Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Cultivating Community Leaders in the Deer Park Neighborhood

Hey Everyone,
Don't forget, the Deer Park Spring Cleanup is this weekend. 

I wanted to let everyone know that Deer Park is going to be a part of an exciting pilot project that is starting June 6, 2011.  Below is a narrative that sums the general scope of the pilot. 

Impact One Community Connection’s goal is to connect the people of the Omaha community with available resources here and beyond. They focus on assisting at-risk youth and young adults by providing gang intervention and prevention, employability training, job placement, re-entry assistance and referral services. Through a hand up, not a hand out approach, Impact One strives to empower the individuals they work work with to take control of their lives and move towards positive change.

Through Impact One’s Great Summer Jobs Program, they provide summer job opportunities for youth and young adults throughout the community. Participants engage in employment and life skills training prior to being placed at various job sites throughout the city. This program provides participants with leadership skills and teaches them to be responsible.  The Great Summer Jobs Program provides 150 jobs to area youth and leaves each participant with work experience. 

Habitat for Humanity of Omaha’s Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative (NRI) uses an asset-based community development model to work with neighborhood members to utilize existing strengths. Through this program, Habitat Omaha will work with neighborhood leaders to identify and solve other needs/problems in the community (ie: street repair, litter control, homeownership preparedness, etc.). 

The NRI goal is to identify and fully understand assets within the neighborhoods and incorporate said assets within a neighborhood redevelopment plan. As NRI conducts neighborhood, house by house, scans using the Omaha Neighborhood Center’s Neighborhood Scan Program, Habitat Omaha will integrate Habitat housing solutions as appropriate, including: land acquisition, New Home Projects, Rehab Home Projects, Critical Home Repairs (roof replacements and other exterior repairs), and demolitions.

Cultivating Community Leaders (CCL) is a pilot program that builds upon Impact One’s Summer Jobs Program & Habitat for Humanity’s Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative. As an extension of the Great Summer Jobs Program, CCL will teach youths the benefits and fundamentals of grass roots community engagement. For 10 summer weeks, youths will work directly with Neighborhood Associations to complete community projects while developing the youths’ sense of community ownership. CCL participants will work in a variety of projects including; neighborhood scans, graffiti scans, yard cleanups, community gardens, community outreach, and park and litter cleanups.

A variety of Omaha organizations and neighborhood alliance groups are accomplishing many positive projects in our communities, but are struggling to cultivate a new generation of civic advocates and leaders. CCL will be a step towards linking a new generation of leaders with existing community builders whom have fought to make our neighborhoods safer, beautiful, and more collective. There are many great community leaders in Omaha, and this project will showcase just how together they will continue to make positive changes in our communities. 

I want to publicly thank Impact One, Habitat for Humanity of Omaha, The Neighborhood Center, and members of the  Deer Park, Hanscom Park,  and Spring Lake Neighborhood Associations for providing the resources and vision to help me launch this pilot. I am confident that CCL could develop as a critical effort in neighborhood redevelopment and community sustainability. 

You can follow CCL efforts and progress on this blog. If you see the youths in the neighborhood make sure to thank them for helping us improve our communities.

Thanks for Reading,
Oscar Duran: Deer Park President

Monday, May 9, 2011

Vinton Street Community Meeting, May 25

Greetings Neighbors!
We hope you are enjoying the beautiful weather out there, that perfect Spring weather is finally here. Now that the cold weather is behind us, we can get outside and do some fun neighborhood projects. As our neighborhood is gearing up for its annual neighborhood cleanup on May 21, we are implementing several new exciting projects for the duration of the year.  

Before, I continue I wish to extend a warm thanks to the local Deer Park merchants. A group of Vinton Street merchants have met twice to discuss how they can actively participate thru our neighborhood association. I was moved, that during both meetings, the merchants expressed the greatest amount of thanks for all the hard work and effort we have invested into our beloved Vinton street business district. Over the last few months several business members have been joining our organization and have expressed an excitement to work with you, their neighbors, to enhance our neighborhood.  They are now meeting together to develop more community projects for Vinton Street.

This movement, spurs strong and viable progress for our neighborhood, and as the residents, we need to assure we continue to do our part. The Omaha Commerce's South Omaha Development Project has helped organize a community meeting at one of our active community merchant member’s studio.

Local photographer Larry Ferguson, will be hosting a community meeting at his studio on Vinton Street Wednesday, May 25. The agenda of this meeting is to continue discussing visions, ideas, and projects on the future of our beloved historic Vinton Street. The Deer Park Neighborhood Association has put a lot of effort and funds into the beautification of this area, and we are pleased to see community meetings being hosted to talk about the future and aspirations of Vinton Street. The Omaha Chamber of Commerce organized this event and plans to have one to two more meetings in the preceding months. If you are a resident of our neighborhood,

PLEASE, come to this meeting and share your vision as we discuss this part of our neighborhood's future. Come be a part of and whiteness a coming together of our community.

View Vinton Street Community Meeting in a larger map

Where: Ferguson Studio – 1701 Vinton Street (The building in the blue box above)
When: Wednesday, May 25, 6 – 7:30 p.m. Stop by anytime, whenever is convenient for you!


If you have any questions or wish to receive more information about this meeting, contact the Omaha Chamber representative, Karen Mavropoulos, at or (402) 978-7929.

See you there!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Keep Kids Alive Drive 25 Project in Deer Park

Keep Kids Alive Drive 25 Grant Project in Deer Park/Bancroft Elementary Neighborhood

Hey everyone, more exciting things going on in our neighborhood. This post is to update you on a traffic safety project that is being conducted in our neighborhood. 

Deer Park is one of three lucky neighborhoods that will have this study done and we are most grateful for this opportunity.

1. Speed Studies will be conducted by Camilo Torres and Donnie Butler - UNO Transportation Engineering Students - between the dates of May 10-12. Sites for data collection include:
  • -Bancroft between 11th and 12th Streets
  • -13th and Martha - in front of Castelar Elementary
  • -16th between Vinton and B
2. Kick-off educational event will be in conjunction with Bancroft Spring Festival May 13th. KKAD25 will provide trash can decals and key chains to pass out at event (and pencils if available). Volunteers are needed to staff this table. PLEASE NOTE - For the sake of continuity and to help support a clean study on the effects of efforts, Deer Park will be designated as a "Trash Can Decal" zone in getting the KKAD25 message out on as many residential cans as possible that go curbside for pick-up. We can also talk about other ways to supplement the message.

3. Deer Park NA can decide how they would like to engage other partners as part of ongoing educational/community engagement efforts throughout the summer - businesses, faith communities, other civic organizations. Any business that is interested in co-branding resources to pass out to the public - trash can decals, key chains, etc - should contact Tom, directly - 402-334-1391.

4. Once educational efforts are underway, UNO engineering students will return to do immediate follow-up studies to see if initial efforts have made a difference in lowering average speeds.

5. Going in to the school year, we will want to ramp up educational efforts once again. We can meet during the summer to talk about how the association and school would like to do this.

6. In September a final data collection will take place before putting together a final report on the project.

If you have any questions about this project and want to know how you can help, call....

Tom Everson
Executive Director
Keep Kids Alive Drive 25®- A Non-Profit "For Action" Organization
12418 C Street
Omaha, NE 68144 

See you at our neighborhood meeting...

7:00 pm, Wednesday, May 11 
Sheet Metal Workers' Union Hall 
3333 South 24th Street Omaha, NE 68108

June 2011 Deer Park Meeting Moving Location &Time

June DPNA Meeting Location/Time have Moved!
Photo From MCC Website
Hey Neighbors, on Wednesday, June 8, the Deer Park Neighborhood Association meeting will take place at the ITC Building at Metro Community College (MCC). The meeting is not cancelled, the location has just been moved. The South Omaha Development Project is hosting the first annual community meeting on June 8 at 6:00pm. This meeting will follow a different format than traditional DPNA meetings. Booths will be set up by South Omaha organizations doing positive things in our community. Of course Deer Park and Habitat for Humanity are two of these organizations. Our partnership Block by Block housing program is being showcased as an ongoing success in South O.  If you have not come to a meeting before or haven’t come in a while, this is a fun and important meeting to attend.  Join us in learning of the great things going on in South O, and come spread our Deer Park Pride. See you there!

The South Omaha Development Project - First Annual Community Meeting 
6:00 pm, Wednesday June 8, 2011
ITC Building , Metro Community College
South 27th Street & Q Street Omaha, NE 68107

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Cinco de Mayo

In grade school, we would do a Mexican hat dance and eat tacos on Cinco de Mayo.  I was proud I could say a few Spanish words but my vocabulary was very limited.  Little did I know, only 50 miles away from my hometown rested one of the biggest Cinco de Mayo festivals in the Midwest.
While Cinco de Mayo celebrates Mexico’s victory over France in the Battle of Puebla, Cinco de Mayo is actually more of an American holiday than a Mexican holiday.  Cinco de Mayo celebrations are believed to be started in California by Mexicans and Latinos wanting to bridge the gap between Mexico and America in the 1950’s.  It steadily became popular throughout the states and hit Omaha in the 1980’s.

South Omaha’s rich culture has embraced Cinco de Mayo with its festive activities this week.  While some may see it as just a big celebration, Cinco de Mayo is extremely beneficial to our community.  First National Bank and South Omaha Business Association have created a celebration that draws crowds not only from the Omaha Metro but from a 200 mile radius from South Dakota to Missouri.  The Omaha World Herald reported that $40,00 was given back to non-profit organizations from the Cinco De Mayo proceeds.

Looking through the pictures from past years at, I can’t wait for this year’s celebration.  There will be a Mudo de Ninos (Kids section) on N Street from 23rd to 24th Streets and the carnival opens Friday at 5:30 on 25th Street from O to M.
The famous Grupo Control ( be shaking up South Omaha with their danceable music on Friday at 7 p.m.  Music by Grupo Control and local artists will be free and located at the Plaza on 24th and N Streets.

There is no other place to be in Omaha than the parade at 10 a.m. on Saturday morning. Experience one of Omaha’s biggest parades while Mexican heritage is celebrated by all.  After the parade, the fiesta includes food, a carnival and booths with over 80 shops and restaurants open to the public.

Join in the unique fellowship of the Mariachi Mass on Plaza de la Raza (25th and N) on Sunday, May 8th.  Bring the whole family participate  in the fun of the carnival with food, booths and entertainment from noon – 10 p.m. on the plaza.
Nos vemos en la plaza! (See you at the plaza!)

Photos courtesy of