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Who We Are

Former First Lady Sally Ganem

Former First Lady, Sally Ganem served as the Honorary Chair for the ServeNebraska Commission from 2005 until 2015. She was drawn to be a part of the Commission because of her passion for service and desire to recognize those who give back to communities in the state.

As a lifelong volunteer, service is near and dear to Sally’s heart, so joining an organization that promotes service and recognizes those getting things done for Nebraska communities was a no-brainer.  When she first joined the Commission, she was working as a principal and advocated for the use of AmeriCorps programming in her school, particularly the SeniorCorps Foster Grandparents Program, now called AmeriCorps Seniors Foster Grandparents.

“I utilized the various programs that helped children and families. The Foster Grandparent program is unmatched in providing assistance to students in the form of tutoring, reading to and with children, and other educational activities assigned by the teacher of a classroom.  A wonderful experience for any school fortunate enough to be assigned a ‘grandma’ or ’grandpa,’” she said.

During her time as Honorary Chair, Sally saw the commission rebranded from the Nebraska Volunteer Service Commission to ServeNebraska and played a part in the Commission’s request for funding from the state, which was successfully acquired in 2006.  She told us that this funding from the state was a major milestone for ServeNebraska as it helped the organization to grow momentum in promoting service across the state.

“I have always stated I cannot imagine our schools and communities without volunteers! Volunteerism increases the health and welfare of our citizens,” she told us. “Thinking of our recent weather issues with flooding, homes destroyed, and injuries; it would have been far more devastating without the volunteers! The Emergency Management organizes volunteers and gives various assignments. Often times AmeriCorps members volunteers are mobilized to assist with rebuilding and helping.”

As the First Lady of Nebraska, she helped the commission host the First Lady’s Awards for Volunteerism at which she presented awards for outstanding service each year. She was committed to growing the program to increase recognition of volunteers since their service is at the heart of the programs. Thanks in part to her hard work, the event grew until it was rebranded as the Governor’s Step Forward Awards in 2015.

In fact, in 2021, Sally Ganem was awarded a Step Forward Award herself for her support of the ServeNebraska Commission. She was presented with the Jamesena Moore “Making a Difference” Service Award named in honor of the founding ServeNebraska Chair, her fellow commissioner and dear friend.

Sally tells us that in another 30 years she hopes to see the Commission grow and become the “go-to” organization for any communities who are in need of volunteers.