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Congratulations to Sarah Isaac of Kearney, September’s Community Heroes winner.
Imogene Swearingen nominated Isaac for her enthusiasm to help those in need around her. Outside of her work at Eaton, Isaac spends hours of her personal time planning fundraisers to assist people with cancer, victims of vehicle accidents and those in need. Her positive, uplifting attitude helps create a fun atmosphere amongst a tragic narrative in someone’s life.
Recently she organized summer and winter game events and raised thousands of dollars. These special events help co-workers and friends raise money and awareness for breast cancer survivors and those recovering from car accidents.
“I just really enjoy seeing the smiles on people’s faces,” Isaac said. “It’s just so heartwarming and fulfilling to be able to help somebody else, especially when they’re in a time of need and can’t do for themselves.”
Isaac recently retired from the Kearney Volunteer Fire Department. She encourages people to give back to others every day and explains how rewarding this can be.
“Give me a call and I’ll help you get started with volunteering, and I know you’ll find it rewarding too. It’s super rewarding to be able to give yourself to somebody else and helpthem out as much as you can,” she said.
Congratulations to Julie Weir, this month’s Community Heroes winner. Julie was nominated for her commitment and dedication to improving health services for people in need.
After years of working as a Neonatal Intensive Care nurse, Julie and her husband, David, made a decision to move their family to the Pacific coast but stopped in Kearney in 1990 and have been here ever since.
“I do have a passion for giving back to this community. Kearney has been good to our family and Health Care is my niche, and so it’s been a good fit,” Julie said.
Julie volunteered for 10 years at the Buffalo County Immunization Clinics before being asked to take over as the Immunization Coordinator at Community Action Partnership of Mid-Nebraska. She was subsequently named Health Services Director.
When a free clinic was forced to close due to lack of funding, “Julie dedicated herself to find new funding opportunities and served on the planning committees that eventually developed the HelpCare Clinic,” the nomination letter said.
“It’s nice to see that we can help them, and bring a smile to their face. It is very rewarding work,” Julie said.
Additionally, the nomination letter said, “Julie also helped plan and fi nd grant funding to expand the Community Health Worker initiative at Community Action. Her drive and determination truly encompasses helping people and changing lives.”
“This is a wonderful place to volunteer. It’s happy, the staff is extremely kind and generous with the patients and with each other and you go away feeling good at the end of the day,” Julie said.
This month we congratulate Helen Casper, June’s Community Heroes winner. Helen was nominated anonymously for her contribution to her community and church, Faith United Methodist Church in Elm Creek.
When asked why she volunteers, Helen said, “When you live alone, you can do nothing if you want to and I decided I didn’t want to do that the rest of my life.”
Helen is the first to offer assistance to her fellow citizens, offering rides to and from appointments, volunteering at the hospital and checking on shut-ins.
She also provides food for Faith UMC’s food pantry, helps with funeral dinners and plays piano for church every Sunday and other functions such as services provided by her church for the local nursing homes.
Helen also helps with her church’s toy box ministry which they give to people or places that need toys and children’s clothing. She also assists the church with donations of clothing to give to people in need.
“If somebody is driving through and is desperate for something they can stop here and get food or clothing,” Helen said.
All Helen does is approached with a humble attitude, grace and concern. She tries to give credit where credit is due and acknowledge the other people who also give their time to volunteering around the community.
“It takes a little time, a little planning, but it’s worth it because you get to get out with people and meet new people,” Helen said.
Jackson Murphy is remembered by friends, family and coaches as the most popular student at Kearney High School. Murphy, age 16, a member of both the KHS Football and Wrestling teams, passed away in March of pneumonia. He is remembered as a fun and loving person who made friends with everyone he knew.
This month, we honor Jackson Murphy as our Community Heroes recipient, nominated by Diana Clausen of Kearney, for his ability to make everyone smile, to help others and to be compassionate. The award was accepted on his behalf by Jackson’s mother, Kate Murphy, who recalled some highlights of Jackson’s loving and giving spirit.
“Jackson was associated with KHS Football, and he basically hung out with the team,” Kate said. “But when he got to the games, he led the band. Every time the music came on, he was behind the band director doing that, and the band director did not know that. One night, he was announced as honorary band director.”
“Wrestling was huge for Jackson, and wrestling was probably the best experience of his life,” Kate continued. “The KHS Wrestling community was his family. It’s just a close group.”
Kate said, “He was also involved in ARC Activities, Buddy Bowling, Top Soccer, Challenger Baseball, YMCA and other activities. He was so social.”
Clausen, who nominated Jackson, said, “Since his funeral I can’t get Jackson off my mind. Jackson made a difference in my life, even though I only met him a couple times. Kate first introduced me to him, and I could tell she was proud. She said, ‘This is my son Jackson, he has Down Syndrome, but he is a good kid.’”
Kate continued, “Jackson was compassionate, and he could sense when someone was having a rough time and always did what he could to make you feel better. I think just that, the way that he impacted other people, I hope that he is remembered for seeing the good in things, and having a good outlook. For being happy. For his smile. For his laugh. I hope he is remembered for those things, and I think he will be.”
Murphy Mondays, a website at www.murphymondays.com, was developed in Jackson’s memory and for sharing stories of him by friends, family and coaches. “People are trying to be more like Jackson, looking past the outside of a person and looking on the inside of them,” Kate said. “Jackson loved everybody no matter what you looked like, where you came from, rich or poor. He saw people for their heart, and the good in everybody.”
“His good deeds were inspiring people, making people smile, and just being Jackson, and just to be around people that are happy and to make them smile is a wonderful attribute to have,” Diana said.
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