We're sharing the following article from the Minden Courier that was published October 5, 2016. Johnie Kamery, Gary Thompson Agency's Minden Location Manager and Executive Director, and his wife Buffi are Council members of Be the Gift Nebraska, a non-profit Christian organization that serves single parent families in the Minden School District area.
Be the Gift Adds Services
Written by Cindy Ramsey, Editor:
"The excitement of summer is over, but part of the Kearney County Fair is still bringing joy to several Minden residents. On September 26, Be the Gift Nebraska distributed several hundred pounds of meat from hogs purchased at the 4H livestock auction to single parent families.
Gary Thompson Agency owner and Be the Gift NE Council member Johnie Kamery buys hogs and steers at the 4H auction each year. Gary Thompson Agency then donates the meat to Be The Gift to benefit single parents in the area.
“That’s worked out really well for us. If we buy animals out there each year, it supports the 4H. Then we donate them to Be the Gift and put those in the freezer to be handed out,” Kamery said.
Meat Mondays is a recent addition to the services offered by Be The Gift. The Monday meat program began providing meat to single parent families just over one year ago. Kamery estimates that over 3,000 pounds of beef and pork have been handed out in that time. The meat is all donated to the program with disbursement taking place the last Monday of each month.
“We’ve been fortunate, being in an ag community, to have people donate whole hogs and quarters of beef. If we get low, we will purchase the meat ourselves with funds donated to Be the Gift. Mason’s has worked with us giving us very good pricing.” Kamery added, “We have people now who donate meat, but the more we have, the longer we can continue this.”
Be the Gift is a non-profit Christian organization that serves single parent families in the Minden School District area. Minden is home of one of two Be the Gift chapters in the whole nation. The Minden group was started almost seven years ago to help single parent families with small home repairs.
“We do a fall and spring cleanup where we help with yard work, check smoke alarm batteries, check antifreeze levels in cars, and do small repairs like prepare lawn mowers for the season,” Kamery explained.
The Minden chapter has expanded their services over the years. In addition to the spring and fall cleanup, Be the Gift now hosts banquets, provides pool passes, awards scholarships, and helps supply meat to single parent households.
“We have a summer barbecue where we usually do a pool party so the kids and parents can get together and a Valentines banquet. We provide family pool passes and faith based summer camp scholarships for the families that want to have a place for their kids to go during the summer,” Kamery said.
Two scholarships are awarded annually to high school students to help further their education. Recently the group gave out its first scholarship to a single parent so she could go back to college. She completed her summer courses and is enrolled again this fall.
“We look at that as moving forward. It’s life changing for somebody to not just receive a service, but to actually get a higher education and improve their life,” Kamery explained.
By offering a variety of services and programs, the organization hopes to become a valuable resource to single parents. Although there are some needs the group doesn’t traditionally handle, the council members often have contacts that can help.
“When a single parent runs into something that’s overwhelming or unexpected that they have to deal with, we want to be their first call. We can’t guarantee we can help with everything, but we might have contacts to help them,” Kamery explained. “ Our goal is to really be that first point of contact. When they have a need, they can get a hold of us and we’ll do whatever we can to try and help them out.”
The diversity of services available through the organization is one of the qualities that sets it apart from other non-profits. Rather than target one specific need, Be the Gift focuses on improving the lives of single parents in any way they can.
“Every charity and non-profit that’s doing good work is valuable. I think we’re a little bit outside that box because we don’t just provide one service. We want parents to really lean on us when something unexpected pops up,” Kamery said.
More than just services and resources, Be the Gift provides support and fellowship. The council members build personal relationships with the people they serve and become invested in their future.
Kamery explained, “It’s not a situation where they show up and we don’t know who they are. We intentionally get to know these people and it goes beyond just the service of fixing their house. Having a fellowship group, someone to pray with, we think that’s invaluable.”
In addition to Kamery and his wife Buffi, Be the Gift NE Council members include Ron and Linda Brewer, Mark and Melissa Klabunde, Jeff Krull, Scott and Lorie Pinkham, and Dick and Sally Phillips. The services offered by the organization are funded entirely by donations and performed entirely by volunteers. The annual Leadercast convention at the Minden Opera House benefits the group to help continue their work.
“The donations given and the people willing to donate their time is invaluable to us. It’s been amazing the support that we’ve received and we have an incredible council that is really dedicated to helping the single parents in the community,” Kamery said.
Parents currently benefiting from the generosity of Be the Gift have been referred to the organization or contacted the board themselves. There is no limit to the number of people the group can help and they welcome any single parents in the community to contact them for more information. Volunteers and donations are also vital to the program and anyone willing to give is encouraged to do so.
Be the Gift can be contacted through their Facebook page Be the Gift Nebraska or their website www.bethegiftne.com. Upcoming events like the fall cleanup October 15 are announced on the facebook page. Volunteers are always welcome and the work counts toward CAT hours at the high school.
“I hope that we’re able to pick up some new volunteers and some new single parents,” Kamery said. “There are a lot of single parents that we don’t know about in the community. If we can get in contact with them or have them get in contact with us, that would be great.”
Posted on Tue, October 4, 2016
by Celeste Hawley