Sharing the Stage at Community Village

May 15, 2018

Go beyond the music to discover the organizations making our region a seriously special place.

Photo by Ben Semisch

The 2018 Maha Community Village, supported by American National Bank, is, simply put, not to be missed. Where else can you tackle important stuff like mental illness coping strategies and reproductive resources, while making teddy bear T-shirts, building tiny houses, and shooting squirt guns filled with paint? It’s all here. And now that Maha is two days long, you’ll have extra time to put in a sesh or two at the Community Village. Browse the booths, take in some new information, and leave your mark. Warning: you may come away feeling inspired.

Let’s welcome these 28 organizations to the village on August 17–18.

Don’t forget you can contribute as little as $10 to your favorite participating nonprofits during Omaha Gives! on May 23 and help make a big impact.

AIGA Nebraska, a community of design advocates, will be supporting its Design for Good program. Create a design on a tote bag and learn about art therapy as a route to mental health support. Learn more about AIGA Nebraska.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention – NE Chapter, which provides educational programs to the public as well as one-on-one visits, will bring selfie frames including #StopSuicide and #BeTheVoice. You can also write positive messages of inspiration and hope to be displayed in the booth. Learn more about AFSP.

Aqua-Africa, an Omaha-based organization providing clean drinking water and educational resources to South Sudanese communities, will bring jeri cans and focus on the weight of water and the difficulties people in developing countries face collecting and transporting water up to four hours each day. Learn more about Aqua-Africa.

Arts for All, Inc., an affordable and accessible arts education provider, will invite you to add multimedia pieces to a collective mosaic, as well as create a unique button to take home. Learn more about Arts for All, Inc.

The Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, which supports today’s artists through its programming, will reflect an exhibition currently on view at the center, Sheila Pepe: Hot Mess Formalism. Resembling the works of Pepe using weaving techniques, a community tapestry “wall” will grow in the booth, with each piece of yarn holding a special message of solidarity for those affected by mental illness. Learn more about the Bemis Center.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Midlands, an organization helping children facing adversity, is creating a fast-paced matching game that dispels myths about mental illness in youth — complete with a small prize for the winner of each round. Learn more about Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Midlands.

Charles Drew Health Center, Inc., which provides healthcare to communities in northeast and northwest Douglas County, will bring activities focused on mental health and reproductive health. Share your personal story of resiliency and on canvas or by decorating your own drawstring bag, and pick up some reproductive health swag while you’re at it. Learn more about Charles Drew Health Center.

Community Alliance helps individuals with mental illness achieve their unique potential. This year, you’re invited to create a keepsake beaded bracelet with words meant to inspire and motivate. The Community Alliance jenga game will also make its much-anticipated return. Learn more about Community Alliance.

Defy Ventures, which provides training and opportunities to formerly incarcerated citizens, will bring a fun teddy bear T-shirt design activity, meant to help understand the impact felt when giving or receiving a gift after being incarcerated and returning to the community. Learn more about Defy Ventures.

Friendship Program, Inc., which provides quality services for adults with aging and/or mental health needs, will offer a pinwheel-making station where the community can write words of encouragement, joy, and peace on the petals. Post-festival, the pinwheels will decorate the Friendship Program’s outdoor and indoor facilities. Learn more about Friendship Program.

Get Checked Omaha, an organization committed to a research-based, results-focused, comprehensive approach that will increase the sexual knowledge of youth, will host a sexual health Q&A, plus free condom distribution. Learn more about Get Checked Omaha.

Habitat for Humanity of Omaha, which builds strength, stability and self-reliance through shelter, is highlighting its Homeownership Program through the construction of a tiny house frame — and you’re invited to decorate the wooden studs that will be used on an actual Habitat house next year. Learn more about Habitat for Humanity.

Heartland Pride celebrates and promotes the LGBTQ+ community in Omaha-Council Bluffs and the surrounding rural areas. Get ready to make some bright rainbow streamers with the Heartland Pride team. Learn more about Heartland Pride.

Inclusive Communities, a human relations organization providing education and advocacy related to diversity and inclusion, will recycle T-shirts into tote bags while educating on their powerful messages confronting bigotry, prejudice and discrimination. Learn more about Inclusive Communities.

Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha’s fine arts museum open to the public for free, will promote a sense of community and connectivity through their collaborative art-making experience inspired by the tradition of quilt making. The final product will be installed in the Museum’s Community Gallery. Learn more about Joslyn Art Museum.

Joslyn Castle, which preserves the legacy of an historic home in the center of town, is bringing you on a trip to Victorian times with its special “discovery trunk.” Reach in and find lots of interesting items you might have experienced in a turn-of-the-century house. It’s probably as close to time travel as we’ll get at Maha anytime soon. Learn more about Joslyn Castle. 

KANEKO — an organization aiming to create an open space for your mind, a place where imagination has complete freedom and people can begin to see things differently — will bring activities supporting its current program, REALITY. On Friday, you can make your own virtual reality equipment out of plastic bottles, and Saturday, make jellyfish out of plastic bags to stress how plastics are often confused for other things in our ecosystems. Learn more about KANEKO.

Men With Dreams empowers today’s youth to become tomorrow’s leaders. At this booth, pick a color of paint and depict what your dreams is, and learn about some tried-and-true paths to achieving this. Learn more about Men With Dreams.

Moms Demand Action Omaha exists to support common-sense gun reforms. This booth will host a variety of activities that help highlight collaboration and gratitude, including cornhole, bead stringing, coloring pages, creating thank you cards for our first responders, and support cards for survivors in the Greater Omaha area. Learn more about Moms Demand Action.

Nebraska Appleseed, an organization that works with complex issues like child welfare, immigration policy, and affordable health care, is providing a canvas for attendees to add their hopes for the improvement of health care access in Nebraska. Learn more about Nebraska Appleseed. 

Ollie Webb Center, Inc., which helps those affected by developmental or intellectual disabilities, will bring a finger painting activity meant to encourage inner strength and uniqueness. Learn more about Ollie Webb Center.

OMNI Behavioral Health, which helps improve the living conditions of children, adolescents, adults and their families, will bring squirt guns filled with paint to create the selfie backdrop of your dreams, then snap a polaroid to remember the moment. #LoveYourSelfie. Learn more about OMNI Behavioral Health.

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland — which provides, promotes, and protects reproductive and sexual health through health services, education, and advocacy — will feature a photo booth with cutouts of various reproductive items. Learn more about Planned Parenthood.

Siena/Francis House deals with homelessness while welcoming, sheltering, and empowering those affected. To highlight the power of coping, you can write their favorite coping skill on a superhero cape to be displayed in the tent, and on the Siena/Francis House campus after the event. Learn more about Siena/Francis House.

Smart Girl Society, Inc. works to educate and inspire smart and confident girls, women, and families — and it is majorly dialing up the ‘80s with this scrunchie-making station. Design your own, snap a photo, and rock it for the rest of the day. Learn more about Smart Girl Society.

The Kim Foundation serves as a supportive resource and compassionate voice for lives touched by mental illness and suicide, and it is providing a spot to find your calm. Choose from an array of calming items to build your own kit — and take a moment to de-stress. Learn more about The Kim Foundation.

To Write Love On Her Arms helps bring hope and help to those struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. Get ready to craft messages of hope for people you don’t know, reflecting on “the one thing you wish you could say” and taking with you “the one thing you need to hear.” Learn more about TWLOHA.

Youth Emergency Services serves homeless and nearly homeless youth by providing critically needed resources that empower them to become self-sufficient. You’re invited to “take a walk in someone else’s shoes,” learning about the challenges some in the community face. Learn more about YES.

Questions about the Community Village? Get in touch at