You may have noticed that my husband, Gary Gustafson, and I are the honorary chairs for the upcoming Completely Kids Big Red Tail Gate fundraiser. Truly, the honor is all ours. Our family has been pleased to support this amazing organization and the families it serves for close to 15 years.
Our involvement started when I was asked to volunteer PR services for what was then Camp Fire. Even then we realized that the Omaha version of Camp Fire was not that organization of camping and beads on sashes. It had evolved into an organization serving the most underserved boys and girls of our community, which it continues to do today.
Through my PR service, my family got involved, sponsoring the holiday giving programs at select schools throughout the years. We and our friends gathered stockings, gifts, and fruit for the children in the Camp Fire program at the schools and made an event of the giving and participating in games and fun at the program. Soon I was asked to serve on the Board of Directors, which I did for 6 years. This was a critical time in the life of the organization as we launched a capital campaign to build a stand-alone building big enough to support the backpack food program, services and gatherings for the children and families in the neighborhood.
We decided to separate from the national Camp Fire program at this time, too. A difficult and tenuous decision that was very wise as it allowed the $50,000 annual fee to be plowed back in to local programming. I led the name change committee at that time and it was one of the most fulfilling experiences of my career. I got to work with brilliant marketers, project managers, artists and attorneys and we came through that process with flying colors (blue, yellow and orange to be exact), a name and tagline that perfectly denote what this organization is – a springboard of hope and preparation for bright futures for the young lives who will grow up to be vibrant, strong participants in this great community.
Penny Parker is the one we should all honor for her years of dedication, strength and energy in assuring that the lives of those she serves would be changed for the better. She knows how to pick people for her team and I bless the day all those years ago when I was asked to serve. It has changed me for the better.
To learn more about what Completely Kids is and what it uniquely does for the lives of children and families in our community, see CompletelyKids.org.