Spirit of Service

For these Omaha women, philanthropy is a family affair

Lucy Newberry, 42

Mother of: Nicholas, 14; Elizabeth, 12; Christopher, 9; Beau, 2; Penelope, 1

Profession: Partner at Kutak Rock LLP law firm

Volunteers with: Junior League of Omaha, Child Saving Institute, Joslyn Castle Guild, Omaha Symphony Guild, Lauritzen Gardens

Life motto: When I’m old and gray, will this matter? If not, it isn’t worth losing sleep over.


Lucy Newberry has worked on many fundraisers, but one event in particular stands out: Stand Down for Vets, which gave homeless veterans health services and free items such as sleeping bags, boots, and basic warm clothing. “It was a life-changing experience for me,” she said.

Newberry, a partner at law firm Kutak Rock LLP, is committed to supporting several organizations in Omaha. She is a sustaining member of the Junior League of Omaha. Her volunteer work there connected her to the Child Saving Institute Guild, and she has chaired many of the guild’s fundraising events. The mother of five was drawn to the organization’s mission of meeting the needs of at-risk children.

Why do you choose to make the time to volunteer?

I am blessed beyond explanation, and I feel a personal responsibility to do what I can to enrich my community. I want my children to see me giving back so that they know what it means to be a part of something bigger than themselves.

What are the most important lessons you want your kids to learn?

Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, no matter their circumstance. I want my children to understand that it isn’t always writing a check, but rather jumping into the trenches and being willing to look people in the eye and convey to them that despite where they may find themselves at the moment, they are worth something.

How do you balance your family’s needs, your professional and volunteer obligations and still make time for you?

There is no such thing as total balance, particularly when you are trying to manage a large family, partnership at a large law firm, and active community involvement. Number one, my family comes first. I try to involve my children when I can with volunteering (like spending time every year volunteering at Child Saving Institute’s Touch-A-Truck “friend-raiser”). I work reasonable hours at the office and sometimes I need to work after the kids go to sleep, but I am lucky to work for a firm that has an expectation that attorneys and associated professionals endeavor to have reasonably balanced lives. And my volunteering is almost always done alongside women who I consider to be dear friends. Whether it is chairing a fundraiser, asking for donations, or working at an event, you’ll usually see a number of my friends and colleagues right by my side.

How do you get the kids involved in volunteering?

I find some way that the kids will really enjoy being involved. My oldest, Nicholas, has worked the bounce houses at Touch-A-Truck for a number of years. My daughter Libby helped paint clown faces at Touch-A-Truck. They’ve each helped me stuff envelopes for fundraisers more times than they care to count and have helped stuff guest bags for multiple events. Lauritzen Gardens held an Easter egg hunt this year, and Nicholas, Libby and Christopher helped me stuff 2,000 candy eggs. Find a way that they can help and run with it!


Leslie Mayo, 46

Mother of: Lauren, 12; Ryan, 10

Profession: Director of Business Operations, Freestone Wealth Strategies

Volunteers with: Children’s Hospital and Medical Center Carolyn Scott Rainbow House, Junior League of Omaha, Rose Theater Guild, Girls Inc., Child Saving Institute, Literacy Center of the Midlands, Fontenelle Forest, Completely Kids, Omaha Performing Arts Society, Omaha Symphony, Aquatic Club of Elkhorn

Quote for life: “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.” — Muhammad Ali


Leslie Mayo’s volunteerism sprouted from a mother’s group. The group introduced her to the Carolyn Scott Rainbow House at Children’s Hospital and Medical Center, which provides accommodation for families and patients undergoing treatment at Children’s. Her fundraising efforts help the Rainbow House accommodate over 2,000 families each year at no charge. The service is “a priceless gift to families often facing heavy financial and emotional burdens,” she said.

Mayo has been a member of the Junior League of Omaha for over 10 years. Through Junior League, Mayo became connected with other Omaha-area organizations that help to make a difference in the lives of children and families.

Why do you choose to make the time to volunteer?

Because each of us has the ability to make a difference in the life of another. Additionally, I really like the women that I volunteer with. Some of my best friends I met through either a nonprofit group or a volunteer event.

What are the most important lessons you want your kids to learn?

That each of us can make a difference in the life of another person. I hope my kids ultimately learn volunteering in the community is a great thing that can enrich one’s soul and provide a different perspective of the world. I love this quote about the importance of sharing volunteerism with children: “Nothing teaches hope, kindness, courage and compassion like helping others.”

How do you get the kids involved in volunteering?

My children love to help me volunteer when they can. My daughter has made fleece blankets for sick kids, stuffed backpacks for children who are unexpectedly removed from their homes as a result of a crisis situation, and helped prepare table decorations for benefit events. My son enjoys helping bake treats for the families staying at the Rainbow House.

What do you hope your kids will have great memories of?

That the time they spent volunteering with mom was as much fun as it was rewarding, and that their mom worked to make Omaha and the surrounding area a community to be proud of.

How do you balance your family’s needs, your professional and volunteer obligations and still make time for you?

Some days are definitely better than others. My calendar is very important in order to balance everything. Also, a very supportive spouse is invaluable. I would not be able to give my time to volunteer without his help and understanding. I really enjoying volunteering, so this helps me find “my time” as it gives me a chance to hang out with my friends and do something to make a difference at the same time.

Other than your children, what is the accomplishment you are most proud of?

Knowing that I had a part in making a positive impact on the lives of others. I have been very fortunate to have been involved in several projects through the Junior League of Omaha that make a difference in the lives of children.


Kate Schafer, 35

Mother of: Emma, 13; Jack, 8; Sam, 7

Entrepreneur behind: Fleurish, a floral design company

Volunteers with: Race for the Cure, Junior League of Omaha, Rose Theater, the Legacy Board, Children’s Hospital and Medical Center, Child Saving Institute, Girls Inc., TeamMates, American Cancer Society

Life motto: Leap and the net will appear.


Kate Schafer’s volunteer work spans multiple Omaha organizations. When she sees a need to be met, she volunteers. “Whether it’s an auction, a race, a meal, a leadership position or a supportive role, I am happy to be a part of something if I feel like I can help make a meaningful impact,” she said.

Schafer was a stay-at-home mom when she discovered a flair for decorating homes and storefronts for the holidays. In 2003, she launched Fleurish, a small business that offers floral services including event styling, seasonal displays and container gardening.

Why do you choose to make the time to volunteer?

I feel that it’s important to give back to the community where I live and the community my children are growing up in. It’s incredibly rewarding to know I have contributed to making Omaha a better place to live, and that I have helped others when they needed it. When you volunteer, you usually get back more than you give. You make new friends, you learn new skills, and you have the opportunity to be part of something larger than yourself.

How do you get the kids involved in volunteering?

When appropriate, I let my kids help. Sometimes that means they get to help me pick out items to donate. Other times that means physically helping me work at an event, such as at the Rose Theater’s boutique or packet pickup for Race for the Cure. I hope that by involving them when I can and talking to them about volunteerism, they will value it. Hopefully one day they will be active in their community, too.

What are the most important lessons you want your kids to learn?

There are two things I want my kids to learn more than anything else: work hard and be nice. I feel if they can learn to do those two things, they can be anything they want.

What does a good day look like in your family?

A good day for my family starts when everyone leaves the house on time and is happy doing so. Just before we leave, my kids tell me they love me, instead of “I forgot to do my homework,” or “By the way, I need you to make me a lunch.”

It’s a day full of funny texts from my husband, coffee with a good friend, and a concise but productive volunteer meeting. It’s a night with dinner at the kitchen table with my family, instead of driving through someplace between kids’ sports practices, and watching my boys ride bikes or play outside until bedtime while my daughter tells me about middle school drama. It’s closing out the evening by watching Netflix with my husband while I work on my laptop, and he works on his.

What do you hope your kids will have great memories of?

I hope my kids have great memories of the time we spend together as a family laughing. No family is perfect, especially mine, but we know how to have fun together. I hope that my kids will look back fondly at my dancing in the car at stoplights just to embarrass them or the summer mandate that we must eat ice cream every day. I hope they forget just how much they fight with each other and how often I make them clean their rooms!

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