Over 160 people attended  five “Issue Cafe” discussions about Housing, Economic issues, Immigration, Mental Health & Environment

OTOC was Urban Abbey’s community partner in September!!  UA will contribute 10% of  everything purchased at the coffee counter and 100% of every bag of coffee bought during September to OTOC to support our work. OTOC leader Carol Beaty worked with Action Team leaders to schedule this slate of lively discussions:

 Thur. Sept 4 at 6:00 p.m. –Omaha Land Bank and Housing Policy

Over 25 people attended the first Issue Cafe with Habitat for Humanity Director Amanda Brewer and OTOC leaders where there was a discussion of how the Omaha Land Bank can become a useful tool to help revitalize abandoned properties which currently plague many older neighborhoods.  According to Brewer the Land Bank can obtain property for redevelopment by purchase, donation or that is tax delinquent and abandoned by their owners.  She challenged OTOC leaders to stay involved, as they have, to help shape the housing policies  of the City of Omaha.

Wed. Sept 10 at 6:30 p.m.Mininum Wage, Medicaid Coverage and Taxes

Over 35 OTOC and community leaders met with  Sen. Jeremy Nordquist at Urban Abbey to discuss economic issues facing Nebraska  families.  Sen. Nordquist gave thoughtful and informative overviews of the the benefits of raising the minimum wage in Nebraska; expanding the coverage of Medicaid to cover more working poor families and single adults currently not covered by the program and tax policy in Nebraska. He encouraged OTOC leaders to educate others about the benefits to our economy and to families if voters agree to increase the minimum wage in November and if the Unicameral agrees to expand the coverage of medicaid in the 2015 Legislative session.


Thur. Sept18 at 7:00 p.m.  – Policies affecting Children Fleeing to our Border

Thirty five people came to talk with  Lutheran Family Services Attorney Elizabeth Bowman who gave a careful but interesting, step by step account of what happens to children who are fleeting violence in Central America and who come to our borders for help. The audience learned that many of the children flee violence but are victimized while they are fleeing to the US. The legal challenges facing the children are very difficult and they will need to the support of community and lawyers if they are to have a chance to qualify for any relief from deportation.

Tues. Sept. 23 at 7:00 p.m.   – How families can access mental health help

Dr. Jai Sookram of Community Alliance made a fascinating presentation and engaged in robust Question and Answer session with 40 people who came to Urban Abbey to learn more about the state of Mental Health in Nebraska and what we need to do to improve it.  Dr. Jai talked both about the personal and family challenges facing those with mental illness and about the challenges we all face since our mental health system in Nebraska lacks clear lines of accountability to assure the people suffering mental illness get the continuity of care that they need to stay healthy.

Thur. Sept, 25 at 7:00 p.m.Learn about OPPD’s 20 year plan for electricity

OTOC Environment Action Team Chair Laurie Gift led a presentation about the OPPD’s recent decision about how they will generate electricity for the Omaha area over the 20 years or more. She was joined by OTOC leader Rosie Volkmer and Sierra Club organizer Graham Jordison as the 18 people present  discussed how teh State of Nebraska might respond to the many threats caused by ongoing climate change in the state and nation. The group decided they would like for OTOC to ask candidates at the October 6 Accountability Session a question about how they would guide the state to address the impact of climate change.

OTOC is grateful to Urban Abbey for asking us to be their featured community partner in September. OTOC is proud that Urban Abbey is a solidarity member of our organization and a valued partner in working for justice and the common good in Omaha.