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The streets were once again full of smiling, laughing and dancing children, families and community members celebrating the holiday spirit at 24th and Lake.

After making the decision to convert the event into a drive thru in 2020, Christmas in the Village returned to the streets of 24th and Lake in a big way.

“Though last year turned out to be an excellent event and much needed escape from the pandemic with over 1,000 cars driving through, it was amazing to see children and families return to 24th and Lake to enjoy themselves and celebrate the season at Christmas in the Village,” said Willie Barney, CEO and founder of the Empowerment Network.

“It’s hard to believe it’s been 11 years since we launched the event and inspiring to see how much it has grown and the impact that it has made.”

Christmas in the Village is presented by the Empowerment Network and OEDC in partnership with dozens of organizations and businesses.  Major sponsors include American National Bank, Douglas County Visitors Fund, North Omaha Turnback Tax Committee, Nebraska Arts Council, KETV, Revive and main stage sponsor, Veridian Credit Union.

It started as a vision from Barney. He presented the idea for the event to Vicki Quaites-Ferris, Stacy Henry, Deb Bunting, Michael Maroney and the OEDC team.  They jumped on board and the first event was planned in just four weeks back in 2011.

Over 70 businesses, organizations, artists and ministries worked together to make the event possible this year.

“Christmas in the Village is a great example of what is possible when we collaborate and each business and organization does their part,” said Barney. “We have been able to create a high quality and well attended event with the help of so many partners. It has also served as a catalyst to show what’s possible here in this historic district.”

The day started with volunteers and businesses working together to place inflatable balloons and characters up and down 24th Street. Business owners swept sidewalks. Volunteers raked leaves. Tents and games were set up early in the morning.

By 10 am, children and families started arriving to receive free gifts from the toy giveaway arranged by 4 Urban and sponsored by UNO.

By 10:30, teams had put Street barricades in place and the event officially started at noon with the Bryant Center’s Condor Drum Corp leading Mr and Mrs Claus down N 24th Street in a horse drawn carriage.

“It was a beautiful sight,” said Vicki Quaites-Ferris, Director of Operations for the Empowerment Network and event manager.

“The streets were lined with families who were excited to see the drum team, elves, and of course, Santa and Mrs. Claus.”

That was just the beginning of a day full of interactive and fun activities. Some have called it a “Winter Wonderland.” People come from all over the region and some as far away as St Louis, Kansas City and Minneapolis rave about the event.

Visitors were treated to free carriage rides sponsored by the Network.

There were face painters in the Fair Deal and families could receive discounts and specials from the local businesses. One of the businesses, Still Poppin, was also celebrating five years in business.

At OEDC, children could wave to Mrs. Claus, receive a free goodie bag and play interactive games.

Tasty food was available on both ends of the event. Smoking Guns and A Taste of New Orleans food trucks were on the street and the Revive Center served customers throughout the day. Between the trucks and Revive those in attendance had a wide range of options.

Some new businesses experienced Christmas in the Village for the very first time. Ital Vital Living which opened this past summer selling smoothies and juices in the former location of the Cooler, hosted a Selfie photo booth and sold their delicious products.

“We had a great turnout and response throughout the day,” said Imani Murry. “24th and Lake is a beautiful place to celebrate the holidays and it was so awesome to see so many kids and families here. We’ve had some great events this fall and this was the largest.”

Just to the North, the Union returned as a participant with a balloon artist, interactive children’s activities and the highly popular Raku pottery.

The largest crowds always gather in Dreamland Park for an awesome holiday concert featuring some of Omaha’s top gospel and jazz artists, including Millicent Crawford, Kathy Tyree, The Arvies, Eric and Doriette Jordan, Chad Stoner and Big Wade.

Pear Tree Performing Arts wasn’t able to perform in 2020 but returned once again to deliver inspiring dance routines in front of a packed audience. The Sacred Heart children’s choir also joined in for the first time and thoroughly enjoyed the event.

Another crowd favorite is the live nativity scene complete with a camel, donkey and other animals. The Empowerment Network partners with Mt. Moriah and Scatter Joy Acres on the attraction that draws great reactions from kids.

There was plenty of hot apple cider and cookies provided by Styles of Evolution.

“We doubled up this year on cider and cookies and we ran out midway through the event there were so many people,” said Don McPherson, owner of Styles.

Kids and families enjoyed all their holiday favorites including hot chocolate, cookies, popcorn, cotton candy and other snacks available from different locations.

The Omaha Police Department handed out candy canes and stickers. The Black Police Officers Association has been involved every year as a sponsor and handing out toys and candy bags in partnership with Revive and Santa.  The Omaha Fire Department provided an interactive experience that kids seemed to thoroughly enjoy.

Bridge Church joined in for the first time with some excellent and engaging activities outside on Lake Street.

The Great Plains Black History Museum presented a Tuskegee Airmen exhibit and handed out free candy.

The Omaha Star provided a children’s activity book and sold subscriptions.

Families stopped by the Carver Legacy Center and received some swag and information from the Carver team and American National Bank. American National Bank is a platinum sponsor and has supported Christmas in the Village every year since it started.

One of the other major impacts with Christmas in the Village is the support for local small businesses. Many of them reported record sales during the five hour event.

“We truly appreciate the support from our community” said Valerie Bradford, owner of Divine Nspirations.

“An event like this can do wonders for a small business. We did very well and it’s such a positive experience for families.”

Further to the South, LeFlores New Look Fashions, Get N Go Foods and other businesses also participate and see the economic impact of Christmas in the Village.

Because of the pandemic, precautions were implemented to keep attendees safe. Most activities were held outside and masks were required when guests ventured inside buildings. Hand sanitizer was distributed and available at every location.

Although the group would much rather have had Santa interact directly with the kids all day, he was primarily waving through a window from a specially made office on 24th Street. It still created some awesome moments and memories.

“We want to thank all of our partners, sponsors and volunteers,” said Quaites-Ferris. “This wouldn’t be possible without them.”

Another major bonus was the nearly 300 residents that received their vaccinations through a partnership between the IMA, Mocha Docs, Douglas County Health Department, Mt. Moriah and the Empowerment Network.

“We worked with the county and they brought all three vaccinations and the booster as we requested,” said Pastor Portia Cavitt, president of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance and Senior Pastor of Clair Memorial Church.

“I was out talking with the people and encouraging them to come get vaccinated right there on the spot. There was a tremendous response. We want the County to do more of this. Meet the people where they are.”

That was music to the ears of the organizers.

“The Village is a now a place where you can play, eat, shop, sing, worship, enjoy family, get healthy and have a great time throughout the year, not only during the holidays,” said Barney.

“When we created Christmas in the Village 11 years ago, part of the vision was to bring people back to 24th and Lake and to serve as a catalyst for holistic revitalization.”

“The momentum is building. We’ve come a long way, but even greater things are just ahead. 2022 will be the best ever.”

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2021 Photo Gallery

 

 

Community Features

Atlanta Congresswoman Nikema Williams visits North Omaha

Williams was elected to serve in the district formerly held by the late legendary Congressman, John Lewis

While in Omaha, Williams stopped by Pleasant Green Baptist Church led by Pastor Brian Page for morning services, attended a rally to support congressional candidate Tony Vargas and was the keynote speaker for a luncheon sponsored by the Nebraska Democratic Party and Team Vargas on Sunday, October 30, 2022.

Williams emphasized the importance of voting and mobilizing others to vote.

“Tell your family, friends and everyone you know to get out and vote.”

Specific to Nebraska, Williams encouraged voters to support the $15 minimum wage, reject voter ID and vote for candidates that support health care, voting rights and economic advancement for all.

Her primary message was democracy is not a spectator sport. Everyone must use their voice.

“Your vote is your voice,” said Williams. “This is a vitally important time in our country. Nebraska is a crucial state. That is why I am here. You cannot sit this one out.”

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Careers

Welcome Veta Jeffery, CEO of Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce

Revive Magazine asked some leaders to share their thoughts about the Chambers new CEO and to provide an official welcome to Omaha for Mrs. Veta Jeffery, her husband, Tony and daughter, Toni.  Jeffery officially started her new role in May of 2022.

 

Cheryl Logan
Superintendent of Omaha Public Schools

We welcome Veta to this extraordinary community. The promise of Omaha is fundamental to the success of our students and we look forward to supporting her and the vision of the Omaha Chamber for all who call Omaha home.

 

Pete Festersen
President of Omaha City Council

Omaha City Council President Pete Festersen met Jeffery during her first chamber of commerce board of directors meeting and was very impressed.

“We discussed the huge opportunity that exists right now to address economic development in North and South Omaha. She has a lot of experience with diversity, inclusion and ARPA fund distribution and I am excited to work with her on those issues. Great things happen when business, government and philanthropy work together.”

 

Richard Webb
CEO of Boys and Girls Clubs of the Midlands

“I am excited about Veta Jeffery’s leadership she will bring to the Omaha community. I am looking forward to her leveraging her local, statewide, and federal relationships and experience with internships and recruitment of diverse talent to continue the Omaha community on a path towards success.”

 

Precious McKesson
President of North Omaha Neighborhood Alliance

“Extending a heartfelt welcome to CEO/President Veta Jeffery and her family to Omaha. I am excited to see the ideas and programs Mrs. Jeffery’s will bring to the Omaha market and look forward to working with her to ensure there is an intentional focus on economic and business development in North Omaha.”

 

Dr. Viv Ewing
President & CEO Childrens Square

“Veta Jeffery is a brilliant business and community leader with deep experience in economic development.  She will be a tremendous asset to the OMAHA community. I look forward to her leading a transformation for the city in economic development and engaging young professionals.”

 

Keith Station
Deputy Chief, Diversity and Inclusion, City of Omaha

“Veta Jeffery is exactly what Omaha needs right now; an accomplished, visionary, strategic woman to continue the unprecedented economic development growth of our region. I’m ecstatic that she is a DEI subject-matter-expert, and I look forward to helping her and the family to get acclimated to the City of Omaha!”

 

Aisha Conner
Special Projects and VEC Manager, Empowerment Network

“I would say that with the announcement of the new CEO it shows that Omaha is moving in the right direction.  Circling back to the brain drain it shows that Omaha is being intentional about seeking out talent and diversity. I am excited about what is happening in my city.”

 

Thomas Warren, Sr.,
Chief of Staff, Mayor’s Office

“The appointment of Veta Jeffery as President/CEO of the Omaha Chamber of Commerce (OCC) is historic and monumental.  The OCC serves as a catalyst for business development and economic growth in the City of Omaha and the metropolitan area.  Ms Jeffrey’s background and experience are aligned with the area’s priorities and needs, talent recruitment and retention, workforce development and increasing diversity through hiring and training initiatives.”

“The City of Omaha and OCC benefit from having the support of a very generous donor/philanthropic community.  Ms Jeffery’s skills as a convener will enable her to facilitate public/private partnerships and continue the positive trajectory of our local economy.”

 

Chris Rodgers
Douglas County Commissioner

“I grew up in the St. Louis metro area and her tenure there prepares her to step in and build a business climate that inclusively creates jobs and develop small and big businesses.”

 

Terrell McKinney
State Senator

“It’s refreshing to see that the chamber has hired a black woman to take its organization into the future, bringing her years of experience to Omaha from St. Louis.  I look forward to meeting and working with her in the near future.”

 

Tim Clark
Manager of Community Relations, Metropolitan Community College

This is a serious step towards creating a business community that will become even more intentional when it comes to diversify and inclusion…the Greater Omaha Chamber is key in leading the business community to help strengthen minority and small businesses for start up and escalation.  We welcome the new CEO Veta Jeffery Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce to this place we call the “Good Life”!  We look forward to having the conversations around the alignment Skill training and Associates Degrees that will support Businesses in the Greater Omaha area.

In my opinion strength of a progressive City is how it uses culture and diversity as a strength when it comes to creating vibrant places to live work and place, it becomes very important and I believe right thing to do…The future of the Greater Omaha area is full of Hope and Opportunities!

I was excited when I heard Veta Jeffery was selected to serve as the next President and CEO of the Greater Omaha Chamber.  She is the first woman and first person of color to serve in this role.

It’s inspiring to see Black women getting opportunities to serve in leadership roles. I am sure she will do an amazing job taking the chamber to the next level.

 

Sherie Thomas
Deputy Chief, Omaha Police Department

“I was excited when I heard Veta Jeffery was selected to serve as the next President and CEO of the Greater Omaha Chamber. She is the first woman and first person of color to serve in this role.”

“It’s inspiring to see Black women getting opportunities to serve in leadership roles. I am sure she will do an amazing job taking the chamber to the next level.”

 

Carmen Tapio
CEO of North End Teleservices

Veta Jefferey from a leadership perspective is best characterized by strategic development, broad consensus building and convening public and private stakeholders to achieve business, economic and community outcomes. Her approach and achievements in city government, the financial sector and economic development transfer and align with the innovative, impactful and collaborator leader we sought to be the CEO and President of the Greater Omaha Chamber.

Notable of her many achievements Ms. Jeffrey was appointed by the Governor of Missouri to help bring back and rebuild Ferguson and the business community after the riots.

Ms. Jeffrey brought together public and private partnerships to work together on creating plans and bringing about outcomes. Her ability to do that in a divided community is impressive.

The committee consisted of diverse leaders and was chaired by Leslie Andersen, CEO of i3 Bank, and includes Carmen Tapio, CEO of North End Teleservices, LLC, Mindy Simon, CIO of ConAgra, Clark Lauritzen, Chairman and President of First National Bank of Omaha and Mogens Bay, retired CEO of Valmont. The selection committee was assisted by Korn Ferry, a worldwide leader in executive search.

We worked tirelessly, vetting all candidates and coming to a unanimous and enthusiastic conclusion that Veta Jeffery is the best choice and person to lead the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce and to bring further transformational change.

 

Welcome to Omaha Veta Jeffery and family.

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Community Features

Stable Gray, award-winning business open at 24th & Lake

Stable Gray, award-winning, black-owned branding and tech firm, opens at 24th & Lake

Stable Gray was founded in 2015 by CharDale Barnes and Teddy Young to help small businesses build strong brands at affordable prices. The efforts of Stable Gray have evolved from providing a few simple media services, to pioneering some of the most innovative branding solutions in the industry.

“We want to create 8-10 six figure jobs right here in our community,” said Barnes at their grand opening held in July 2022.

The Stable Gray mission is: “to help businesses build the brand of their dreams. We strive to blur the lines between large companies with unlimited marketing budgets, and local small businesses. We help businesses of all sizes develop their brand into ones that look just like the companies we see on tv every day.”

The store front at 24th and Lake is their second location.  They have a production studio located on the Better Together campus.

Revive Omaha would like to congratulate CharDale Barnes, Teddy Young and the entire Stable Gray team on their grand opening at 24th and Lake.

“Stable Gray does outstanding work with branding, marketing, social media and website development,” said Willie Barney, co-publisher of Revive Omaha Magazine.   “They were recognized as small business of the year by the Omaha Chamber of Commerce.  Teddy and CharDale are committed to supporting and investing in the North Omaha community.”

Learn more about Stable Gray

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