Amantha Dickman, News Director: You’re listening to “KZUM News” on 89.3 KZUM Lincoln and KZUM HD.
[Fades in on the “KZUM News” program music, an original production of Jack Rodenburg. The music fades out.]
Amantha Dickman, News Director: Good afternoon and welcome to today’s edition of “KZUM News,” an hour dedicated to learning more about what is happening in Lincoln and the surrounding areas. I am the News Director, and your host, Amantha Dickman.
Today is our last episode of 2022. Tomorrow is a brand new year. And that means that we are inching closer to our Media Literacy Series.
Next week, we have our first episode airing. Our panel of media professionals and educators will discuss journalism’s current role in our community and the ethical standards that newsrooms aim to uphold.
This also seems like the perfect time to remind you about our Perceptions of the News survey. We’ve had this survey open for almost three months now and we appreciate everyone who has taken the time to fill it out. You’ve helped provide us with some incredible insights into how our community perceives local and national newsrooms. You’ve also shared some wonderful questions about newsrooms that our panelists will be answering on-air starting next weekend. And we can’t thank you enough for being a part of this discussion.
If you haven’t had the chance to take the survey but you think it sounds pretty neat, you still have time to check it out. It’s a really easy survey. We have a couple of questions on bias, misinformation, and some general questions asking you to describe how you consume the news. We also have a place to share any questions you would like us to answer on air. The survey won’t close until midnight on January 3. So you have tomorrow, Monday, and Tuesday to participate. All you have to do is head over to our website – kzum.org. You will see a QR code pinned to the right side of our home page. If you click on it, we have the link to our survey in that post. We also have posts on our social media pages. You can find us on Instagram and Facebook. And, of course, if you have any problems or questions, please feel free to let us know so we can help fix them.
Moving on, we are continuing our holiday special. Last week, we sat down with four local non-profit organizations to learn more about the work they did in 2022 and their plans for 2023. We have three more local non-profit organizations joining us today.
Right now we have Topher Hansen, the president of CenterPointe, here with us to tell us a little more about the work that they did. Now, you mentioned president, not executive director?
Topher Hansen, CEO of CenterPointe: CEO.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: CEO.
Topher Hansen, CEO of CenterPointe: CEO.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: So did you found CenterPointe?
Topher Hansen, CEO of CenterPointe: No. Fortunately, I had a group of predecessors who were wise and set a great foundation for the organization. And I have been CEO since 2000. But the organization was founded in 1973.
Prior to my becoming CEO, I was on staff. And prior to that, when I wasn’t on staff, I served on the board of directors and participated in… I was a “counselor.” [Be]cause you didn’t have to have any license or certification back then. And I volunteered and things like that. So I’ve had involvement with the organization for many decades.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: Well, congratulations on moving your way up through the ranks.
Topher Hansen, CEO of CenterPointe: Thanks. It’s been fun.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: And, of course, CenterPointe has a heavy involvement with both [the] Lincoln Police Department and several other government entities here. So I’m sure that most of our listeners are at least semi-aware of what you do. But can you tell us a little bit about what your main mission is?
Topher Hansen, CEO of CenterPointe: Absolutely. We look at ourselves as a healthcare organization focused on mental health, substance use, and primary care and have services that reflect all three areas. And those branch out into all sorts of programs and facilities.
But we also have about 250 units of housing that we do, supported housing, every day. And so we have a lot of experience, have done that; really started housing in 1990 and have continued that and built our housing stock up. So we own some of it and work with about 45 to 50 landlords in Lincoln, where the person in our services would rent the apartment from that person. And then we subsidize and attach a housing specialist or a peer support specialist to that person to support them in their housing and then also their health and wellbeing to make sure everything goes forward for them.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: That’s incredible. I didn’t know that you did that.
Topher Hansen, CEO of CenterPointe: Yeah. So overall what we’ve done the last couple of years is look at our services and our philosophy and approach to healthcare.
And rather than take a focus of the negative, which is the illness or the deficit or things like that, we try and orient ourselves to the positive; the strength-based approach to healthcare, which is to take what facts there are, whatever the illness is, and so on. But look at it in terms of the recovery. The person’s health and their well-being.
So it’s the same set of facts and we use all the same treatment modalities that you might find elsewhere. But our orientation is to recovery, not to their illness. So if you come in with depression, we wanna then identify and use the techniques and the therapies that make the most sense for that person and then orient them towards getting better and using their strengths and their assets to then get on that pathway to recovery.
So we walk with them, taking those steps to recovery so we can support them in that journey. And so overall our approach is health and well-being. And we’ve tried to then not only take that philosophical orientation but then change our language to be more positive language and more strength-based language… And really try and put that mind frame into the whole picture of the person’s care.
So, in fact, our new facility that we’re developing down at 11th and South Streets will be called the CenterPointe Campus for Health and Wellbeing. And, so, everything we do there will be focused on health and well-being, whether that is therapy for a number of issues, physical health, or we’ll also do prevention-type activities.
So, we intend to have a music series there during the nicer weather because music really draws people from a place in their heart and their soul to be more positive. It’s very healing in a bunch of ways. And same with the… if you think of all of it as bio-psychosocial. The biological piece, we wanna teach people how to cook in a healthy way because the fuel we put in our bodies is a piece of how we can be healthier and feel better about ourselves. So, anyway, we’re doing a bunch of those activities as we move into this new facility. And we’ll have things available. Like the cooking classes available to the community. This isn’t you gotta sign up and be a person in services at Center Point. It isn’t that. It is about CenterPointe addressing community need by offering things out to the entire community to participate in.
And, so, the music series would be one. The healthy cooking. We’ll have health education, you know, maybe yoga, maybe meditation. Things like that, that help anybody and you can sign up to do that. And the whole idea is for CenterPointe to offer things that help people push back the mental health issues that might be working on them or any substance use issues or that kind of thing. And, of course, to be healthy, to take care of our body in a way that it performs the best.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: You mentioned that new facility. Is the facility already done or is it projected to be finished in the next couple [of] years?
Topher Hansen, CEO of CenterPointe: Oh yeah, no. In the next couple of months.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: Oh, so coming up quickly then.
Topher Hansen, CEO of CenterPointe: Yeah, so it’s coming up quickly.
We’ve been working on it for years. But, now, it’s finally within a few months of being done. We’ll be moved in in March, towards the end of March. And then on May 18 – Thursday, May 18 – we are going to have our ribbon cutting.
And, so, besides the usual ribbon cutting type activities of speeches and so on, we’ll also do some tours. And then from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., we have Josh Hoyer and Soul Colossal penciled in to come play in the Serenity Garden, which is a large garden area that’s got a[n] amphitheater in it. And so they’ll be back there and that whole area can probably handle 150-ish people or something like that. And so we’ll have that open in the neighborhood and whoever wants to come listen.
And, so, that’s the whole idea, is CenterPointe wants to give these things to the community. So the community engages in activities that help health and well-being. And, by happenstance, next [year], the… 2023 is our 50th anniversary. And, so, we’ve been doing this in Lincoln and now for the last five years in Omaha as well, and serving people across the state for 50 years. And, so, we wanna celebrate that by giving things to the community that help with health and wellbeing.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: Well, it’s a happy anniversary to have a new location opening. That’s quite the achievement.
Topher Hansen, CEO of CenterPointe: Yeah, so this is… it’s a big project. It’ll have residential apartments that people that are connected to us in some way will rent out. And it’s for low-income people.
Then we have programs there that help teach people how to live in a positive way, healthy way in the community. And then we have a health clinic that will be much larger than what health clinic we have right now. Like four times larger. And then we also have a conference area where we can put together probably 60 or 70 people who would wanna have meetings and conferences, things like that. So our Health and Wellbeing Conference Center will be available for people to rent out and have activities of health and wellbeing, which is a pretty broad topic. But we want that to be a focal point.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: Well, that’s something to look forward to in 2023. And I mean, this year is coming to a close very quickly.
By the time that we’re through with this interview, we will be an hour closer to the new year.
Topher Hansen, CEO of CenterPointe: Great.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: [Do] you have any other plans coming up for 2023?
Topher Hansen, CEO of CenterPointe: Well, you know, our most recent activity has been starting a new program called LNKPoint. And that has been in cooperation with [the] Lincoln Police Department, the city of Lincoln, Lancaster County to put together, along with other organizations, a comprehensive type system that addresses people when they are stopped for driving under the influence.
And so the idea is to… for the police officer, then to triage the person in the community; like what is their need. And so if they have [a] medical condition that really needs to be addressed, then they’ll go to the hospital. If they are a person without housing, then they’ll go to the mission. If they’re violent, then they’ll go to jail. If they’re a minor, they would go to Cedars. And all the rest, which tends to be the bulk of the people, then come to our LNKPoint program. And that’s a place that they can sit. The police officer processes ’em there. They can be there until a person who is under the legal limit can come sign them out or they can blow below the legal limit and can leave on their own.
So we have started that at the end of August, beginning of September, and have put that forward in a way where we’ve learned a lot.
And now what we’re gonna do is… we’re in a temporary facility now. We’ll expand it to a permanent facility as we go. And it’s really gone quite well. And I think the system then has been catered more specifically to the kind of needs the person has.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: And then you mentioned that within the last few years, you expanded to Omaha and you have a location there. Do you plan to continue to expand to other areas of Nebraska as well, or are you planning, just for now, to stick to Omaha and Lincoln?
Topher Hansen, CEO of CenterPointe: Well, for now, Omaha and Lincoln… Omaha… our Campus for Hope facility in Omaha has 72 beds of residential treatment. We hope to start an outpatient program as well and begin to expand our continuum there, a little bit, to address the needs of the people we’re seeing.
Frankly, right now, the biggest challenge we have – and everyone else has – is staffing; in finding licensed therapists and, in some cases, nurses to come in. And even our behavioral health technician, which is our entry-level position in a residential program. We’ve had some challenges with that. So finding the staffing that we need, that really helps us expand, that has been the biggest challenge. So we don’t have all of our beds in use at Campus for Hope because we don’t have the staff right now to do that. And we have not expanded out into our outpatient programming because we don’t now have the staff to do that.
But our hope is that we’ll turn the corner on the staffing issues and ultimately be able to expand those programs.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: Perfect. And then it looks like we have a couple more minutes here left, but before we head out to our break, I just want to grab that website from you for our transcript. It’s CenterPointe…
I’m gonna get this wrong cause I get it wrong every time, but.org?
Topher Hansen, CEO of CenterPointe: Yes. You’re right [be]cause nonprofits tend to go “.org.” And the thing to remember is CenterPointe with an ‘E’ on the end .org.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: Right.
And then you also have social media accounts. I know you have an Instagram and a Facebook. We’ve got both of those in our little directory of nonprofits here at the station.
Topher Hansen, CEO of CenterPointe: Yeah, yeah.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: Twitter account? Any other accounts that I’m missing?
Topher Hansen, CEO of CenterPointe: No, I think you just hit ’em all. So Twitter and Facebook and Instagram. I think that’s what we’re doing right now.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: Perfect. And, of course, for everyone out there who’s tuning in, we will have those linked in today’s transcript and that will be up sometime midweek if you’re keeping an eye out.
And, then, of course, thank you so much for sitting down with us today, Topher. We appreciate you taking the time out to talk about CenterPointe with us to talk about a little [of] what you’ve experienced in 2022 and what your plans are for 2023.
Topher Hansen, CEO of CenterPointe: Yeah, thanks for asking me. We are always willing to come share our information. And if it can help people find us and access us and meet the need in the community? Fantastic.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: Well have a lovely afternoon and stay warm, and hopefully not very snowy.
Topher Hansen, CEO of CenterPointe: Yeah, indeed. Thanks.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: That was Topher Hansen, CEO of Centerpointe.
We have two more guests this afternoon before we head to break. Kelly Ross and Carmen Castillo from Echo Collective are joining us in the studio. Kelly, you are the Executive Director. And, Carmen, what kind of work do you do with Echo Collective?
Carmen Castillo, Graduate of the ECHO Collective Refinery Program: I was part of the refinery program. I was… I am a graduate from the 4th Cohort.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: And what do you mean by 4th Cohort? You have some sort of organizational structure where people come in and are volunteering or working with the organization?
Carmen Castillo, Graduate of the ECHO Collective Refinery Program: Yes. ECHO Collective is a program and, under the refinery program, it’s part of the ECHO Collective and it’s about business. So, the refinery helps known… I mean, immigrant women and refugee women that want to start their own businesses. So they educate us and they give us the tools that we need to start our own business.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: And Kelly mentioned earlier that you have a local business here yourself?
Carmen Castillo, Graduate of the ECHO Collective Refinery Program: Yes. Yeah. I have a small business that I run along with my husband on the weekends. And we do rentals and balloon decor.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: Oh, that’s wonderful. Just because I’m curious, how do you… do you screen print those? Or what’s that process look like for you?
Carmen Castillo, Graduate of the ECHO Collective Refinery Program: No, actually, they’re made out of wood. My husband, I mean… I designed the props and my husband made them for me. Makes them for me. And then we just rent them.
And decor… then, with like, we personalize those and also decorate with balloons and flowers and whatever the client wants to.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: Yeah. That sounds like so much fun.
Carmen Castillo, Graduate of the ECHO Collective Refinery Program: Yeah. It is rewarding. Seeing what you imagine as it comes to life and see[ing] the client’s expressions about it. It’s… I think that’s the most rewarding part of it.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: Absolutely. And, out of curiosity, how long does that program last, that ECHO Collective does?
Carmen Castillo, Graduate of the ECHO Collective Refinery Program: It is four months. It is four months long.
And I will say this, it’s definitely a magnificent opportunity [be]cause it really teaches you, like from the beginning, to like, from making your logo to making up your business plan, from how to do your numbers. It is really a very, very complete program.
And also a big part of these classes are about us. Like they teach you… like, make us better. Like your ideas, how to change your ideas. And also we share a lot of our like… we share our difficulties. And that makes us like more [of] a community and that really helps us to feel like we can do it and that we belong to something. And that really gives us the strength to move ahead.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: Yeah. So it’s a collaborative effort between everyone in the cohort. How many people are in a cohort generally speaking?
Kelly Ross, Executive Director of ECHO Collective: Our cohorts are from five to six people. And we keep it a little bit smaller just because each person is usually in a different industry. And we serve all women who are born outside of the US; so, that means we serve people in various degrees of English language acquisition or education obtained technological literacy. So we have a very diverse client base. And, so, by having five to six entrepreneurs in each cohort, we can address their specific needs one-on-one and make sure that they’re getting the best experience.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: Yeah. And I’m sure that it also helps make sure the feedback between members of the cohort is more personalized, more in depth a little bit.
Kelly Ross, Executive Director of ECHO Collective: Definitely.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: And then I just wanna talk a little bit about the origin of ECHO Collective. One of the things we’ve been talking about with all of our nonprofits is that not everyone is as nonprofit literate as we are here at KZUM. So can you tell us a little bit about how ECHO Collective got its start?
Kelly Ross, Executive Director of ECHO Collective: Sure. So to broadly address ECHO Collective, we connect and empower refugee and immigrant women. And we do that through personal development opportunities and intercultural connections. And all of this is done in a safe and nurturing space.
And ECHO Collective was born in August of 2020; so [a] little over two years ago.
And I had been working in the nonprofit sector for about eight years before that in a bunch of different roles like teaching English. I was an immigration paralegal. I was a case worker. I did citizenship instruction for a while.
But all of this was circling the same population and it really dialed into women who were born outside the U.S. And I started noticing that there was a huge discrepancy between the type of opportunities that I had and those that they were offered. And there were typically three different barriers; these women were blocked with and they just could not get around.
And those three barriers were English language acquisition. A lot of times they would say, “My dream is to do this.” And the response to that would be, “Okay, we’ll learn English first.” And we all know that achieving fluency in a language only comes to a certain few. I feel like I know lots of people who took four-plus years of language in high school and they’re not fluent. And, so, understanding that not everyone has the aptitude for language to achieve an advanced degree of proficiency. They can be incredibly capable people even without that advanced fluency. So the English language acquisition was a barrier.
Not understanding the rules and regulations of the U.S. It is really complicated to understand how life works here, especially if you don’t have an American that you can talk to about it.
And then the last thing was there was no community. And, so, a lot of the women that I worked with… sometimes they would have supportive spouses, but a lot of times that would be it. They wouldn’t have any type of community. Especially not a community that was built by people who were born in the U.S. or had lived long enough in the U.S. that they understand the cultural norms.
And so that’s where ECHO Collective was born, really, through our entrepreneurship program, as Carmen mentioned, called the Refinery, because I wanted to provide women the opportunity to start their own businesses or improve their existing businesses while keeping in mind these three barriers that we’re holding so many women back.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: Absolutely. And, so, your program, as Carmen mentioned, covers a variety of subjects laying out all of those business regulations and the steps for starting your own business. And how many cohorts do you normally get through in a year span?
Kelly Ross, Executive Director of ECHO Collective: In a year we graduate two. We follow the Lincoln Public School schedule because childcare is really challenging. And, when schools [is] in session, that really helps the women only focus on the children who aren’t yet school age. And, so, we have a fall cohort and we have a spring cohort.
So, to date, we have graduated 25 women from our entrepreneurship program. And that’s out of five cohorts.
And then we also do one-on-one coaching. So two women have graduated from that for a total of 25 in two years.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: Well, congratulations. That’s quite an impressive number for such a short time span.
Kelly Ross, Executive Director of ECHO Collective: Thank you.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: And, of course, what does the accessibility for these classes look like? Do you do online or is it only in person? I know Covid-19 is unfortunately still a thing, so we have to work around that a little bit.
Kelly Ross, Executive Director of ECHO Collective: Sure. So Covid-19 struck when I was teaching English and I had been teaching English classes at the same location, with a lot of the same students for almost five years. And the community that we had was so special and so supportive and so integral to the happiness of a lot of the students. And when Covid-19 hit and everyone went online, that community fractured and it absolutely broke my heart. And we had such a strong community before.
And seeing what it looked like when you took the in-person element away convinced me that if I could avoid having any type of virtual learning, I would do so because community building is such an important aspect of the refinery. And so that’s another reason why we have really small classes for… still to this day. Depending on the local Covid-19 city dial, masks are required. And so we try to stay really safe but we always meet in person.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: Absolutely. And for those who have graduated a cohort, like Carmen, are there opportunities to come back and volunteer with other cohorts in mentorship positions or in teaching positions, that sort of thing?
Kelly Ross, Executive Director of ECHO Collective: Of course, yeah.
We have a lot of women who connect afterward because, as Carmen mentioned, through the cohort, they talk about everything. So they talk about their business. But they also talk about the things that are difficult in their lives and, with that, they talk about their gifts and their gifts are highlighted.
And, so, we’ve had a lot of people pair up because one person may be especially talented at you know, aesthetic, creativity, and the other person may be especially talented at math.
I know Carmen actually has mentored someone from her own cohort. She helped her figure out Wave, which is an online free accounting software that we use with our graduates. And so this woman reached out to me and I said, “Hey, why don’t you ask Carmen, because Carmen’s really good with that stuff.” And so that was really beautiful to see that happen because the woman that Carmen partnered with actually is from Iraq, so it was also cross-cultural as well.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: Wonderful.
Carmen Castillo, Graduate of the ECHO Collective Refinery Program: Yeah. And something that is important to highlight is that we finish our four months as a… of classes. But then we continue, like, having some activities so that community never goes away. And every time we have like questions or we have difficulties, we can share and we can find solutions within the group.
And we meet the other cohorts as well. So it is like a big community that is growing up.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: And, of course, it looks like we are running a little short on time. But, before we get going, I wanted to catch the name of your business, Carmen.
Carmen Castillo, Graduate of the ECHO Collective Refinery Program: Yeah. It is R.C. Party Accents.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: Absolutely. And do you have social media accounts, [a] website?
Carmen Castillo, Graduate of the ECHO Collective Refinery Program: Yes. I have… we have our website thanks to Kelly and we also have a Facebook page and Instagram and it is RC party accents.
Kelly Ross, Executive Director of ECHO Collective: I would like to mention that Carmen coded her website, specially, to work as it does with a wishlist. Which is remarkable because Carmen has no prior experience with website coding. She just googled and figured it out herself, and I think that’s really impressive. So as everyone’s enjoying her website, just know Carmen put so much work into it.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: And, as our listeners know, we will include links in today’s transcript to both R.C. Party Accents and Echo Collective. So that– as you are listening to the show – you can check them out too. You can just head to the KZUM News archive at kzum.org and find today’s show. You can find the links under today’s show. Otherwise, you can reach out to Echo Collective directly to learn more. And, thank you Kelly and Carmen for joining us today.
Now… it’s about that time. We are going to head to a break. When we come back we have Becky Gould from Nebraska Appleseed. We’ll be right back though so don’t change that dial.
[“KZUM News” transition music, an original piece composed by Jack Rodenburg, fades in and then out. KZUM Radio’s usual underwriting and public services announcements air at scheduled times throughout the hour.]
Welcome back to today’s episode of KZUM News.
In today’s episode, we are continuing to learn about the work that our local nonprofits did in 2022 and their future plans for 2023. Before the break, we met with a couple of different representatives. First up was Topher Hansen, the CEO of CenterPointe. And then we had Kelly Ross and Carmen Castillo from Echo Collective.
Post-break, we have one more non-profit joining us today.
But first, I want to remind you to take our Perceptions of the News survey. We’ve had our survey going in preparation for our Media Literacy Series for a little over three months. It’s a really easy survey. We have a couple of questions on bias, misinformation, and some general questions asking you to describe how you consume the news. We also have a place to share any questions you would like us to answer on air. The survey won’t close until midnight on January 3. So you have tomorrow, Monday, and Tuesday to participate. All you have to do is head over to our website – kzum.org. You will see a QR code pinned to the right side of our home page. If you click on it, we have the link to our survey in that post. We also have posts on our social media pages. You can find us on Instagram and Facebook. And, of course, if you have any problems or questions, please feel free to let us know so we can help fix them before our first episode of the Media Literacy Series airs next weekend.
Moving along, I mentioned earlier that we have Becky Gould – the Executive Director of Nebraska Appleseed – joining us. Thank you for joining us today, Becky.
Becky Gould, Executive Director of Nebraska Appleseed: I’m doing well. Thank you for having me.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: Absolutely. So you are the executive director for Nebraska Appleseed, correct?
Becky Gould, Executive Director of Nebraska Appleseed: That’s correct, yes.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: How long have you been serving in the position?
Becky Gould, Executive Director of Nebraska Appleseed: So I’ve been the executive director since 2007. But I’ve been at Appleseed since 2001; so 21 years.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: Oh, well, congratulations. That’s quite the landmark.
Becky Gould, Executive Director of Nebraska Appleseed: Yeah, it’s been a really amazing place for me and my career path. And it’s, you know, every day is a new day. Rarely am I doing the same thing more than once, but it’s also really exciting to get to work with Nebraskans all across the state on a lot of really important issues and, hopefully, making a difference.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: Sure. So just to clarify for some listeners, some of whom might be new to Nebraska or some who may not be as well versed in our local nonprofits, when did Nebraska Appleseed get their start?
Becky Gould, Executive Director of Nebraska Appleseed: Yeah. So we were started in 1996 and started kind of related to work that was being done through Legal Aid of Nebraska.
So an attorney that was working at Legal Aid left to start Appleseed, to be able to take on some of the systemic work that legal services organizations weren’t allowed to do any longer; and so public policy advocacy at the state and federal level. So drafting legislation and supporting laws in getting passed at both the state and the federal level. And then class action and impact litigation. So, legal cases where you’re representing a big group of people who are all dealing with the same issue and you’re trying to get relief for everybody.
So, we got started kind of doing that work and as we’ve evolved as an organization, we’ve really focused in the last, you know, 15 years or so on community-driven advocacy.
So, we do a fair bit of community organizing, out connecting with folks who are experiencing problems all across the state and then working with them to try to identify solutions to those problems and then moving them forward.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: And you mentioned that you don’t just serve Lincoln, you serve the whole of Nebraska.
Becky Gould, Executive Director of Nebraska Appleseed: That’s right. We’re a statewide organization. And so we travel a lot. Our home office is in Lincoln and our staff work[s] out of the Lincoln office. But we do travel around the state pretty frequently.
And now, since the pandemic, a lot of work is done on Zoom which makes it possible to be present in communities in an even bigger way than we could do before.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: So do you have offices in other parts of the state also?
Becky Gould, Executive Director of Nebraska Appleseed: We don’t. Part of what we do is helping to support folks in their local communities that wanna engage in advocacy. So rather than kind of starting Appleseeds in other places or having a big footprint, we work with individuals who are interested in doing advocacy and creating change and help support them.
Some groups have started organizations, some folks just have more of like an informal leadership team. So we work pretty actively in about 12 communities across the state. All the way out in alliance in Scottsbluff, up to South Sioux City, down in southeast Nebraska, and right in the middle Grand Island and North Platte.
And, so, it’s really exciting to get to work with lots of different folks all over the state.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: Yeah, absolutely. And, of course, we’ve talked a little bit about the history of Nebraska Appleseed. Now, why don’t we talk a little bit about all of the copious things that you do? I was looking through your list and that’s quite a lot of different subjects that you touch on.
Becky Gould, Executive Director of Nebraska Appleseed: Yeah. We… so… we’re a pretty large organization. We actually have 43 full-time staff. So, there’s a lot of us. And that allows us to work in a range of areas.
And so our mission at Appleseed is to fight for justice and opportunity for all Nebraskans. And that’s a big mission. You could go in lots of directions. But we really tried to focus in on areas where there are significant needs in our state.
So we have an economic justice program that focuses on addressing the root causes of poverty in our state.
We have a healthcare program that looks at access to healthcare both in terms of being able to get some form of insurance but also making sure that insurance covers a wide array of services and the basic things that people need from their healthcare providers.
We also have a child welfare program. So, we look at the foster care system; how that’s working for kids and families, and trying to make sure that it’s providing the support that’s needed.
And then we have an immigration communities program where we work on immigration policy. We do some work with building communities of belonging, so helping to support largely in rural and smaller communities. Folks coming together to reach out and build relationships with immigrant community members and make sure that everybody can fully participate in decision-making at a community level.
So, yeah, our work is broad. We touch on a lot of different things. But it also allows us to go after, you know, what are some big pressing problems. So we really look for what’s the hard stuff. What’s the stuff that may take a few years? What’s the stuff that requires a big group of people working together on it and try to put our capacity in those places?
Amantha Dickman, News Director: Of course.
And, obviously, 2022 has been quite the year. I’ve talked with quite a few of our nonprofits who’ve been on [the show] about the impacts of Covid-19 in the long term. Are… did you guys have any long-lasting effects of Covid-19 that have come… followed you well into 2022?
Becky Gould, Executive Director of Nebraska Appleseed: I mean. I think, for us, a lot of the issues that we work on were enhanced by Covid-19.
So, in thinking about access to employment and we saw huge spikes in unemployment for periods of time during Covid-19. We also do a lot of work on food assistance. And there were lots of challenges in terms of accessing food and I think people saw a lot of the need in our communities in a different way. So, you know, a lot of those issues.
We do a lot of work with meatpacking workers and that community of people experienced a lot of challenges during the pandemic as well. So I think it was just kind of shining a spotlight on needs that were already there, but making them a lot more visible and creating some additional urgency.
But, for us, one of the big things in 2022 was really the effort to raise the minimum wage. And one of the big things that we’ve been hearing for the last several years from folks all across the state was how hard everyone was working. Nebraska has one of the highest rates of workforce participation. We have high rates of women in the workforce. We have high rates of multiple job holders. We have high rates of two adult workers in a household, both working. And, so, we know Nebraskans are working really hard. And, yet, we were also hearing people struggling to afford housing, people struggling to pay childcare, struggling to be able to put enough food on the table. And, so, increasing the minimum wage is a huge part of addressing that problem, making sure that all that hard work is actually providing an income that people can live on.
And so we were fortunate to be able to help pull together a group of over 25 organizations and individuals who formed the Raise the Wage Nebraska Coalition. And then, together as a coalition, we put together a ballot initiative and went out and collected 160,000 signatures from folks all across the state to put an increase in the minimum wage on the ballot and then went and did a lot of voter education talking to people all across the state about the initiative. And that it would increase the minimum wage by $1.50 a year over each of the next four years. And then, in 2026, it would be indexed to inflation, which means as costs go up and prices go up then the wage will go up to reflect that.
And then 58% of Nebraskans – almost 60% of Nebraskans – voted to increase the minimum wage.
So in January – January 1st, 2023 – the minimum wage will go from $9 an hour to $10.50. And once it’s fully implemented, it will have an impact on the wages of over 150,000 Nebraskans. So a really, really big effort by a lot of folks and hopefully a really big impact on a lot of Nebraskans in terms of what they’ll have in their pockets at the end of the day, which was quite impressive.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: We did a follow-up on that Ballot Initiative 433 when it passed. With Kate Wolf actually. So congratulations on that.
Becky Gould, Executive Director of Nebraska Appleseed: That was quite an interesting ballot initiative to watch the process play out. So, yeah, ballot initiatives have been kind of a newer thing, I think, for a lot of organizations to consider trying to get policy change done that way.
But I think for certain issues where there’s just not the kind of support in the legislature that’s needed to get them done, but voters are pretty clear and aligned on what they wanna get done, then a ballot initiative is a really great way to put it in the hands of the people and have that kind of direct democracy or the people decide.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: So I take it that we’ll be seeing a couple more ballot initiatives moving forward.
Becky Gould, Executive Director of Nebraska Appleseed: Yeah. I mean. I think, you know, all of us that worked on this – and not just from Appleseed but all of the organizations involved – I think are energized to keep looking for those things that we can get done that way.
And, again, it’s a great way to connect with a whole lot of people about issues that they really care about. When you think about 160,000 signatures… that’s 160,000 conversations about an issue that was affecting a lot of people. So it’s a, I think, an important tool. Not every state has the ballot initiative process. And, so, I think it’s something that we should be really proud of that we have in Nebraska and something we should make sure we protect and utilize.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: So Amendment 433 took up a great deal of your 2022 year, I take it. So what plans are on the books for 2023 then?
Becky Gould, Executive Director of Nebraska Appleseed: Yeah, there’s some really important issues that’ll be in front of the legislature right away in January. And we always do a lot of work during the legislative session at Appleseed. This year there’ll be some really important pieces of legislation connected to the SNAP program, which is [the] Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Some people know it as a food stamp program. And there is currently a provision in the statute that will sunset or bring to an end an increase in eligibility that was put into place two years ago. And so there’s gonna be an effort to kind of remove that sunset. The program has been successful in helping to support a lot of working families in getting that additional food assistance until their income really reaches a level where they can move off the program.
There is a similar provision in our childcare substitute program where there will be a sunset in an increased in eligibility there. And, so, there’s a lot of organizations – including Appleseed – that are working on making sure those two increases don’t go away at the end of this [session] in July of 2023.
So, I think those are two really important pieces of legislation.
We’ll also do work on housing. We will do some work on healthcare. We will do some work on child welfare. So, all of those areas we work on, we have legislation planned and it would be a great time for folks who are interested in getting involved to join us in doing some advocacy.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: And I wish we had more time today to really go in-depth but, of course, we are almost out of time. So Becky Gold, executive director of Nebraska Appleseed, thank you so much for joining us. And of course, for listeners out there you can find… I know you have Instagram, a Facebook, a Twitter also.
Becky Gould, Executive Director of Nebraska Appleseed: Yes.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: Perfect. So Instagram, Facebook, Twitter; and we have the website all linked in today’s transcript. If you’re interested in learning more about Nebraska Appleseed, you can just go to the KZUM News archives as usual and check it out.
And, of course, Becky, thank you so much for sitting down with us today. We appreciate you sharing what Nebraska Appleseed has been up to in 2022.
Becky Gould, Executive Director of Nebraska Appleseed: It’s been my pleasure. Thank you for having me.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: Thank you. Have a lovely afternoon and stay warm.
Becky Gould, Executive Director of Nebraska Appleseed: You as well.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: And that was Becky Gould, the Executive Director of Nebraska Appleseed, telling us more about the work they have been engaged in throughout 2022.
Lastly, we’re going to end with our last segment of Relatively Breaking News for 2022. We have more information from the Lincoln Police Department on the homicide that took place on December 23 at the intersection of South 20th and Washington Streets.
Teresa Ewins, Chief of the Lincoln Police Department: Good morning everybody.
So about 12:21 a.m. last night, we had a homicide at 20th and Washington. It was; the disturbance was called in by a 911 caller. Officers responded there was a report of shots fired. They found a victim, a 38-year-old male with gunshot wounds. Lincoln Police, as well as Fire, attempted to give lifesaving efforts, but, unfortunately, the victim succumbed to his injuries.
Throughout the night, the investigators processed the scene and canvased the area, gathering additional evidence. We do not have any further information and would suggest there is an ongoing… sorry, let back up. We do not have any information that would suggest there is any ongoing or targeted threat to the public’s safety.
However, an arrest has not been made at this time. The victim; the name of the victim is being withheld, pending notification of the family, as well as further investigation.
This investigation is in the early stages. The Lincoln Police Department is asking anyone with information or video involving the victim’s vehicle, a white Jeep Patriot, to come forward by calling (402) 441 – 6000. If you wish to remain anonymous call Crime Stoppers at (402) 475-3600.
And, as I said, this is [an] ongoing investigation and so there’s very few details I will be able to provide. But let’s open them for questions.
Unidentified Reporter: Was this outside or inside?
Teresa Ewins, Chief of the Lincoln Police Department: Outside.
Unidentified Reporter: Outside. On the street?
Teresa Ewins, Chief of the Lincoln Police Department: Yes. On the street.
Unidentified Reporter: Was the victim in a car or walking or just…
Teresa Ewins, Chief of the Lincoln Police Department: In a car. The victim’s vehicle was a Jeep Patriot. It’s white. So anyone that has any information [or] may have seen it prior, please call us. Let us know what you had seen.
Unidentified Reporter: And do you know – I mean, did you guys find him in the car? And do you know if he was shot while he was in the car or how it kinda led up to that?
Teresa Ewins, Chief of the Lincoln Police Department: I don’t have that information at this time. We are interviewing witnesses and we’re looking for video as well.
Unidentified Reporter: Did he live in the area of 20th and Washington Victim?
Teresa Ewins, Chief of the Lincoln Police Department: We don’t have that information at this time.
Unidentified Reporter: Do you know if he’s from Lincoln?
Teresa Ewins, Chief of the Lincoln Police Department: I believe he is.
Unidentified Reporter: [Unintelligible]. Somebody heard shots and then called?
Teresa Ewins, Chief of the Lincoln Police Department: Yes. Yes.
Unidentified Reporter: Do you know how many times he was shot?
Teresa Ewins, Chief of the Lincoln Police Department: Not at this time.
Unidentified Reporter: Was there anything else going on in that neighborhood prior to the shooting taking place?
Teresa Ewins, Chief of the Lincoln Police Department: No, there wasn’t. It was a very quiet night. And, obviously, gunshots woke some people up and they called the police
Unidentified Reporter: And there’s a robbery report, I think on 19th and Garfield like 20 minutes afterward. [Do] you know [if] that’s at all related to this?
Teresa Ewins, Chief of the Lincoln Police Department: We don’t believe so, at this point. Any other questions?
Unidentified Reporter: Are you able to confirm if there was a crash involving another vehicle before, like in the seconds before, the shooting took place?
Teresa Ewins, Chief of the Lincoln Police Department: It’s still under investigation.
We’ll have more details next week when we do have further, after the witnesses and we’ll find the video. [Be]cause we are scouring the neighborhood, and even outside the neighborhood, to see if we can find any evidence of what occurred.
Unidentified Reporter: No one reported anyone fleeing the scene or any vehicle descriptions that may have left the area?
Teresa Ewins, Chief of the Lincoln Police Department: We do have information about someone fleeing the scene.
Unidentified Reporter: What – how many homicides this year?
Teresa Ewins, Chief of the Lincoln Police Department: 11.
Unidentified Reporter: 11. And any explanation of why we’ve had so many this year? I mean – obviously none of these are tied in together. Are any of them tied together? I should ask that question.
Teresa Ewins, Chief of the Lincoln Police Department: Why? You want me to answer the question ‘why we have so many homicides?’
Unidentified Reporter: Why is – are any of them tied together? First of all, are any of these incidents, you know, any of the homicides tied together?
Teresa Ewins, Chief of the Lincoln Police Department: You know what? I’d have to go back and look at them.
I would say, you know, there are some that are gang-related. But when we talk about something like last night, an argument or whatever happened prior, that resulted in someone taking a gun out and shooting somebody is not something we can necessarily, you know, stop. It’s when people get angry and they use a gun to solve the argument… That’s – I don’t even have words for that.
Unidentified Reporter: And the increase that we’ve seen in Lincoln; I mean are there any explanations as to why we’re seeing gun violence or violence in homicides?
Teresa Ewins, Chief of the Lincoln Police Department: Well, so when you look at the national landscape this violence has occurred nationally. And I can give you more numbers next week. But, you know, these things do happen.
The increases and decreases do happen. And, you know, a lot of it is great police work. A lot of it is what’s happening in society today. The availability of guns is obviously, you know, a conversation that needs to be had.
But, you know, overall, I would say that our officers, our investigators are doing a great job trying to stop any violence that occurs within Lincoln.
Unidentified Reporter: And does the shortage of police officers have anything to do with any of the increase in homicides that are going on at all?
Teresa Ewins, Chief of the Lincoln Police Department: I, I would say no.
Unidentified Reporter: Should Lincolnites still feel safe?
Teresa Ewins, Chief of the Lincoln Police Department: Absolutely.
And I’ve said that over and over again. I do feel that, you know, both with – we talk about all organizations in law enforcement – LSO, LPD, NSP. We are out there. We’re doing our job. We’re getting people in custody. They’re answering for the crimes that they have committed.
And I think that moving forward into next year, obviously having increased law enforcement presence is always better [be]cause it deters crime. But I’m not going… I can’t sit here and say that the increase is because of [a] lack of police officers. Because that’s just not the case.
When you look at each one of the cases, there is an interaction prior to the event occurring. And, so, that’s usually what results in the [unintelligible]. And so we have to look at that as well.
Unidentified Reporter: And, I guess, just to clarify, is it clear whether… the vehicle was crashed. But it’s not clear whether that happened before or after the shooting?
Teresa Ewins, Chief of the Lincoln Police Department: Right. I don’t have those details as of yet [be]cause we’re still… we just finished processing the scene earlier this morning and so I’ll get more details next week and provide that.
Like I said, we’ll bring you more information next week, beginning next week. Thank you. Thank you.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: We are fast approaching the end of the hour, so here are your reminders for today:
The KZUM newsroom is always open to hearing about any questions, concerns, suggestions, or even any story ideas that you want to share with us. All you have to do is give us a call at (402) 474 – 5086, extension line six. If you give us a call and we aren’t available, don’t forget to leave a voicemail. Or, if you aren’t much of a phone person, you can also find our social media handles and more newsroom information at kzum.org under that ‘About’ tab.
Speaking of our website, if you happen to miss a show, you can always head to the “KZUM News” tab where we archive all of our shows and include a transcript with links to that day’s content.
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That wraps up our reminders for now. As you head out into the world, I hope you have a lovely day. Thank you for listening and we hope you’ll join us next time.
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