There were two reasons I had been anticipating my trip to Nebraska last week after booking it a couple of months ago! First, Nebraska was a state I’d never been to, and second it would give me the opportunity to spend some quality time with Home Instead’s Gerontologist and Caregiving Advocate Lakelyn Hogan Eichenberger. Lakelyn also happens to be the daughter of the Founders of the company and though she and I sit on the Care Advisory Board for HFC together we didn’t know each other that well. Lakelyn had explained that they wanted an inspiring presentation to recognize their Care Pros for National Caregivers month. Once I said I’d love to do the event Lakelyn asked if I’d be willing to come to Nebraska in person! I said yes before she even finished the question!
Working with Lakelyn planning the event was amazing! The design team polished up my slides, and working with the logistics and legal folks on the requirements for the events was as easy as could be! They handled every logistical detail for me and the day I arrived on Nov 8th Ginny picked me up at the airport and Lakelyn and Molly had dinner with me!
The next day was rehearsal day for the events we needed to record! While rehearsal may sound tedious it was sooo much fun thanks to the crew!! There was Kindra, the digital content guru and Austin and Andrew – two of the best producers I’ve ever worked with! We rehearsed recording tips for Care Pros, and a live event where we discussed the importance of play in caregiving and laughed a lot as we showed a variety of activities! There was also the main event of Care Pros using Humility Hope & Humor as they provide care which we briefly ran through.
I also got a tour of Home Instead Headquarters that included the best lunch spot ever called The Kitchen Table right inside the building!! Founder Paul Hogan had envisioned a lunch place where employees could sit and chat over great food just like at a family kitchen table!! I absolutely LOVED the chef, the food and the folks I chatted with over lunch! What an amazing experience!
After rehearsal there was still plenty of daylight left so I ventured off to the amazing and innovative Gene Leahy Mall, which is a park for kids, adults and dogs that has slides, things to climb and swing on, lay in, sit in and walk over!! It also had a sculpture garden, water throughout the mall, hammocks and fire pits! An interactive wall also changed graphics as people walked by!
The next day was the real event where the live activity session, and the recorded Humility, Hope and Humor presentation and short video clips were filmed! The sessions were awesome and Lakelyn and I had a blast doing show and tell with the activities! She even built a bridge as part of a very short LEGO Serious Play demo!
Home Instead was a place where I absolutely felt at home! From the receptionists in the lobby to the people we passed in the hallways, I felt as if everyone cared about me and wanted me to enjoy my time at their workplace and their city! I really didn’t want to leave!!
After a long but very invigorating day of filming Lakelyn took me to the house where her parents started Home Instead with her grandma and I was so grateful to see where it all began!!
After three days of travel and work it was time for more fun!! I was lucky enough to meet in person Todd Stubbendieck, the Nebraska State Director for AARP who I had done a virtual LEGO Serious Play event this summer and he came by the hotel to have coffee with me!! What a great guy he is and he even lived in DC for more than 20 years and worked in the Obama Administration!
Even though the temperature had dropped 30 degrees from the time I arrived on Tuesday, I was out and about and enjoyed the train museum called the Durham! I LOVED my time there and spent several hours including having a Diet Coke float at the old soda fountain! There were so many places to sit and relax that I even had two Zoom calls there about upcoming events where I could be alone and hold a professional meeting! That was so cool and I went right back to exploring when the calls were over!
I had the glorious opportunity on Saturday to meet in person Jessica Parrott, one of the other co-moderators of the UsAgainstAlz Facebook Support Group!! She lives about an hour from Omaha and suggested we go to their world famous Zoo, one of the top three in the entire US!! It was easy to see why they were top-rated because they had caves, a desert, a rainforest, an aquarium and of course the traditional zoo animals!! We got there when they opened and we’re almost there until closing!! It was incredible to meet and really get to know this amazing mom of two girls and former caregiver to her mom and grandma over a long lunch overlooking the rainforest! I could spend days with her and never grow tired.
On Sunday I spent the day reflecting on everything I had experienced and accomplished in my first five days in Omaha so I just chilled out in the gorgeous hotel I was staying in that had everything I needed to be perfectly happy!!
My last activity in Nebraska was to cross over the pedestrian bridge that allowed walkers to walk over the Missouri River between Nebraska and Iowa!! It was freezing cold so I walked fast and it was awesome!! I was so sad to leave on Monday and I think I left a little bit of myself in Nebraska!! Everything I saw and did and the people I met in person confirmed for me that even with all the hate going on in the world today there are some amazing people out there who are welcoming and loving and make you feel at home! Thank you Omaha and Home Instead! I can’t wait to visit again!