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Good Neighbors recognized for selfless deeds

Thirteen good neighbors nominated for giving back to their community and others.

OMAHA, NEB. (June, 9 2017) – ASKARBEN Foundation and the Omaha World-Herald have announced the 73rd annual Good Neighbor Award recipients. The Good Neighbor awards recognize Nebraskans who have performed unselfish acts of kindness. Receiving the award this year are 13 individuals and groups representing eight Nebraska counties. Award winners will be recognized at their local county fair with a certificate and a Good Neighbor lapel pin.

Burt County

Jeannine Batie Nelsen, Lyon, NE

At her own expense, Jeannine created 25 full size personalized quilts for the veterans who graduated from Lexington and St. Ann’s 1966 class. The surprise quilts were distributed at the 50-year reunion. Jeannine personally delivered to those who were unable to attend the reunion.

Mary Alice Pearson, Oakland, NE

Mary Alice Pearson is an active hospice volunteer who works countless hours helping those in need at a very difficult time. She spends hours visiting nursing home residents. Mary Alice volunteers at the Burt County Fair, is involved with the school mentoring program, drives people to church, doctor appointments, and wherever they need a ride.

Custer County

Edward Stiner, Ansley, NE

Mom is a tiny 82yr old woman who is a widow of less than 2 years. Her home sits on 2-3 residential lots and the grounds consist of a yard and garden. Before asked, Ed began mowing the areas outside the fence and as parts of the fence fell, he mowed most of the yard. Year round, Ed has been mowing, removing snow, and hauling yard waste to the dump. Mom has offered to pay Ed, but he refused to accept. With Mom’s permission, he planted a vegetable garden where Dad’s once stood. At harvest, he tells her to take all the wants. Ed has been a blessing to Mom.

Dawes County

Terri Haynes, Whitney, NE

Terri has an elderly neighbor for whom she has extended a great number of kindnesses. Terri has prepared meals and special treats, tends to her flower gardens and lawn, painted her house, takes her for car rides in the country, and is available with the day to day housekeeping chores.

Vicki Kotschwar, Chadron, NE

Vickie organized table favors for approximately 90 veterans at the Scottsbluff Veterans facility. The theme was an Easter display of eggs and chicks at each veteran’s place setting to brighten their day. Vickie thought of the idea, purchased the supplies, delivered to the facility and assisted with the assembly of each of the settings.

Dan Konrath, Chadron, NE

Dan does a great deal to help people but especially the elderly. He helps in his neighborhood by mowing lawns when the owner is ill, fixes garage doors, and works on their cars. He is active at the Chadron Senior Center and has been delivering Meals on Wheels for a number of years. He organized bridge games at the Center by bringing in volunteer bridge players to assist the residents. He records the St. Patrick’s church services and brings the DVD for the residents to view on Sundays. As an active member of the Knights of Columbus, he has chaired the annual tootsie roll sales and assists with other KC functions.

Dawson County

Jane Herndon, Gothenburg, NE

Jane is a friend to all ages. From providing a friend’s young teenage daughter with place to stay overnight and then helping her with delivery of items for a school project, to reaching out to a friend who lost her beloved pet. Jane provides wheels to those in need of a ride and participates in the Meals on Wheels program. She plays piano and sings at the senior care home and is an avid volunteer at her church. Jane really shines as the “Pie Lady”. Because Jane’s father had loved her pies, when he entered the care facility, Jane brought him pies to share with the residents. Although her dad has passed, she continues serving her pies weekly to the residents and their guests.

Abigail Owens and the Horseshoe Bend 4-H Club, Lexington, NE

At only age 11, Abigail made 25 personalized tote bags for the first flight of veterans going on the Dawson County Hero Flight to Washington, D.C. Each bag included a bottle of water, pen, note pad, mints and snacks. Abigail was later assisted by the 4-H club in making 25 bags for the September, 2016 flight and another 25 for the April, 2017 flight of veterans.

Douglas County

Bob and Jodie Ackley Family, Omaha, NE

We moved next door to the Ackley family at the end of March, 2016 and feel that God placed us next to a family of angels who continue to come to our rescue day after day. Due to some major remodeling, our kitchen was inoperable for a number of weeks following the move. The Ackley’s introduced themselves by bringing us dinner because they had noticed that we were working in our garage a great deal. It is not uncommon for them to “throw something extra” on the grill for us when they are making dinner. The real testimony of a GREAT neighbor came in November when my husband was diagnosed with a major illness that required hospitalization and in-patient rehabilitation for four months. The Ackley family took over care for our dogs because they were left alone while I worked and visited the hospital. The Ackleys made sure my blinds were drawn and the porch lights were on so I didn’t come home to a dark house. Anytime it snowed, they shoveled our drive before doing their own. They watch over our home as their own keeping an eye out for our safety. Unable to leave the hospital, my husband wanted to surprise me for Christmas by having the interior of our house painted. With the help of our daughter, he asked for helpers to be his painting elves. Bob came over a day early and painted the kitchen and part of the living room by himself. (At this point, I would love to give a shout out to ALL of our painting elves but the list is too long to acknowledge everyone who helped with painting, refreshments, food, etc.) It is still refreshing to know that there are so many good and kind people who just want to help out a friend and neighbor.

Frontier County

Members of the National Honor Society, Eustis, NE

Annually for all national holidays, the National Honor Society members place the United States flag on poles around Eustis to honor our veterans. Flags go up in the early morning and are taken down at dusk regardless of weather conditions. The same is done for any special community activity. The Society members are involved in other activities that include the organization of 2 semi-annual blood drives, a holiday food drive for the Cozad Food Pantry, and cleaning the ditches along the road that lead into the Eustis.

Leroy and Glenda Bierfreund Family, Curtis, NE

After moving to the neighborhood seven years ago, the Bierfreund family has become an integral part of my parents’ lives. They moved next door to Don and Shirley Briggs, west of Curtis. With mom in poor health, and Glenda an EMT, my parents would call on her for advice before calling the ambulance or making a trip to the hospital. She always offered sound advice and would come no matter the hour they called. When dad had a heart attack, he was going to drive himself to the hospital, but Spencer insisted that she drive him. In fact, Spencer has taken dad to the hospital several times. Each time, she waits until she knows he is ok before returning his car to Curtis. When dad had knee replacement surgery, Sidney and Spencer would come up the hill to do laundry and make simple meals until dad was back on his feet again. Both girls work in a nursing home setting so their help and dedication to helping was outstanding. When mom had to enter a facility in 2016 for more advanced health care, the neighbors would come to North Platte to visit her, also keeping an eye on dad at home. Spencer would sneak dad a Frosty on her visits to see him during his hospital stays in Lincoln. While mom was in the hospital in Omaha, Spencer drove from Lincoln to visit her, went out to eat supper with our extended family and continued to check on mom’s condition. We lost mom in December 2016 and the Bierfreunds were there to support us and help with anything. Dad named the three children as honorary pallbearers because of their strong connection with mom. Since mom’s passing, the Bierfreunds have continued to keep an eye on dad. They check on him if the garage door isn’t open by mid-morning, and the kids continue to stop by for a visit before heading back to college. Leroy, who is active duty military, and whose time with his family is already limited, will make the time to pay dad a visit before he returns to his military duties. Leroy and Landon are also very helpful when dad needs big things moved, or help building things, yard work or just simple chores. They invite dad down for meals. With dad traveling more after mom’s passing, Landon has been willing to check for package deliveries on the front porch and moving them until dad returns. All throughout high school and now college, each of the three children will come up and visit with my parents … telling them about their day, their grades and life choices they are considering, many times bringing friends to hang out for a few minutes before doing their own thing. Most recently, in early May, the three Bierfreund children brought my dad a kitten. With mom gone, dad has been lonesome, and the kids thought a kitten would give him some companionship and make his days less lonely. The kids even volunteered to take care of the cat when dad went out of town to visit us! Not only has Glenda helped our family, she is an EMT in the Curtis community helping many others. She works with blind children across the state of Nebraska. Her schedule is jam packed, but she always finds time to help her neighbors and family. I like to see the younger generation giving back to others, Glenda and Leroy are certainly teaching their children to do the same. They understand what it means to help thy neighbor. Our family has created a strong bond with the Bierfreunds because of the caring and supportive way they watch out for our parents.

Madison County

Tom and Lola Brockman, Norfolk, NE

This couple spends much of their time doing for others. They deliver Meals on Wheels, donate to Food Pantry, assist with church functions and funeral dinners. Neighborhood activities include scooping snow until all driveways are cleared; taking friends to the doctor and picking up medications; Tom and Lola organize neighborhood activities which makes a friendly and desirable neighborhood; they deliver home baked bread for everyone’s birthday, Christmas, and sick neighbors. They participate in Relay for Life, are Ambassadors for Johnny Carson Comedy Festival, act as MC for alumni reunions, and attend events for family and friends.

Richardson County

Vanes Moerer, Humboldt, NE

Although we have been good neighbors for 40 years, the last 10 years include many acts of kindness and good deeds. On Oct 26, 2006, my husband was sent to Nebraska Heart Hospital where he was a patient for 6 weeks. Vanes fed and watered the cattle for the 6 weeks which included borrowing a tank, hauling water from town and chopping ice. He organized putting away our farm equipment, tilled my garden, fixed the floor and door to the chicken house, as well as fixing fences. He and his wife, Joyce, regularly helped move the cattle back and forth to pasture moving them across Highway 4 at least twice per year. He helped sort cattle and get the calves loaded to take to the sale barn every year. My husband had cancer, severe heart disease and Alzheimer’s. Vanes took him for truck rides and would come to the house to visit with Gene so I could get out of the house for an afternoon. When we had a machinery auction in November of 2016, Vanes worked alone many days in the machinery shed sorting and cleaning tools, loading fence posts and doing what needed to be done to get ready for the auction. Gene passed away in December, 2016 after living at the nursing home for 18 months. Vanes came to our place to put the charger on the car after I had accidently left the key on. He then took me to work and later he and his daughter, Paula, delivered my car to me a work after the battery was fully charged. He and his family have gone above and beyond the definition of a good neighbor and they deserve an award for being VERY good neighbors.

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