Home  ➥  How You Can Help  ➥  First 10 Reasons

 1.  125 years of responding to the cries of children and providing help and healing.

Child Saving Institute is celebrating 125 years of making a difference in the lives of children right here in the greater Omaha area. From the moment in 1892 when the Rev. A.W. Clark found an abandoned little girl huddled in a doorway along the rough riverfront street known as Ram Cat Alley, compassion for neglected and abused children became our mission. He brought the little girl home to his wife Sarah, and together they started “The Boys and Girls Aid Society,” which became an orphanage for the abandoned, abused, and neglected children of the pioneers. When someone asked him what he was doing, Rev. Clark said he was “Responding to the cry of a child.”

2.  We’ve been looking at Child Saving Institute’s history this year — our 125th year of serving children and families in the greater Omaha area. this is one of 125 reasons (stories) that show why you should support CSI. The others 117 may be found online at childsaving.org/help/125Reasons.

It is amazing to know citizens like you have so generously supported the agency over the years. I found this beautifully written “thank you” in our 1914-1915 Annual Report:

“You gave something to the support of [Child Saving Institute’s kids], but do you realize what it meant? If you do, you will never regret your gift and it will bring happiness to you many, many times. If you were called to help an adult you [might] often feel … that he is to blame. But our children, these helpless ones that your gift assisted last year, are not to blame.”

No, children are not to blame for the things that happen to them. They only want to have a stable and safe home life, have parents who love them, and understand what is expected of them. Adults’ behaviors and problems sometimes interfere and family crises may ensue, resulting in trauma and unmet needs.

Young children come to us to understand the “big feelings” that they lack words to describe. Older kids come to us to find ways to overcome the negative feelings and self perceptions caused by trauma.

You, through your generosity, continue to help CSI’s kids. We are grateful for that. Your gifts help our kids find the hope and healing they need. Would you please consider making a year-end gift to continue helping CSI’s kids?

Thank you.

With best wishes for a joyous holiday season,

Peg Harriott, President & Chief Executive Officer


 3.  Amazing Grace

 CSI Therapist Machaela Hackendahl recently worked with a young girl named Grace who had experienced a variety of traumas including neglect and abuse. Machaela and Grace developed strong trust in early sessions, but Grace didn’t seem to be making progress as quickly as Machaela thought she would. Machaela began to think Grace would be in therapy longer than originally anticipated.

Then, Machaela had the opportunity to attend training on Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) thanks to the generosity of the Hawks Foundation. During that training, Machaela thought excitedly that this model might work for Grace. At Grace’s next appointment, Machaela told her about the new model and explained how they would work through it together. Grace was willing to give it try.

By the end of that first session of EMDR, both believed they had found something that would help Grace in recovering from her trauma. After a few sessions of EMDR, Grace was less anxious and her symptoms decreased. Machaela saw Grace transform before her, gaining a stronger sense of self-worth and value and finding her voice.


 4.  Machaela Hackendahl

Machaela Hackendahl joined CSI in 2011 as a clinical therapist and pregnancy counselor. She previously worked for Behaven Kids, specializing in treating children with severe behavioral disorders.

Since joining CSI, Machaela, mom of three, has completed additional training in Parent Child Interaction Therapy, Child Parent Psychotherapy, Play Therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR), and completed the training to become an adoption competent therapist.

Machaela graduated from Hastings College with bachelor’s degrees in psychology and sociology, and earned a master’s degree in human services from Bellevue University.


5 Child Saving Institute Therapy

When children experience a significant trauma, they are filled with emotions that they often cannot express appropriately. Some kids will act out, others may withdraw. Child Saving Institute can help these kids find hope, healing and learn new coping skills.

CSI employs 11 therapists in our Prevention Services Department who are trained in more than 10 therapy models that research has proven to be most effective with children and families. The therapy team brings more than 116 years of experience to the kids and families they serve.

CSI therapists are trained in therapy models including: Trauma Focused-Cognitive Behavioral Therapy; Circle of Security Parenting™; Parent Child Interaction Therapy; Dialectical Behavior Therapy; Cognitive Behavioral Therapy; Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing Therapy; Play Therapy; Child-Parent Psychotherapy; Behavioral, Structural, & Strategic Family Therapy; Adoption Competent Therapy.


 6.  Thomas Johnson driven from his home (1914-1915 Annual Report)

Thomas Johnson, the little fellow [at right], has passed through more trouble than many of mature years. More than two years ago his mother died and Tommy was taken 

care of by relatives who had no affection for him. One day this year [CSI’s] superintendent got a telephone message late in the afternoon that a little boy was in the outskirts of the city in a neglected condition, suffering and crying, and having no place of shelter for the night.

When the superintendent reached the place described the story was told of the child being driven from the home of relatives who had taken care of him most of the time for nearly two years. Upon investigation it was found that for three weeks preceding that time these heartless people had tried to drive him away.

The little fellow not knowing where to go or what to do, suffered the abuse and clung to that miserable home. This particular morning however, when he was driven off, he was so impressed with the danger of trying to go back that he wandered about until suffering from hunger, about noon he went to a little store near Benson, where they gave him some crackers and cookies. Had they known the circumstances they would have given him more food. The investigation showed that, not only had he been neglected, but greatly abused. He was brought at once to the Institute and his old rags were taken off and burned, and after a good bath, he was dressed in comfortable clothing and taken to the supper table. His hunger was such that it was found necessary during most of the second day to restrain him about his eating and to allow him only so much at each meal. For many days he had gone without sufficient food and his craving for food was intense. A good home has been found for Tom and he entered this home in the month of October, with bright prospects for the future.


 7.  They are ALL our children: Addressing the needs of the children in our community

Though our services have changed over the years, we continue “Responding to the cry of a child.” We help children who have experienced the trauma of neglect and abuse find hope and healing. We help younger children understand their “big feelings” and process what they have gone through in a safe environment. We help kids whose families of origin may not be in their lives or may be otherwise unable to care for them by finding foster or adoptive homes filled with love, care, safety and stability. We help teens aging out of foster care prepare to live independently, develop a support system of trusted adults, apply for jobs and/or college, and identify and locate needed resources.

When CSI staff meet the children they work with, they work to build trust, knowing that the kids have many reasons to distrust adults. The kids have to feel safe sharing their stories. They must know we are on their side, ready to advocate for them and support them through the healing process.

Our vision is that all children have homes where hope is kindled and dreams can be achieved. This is our work, and they are ALL our children.


8.  Rasha responds to Teen & Young Parent Program 

Rasha’s social worker referred the 17-year-old mother to Child Saving Institute’s (CSI) Teen and Young Parent Program. Rasha and her family — her 2-month-old daughter Areej, parents, four younger siblings, and grandparents — landed in Omaha as Syrian refugees just a few months before.

Family Support Specialist Katherine Daviu secured an interpreter when she began working with Rasha, who spoke little English. Upon visiting Rasha’s family home, Katherine found that the family needed a variety of other services , and she connected them with community resources. She noted that Rasha’s mom was Areej’s primary caregiver and that Rasha had little confidence in her ability to parent.

Katherine, Rasha and Areej worked through the Growing Great KidsTM curriculum over the course of 10 months. Rasha enjoyed learning how to connect and play with Areej. Rasha consistenly put Areej’s needs first and proved to be a caring, attentive mother. She earned CSI’s “Baby Bucks” by working hard to learn new parenting skills. She used the “Baby Bucks” to “buy” diapers and clothing for Areej from CSI’s Baby Boutique. Rasha also continued to work on earning her high school diploma, but found it difficult at times to manage school, parenting, and family responsibilities. Katherine helped Rasha enroll Areej in a quality early childhood education center and apply for subsidized care.

Katherine noticed a great change in the family. Rasha became Areej’s primary caregiver, engaging with her in developmentally appropriate ways and responding to her needs. The family is now able to navigate more easily through agencies for the support they need.


9.  Ramey MacNamara

Ramey McNamara’s favorite part of working with Child Saving Institute’s pregnant and parenting teens and young adults is seeing holistic changes in family behavior upon completion of CSI’s programs

“It’s really neat to see how people embrace and practice the things they learn during counseling and working through the Growing Great KidsTM curriculum,” Ramey said.

Ramey began working with teens when she was still a teen herself. As a 19-year-old -student at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, she took a class in sustainability that required her to participate in service-learning at a non-profit agency in the Omaha metropolitan area. The instructor assigned her to Youth Emergency Services (YES) where Ramey first worked with kids in crisis. Before her experience there, Ramey said she lacked clear direction for her education, though she thought she would become a teacher because she wanted to work with kids. Her semester of volunteer work soon became a part-time job and Ramey knew she had found her calling.

She worked with kids at YES for two years during college, then joined Partnership 4 Kids upon earning her bachelor’s degree in child, youth, and family studies. She soon began working part-time at Child Saving Institute’s emergency shelter as well. Though she appreciated the importance of the work of P4K, her heart remained with kids in crisis. When a full-time position opened at CSI, Ramey jumped at the opportunity.

After two-and-a-half years, Ramey relocated to Denver where she worked with high school students on behavior interventions. She also taught kindergarten in Denver Public Schools for a year.

Upon returning to Omaha in 2015, she immediately reached out to CSI where she became director of pregnancy counseling and the Teen & Young Parent Program.

“It’s really my ideal position as I get to work with teens and little ones,” she said. “When the young or pregnant teen parents begin our program, they are often scared, uncertain, and anxious. I love to see them walk with confidence when they complete the program. We know and, more importantly, they know that they are armed with the parenting skills and developmental knowledge needed to face parenthood and do their best. It also helps them to know that they have a resource for those times when they are uncertain. We are here for them.”


10.  Teen & Young Parent Program

Child Saving Institute’s Teen and Young Parent Program (TYPP) provides pregnant and parenting young people (up to age 24) with support services and parent education. The in-home services include healthy early child development, parenting skills, and positive life skills.

Parents who participate earn “Baby Bucks” that they can use in CSI’s “Baby Boutique” to purchase items including clothing, diapers, formula, toys, strollers, car seats and more. “Baby Bucks” are awarded for graduating from high school or earning a GED, attending CSI parenting classes, going to prenatal visits, taking the baby to recommended check-ups and immunizations, and other accomplishments. Boutique items are donated throughout the year by generous individuals and groups.

Child Saving Institute uses the Growing Great KidsTM curriculum to empower clients to become confident, competent parents by:

• Reducing stress
• Learning essential parenting and life skills
• Creating a nurturing home environment
• Finding inner strengths to reach their highest potential
• Enhancing the relationship with their children
• Learning healthy early child development
• Gaining communication and problem-solving tools
• Forming secure attachments with their children

Reasons 11-22

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