Photo credit: Steve Lustgarten
Who is a Do-Gooder?
Either you are one, or you know a few. SHARE Omaha defines do-gooders as those who see a need and do good for others or the community; those who raise their hands to help when a crisis or challenge arises around them; those who regularly prioritize this good work, even in the light of personal sacrifice.SHARE Omaha tells stories of volunteers, donors and general do-gooders regularly on our blog here, and with this column we seek to act as a megaphone for those making our community and metro area better. These do-gooders could be individuals, businesses, families or nonprofit organizations.
Married couple, Abby Jares and Turner Morgan, high school sweethearts of Council Bluffs, Iowa, both welcomed me to the interview as if I was the guest. The questions regarding my background and their interest in SHARE Omaha could have filled the time with their hospitable nature. I was lucky to pivot the talk to their interests, passions and thoughts on their community.
Loving the community and each other
Jares serves as development officer for CHI Health Mercy Council Bluffs and Morgan is the neighborhood coordinator at The 712 Initiative. Both have fashioned careers out of making, maximizing and leveraging connections for the community’s good.
Jares and Morgan were creative writers at heart through college – pivoting their strengths toward the community seems to have come organically for them.
Morgan said, “It took me a while to understand that being creative wasn’t just writing or making music or sketching things out. It was how do you bring people together. How do you make something from nothing. How do you build a house together; how do you be creative about solutions in our community? That’s creativity too!”
Jares through her fundraising work discovered early on that it is great to learn about other nonprofits in her work, as a potential donor may have interests beyond what she represents. Connecting donors to other nonprofits for the greater good is important and spurred thinking about the community holistically. Jares noted she takes pleasure in “knowing and cataloging what nonprofits in this area do and then pointing people toward those to magnify their impact.”
The couple realizes they are both in really unique positions, for Jares to see impact of some of the donations that come in or for Morgan to impact neighborhood dynamics through his work. Jares said of their careers, “Especially for Turner, he is an action-oriented person.”
Morgan added that he feels satisfaction, “helping [neighborhoods] through their problems or be creative with what they want to do…I enjoy helping other people’s dreams come true for their neighborhood.”
Bringing the connections home
Beyond Morgan’s work growing neighborhood spirit through his The 712 Initiative position, he and Jares with their young son J.J. live in Council Bluffs’ Gibraltar Neighborhood. Both believe in fostering a spirit of belonging. Morgan summarized, “in an age of such disconnectedness, I want people to be connected in their place. When you’re at home you don’t have to represent yourself and can love each other for that, no façade or guard up.” They both noted the desire to be comfortable where you live, trusting that you’re seen and heard because you’re invested in that place.
The reverence they have for each other was palpable. Jares notes of her husband, “he’s a cheerleader, compassionate, and morals first. Morgan indicated his credibility often comes because of his connection to Jares, “Oh I love Abby!” is what people say when they find out he is married to her.
Wishes for the community
For Council Bluffs and the metro area, Morgan articulated his wish and hope that decision-makers can see value in neighborhoods or small groups advocating from the ground up. He would like to see that a swell of individuals, families or neighborhood members are seen as equals in discussions around economic development. Working and living should both hold weight as communities grow.
Jares feels their luck to have landed in their neighborhood and chosen Council Bluffs, and they both feel that sense of place can matter as their family and the next generation decides where to invest their livelihoods. They want to see the people who grew up in Council Bluffs stay, work and make it better.
Beyond the Gibraltar Neighborhood Association, both are involved with the Impact CB young professionals events committee and Jares is devoted to the Friends of the Library in Council Bluffs. She ended our time saying how Council Bluffs is a place where if you want to get connected and involved, people want to help you accomplish goals. What better encouragement from a pair of connectors to invest in their community?
Who are your Do-Gooders?
We bet you can think of people like Jares and Morgan – people who are devoted to the community and are magnetic in their ability to bring others along – tell us! Shoot an email to info@SHAREomaha.org or find us on social media. SHARE Omaha exists to be a conduit between nonprofit needs and public doing good. The best ways, we think, to spur that action is to inspire through telling stories of Do-Gooder actions and emphasizing that tiny acts of goodness add up to a healthy and engaged community.