Volunteer month kicks off

Department of Psychiatry staff volunteered at the Heart Ministry Center on May 2. Department employees will also volunteer at Grief’s Journey and participate in Keep Omaha Beautiful later in May

This month, members of the Department of Psychiatry will volunteer at three non-profit organizations as a way of giving back the community.

On Thursday, May 2, thirteen members of the Department of Psychiatry worked at the Heart Ministry Center, a North Omaha non-profit started forty years ago to provide food, clothing, shelter, and financial assistance to people of need. Volunteers worked in the food pantry – handing out food and loading groceries into vehicles.

“We’re proud to say that the Department of Psychiatry will be making history with these service projects,” said Department of Psychiatry Chair Dr. Howard Liu. “We’re the first department at UNMC and Nebraska Medicine to ask and receive permission to spend part of a work day helping agencies in need.”

Maggie Milner, Psychiatry Clinic Manager, said Thursday’s service project was a lot of fun, especially since she was able to work outside on a sunny spring day.

“I thought everyone worked very well together. Heart Ministry Center was very welcoming, and the people who came were very grateful,” Milner said. “The weather was gorgeous, beautiful. The sun was shining, which makes everyone smile more. It was a blast.”

Mark Dahir, Director of Operations at the Heart Ministry Center, not only welcomed Psychiatry volunteers to his organization but also shared the center’s success stories, which includes its Fresh Start program. The program helps find work for people struggling to get and maintain a job.

“The bloodline of the Heart Ministry Center is our Fresh Start Job Placement Program participants and volunteers,” Dahir said. “Without them, we could not operate in the way that we do. UNMC and Nebraska Medicine volunteered (on May 2). We are all spokes on the heart-shaped wheel that is our mission. UNMC, Nebraska Medicine did great work.”

The final two service projects will take place on May 15 and May 29. On May 15, staff members will volunteer at Grief’s Journey. Two weeks later, members of the department will help Keep Omaha Beautiful by cleaning a park at 20th and Wirt Street.

Dr. Liu said he hopes Volunteer Month will continue every year.

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