The Lincoln Homeless Coalition recognized the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Center on Children, Families and the Law as part of its 21st annual Hunger and Homelessness Recognition Event in late November.
The coalition works to combat hunger and homelessness. Though the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated food and housing insecurity in the Lincoln community, committed individuals, businesses, organizations and agencies have worked together to support those in need.
After a challenging year, the Nov. 20 event was an emotional celebration of those collaborative efforts. Scott Young of the Lincoln Food Bank emceed the virtual event, presenting the Outstanding Pandemic Response Award to the Center on Children, Families and the Law.
“CCFL is being recognized for their exceptional leadership in the homeless services system within Lincoln and rural Nebraska during the pandemic,” Young said. “CCFL’s data analysis guided the planning process and next steps in the implementation of crisis response systems for people facing or near homelessness. They worked alongside the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department to identify shelter and service solutions for our community’s most vulnerable populations. In the middle of this, CCFL transitioned to a new data-collection platform and trained agency workers across the city.”
Led by Jeff Chambers, senior project director, the center’s Community Services Division has coordinated many projects focused on community-based services for those in need of basic and emergency help, including housing, food and financial assistance. Chambers also serves as chair of the Continuum of Care Committee for the Lincoln Homeless Coalition.
“On behalf of the entire Community Services team, it is our honor and privilege to work with all the dedicated professionals that are the Lincoln Homeless Coalition. CCFL looks forward to our continued work with you — to help you help those most in need in our community,” Chambers said.
The Lincoln Homeless Coalition also recognized two CCFL staff members, Denise Packard and Michael Reinmiller, for their efforts amid the pandemic.
Packard is program manager of the CCFL’s All Doors Lead Home Coordinated Entry Systems, which works to ensure that those experiencing homelessness have access to the entire housing service system, are assessed in a consistent manner, are prioritized according to need, and are referred to the most appropriate housing resource as soon as possible. In that role and others, Packard helps build partnerships with community members and connect people with stable housing.
Young commended her outstanding leadership and organization before presenting Packard with a certificate of recognition for “ongoing commitment to addressing poverty and homelessness in our community.”
“The people we serve drive me to do the work I do,” Packard said. “Hearing the numerous success stories fuels my fire to keep pushing. What has (also) inspired me is my mom. Caring for others was a pillar of her life. If I can live up to a fraction of what she has done for others, I would say I have lived a successful life — like she did.
“I feel humbled to be recognized by members of the Lincoln Homeless Coalition. The work we do cannot be done alone, and the coalition has some great collaborators, so it is an honor to be recognized. There are so many that deserve recognition for their hard work and leadership.”
Reinmiller joined the center in March as an education and outreach multimedia associate. In presenting him with the Volunteer of the Year Award, Young cited Reinmiller’s work in providing meals at shelters, serving on Fresh Start’s board of directors, being a youth mentor, putting together backpacks for homeless outreach, and starting 13 Little Free Pantries throughout Lincoln.
“I am inspired by the amount of love that Lincoln has,” Reinmiller said. “My father-in-law helped me build the Little Free Pantries, and I look forward to telling my son when he is older how his father and grandfather responded during the pandemic. Seeing the impact that all Lincolnites are making is huge.”