Noelle, Awards of Excellence Recipient, Follows Her Firefighter Father’s Example

We congratulate Noelle Philippi for being selected as a First Responders Foundation Awards of Excellence 2020 recipients.  Noelle is graduating from Ralston High School. 

The Awards of Excellence are presented to children of first responders who demonstrate a commitment to the community and volunteerism, have good character, and balanced achievements in their lives.

Below is part of an essay that Noelle submitted for the award.

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Hand Sanitizer brings Patriarch Distillers & the First Responders Foundation Together

Patriarch Distillers Inc. is distributing hand sanitizers for first responders and health care workers in cooperation with the First Responders Foundation.

Patriarch Distillers/Soldier Valley Spirits is a small craft distillery that has changed production over from spirit-based consumables to a hand sanitizer during the pandemic. They hope the hand cleaning application will help slow down the COVID- 19 virus.

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Gary Steiner – New Board President

The First Responders Foundation is pleased to announce Gary Steiner, as Chairman of the Board in 2020.  Gary will be instrumental in helping the Foundation fulfill its mission to serve and honor all our First Responders and their families, build appreciation and respect for their work, and to enhance public safety.

Gary formed Steiner Consulting, Inc. in 2014 after 20 years of nonprofit management and fundraising work. His firm works with mid-sized nonprofits to develop visionary plans and to secure the resources needed to turn those visions into realities.

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Awards of Excellence Recipient, Kylie Tierney

Meet Kylie Tierney!  Kylie is a recipient of the First Responders Foundation Awards of Excellence 2019!  Kylie is a freshman at Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa and she is currently pursuing a Pre-Veterinarian path.

The Awards of Excellence are given to high school seniors who demonstrate good character, balanced achievement, and outstanding commitment to the community.  These students are also children of local first responders. That is what made Kylie eligible for the award. Kylie’s mom, Lt. Darci Tierney, recently retired from the Omaha Police Department after 25 years of outstanding service to the community.

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FRF Director of Development, Jodi Teal

The First Responders Foundation is pleased to officially announce the addition of Jodi Teal as the Director of Development. Jodi joins the Foundation with 15 years of nonprofit experience and is assisting with moving the Foundation toward the vision of providing a direct impact on the mental and emotional wellbeing of first responders. In her previous position, as Development Director at Heartland Equine Therapeutic Riding Academy, she served in various positions including donor relations, grant writer, event manager, fundraising, and was the liaison to outside funding opportunities in the community. Jodi has presented on fundraising, grant writing, and capacity building topics at regional and state conferences.

Jodi earned her degree in Human Resources and Family Science from University of Nebraska at Omaha and post-baccalaureate Certificate of Paralegal Studies from College of St. Mary. She completed UNO’s Certificate in Fundraising Management and Strong Nonprofit Program from the Fremont Area Community Foundation. Jodi believes in the positive nature of therapies received beyond the clinical setting. She maintains her certification as an equine specialist in Mental Health and Learning and a therapeutic riding instructor certification through the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International. She is currently a Board of Director member for the Little Giants Foundation.

Born and raised in Omaha, Jodi is proud to support first responders.  The Foundation is excited to have her as part of the team.  Welcome, Jodi!


Honoring Jerry Hoberman – Co-founder of the First Responders Foundation

Honoring Jerry HobermanThe First Responders Foundation is proud to honor Jerry Hoberman by inducting him into the Ancient Order of Saint Florian and Saint Michael Society.

Saint Michael, the protector is the patron saint of police and Saint Florian is the patron saint of firefighters.  The First Responders Foundation recognizes Jerry Hoberman for supporting first responders and the First Responders Foundation.

Jerry Hoberman and Ray Somberg Co-founded the First Responders Foundation in 2009.  We are thankful for both Jerry and Ray.  This year at the Third Annual 9/11 Luncheon of Honor we will be recognizing Jerry for all he has done for First Responders.  Leading up to starting the Foundation Jerry had an opportunity to spend some time with individuals from the Omaha Fire Department and the Omaha Police Department.  Here are some reflections from Jerry.

My reflections of First Responders
by Jerry Hoberman – Co Founder of the First Responders Foundation

My neighbor John Stolinski is a Omaha firefighter. In visiting with John, I was impressed by his, as well as his fellow firefighters, dedication and caring for the citizens of our city who found themselves in need of medical attention or rescue.

I had the privilege of participating in a “practice burn” of a building. As i watched the flames curl up the wall and envelope the ceiling, as I experienced the intense heat, as the protective gear I wore became enveloped in smoke so dense I could n to see my hand in front of my face…. panic took over! All I could think was….. I HAVE TO GET OUT!

Firefighter Dan Stolinski, who was assigned to keeping me unharmed, instructed me to crawl on all fours as he lead me out of the building. When I reached the fresh air, I thought about the First Responders who risk their lives by going into burning buildings to save ours. It gave me a lasting appreciation of their courage and dedication.

I was paired with Omaha Police Officer Nyugen to go on a “Ride Along” in the late hours of the night. My heart was racing and my anxiety maxed out as I watched Office Nyugen pull over a suspected drug dealer. I sat in the cruiser as I observed him cautiously approaching the driver’s door…. never knowing what to expect, as he proceeded with the arrest.

Another call came in and we were dispatched to a domestic violence incident where a man drove his key fob into the head of his girlfriend. As we took off, all I could think about were the stories of officers who were wounded or killed responding to routine domestic violence calls.

We count on First Responders to care for us….. to protect us. These exceptional men and women, on a daily basis, put their lives in jeopardy to protect ours.

My lifelong friend, Ray Somberg had similar experiences, and together, we founded the “Firefighter & Police Appreciation Foundation” later renamed “The First Responders Foundation”

All of us at the First Responders Foundation are grateful to Jerry and Ray for starting the foundation that for 10 years has been serving and appreciating First Responders and their families.

We are very proud to be honoring Jerry Hoberman at the Third Annual 9/11 Luncheon of Honor, for all he has done for First Responders and the Foundation.

Jerry started Tires, Incorporated in 1969 and worked there until he sold the business in 1998. He is the past chairman of Del Nat. a national tire association. He is currently on the board of the Holland Foundation.  Jerry is retired.

Jerry and his wife, Cookie, just celebrated their 54th wedding anniversary.  They have three daughters, Jennifer lives in Omaha, and Robin and Lisa both reside in Chicago.  They also have and are very proud of their “FFG”, five fabulous grandchildren.

Jerry, we thank you!


Tribute Lap at I-80 Speedway This Week Will Honor Fallen First Responders

This Friday at 7pm, there will be a special tribute to fallen Officer Kerrie Orozco & Deputy Mark Burbridge at the I-80 Speedway, featuring driver Jim Cahill doing a reverse tribute lap in his car (pictured below) followed by the Omaha Police Dept., Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s Dept., Douglas County Sheriff’s Dept., Ralston Police Dept., Bellevue Police Dept., La Vista Police dept., Papillion Police Dept., and the Council Bluffs Police Dept.

Cahill’s race car is wrapped in graphics as a tribute to Deputy Mark Burbridge.

The First Responders Foundation will also be on hand to participate in the tribute lap and raise money to support area first responders.


2018 Awards of Excellence Ceremony

We are proud and excited to announce the recipients of the 2018 Awards of Excellence, which go to high school seniors who are children of our First Responders and have demonstrated commitment to community.

The Awards of Excellence are made possible by our Booster Club.

Police Recipients

  • Izabela Gonzalez, Skutt Catholic High School
  • Kacie Shields, Millard West High School
  • Kayle Byrd, Bellevue West High School
  • Reed Fitzke, Fremont High School
  • Sierra Morris, Elkhorn South High School

Fire Recipients

  • Ashlyn Dippel, Fort Calhoun High School
  • Daniel Kirchofer, Creighton Preparatory
  • Delaney Doyle, Bellevue West High School
  • Holly Komenda, Raymond Central High School
  • Josie Andersen, Papillion La Vista High School

The recipients were recognized at a ceremony at Champions Run on April 26th.


2017 Awards of Excellence Recipients Announced

We are proud and excited to announce the winners of our inaugural “Awards of Excellence” program, which go to high school seniors who are children of our First Responders and have demonstrated commitment to community.

The Awards of Excellence are made possible by our Booster Club. 

The following are the 2017 Winners:

Melanie Doyle, Bellevue West High School
Katlyn Holaday, Cam High School (Iowa)
Kaitlynn Johnson, Millard West High School
Brenden O’Brien, Lewis Central High School
Katharine Moore, Duchesne Academy
Victor Salerno, Glenwood Community High School
Baily OBorny, Bennington High School
Madison Swanson, Mercy High School
Elizabeth Rockwell, Millard NorthHigh School
Brooklyn Housh, Millard West High School

We appreciate the hard work and dedication exhibited by all applicants and wish everyone continued success in all future endeavors.

To support this program and the First Responders Foundation into the future, we invite you to become a member of the Booster Club! Receive a free gift with your $40 membership.


Looking Back: National Police Week Trip to Honor Kerrie Orozco

dc2Practicing hour after hour and day after day. There was to be no room for error and their mission was accomplished. Who are they? They are the men and women of the Omaha Police Honor Guard and Pipe & Drums and they were on full display in Washington DC for National Police Week.

For them, this year was special. This year they were in DC to represent one of their own, fallen Officer Kerrie Orozco, EOW May 20, 2015. The OPD Honor Guard and Pipes and Drums were given special duties this trip. They were chosen for an elite ceremony at the Pentagon. They would carry the United States Honor Flag to the Pentagon Police to fly at the Pentagon in Kerrie’s Honor. The flag would fly on the same flag pole that remembers those killed on Sept 11, 2001. Later in the week, the Honor Guard was also chosen to present a wreath with Kerrie’s name on it at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

dc1Two sacred places, two sacred ceremonies with an Honor Guard and Pipes and Drums group that allowed no room for error. They would be the best of the best representing Officer Kerrie Orozco and the dignity of the entire Omaha Police Department. This task they did not fail, in fact, they excelled.

It’s hard to find the words to describe what it feels like to be in DC with tens of thousands of officers all in their dress uniforms. To look at them and know they were there because, like Omaha, they lost one of their own.

But DC wasn’t about sadness. It was about remembrance and honor and making sure the world knows these officers gave their all. It was about giving all of the fallen officers the respect that they so rightly deserved. It was about forming bonds that may last a lifetime. It was a brotherhood and sisterhood in an exclusive club that no one really wanted to join. It was about sharing in each other’s pain and moving forward.

The week was about honor and respect and our foundation was privileged to be a part of such a dignified week. It was our duty to bring the message of Support Blue to the men and women who protect us and let them know we have their back. We support them for the job that they do. We will continue to spread the Support Blue message wherever we can and encourage others to do the same.