By Governor Pete Ricketts
December 16, 2016
The Governor’s official portrait is available here.
The Capitol Christmas tree has officially been lit, which means the holiday season is here! This time of year brings family and friends together around great food and long-held traditions. It’s a time for reflection and meditation. And it’s also a time for giving back to one another. At its foundation, this season is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. The story of the Nativity and many other traditions have inspired generations of Nebraskans, and have helped us renew our commitment to the values that make Nebraska the best place in the world to live, work, and raise a family.
Nebraskans have a long tradition of deep commitment and engagement in their churches, schools, and other voluntary organizations. From soup kitchens to parent-teacher associations to retirement facilities, Nebraskans invested 58.23 million volunteer hours in 2015. This helped our state improve our standing to sixth best among all states for volunteerism. According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, these volunteer hours have a value of $1.3 billion. In addition to giving of our time, 56.2 percent of Nebraskans donated at least $25 to charity in the last year.
Some of the most inspiring stories of service and giving come from the men and women who put their lives on the line to protect our liberties and freedom. This week, I spoke at the Nebraska National Guard’s 162nd birthday celebration at the State Capitol in Lincoln. At the event, I thanked our National Guard members for their service to the state, and let them know how much Nebraskans appreciate their sacrifices and those of their families. Thousands of Nebraska men and women have dedicated themselves over the years to serving our state and country in the National Guard. During this holiday season, I encourage you to take time to thank the men and women who serve our country in the military as well as those who serve our state and communities in law enforcement. Their service is vital to protecting our way of life.
While many of us will never serve in the military or law enforcement, we can give back to our communities in ways that protect public safety. Earlier this year, the American Red Cross and I launched a disaster and emergency preparedness initiative that will touch every Nebraska community in the coming years. Over the next four years, the Red Cross will work with communities across Nebraska to build a foundation of preparedness. This includes recruiting volunteers, developing shelter agreements, and creating an American Red Cross Engagement Plan for each community in the state. To find out how you can help, please visit the American Red Cross in Nebraska online at http://www.redcross.org/local/nebraska/ for more information.
No matter how you decide to give back to your community, it makes a big difference. During this holiday season, I invite you to join me and my family as we renew our commitment to serve and give back. If you’re looking for fresh ideas, consider visiting www.serve.gov. Even something as simple as sharing a meal with a neighbor, or donating to your local food pantry helps renew the bonds of fellowship that make our state the Good Life. Additionally, I encourage you to save the date for the next ServeNebraska Week of Service, which will run April 23-29, 2017. It is another opportunity for Nebraskans to come together and give back.
As the year comes to a close, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Nebraska has a big birthday coming up. In 2017, we will be celebrating 150 years of statehood. My wife, First Lady Susanne Shore, has been working with a collaborative team of Nebraskans on developing plans for the coming celebration. This upcoming year will be a great time to highlight why Nebraska truly is the Good Life full of Great Opportunities. More on that in the near future! Until then, you are always welcome to share your thoughts and concerns with my office by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 402-471-2244. We look forward to hearing from you!