As adults, we typically get involved in community support roles through opportunities that come to us in college or in our place of work. As children, our first experience with community support is through volunteering through Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and other organized groups that seek out ways to teach the value of helping others.
To ask Grant Mussman about his passion for community involvement is to ask him about his childhood. “It starts with the upbringing. I remember two things about my mom prior to kindergarten: her involvement in meals on wheels and visiting nursing homes,” Grant said. Even though he had early and very memorable experiences with volunteering and helping in the community, he hadn’t truly reflected on it until recently. It’s become clearer as he looks back on those outings with his mom, his involvement in the First Lutheran Church in Fremont, participating in cub scouts and boy scouts, and ultimately culminating into achieving the rank of Eagle Scout by doing a service project for his community.
The theater is particularly near to Grant’s heart as his mom was a theater major and his uncle a full-time actor in San Francisco. As a young boy, his mom would take him to plays and talk of the theater was a routine part of family conversation.
When a person develops habits from such a young age, it’s hard to get rid of them, but this is a habit Grant was happy to continue into his adult life. During his college years, he belonged to the community service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega. Grant has been part of Omaha Venture Group for 12 years, recognizing that a hand up rather than a handout is how to help citizens in a community achieve independence.
Grant points out that there is an unending supply of fantastic causes to support everywhere you look. From diaper drives, to vehicle donations, to sharing your time at a nursing home, to mentoring children, there is something to fit every personality. It is fitting that in 2017, State Farm launched Neighborhood of Good which is their website platform to help individuals connect with causes that connect with their heart, in their communities. Simply choose your location and the causes that matter to you and you can be instantly connected with organizations that need your help. It’s just one more reason Grant feels State Farm is a great fit that aligns with his mission to help others – whether through insurance and claims or providing volunteer help.
Grant said that being deeply entrenched in his community is “just a part of how I was wired. I’ve always sought out opportunities to help others.” Grant’s community focus is a simple belief that what we all have in common is that our unique communities are different. We have diverse yet shared history, interests, faith, and passions (like Huskers football), all of which leads to a love of community. In Grant’s case, a love of Omaha.
The Omaha community, while large, is quite tight knit and it commonly referred to as the big city that feels like a small town. We think that is largely due to the support and kindness the citizens offer throughout the metro area.
If you’ve ever had a chance to meet Grant Mussman, you know he’s a first-class example of community support. If you haven’t met him, make it a point to. Grant is a local State Farm agent entrenched in Omaha’s civic groups, nonprofits, community programs, and professional affiliations, all for the sake of expanding his horizons, extending gratitude to a community that has wholeheartedly welcomed him, and improving the place he calls home.
A desire to help others and serve his community were a part of life for Grant from early on. His dad has been a State Farm agent in Fremont for over three decades, so Grant experienced first-hand what it meant to be there when someone is in need. He realized that through a career like his dad’s, he could make a difference in the lives of people every day.
A natural born leader, Grant found that others consistently encouraged him to be the leader in most areas of his childhood. From being 6th Trumpet to being selected Band President, to growing as a cub scout to earning the rank of Eagle Scout while growing up in Fremont, Grant has learned to use his leadership skills to benefit others. Not only can he step in and take up the task of leading others, he does it all with a clear sense of humility. “I respect everyone and the path they’re on. I haven’t walked in their shoes,” he said.
“I respect everyone and the path they’re on. I haven’t walked in their shoes.” Grant Mussman
As a man who values faith and family, Grant is active in his church and volunteers in various capacities to help where needed. He is active in the Kiwanis, involved in the Nepalese Society, and supports the local arts community contributing to the Omaha Community Playhouse and The Apollon through financial support and community promotion of their productions and special events. Hundreds of individuals each year enjoy reduced prices on tickets to concerts and theater productions because of his generosity. Grant is a fan of all types of arts from music, to theater, to multimedia, to dance. His well-rounded appreciation of the arts and civic organizations naturally leads to his commitment to supporting nonprofits and promoting their causes to help provide more awareness for them and benefits for those who need the services.
Community involvement isn’t simply a few hours of volunteer work for Grant, it’s a lifestyle and a passion. A passion that is clear and contagious. A lifestyle that is evident in everything from his family life to the way his team at State Farm interacts. His team is valued and cared for and that doesn’t come from great effort – it comes from an innate disposition. To Grant, everyone is a friend and he likes to be the first one to lend a helping hand to those in need. Recently, State Farm launched a new site, NeighborhoodOfGood.com which helps connect individuals to nonprofits in their community with which they can connect for volunteer and other supportive opportunities. It’s one more way Grant’s career intertwines with his personal values and that he can enjoy even more ways to help the community by encouraging everyone to find a cause that resonates with them to get involved with.
A lifelong learner, Grant takes opportunities to learn about the things he doesn’t have experience with and to connect with people and organizations that he can learn from and provide value to. Grant shared, “The greatest compliment someone can give me is to ask my advice about something.” His dedication to building a thriving community has already been felt among the people and organizations he has touched. Keep an eye on this one. He’s barely scratched the surface of his impact on Omaha.
“The greatest compliment someone can give me is to ask my advice about something.” Grant Mussman
Pretty in Pink: Beka Celebrates Red-Letter Anniversary
Beka Doolittle, CEO of The Pink Store, strategizes with local social media experts 316 Strategy Group.
E-commerce small business, The Pink Store, and owner Beka Doolittle’s special one-year anniversary will be a pink-letter day. In late December 2014, corporate giant Victoria’s Secret backed off on its legal opposition to the trademark for Beka’s business, The Pink Store.
Conversely, a two-year anniversary Beka would like to forget was anything but a red-letter day. Well, Code Red, maybe. Beka admits shedding tears in late December 2013 when she received a stunning demand from a Victoria’s Secret lawyer to drop the trademark on her everything-in-pink retail business. As mysteriously as the legal threat surfaced, it disappeared in the same way in 12 months’ time.
Relief For The Pink Store
“Having something of that magnitude hanging over my head for a year was a bit daunting to say the least,” said the 41-year-old Elkhorn-area resident. “Being able to walk away from that without the worry of losing all I’ve worked for has been a relief. Knowing I can continue to move forward with my company and allow it to evolve leaves me feeling thankful. It was very freeing when Victoria’s Secret relented. No money was exchanged. They dropped it as quickly as they started it. If I may say so, getting the ‘bragging rights’ is pretty cool.”
Victoria’s Secret, America’s largest lingerie retailer, petitioned the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to cancel Beka’s trademark for thepinkstore.com after she had received it in May 2013. Her business includes a wide-ranging variety of pink-colored items: from children’s tricycles to handbags, cuff links and dog accessories, but she does not sell any line of products that competes with Victoria’s Secret. She has one employee – herself.
Victoria’s Secret challenged Beka’s trademark because the mega business claimed it was concerned the trademark could cause consumers to confuse her online store with its pink-branded apparel. Victoria’s Secret Pink stores sell its Pinkbrand lingerie and loungewear, marketed to teenagers and young women. The company has more than 120 standalone Pink stores in the United States and Canada.
Many observers were impressed with Beka’s persistence and faith during her yearlong ordeal. Some even said they believed Beka’s battle with Victoria’s Secret had biblical overtones, not unlike those detailed in 1 Samuel 17, where David prevailed against Goliath in the paramount against-all-odds story of the Old Testament.
David prevailed against Goliath!
When asked how her faith helped her endure the struggle, Beka said: “The first Bible passage that comes to mind is Proverbs 3:5-6, which says, ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, submit to Him and He will direct your path.’ I am a firm believer that everything happens at the right time and for the right reason. We don’t always see the reasons in the moment, but eventually, they will play out.”
Describing her gratitude for what many business experts called “an improbable victory,” Beka said: “On a scale of 1 to 10, I’m going with an 11! But I will say this: For every experience, there’s an instrumental element of wisdom worth infinite value. I wouldn’t give up a single day of my entrepreneurial journey no matter how difficult it may seem at times. Without those experiences, I wouldn’t be who I am today. Each and every obstacle we face or every victory we experience is a part of who we become. That is, in fact, the best life story each of us has to hand down to the next generation. It’s an amazing life circle.”
I wouldn’t give up a single day of my entreprenurial journey. ~ Beka Doolittle
In the year since Victoria’s Secret pulled out of the challenge, life has changed for Beka and her family. Beka took time away from The Pink Store so she could focus on her youngest child and husband Brad. Along the way this past year, she also married off her oldest son and became a grandma. Beka enjoyed watching two of her children tour the country with their Christian band Unscene Patrol. “It brings me great joy to know they are bringing God’s Word to people across the country. The boys are incredibly talented,” Beka said.
Omaha-area entrepreneur Joseph Kenney, a business and nonprofit consultant, as well as the founder of Christian businesses 316 Strategy Group and 316 Marketplace, has watched Beka’s saga unfold. Joe and 316 Strategy Group jumped into the fray and provided spiritual support as well as access to their business acumen. Joe and his associates savored the good times with Beka and Brad.
“I have been impressed with Beka’s attitude toward her situation,” Joe said. “She is a fun-loving person who is a bright spot on the horizon. She did not wish Victoria’s Secret any ill will nor denigrated them in any way, shape or form; she’s a very forgiving person who is full of grace.
“I can tell that she was puzzled and hurt by their actions. I also know that she is a fighter – she’s spunky. She absolutely loves what she’s doing. In my view, it would be difficult for anyone in her shoes if it was all taken away. She and her attorney knew that most of the time, businesses simply close down from fear when legal threats like this happen to them.”
Joe said Beka is an idea person who had dreams and never stops looking ahead – a characteristic of a natural-born entrepreneur. One vision is to keep her online store, which continues to reach consumers nationally while adding a local warehouse for fulfillment and a small storefront for local pink lovers.
Joe said despair had never set in for Beka and her family, and she knew whatever happened would be part of God’s plan. “She was fine with that,” Joe said, “and you can’t help but admire her deep faith in God and His will.”
You can’t help but admire her deep faith in God and His will. ~ Joseph Kenney
During one of their summer meetings, a severe weather watch was posted for the Omaha area, and Beka commented that she needed to shave her legs and paint her toes pink before any potential storm arrived. “I asked why, and she said she simply wanted to be ready for heaven ‘if tonight’s the night,’ ” Joe said with a laugh.
Beka and The Pink Store praised Joe and 316Marketplace.com for coming to her aid. “Ah, yes,” Beka said, “316Marketplace.com has been invaluable. Having their mentorship is by far more than I expected or could have asked for. As a result, my focus is getting better each day because of this team effort. I simply cannot say enough good things and I cannot express enough gratitude for the time invested into my company as well as my personal journey. The vested interest is truly a work of God and I’m blessed to be part of the 316 family!”
For more information about The Pink Store, contact owner Beka Doolittle at (402) 740-6891 or toll-free at (877) 991-PINK. Check out the business website at www.thepinkstore.com. For more information about how 316marketplace.com can help your business or entrepreneurefforts, visit http://316marketplace.com/ or call (402) 415-9842 or stop by our offices at 17117 Burt Street, Omaha, Nebraska, in the Nebraska Realty building.
Christian Artist Connects With The Faith Driven Community
By, Brian Lahm
By day, Christopher Slater works as a successful marketing and business strategy consultant with 316 Strategy Group. At night and on the weekends, he heads to the garage workshop of his west Omaha home and carefully handcrafts various sizes and shapes of crosses, a symbolic reminder of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and the intersection of God’s love and His justice. Christopher’s creations are extraordinary because they are personal keepsakes for friends, family and customers who seek his handmade works of art.
Above the workbench where he shapes the metal with a hammer and grinder, one of his favorite verses is written on the wall;
“As iron sharpens iron; so one person sharpens another.”
– Proverbs 27:17
It’s an appropriate Scripture for a Christian who works with copper, wood and other various materials to create the unique crosses. “At 316, we surround ourselves with iron every day in the business world, and encourage others to do the same. At home, my family and friends are my iron.”
Christopher often adds a well-thought-out Scripture or prayer and attaches it to the crosses that he creates. “I almost always have made the crosses with the specific person in mind. They are individual projects, labors of love. I’ve given them as Christmas gifts and for special occasions. With almost every cross, the Bible verse or prayer that I have included is appropriate for the particular person and illustrates the relationship we have,” he said. For customers who buy his pieces, he encourages them to do the same.
“Faith permeates every aspect of my life, whether it’s the purposeful work of 316 Strategy Group, or in my personal life. I can’t express how much it lifts me when our kids build on the foundation of faith at home and seek the Word on their own,” he said.
Daughter Autumn, 18, is a sophomore psychology major at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and participates in a weekly college Bible study. Son Bennett, 15, is a sophomore in high school and is an active member of his school’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes. “We are so fortunate to have a community of spiritual leaders in our schools to continue to build on the foundation we have laid at home,” Christopher said.
“My wife, Tacy, and I have come to understand as parents that our children are actually guiding us once they reach a certain age, and to see them independently building on the values that we have at home is a reward that can’t be matched.”
Christopher added, “I am so pleased that the kids have found beauty and meaning in these crosses. For Bennett, working on these crosses gives me an opportunity to teach some skills and serves as a wonderful bonding experience. He is a great shop apprentice and has spent many hours in the hot sun breaking down reclaimed materials. He’s not afraid to get his hands dirty.”
Christopher’s inspiration for spiritual creation might have had its beginning nearly 30 years ago during a retreat for seniors at Council Bluffs St. Albert High School when he received a necklace with a cross made of nails. “It still hangs in our home because it made an impression on me. There is a beautiful simplicity in the necklace, and it is impossible to look at any cross without being reminded of its meaning, of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for all of us. It is a symbol of faith, sacrifice and redemption” he said.
Christopher had no formal training from which to draw for his spiritual creations, but he has uncovered a passion that has caught the eye of a number of people. “I took a shop class as a sophomore at St. Albert High School, and I probably ended up with a C on most projects,” Christopher humbly said with a laugh. “I am not a master woodworker by any means; I am rudimentary at best. I am just getting used to the thought that people consider what I do to be art.” The designs are simple yet creative. “Each piece is unique, and I particularly enjoy integrating the metals with the wood.”
While his work-space has an arsenal of tools, Christopher primarily uses a hammer, a grinder and a table saw to make his beautiful pieces. “A friend who is a plumber saves a bucket of scrap copper periodically and brings it to me in exchange for lunch.” A favorite lunch spot just happens to be Stories Coffeehouse at 180th and Pacific Streets, where evidence of faith is tucked throughout the restaurant. “He normally would take the metal to the scrap yard,” Christopher explained. “I love the patina of the old copper. Once it is hammered out and buffed in a certain manner, the patina blends beautifully with the newly polished high spots.”
“I use reclaimed wood and other old materials. I am a collector and saver of things. I tend to favor discarded barn wood and pallet wood. With pallet wood, you never know what you are going to get. There might be pine, oak, hickory … just about anything. It can be quite beautiful to work with. I rarely throw anything away. I keep the scrap pieces as well while I am making a cross, and that otherwise discarded piece goes into a crate because I never know if it might be used later. In my mind’s eye, I fit some of the loose, disjointed pieces together into one unified piece. Like a puzzle, there are certain pieces that just belong together. Everything is done with an intention.”
The first few crosses were completely done by hand. Christopher did not use a table saw or nail gun, and they were made with salvaged barn wood and slotted screws from a home built nearly 110 years ago. All of the crosses have been uniquely different pieces that somehow come out of an inspiration Christopher cannot fully explain. Some have metal in them, and some do not. Some are made up of different kinds of woods. He crafted a cross with a horseshoe on it for his father-in-law, who has a special love for horses.
“I feel as though I have been guided to create, and have always done so in some fashion. The crosses are a form of faithful expression. They have meaning to me and there is a part of me in each and every one,” Christopher said. “I could use ‘passion,’ but I think that might be a word that’s overused. It is a true joy to express myself, and it is a blessing to me that others appreciate the crosses as much as I do.”
Christopher has handcrafted more than 20 crosses. Many of those who know him have asked if the handy work might not turn out to be more than an avocation that takes place in a relatively small workspace near 180th and Harney Streets. “I call it ‘my space.’ It’s not an art studio – that’s for sure – although I’d love to have something like that someday,” Christopher said. Tacy has been so gracious in allowing my space, because it often spills over to more area than I intend it to. It’s surely not easy living with all of the sawdust, metal shavings and noise, but despite those things, she continually inspires and encourages me. I am surely blessed.
“I will continue to create if it feels like a joy and as long as I feel the spirit running through me to do it. It is spiritual, absolutely, for me. I feel privileged to do it, and oddly enough, I get emotional when others see the beauty and it touches them in ways I may never know. It means a lot to me to know something I have created finds a home and has a meaning to someone else.”
Asked if the cross-making will bloom into a business, Christopher said: “The bottom line is that I am encouraged by the fact that people find meaning in the crosses. They are all such personal things. I’d be happy to see them in boutiques or specialty design and decor spaces, but until then I will continue to sell them on my own.
“It is my hope that the crosses will bring joy to those who receive them for years to come and perhaps be a small part of their own expression of faith. Even with the crosses that have not been made for any specific person, I say a prayer over them that the recipient finds peace and comfort whenever they see it. Maybe through the power of God, they will be an instrument that somehow has an impact, as small as it may be, on someone’s life.”
To reach Christopher Slater about requesting or purchasing a cross, call 402-881-2811, email him at email@example.com
Rejuvenating Women’s Banquet Successful But Challenges Are Certain to Grow
By Brian Lahm
The inaugural “Beautifully Broken” banquet was a success in providing attention and support for Rejuvenating Women, but there’s much more work to be done. The challenges of battling human trafficking and helping the victims in the Omaha area are not expected to diminish.
“Bottom line, we have to continue to educate the public. Joseph Kenney and 316 Strategy Group have been helpful in that role, and we can count on Joe and his organization for assistance because they understand the importance of continuing this fight,” said Rejuvenating Women President Julie Shrader whose non-profit organization held an Oct.1 banquet that drew 385 people to A View on State at 13467 State Street in northwest Omaha.
“We need continued steady support with prayers. We also welcome contributions and volunteerism, whatever the Lord puts on your heart for this ministry if He is leading you in this direction. Even more specifically, we are looking for medical partners, professionals we can call night or day for help with victims. We need assistance from doctors and clinics. Most of the calls we make on behalf of victims come at ‘normal’ times such as 2 in the afternoon, but not always,” Julie added.
“I am trying to get into hospital emergency rooms to speak to directors and personnel so we can have discussions that are beneficial to helping victims. For instance, when you see guys bringing in women for ER treatment and they seem to be over-the-top with a controlling attitude, that is one possible red flag and a situation that needs to be evaluated.”
Joe, founder and president of 316 Strategy Group, confirmed his commitment to helping Julie and Rejuvenating Women. “We need to provide tips on how people can recognize when women and girls are caught in trafficking. Most of the time, they just can’t walk away without support or assistance. Everything Julie and Rejuvenating Women offer is Bible-based.
“I know a situation where a mother talked about how her 16-year-old was ‘stolen’ – probably ‘kidnapped’ is a better word for it – and prepared and marketed elsewhere. The mother was just sick about it, as you can imagine. She dearly loves her daughter, and it was a painful experience not knowing what happened to her.
“We are appreciative for those who have taken notice of the situation and want to help, including churches, businesses, and individuals. Law enforcement and prosecutors have worked closely with Rejuvenating Women as well.”
With contributions, Rejuvenating Women runs a safe house, provides extensive one-on-one mentoring and counseling – all free of charge – to women and girls. The group also helps others deal with forgiveness, abortion, teen pregnancy, bullying, infidelity, physical and mental abuse, addictions, molestation, self-esteem, anxiety, depression, grief and post-traumatic stress disorder.
“My way of helping people understand this situation is asking someone, ‘What if it was your daughter?’ ” Joe said.
Christopher Slater and Joseph Kenney of 316 Strategy Group pictured with Julie Shrader of Rejuvenating Women. 316 remains committed to the long-term success of the organization.
Brian Lahm is founder and President of GML Communications, Inc. in Omaha, Nebraska. GML Communications, Inc. offers more than 25 years of experience in communications and public relations content development. They help organizations craft and deliver messages that define their mission and position them as industry experts with an important story to tell. www.gmlcommunications.com
Rejuvenating Women Receiving Strong Show of Support From Local Christian Business
By Brian Lahm
An Omaha-area Christian business, 316Marketplace.com, is providing strong ongoing support for Rejuvenating Women and its upcoming fundraising banquet, “Beautifully Broken,” and is encouraging others in the Omaha community to do the same.
Joseph Kenney, founder and president of 316Marketplace.com, points out that Rejuvenating Women is holding “Beautifully Broken” to draw attention to human trafficking in the Omaha area and support Rejuvenating Women’s efforts to help entrapped women and girls through the love of Jesus Christ and Scriptures. The three-year-old non-profit organization needs more backing to battle a scourge to the metro area that is seldom discussed and often goes undetected.
Above all, Rejuvenating Women President Julie Shrader is seeking prayer support during the group’s inaugural fund-raiser Thursday, Oct. 1, from 6 to 9 p.m. at A View on State at 13467 State Street in northwest Omaha.
“We want to educate the public about what is behind the heart and mind of this insidious criminal conduct that has tragic outcomes unless these women and girls can be helped. There is still an outdated and inaccurate mentality that prostitution is done by choice. Most often, it is an activity that comes out of desperation and circumstances and then ends up in enslavement,” said Julie, who started Rejuvenating Women and is ramping up efforts to provide many forms of assistance to those who are attempting to leave the lifestyle that is forced on them.
“Our emphasis on human trafficking came along only a year and a half ago,” explained Julie, whose organization’s mission is focused on rejuvenating women by journeying together on the road to freedom with love, healing and restoration.
How severe is the problem of human trafficking?
“An estimate on girls and women who have been forced into sex trafficking might number between 300 and 500 in the most saturated area of activity in Omaha, but the problem is widespread and growing,”
“An estimate on girls and women who have been forced into sex trafficking might number between 300 and 500 in the most saturated area of activity in Omaha, but the problem is widespread and growing,” said Julie, whose organization has received the solid backing and endorsement of city, county, state and federal law enforcement and prosecutorial authorities.
How does Rejuvenating Women impact human trafficking? “We provide one-on-one mentoring, and have eight of those situations going on now. Mentoring lasts for about a year as we go through a book, “One-on-One Discipleship,” that is so powerful,” Julie explained. “The women learn about the love of Christ and obedience, which is the key to daily living for Christ. This approach benefits those who are new to Christianity or even have been acquainted with Jesus Christ for many years. We learn about the Bible and how to read it. Forgiveness is a piece of the study, including forgiving yourself, and getting rid of the shame.
The group also helps girls and women deal with forgiveness, abortion, teen pregnancy, bullying, infidelity, physical and mental abuse, addictions, molestation, self-esteem, anxiety, depression, grief and post-traumatic stress disorder.
“There is also counseling at no charge. We have about three to four girls going through counseling now, but there are probably more than that because some of them come back for counseling infrequently. We try to help everyone who needs it.”
Asked how people can help, Julie said: “Prayer, and lots of it. We need prayer cover for our spiritual and physical protection and to allow God’s spirit to break through and help the victims. You would not believe the amount of demonic oppression that has surfaced to our efforts.”
There also is a monetary need. Rejuvenating Women operates a safe house. “We found immediately that we really need a bigger safe house and one that is more isolated,” Julie said. “Since the stay is free, we need help with the expenses related to having a safe house.”
Julie Cornell of KETV, Channel 7, is master of ceremonies at the event that will include a dinner with a silent and live auction. “Beautifully Broken” also will include a survivor’s story, a testimony of forgiveness and healing and an Omaha Police officer’s presentation, “A Reality of Human Trafficking on Nebraska.” Stephanie Fast is the keynote speaker, and singer-songwriter Jessica Angelique will provide the entertainment.
Julie Shrader said she hopes to accommodate all of those who might decide at the last moment to attend “Beautifully Broken.” For those who had hoped to attend and cannot, Julie said, they can help Rejuvenating Women by providing prayer, donations and volunteerism. “It will be a blessing to us to receive any kind of support,” Julie added.
For more information, visit http://rejuvenatingwomen.com/rejuvenating-women-banquet/. The group’s Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/rejuvenatingwomen?fref=ts.
Many businesses, entrepreneurs and individuals already have stepped forward to help Rejuvenating Women. Julie pointed out 316Marketplace.com as one such faithful, dedicated backer that has made a huge difference.
“Joe Kenney and 316Marketplace.com have been great in getting whole groups of people to support us,” Julie said. “They have been extremely supportive with resources and people. 316 put together a crew who did a video that we could afford. They also market for us and get the word out for us through many avenues, including social media. We are very thankful to him and 316Marketplace.com.”
Brian Lahm is founder and President of GML Communications, Inc. in Omaha, Nebraska. GML Communications, Inc. offers more than 25 years of experience in communications and public relations content development. They help organizations craft and deliver messages that define their mission and position them as industry experts with an important story to tell. www.gmlcommunications.com
Through a tremendous amount of hard work, good will and prayer, Jason and Michelle Hurt founded Chariots 4 Hope while seeking to make an impact on behalf of those in need in the Omaha/Metro area. The not-for-profit restores vehicles and provides them to individuals who may have fallen on hard times, or who have otherwise been through insufferable circumstances. For such individuals and families, reliable transportation is often one of the most important pieces of the puzzle as they are working so hard to put their lives back together. The organization’s goal is for everyone to own reliable transportation that allows them to maintain independence and to be self sufficient in their communities..
Answering A Call To Serve Others
The Hurts are doing far more than restoring cars through Chariots 4 Hope…They are restoring lives, and are answering a calling to serve others. Originally from St. Louis, the Hurts moved from Long Island to Omaha nearly two years ago, and have wasted little time in making an impact on the Omaha/Metro. Successful business owners, they share a passion for serving the Lord, and in turn, their new community. Jason and Michelle, never ones to shield their faith, have founded Chariots 4 Hope on four Core Values; Faith, Honesty, Stewardship and Family. They both exude a remarkable passion for helping others and have partnered with local organizations that do the same, such as the Open Door Mission, Rejuvenating Women and the Cross Training Center. It is through these organizations that candidates are presented to Chariots 4 Hope. Choosing one person at a time, or even a few, is so very difficult. This is why the Hurts aspire to grow the organization to a point that they are able to keep up the with demand. Jason stated very matter-of-factly “We plan to be in a position to where we can provide gifts of reliable vehicles to 10 to 15 people each month… or more…”. “It is a ministry…” Michelle added. “…to learn what many of these families have been through is heartbreaking, and we are blessed to have the ability to help”.
Chariots 4 Hope Delivers First Gift
Chariots 4 Hope’s first gift was a 2003 Ford Escape, which was delivered to April Baker, a single mother with a three year old son. April was taken completely by surprise on October 20th as the Hurts delivered the vehicle to her, complete with a giant bow on the hood. Until this amazing gift had been delivered, April had been without transportation, and without a trusted support system around her, she had very little options. As a sex trafficking survivor, April has been working to rebuild a foundation for she and her son and described the gift from Chariots 4 Hope as “…a blessing from God…”. April further explained that she had never felt worthy of good things in life, particularly from people she did not even know. “…I feel like I’m on my way to feeling normal again..” she added.
Julie Schrader, of Rejuvenating women had nominated April to Chariots 4 Hope. “Jason and Michelle are truly two of the most compassionate and honest people I have met. They have a passion and desire to do Christ’s work and to help others in need…” Shrader said. “My hope is that people and even dealerships will donate vehicles and funds to help them with this amazing ministry that God has given to them… this is a fantastic organization.” Chariots 4 Hope is definitely a bright spot within the Omaha Town Square.
Chariots 4 Hope is seeking community partners to help further their mission, whether it may be mechanics, repair shops, auto dealers or individuals who would like to help. You can contactChariots 4 Hope at 402-516-8302, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, you can also visit their website at www.Chariots4Hope.org, where you can also find links to make donations.
We recently connected with Kevin McClure from Unscene Patrol. We were so moved by their talents, their desire to produce another album and their reliance on faith to guide them along this journey, that we wanted to share their story with you.
Unscene Patrol is a rock band from Omaha, NE, with songs that deal with real-life struggles and celebrations. Faith has been a staple in the songwriting and music-business aspects of the band since the beginning. With songs about overcoming doubt, death, loss, and sense-of-self in the debut album “Laughing In The Face Of Death”, up to more recent single releases about unity and impact (“We Can Be One”, “Fluorescent”, and “We Are More”) the faith in Jesus from primary songwriter Kevin McClure comes through in an interesting way.
“The goal of our music is not to be ‘preachy’, but to open up the door for conversation,” McClure says, “We have a lot of great friends in the CCM and Worship music worlds, and we love our fans that are in those realms, but we dream of being Kingdom-Expanders instead of Kingdom-Developers, like those artists. It’s not out of any disdain for the latter, but just out of calling. We feel called to go to the darker places where the Gospel isn’t normally welcome, and be a bridge that starts conversation.”
“The goal of our music is not to be ‘preachy’, but to open up the door for conversation.” ~ Kevin McClure
Since 2011, the band has released a full-length album, an additional EP, a Christmas EP, and a handful of singles, but what’s coming next makes the act more excited for the future. “We have been leaning into Kickstarter for this next album. We want to make songs based on the idea of tension and release as a musical term and how that parallels to captivity and bondage to our flesh and freedom from ourselves to truly be who we are created to be,” McClure continues to say. This album will consist of the pre-released single “We Are More”, a song about unity and growth, and “Fluorescent”, a song about outreach and being a light, as well as many more that the band has been performing on the road for the last year. McClure says that, “These songs are going to make an impact. They transcend my own personal experiences as a songwriter. They are songs of truth and songs of calling. This will be an important album, I think, for both the CCM world and the general market music industry.” They plan to release the album in early 2015, pending raising $7,500 to record the album at Confer Music House in Lincoln, NE by December 1st.
“We’re nervous about making the goal, but we’re leaning on our faith in God to do with this music what he wants. If nothing else, we want to be salt and light, and that might require more work to be done in and on us before these songs see the light of day, and even thought that’s not what we want, it is well with our souls that that might be what’s necessary.” ~ Kevin McClure
Without your help Unscene Patrol won’t be able to record and produce their next album. Time is running out on their Kickstarter campaign and we encourage each of you to prayerfully consider pledging $10.00 or more.
Click Here for Unscene Patrol’s Kickstarter Campaign Page
Secret Business Admirer Helps Family-Run Cupcake Bakery
By Annemarie Burton
It was a typical Friday morning at Mockingbird Cupcakes, a specialty cupcake bakery in west Omaha run by twin sisters Sarah Alsup and Rachael Henderson. The smell of baking cupcakes wafted through the air, mixers whirred in the kitchen, and freshly frosted cupcakes glistened through the glass display.
Then something unexpected happened at the bakery.
Three men walked into the bakery and presented co-owner Alsup with a gift bag containing a child-size t-shirt. On the front was a stick drawing her five-year-old son Christopher had made. On the back was a digitally transformed version of his drawing: a cupcake creature wearing an apron with the Mockingbird Cupcakes logo on it.
“To see my youngest son’s artwork displayed on a t-shirt moved me almost instantly to tears,” Alsup said.
One of the men identified himself as Joseph Kenney, of 316 Marketplace, a marketing company that connects faith-based consumers with like-minded businesses. Kenney explained that he and his team had been providing free marketing services to Mockingbird Cupcakes for a year without notifying them. They believed their work had generated several thousand dollars for the company.
“I was overcome with emotion,” Alsup recalled later. “I walked over to Joe to give him a hug, thanking him for his generosity. Tears rolled down my cheeks.”
During regular visits to the bakery, Kenney sampled many cupcakes, which he highly recommends. “You can tell they use real ingredients,” he said. “No box mixes here.”
Kenney also observed the sisters’ “unwavering work ethic and Christ-like mentality” when interacting with the public, their employees and each other. “They are Christ-centered people who are wonderful but unafraid to show their imperfections,” he said. “They’re real people. And so are their cupcakes.”
When he heard the bakery was struggling to build its customer base in a saturated market, he wanted to help.
“316 is dedicated to revealing the unique character attributes of faith-driven businesses in the community,” Kenney said. “We are also committed to using our resources, when manageable, to provide services to those businesses who need a little helping hand. Often we do this unsolicited and we never meet.”
Secretly 316 Marketplace expanded Mockingbird Cupcakes’ digital presence online via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and online reviews. They included the company in their online directories, which are valued at over $1,000, to drive more customers to the small local business.
Alsup and Henderson started to notice positive reviews on their social media accounts. “Conversations about Mockingbird were taking place in the digital sphere,” Alsup said, “and we couldn’t identify the catalyst of this welcomed publicity!”
The dream of operating their own bakery came true when the two stay-at-home-moms opened Mockingbird Cupcakes in 2013. They specialize in made-from-scratch cupcakes, cakes and pies and also offer catering and decorating parties. Their diverse menu, posted on their website, includes cupcakes called Breakfast in Bed, Razzamataz, Pink Bubbly, and Tequila Mockingbird, as well as seasonal flavors like Pumpkin Pie.
While savoring an Almond Sweetie cupcake one day, Kenney saw Christopher’s stick drawing hanging on the menu board and snapped a picture of it with his phone. That’s when he got the idea to collaborate with Creatureland Studio, a local design company that transforms children’s artwork into imaginative digital prints, and reveal his secret marketing work to Alsup and Henderson.
Using the photo, Martin Bruckner, owner of Creatureland Studio, created the cupcake character, calling it a “mustachioed, attitude-filled little pastry.” In addition to the t-shirt, Bruckner presented the sisters with a framed copy of the character print and a certificate of authenticity.
“Both women were so very gracious and thankful,” Bruckner said. “It was truly a priceless experience for me, and I felt that I had instantly gained two friends that will last a lifetime.”
Aaron Kessler, photographer and owner of Candlefire Films, was also invited to this supportive gathering of local businesses. Candlefire Films produces feature-length films and offers video and photography services for Omaha businesses. Kessler photographed the encounter at no cost and was impressed by the “Omaha spirit of collaboration” he witnessed.
“Both Creatureland and 316 sell these services to keep their businesses running,” Kessler said, “but for Mockingbird Cupcakes, they offered them completely for free, touching the hearts of owners Sarah and Rachael.”
Creatureland Studio and Candlefire Films have both worked with 316 Marketplace to enhance their marketing strategies, but this time they were the ones paying it forward for this unique bakery in Omaha.
“The generosity of both Joe and Marty to do this for someone they don’t even know is phenomenal,” Alsup said. “The experience was truly magical. I truly believe the Holy Spirit was present in our exchange.”
Henderson also expressed gratitude for Kenney and his “almost unbelievable acts of kindness” that have helped them realize their dream. She said she appreciates the small business collaboration shown by 316 Marketplace, Creatureland Studio and Candlefire Films.
“Meeting Joe, Marty and Aaron made us feel a part of something,” Henderson said. “A club of entrepreneurs who only want each other to succeed. This feeling makes coming in at 6:00 a.m. to bake the cupcakes easier.”
We encourage everyone in the #Omaha area to prayerfully consider stopping in to the bakery for a cupcake. Don’t forget to introduce yourself to Sarah and Rachael. You won’t be disappointed. You will be treated with dignity and respect. They make incredible cupcakes!
Bakery Address: 17306 Lakeside Hills Plaza, Omaha, NE 68130
Your pastor has greater influence over you than your Christian CEO, right?
Not so fast. Take a minute to consider how little time Americans spend with their pastors. Those attending church in America spend an average of 15 minutes or less listening to weekly sermons. Conversely, the average American working in corporate America is under the influence of his Christian CEO in excess of 45 hours per week. Christian business leaders are highly influential in the marketplace. According to Crown Business, less than 20% of Americans attend church services regularly but over 60% of Americans are employed and go to work each day. CEOs have a tremendous opportunity to lead by example and evangelize in the marketplace. Their influence on non-believers is significant, American businesses employ a
diverse cross section of faiths and backgrounds. Kingdom businesses exhibit far more influence on the daily lives of non-believers than a typical pastor does his flock. Christian CEOS are responsible for creating company culture, setting company policies, sourcing vendors, signing checks, hiring team members and developing a company mission. Take a minute out of your workday to thank your CEO for their Christian leadership.