Twenty Impacts in 2020

The First Responders Foundation’s mission is to serve and honor all our First Responders, Veterans, and their families, build appreciation and respect for their work and enhance public safety.  On that journey this year, the Foundation has impacted first responders and their families in many ways. Below is a list of twenty impacts in 2020!

We thank the private citizens, the organization, and the businesses who have supported the Foundation this year making it possible to make a difference in the lives of first responders and their families.

Without Guns and Hoses and our Annual 9/11 Luncheon of Honor, our yearly fundraising events, this year has been particularly difficult as it has been for many social impact organizations.  Your support has been and is now appreciated more than you will ever know, and allow us to continue our vital programming.

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FRST Suicide Prevention Training

The First Responders Support Team (FRST) specializes in working with first responders on behavioral health issues and Suicide Prevention training.

Co-Director of the FRST Team, clinician Stephanie Levy, shares how the First Responders Foundation has been working with local first responders over the last year and a half, how barriers are being broken, and how progress is being made to help prevent suicide in this demographic.

Unfortunately, first responders are statistically more apt to die by suicide than on the job, or in the line of duty.

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Hannah and the Tri-County Fire Corps

Hello, my name is Hannah.  I am currently enrolled at Metro Community College working towards a Fire Science degree.

About two years ago I took a career academy through MCC for Fire Science.  During the academy I learned about the Tri-County Fire Explorers program.  My instructors at MCC told me being involved in the program was a great opportunity.  At that time I did not know for sure if I wanted to be a firefighter.  I knew the program would allow me to get my foot in the door and I knew I would learn a lot.
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Suz and Ginger

“Ginger gave me my life back” was how Suz explained her relationship with her service dog.

Suz knew that something had to change.  She was not doing activities that she loved.  She was not enjoying life.  And then came to Ginger!

Suz joined the Navy after college.  She started with the reserves, and then joined the Navy and attended Bootcamp in Orlando, FL.  She was stationed in San Diego, CA.  One night while she was on duty she was bitten by a black widow.  Unfortunately, the bite was misdiagnosed and treated as a cactus prick, and the venom from the black widow went through her system.

Suz spent two years in the hospital, had twelve surgeries, and multiple times doctors thought they would have to take her leg.  Fortunately, her leg was saved.  She still gets steroid shots and has residual pain but she has full use of her leg.

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Honoring A Hero

Congratulations to Ken Kanger our most recent inductee into the National Society of St. Florian and St. Michael.

Today we honor Deputy Chief Ken Kanger. Deputy Chief Ken Kanger began his work with the Omaha Police Department in 1997 as a Police Officer. He has worked in the Uniform Patrol Bureau in the Northwest and Northeast Precincts, as well as the Criminal Investigations Bureau in the Special Victims Unit, Homicide Unit and Narcotics Unit.

He was promoted to Sergeant in 2007 and assigned as a supervisor in the Northeast Precinct of the Uniform Patrol Bureau, and then was assigned to the Homicide Unit of the Criminal Investigations Bureau.  He was promoted to Lieutenant in 2010 and assigned to the Crime Analysis Unit. In 2012, he was assigned to the Gang Unit where he saw the opportunity to work with youth through intervention and prevention to keep kids from becoming involved in criminal activity or becoming victims of violence.

He was promoted to Captain in 2017 and was assigned to command the Special Operations Section of the Criminal Investigations Bureau, which includes both the Gang and Narcotics Units. He now serves in the role of Deputy Chief, overseeing the entire Criminal Investigations Bureau.

Deputy Chief Kanger sees the potential in the youth of our community. He strongly believes in the message set by Inky Johnson, a former college football player who was injured and turned his injury into motivation for himself and others. Johnson tells people to “empty the bucket”, to give everything you’ve got. You can see Deputy Chief Kanger spreading this message in our community.

Deputy Chief Kanger serves our community on the baseball field as a volunteer coach for PACE (Police Athletics for Community Engagement).  He strives to give our youth an outlet for success through positive interactions and activities.  He has helped establish and participates in a growing initiative called Operation NETS (Neighborhood Engagement Through Sports) which replaces torn neighborhood basketball nets with new ones and provides new sports equipment to at risk youth.  He is also a coach through Operation NETS.  It is reported he builds relationships with kids and the community.  He truly cares for people and his actions speak volumes.  Just spend a few minutes with Deputy Chief Kanger and you will see it for yourself.

Deputy Chief Kanger received the Metropolitan Chief’s Association Leadership Award and the Kerrie Orozco Award for Community Service in 2017. He was the Crime Stoppers Jack Swanson – Lloyd Grimm Officer of the Year in 2003.  He’s also involved with Gesu Housing, Abide, Coalition RX and he is a consistent presence at Omaha 360.

Deputy Chief Kanger was nominated by a kind citizen who wanted to see him recognized for his commitment to public safety and bettering the community.

Deputy Chief Kanger subscribes to one motto, “Life has no remote. Get up and change it yourself”.

We thank Deputy Chief Kanger for his dedicated service to the city of Omaha and for making a difference in the lives of so many in our community.  Again, congratulations Ken!

Nominate your hero to receive this outstanding recognition. Nominees receive a Personalized Certificate and a two-sided Saint Florian and Saint Michael Challenge Coin in a showcase box. Click here to learn more.

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Appreciation Lunches for First Responders

Over the past 11 years the First Responders Foundation has delivered over 10,000 lunches to thank our first responders to let them know how much we appreciate their dedication and commitment to the citizens of our community.  We call this effort ‘Appreciation Lunch Day’ and it happens the first week of June each year.  It is a huge task and we could not do it without our valuable partners and dedicated volunteers who make it all happen.

This year lunches were provided by Omaha Steaks, Chick-fil-A and Nebraska Furniture MartPremier-Midwest Beverage provided the refrigerated trailer.

To get kids involved, every year we reach out to different schools to decorate lunch bags for us to put the lunches in for delivery.  The lunch bags highlight the impact that first responders have on our youth.  The pictures that the kids draw, and the messages of admiration and appreciation are inspiring.  We have been told by the first responders that this is one of the things they look forward to the most each year.  A special thanks to the students of Picotte, Joslyn, Ezra, Standing Bear and Sunny Slope Elementary Schools for decorating the lunch bags this year!

Volunteers assemble the lunches the night before delivery and the lunches are stored in a refrigerated trailer overnight and ready to go delivery morning.  The volunteer drivers deliver the lunches to Omaha Police Precincts and HQ and Omaha Fire stations and HQ.  This year we added Douglas County and even delivered to Council Bluffs Police HQ.  We have the best volunteers!

The 12th Annual Appreciation Lunch Day will be held on June 2nd, 2021.  If you are a business that would like to get involved or if you would like to volunteer for this great event, please send an email to

We Are Thankful

This week as we collectively focus on all that we are thankful for the First Responders Foundation is thankful for our new Wellness Center!

Last spring we moved from a 12 x 12 room to a new facility that comes in at just under 8,000 square feet.  We are thankful for this new building, at 10605 Burt Circle in Omaha, NE, that allows us to expand our mission to serve and honor first responders, veterans, and their families.

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The First Responders Foundation Has A New Home

The First Responders Foundation is pleased and excited to announce we have moved to a new home.  We are now located at 10605 Burt Circle in the Old Mill area.  

The Foundation outgrew our previous location and went searching for a larger space to offer needed programs and services for our first responders. This new location, just off of I-680 is the perfect place to begin our 11th year as the only Foundation in the metro area that focuses solely on first responders and their families.

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How Can I Help & Support Police/First Responders?

This has been an inspirational week at the First Responders Foundation.  There have been countless calls and emails from concerned citizens asking, how can I help?

  • How can I help support the police and first responders in the metro area?
  • Can I show support and appreciation for all they are doing to protect our rights and for the safety of our community?

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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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