BY DENNIS BUCKLEY / for the Neighborhood Extra
“We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, but we forget that he is someone today.” – Stacia Tauscher
That quote became an inspiration to Kelly Lauer, whose nonprofit foundation has helped nearly 2,500 Lincoln school kids feel good about looking good.
Something as simple as a change of clothes can change a child’s outlook on life.
It all started in 2018, when Lauer and her husband, Dr. Dave Lauer, formed the White Cane Foundation. Their goal: to ensure that elementary school students have the basics they need to succeed, such as new clothes, coats, shoes and personal hygiene items. Each gift package was valued at approximately $50.
What has happened since is quite special.
More schools, bigger prizes
Committed to lending a helping hand, the Lauers initially targeted Belmont Elementary School, 1234 Judson St. The couple set a long-term goal of expanding their reach to include other Title I schools, which serve high percentages of children from low-income families. Working with Community Learning Center (CLC) liaisons to reach children with the greatest needs, the co-founders and other volunteers set up a weekly delivery schedule.
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It was not long before moving words of thanks arrived from parents deeply moved by the generosity of the foundation. Witness it:
“Thank you for your commitment to changing this world”, a parent wrote.
“I won’t have to wear my older brother’s shoes now because I have my own pair.” adds a young person.
Yet another said: “You have no idea how much you are actually helping us learn instead of focusing on how we look.”
Attempting to create opportunity for the underprivileged, the Lauers and their loyal donor base knew they were making a difference. The momentum led to expansion.
Lakeview Elementary School was added in the second year of the program. Norwood Park and Clinton Elementary Schools were added last fall; Prescott School was added this spring. The lives of approximately 750 children will be enriched during the current school year.
Prescott’s addition had extra meaning for White Cane Foundation executive director Kelly Lauer, now 64, who hadn’t visited the school at 1930 S. 20th St. since her schooldays. primary.
WCF’s plans are for two more schools to join us next fall — Everett Elementary and an as-yet-unnamed school. The foundation’s long-term plan is to reach all 18 Title I elementary schools in Lincoln.
As the list of schools has grown, so has the size of each “Bundle of Joy” package. Each child now receives two outfits, allowing one child to wear clean clothes while their other outfit is washed.
The impact of the pandemic
“Obviously the pandemic has put a damper on achieving our mission as we were, for periods, unable to be in schools as volunteers,” said Dr. Lauer, owner of Havelock Chiropractic Center and Chairman of the Board of the White Cane Foundation.
“Fortunately, by having our school liaisons, we could drop our ‘bundles of joy’ with them and, in turn, they would adapt to the students and allow us to continue to ensure that students in need were served,” he said. mentioned.
Nebraska Book Company, 4700 S. 19th St., and Cornhusker Bank’s main location at 11th and Cornhusker Highway have partnered with the White Cane Foundation by creating a space where White Cane Foundation inventory can be stored.
The White Cane Foundation has over 300 names in its donor base and is supported by a Board of Trustees, whose members are:
Kara Bunde-Dunn, Board Secretary, Vice President of Sales, Slingshot; Doreen Friehauf, Treasurer of the Board of Directors, CPA, Friehauf CPA; Stacy Guttschenritter, Vice President of Pension Services, Union Bank & Trust; Quentin Brown, Executive Director, Educare Lincoln; Deb Gokie, Senior Director of Corporate Partnerships, Arthritis Foundation; Gary Kebbel, Emeritus Professor, UNL School of Journalism; Crystal Wichita, Chief Operating Officer, Cornhusker Bank; Katie Rhone, SPHR: VP of HERO Development, KARE; Jenny Schroeder, Vice President of Customer Success, Prism RBS; Paige Gade, Attorney, Koley Jessen PC; Kim Rosenthal, principal of Belmont Elementary School; and Ronesha Love, One-Stop Operator, American Job Center.
White Cane Foundation has added a staff member, Samantha Jacobi, whose title is Volunteer and Inventory Coordinator. The social media manager is Zach Scamehorn, a UNL marketing grad, who has accepted a position with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Give to Lincoln soon
Want to join the White Cane Foundation movement and help underprivileged children? Give To Lincoln Day approaching May 26 is a great opportunity to stretch your donated dollars. To donate, visit www.thewhitecanefoundation.org or email [email protected]
GTLD’s donations, aided by a match from the Lincoln Community Foundation, raised about $35,000 for the White Cane Foundation last year.
WCF was also recently selected to receive funds from the Lincoln Chapter’s Quarterly Gathering of the Women Who Care 100 on March 24. Kelly Lauer said the amount of that donation has yet to be determined.