Holiday Giving Leads Former Youth Back to OHB 40 Years Later
Joe and April Wickiser have made it a holiday tradition to give back to those less fortunate. In year’s past, they have adopted families and brightened their holidays by providing gifts and groceries. While the Wickiser’s are grateful that they are in a position to support those in their community through this adoption program, this year they wanted to do something that was a little more meaningful. Something that hit closer to home for the married couple from Bellevue, NE. That’s what led them to Omaha Home for Boys.
Joe knows firsthand the struggles and obstacles that many of the youth in Omaha Home for Boys Residential Care Program face on their journey. He was walking in their shoes 40 years ago. At that time Joe was living with his single mother and four sisters. His mother had no control over his defiant and uncontrollable attitude, and the household lacked structure.
“At nine years old, I ruled the roost,” explained Joe. “I was making poor choices daily and wouldn’t listen to anyone who wanted to tell me otherwise.”
A few years later Joe’s path to a brighter future began when he was introduced to Omaha Home for Boys through a counselor at Boys and Girls Club. Joe entered the Omaha Home for Boys program in 1973 when he was a seventh grader. During his time at the Home, he attended nearby Monroe Middle School and learned to play basketball, swim and wrestle through the Home’s extracurricular activities. Joe credits the Home with teaching him basic life skills, such as hygiene and how to make a bed, while also teaching him accountability and respect.
“Having structure and the ability to socialize with peers that were positive influences really helped set me on the right path and made the biggest impact on me during my time at the Home,” said Joe.
Today, Joe is a successful manager in the communications field and is grateful that he is now in a position where he can give back to those who do not enjoy the same comforts that he does. When he and April were trying to decide where to direct their holiday giving this year, they knew the place that Joe called home 40 years earlier was the perfect fit.
After much research and thought, Joe and April decided to donate Gatorade, chips and socks to the Omaha Home for Boys School. These snacks and socks will be used as incentives for students to earn credits in the on-campus school. When a student earns three credits, he receives a snack pack and when six credits are earned, he receives a pair of socks.
Joe and April know they’ve found a home for their annual holiday giving and hope to become even more involved in supporting the youth, young adults and families served by OHB. They urge others who are considering a place to give to remember Omaha Home for Boys.
“A donation to Omaha Home for Boys is an investment in a young person who has made poor choices and gives them the opportunity to write a more positive path,” said Joe. “You are planting a seed in them that will last a lifetime.”
To make your investment in the youth, young adults and families served by Omaha Home for Boys, please contact the development department for giving options or make an online donation.