are distributed through the programs that the donors choose to support.

“I can’t imagine a better place to make a contribution because funds donated quickly find their way to those in need,” Ray Dewaele, OPSF donor, said. “It’s been nearly ten years since my wife, Amy, and I began contributing and have found that it was one of the better decisions that we’ve ever made.”

After 40 years with the OPS district as a Special Education Teacher at Benson High School, Ray recently retired but stays connected as a substitute teacher. Familiar with needs of youth in the district, Ray and Amy know that OPSF directs their contribution to the specific students they want to support.

“Several years ago, we were asked to distribute some funds from a recently deceased relative’s estate in a manner to help students in need,” Ray said. “OPSF is just one of the groups we selected to receive those funds; however, it is the one organization that best addresses the immediate physical and material needs of students.”

Recently, Ray’s brother, Robert, connected with OPSF to set up his own giving plan. Robert decided that the best way to make a widespread impact was to invest in mental health resources and tools that OPS counselors needed to provide critical care for students of all ages.

“I’ve seen the impact on students’ lives which funding from OPSF has provided,” said Robert. “I’m now comfortable in investing my own funds which will be earmarked for mental health purposes.” Addressing mental, social and emotional health and well-being can be a challenge for schools. Through his donation, Robert is helping to bridge a gap in resources so students have a built-in community of support when emotional and behavioral needs arise during in-school hours.

“The Dewaeles’ contributions will provide services that are currently not available to a majority of OPS students,” Roxanne Nielsen, Development Director at OPSF, said. “That is the mission of OPSF. Working alongside donors like Robert, Ray and Amy ensures that we can really do what we are in the business of doing—helping those students, families, teachers and staff in our district who have no other avenues to the services, programs or aid that they need.”

Robert, Ray and Amy trust that their contributions are well-managed through OPSF and know that 100 percent of the funds reach students. If you and your family are considering year-end contributions or working on estate planning, Ray wants you to know this: “Previous donations we have made through OPSF have changed and impacted the lives of others to the degree that we want to keep giving. We encourage you to reach out to OPSF to learn how your gift, any gift can make an impact.”

“I am inspired by donors whose goals are to help students,” Roxanne said. “It’s gratifying work and makes me consider what ways I can be of better service. Many OPSF donors give without asking for any recognition or benefits of any kind. It’s pure philanthropy at its best!”

OPSF makes the giving process convenient and easy. By working with our team, you have the freedom to tailor how your contribution is distributed. Whether your gift impacts all 53,000 OPS students’ learning experiences or provides one student access to resources that helps them lead a healthier life, every gift matters.

Please contact Roxanne at the OPSF office to discuss your giving goals. She is happy to discuss ways to tailor your gift so it reaches those students and teachers you want to support. You can also Donate online.


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