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Concertgoers branch out to Appleseed at Maha 2014

More than 400 Maha festivalgoers added their thoughts to our Tree of Engagement.

More than 400 Maha festivalgoers added their thoughts to our Tree of Engagement.

Nebraska Appleseed was honored to be selected for the third year in a row to participate in the Maha Music Festival’s Community Village last Saturday!

Maha is a nonprofit, day-long music festival bringing together national, regional and local indie and rock artists. Twenty local nonprofits were invited to participate in the Community Village, using engaging activities to share their missions with the festival goers.

For the Maha Community Village this year, Appleseed and You’re Welcome In Omaha had three separate interactive activities which made up one striking visual representation of our community’s inclusive atmosphere, positive ideals, and commitment to civic engagement. Maha fans were invited to register or pledge to vote, learn about their health care coverage options and enter a raffle for a poster, and take a picture in our Welcoming photo booth.

By the end of the day, 32 people were newly registered to vote and more than 400 Maha goers added a leaf or apple to our Tree of Civic Engagement!

Maha2014_Omaha InclusiveThanks to the Maha Music Festival for inviting us, Centris Federal Credit Union for sponsoring the Community Village, and special thanks to everyone who stopped by Appleseed’s booth, showing that Maha fans are committed to civic engagement.

Voting Apple

 

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2014 Appleseed Interns and Law Clerks – Meet Ashley Kunz

Note: Each year, Nebraska Appleseed is fortunate to work with a number of bright, talented law clerks and interns. This is one of a series of posts that feature Appleseed’s clerks and interns discussing their backgrounds and experiences.

Appleseed intern Ashley Kunz is a UNL student who hopes to go into international law.

Appleseed intern Ashley Kunz is a UNL student who hopes to go into international law.

She was so sure about what she wanted to do for a career that for three years straight, Nebraska Appleseed intern Ashley Kunz dressed up as a lawyer for Halloween.

“There was no single event that made me want to go into law,” she said. “For as long as I can remember I wanted to practice law.”

Currently an undergraduate student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln majoring in Global Studies with a History and French minor, she hopes to eventually continue her education by attending law school, then getting a Master of Laws in International Law.

Her desire to work in international law started in high school but quickly carried over to her college career.

“I went to France my junior year of high school and really enjoyed the international aspect of that,” she said. “I’m part of the model United Nations at UNL and am interested in something that crosses borders and involves more than one country.”

But for this summer, Ashley is in her native Lincoln working for Nebraska Appleseed in hopes of creating positive change.

“I had heard about Appleseed from one of my professors and I wanted to get involved with a law firm that not only advocated for change through legislation but also helped real people through outreach in the community,” Ashley said. “I hope that once I’ve finished my time here at Nebraska Appleseed I have a better understanding of how the legal system works and have made a positive impact even if it was a small one.”

Name: Ashley Kunz

Position: Intern

Hometown: Lincoln, NE

About me: I am currently an undergrad at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and I am a Global Studies major with a History and French minor and I am also pre-law.

Future plans: I would like to continue my education after graduating from UNL and go to law school to get my J.D. and Master of Laws in International Law.

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2014 Appleseed Interns and Law Clerks – Meet Trevor Slawnyk

Note: Each year, Nebraska Appleseed is fortunate to work with a number of bright, talented law clerks and interns. This is one of a series of posts that feature Appleseed’s clerks and interns discussing their backgrounds and experiences.

Trevor Slawnyk is an Appleseed fellow from Utica, NE, who helps maintain and develop our database.

Trevor Slawnyk is an Appleseed fellow from Utica, NE, who helps maintain and develop our database.

Go forth and code, young man.

Behind all those lines of numbers and letters that add up to documents, presentations and projects on Appleseed’s computer screens is Trevor Slawnyk, a fellow at Nebraska Appleseed.

“I’ve always been really good at computers and I thought I could make some money doing what I liked,” Trevor said. “I am really excited to be designing solutions for the database and writing code to help these lovely people.”

Trevor is currently studying computer science at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and is originally from Utica, NE.

“I plan to soak up as much info as I can at the University and then go forth into the world, coding happily,” Trevor said. “Users believe they have found ways to make their work more efficient when it comes to using the database. My job is to make their wants a reality.”

But Trevor is working toward making big changes in the way people use their computers. At least that’s the dream.

“I want to be on the end of design that perceives problems and creates solutions,” he said. “Not just little hot fixes, but revolutionary and innovative changes to how people use computers.”

Meanwhile, he’s thankful for the opportunity through the Lincoln Community Foundation that connected his skills to Nebraska Appleseed.

“Well, I feel blessed with all the opportunities I’ve been given,” Trevor said, “so I was really glad that these Cintani Grants allowed me to help the Lincoln community using my strengths.”

Name: Trevor Slawnyk

Position: Fellow

Hometown: Utica, Nebraska

About me: Student at UNL studying Computer Science. I’ve always been really good at computers, and I thought I could make some money doing what I liked. I am colorblind and have double-jointed thumbs.

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Nebraska losing over $4 billion by not expanding Medicaid

This week the Urban Institute released a fiscal study of the effects felt by states that have not chosen to fully implement the Affordable Care Act by expanding Medicaid to people who make up to 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.

Urban_Institute-LOGOThis study shows us just how much it’s costing Nebraska’s health care system to continue to forgo expanding Medicaid, the cost of which would be paid fully by the federal government through 2017.

From now until 2022, Nebraska is losing out on $3.1 billion in federal funds to provide health coverage to tens of thousands of our poorest people.

Meanwhile, Nebraska hospitals are taking an enormous hit, losing out on $1.6 billion in care reimbursement payments that would be made through the newly eligible Medicaid clients.

These funds we could be bringing back to our state are tax dollars Nebraskans already are paying to fund Medicaid expansions in other states, meaning we are getting nothing here at home for those tax dollars.

Those lost dollars will put a strain on the budgets of our state’s hospitals, especially those in rural areas, which will be faced with rising uncompensated care costs.  In the last year, 20 of the 22 rural hospitals in the U.S. that have closed are in states that did not expand Medicaid. And we’re already seeing hospitals getting a big boost in states that did expand Medicaid.

Now we have further evidence that by passing up the Medicaid expansion portion of the Affordable Care Act, we’re not only paying a high human cost by denying health coverage to at least 54,000 of our friends and neighbors, we’re throwing away an enormous amount of money.

It is vitally important our state Legislature votes to expand Medicaid for the future sustainability of our health care system and the future health of our people.

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2014 Appleseed Interns and Law Clerks – Meet Selina Martinez

Appleseed intern Selina Martinez changed plans from medical school to an eye on changing policy.

Appleseed intern Selina Martinez changed plans from medical school to an eye on changing policy.

Note: Each year, Nebraska Appleseed is fortunate to work with a number of bright, talented law clerks and interns. This is one of a series of posts that feature Appleseed’s clerks and interns discussing their backgrounds and experiences.

 

Sometimes dreams change for the better.

“I’ve always wanted to help people. Since I was a little girl I told everyone I was going to become a doctor,” Nebraska Appleseed intern Selina Martinez said. “Up until my sophomore year at UNL I was on track to go to medical school. I was even awarded a health and human science scholarship. However, after taking various sociology classes I came to realize that without a policy change being a doctor wouldn’t have the same impact as I wanted to give.”

After that, the Lincoln transplant originally from California decided to switch to a sociology major.

“My dream job would probably be something where I get to interact with my community or maybe conducting studies that can influence policy,” Selina said. “The results from those studies can help debunk myths or influence policy change.”

Selina is working with the Immigrants & Communities team at Appleseed where she is getting a glimpse into real-world application of classroom concepts.

“I wanted to work at Appleseed because I wanted to be more involved with the immigrant community in a way that I could help them,” Selina said. “When I started I was hoping to apply what I’ve learned in the classroom to the real world, and I have. I like working with the community, and for me it’s exciting and interesting to see what communities have to say.”

But wherever there’s a job that must be done there’s an element of fun.

“I chose Appleseed because a previous intern told me about how much she enjoyed working at Appleseed and I wanted to see what all the fun was about.”

Name: Selina Martinez

Position: Intern

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA/Lincoln, NE

About me: I was born in Los Angeles, but most of my life I grew up in Lincoln. I love living in Lincoln and like it a whole lot more than LA. Something unique about me is that I was named after Catwoman, whose real name is Selina Kyle. My three older brothers were obsessed with Batman at the time and begged my mom to name me Selina. I’ve always wanted to help people.

Future plans: After I graduate, I want to get my Masters degree. I haven’t decided in what I would like my Masters in yet but I’m leaning towards sociology or student affairs.

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RELEASE – Lawsuit alleges Nebraska DHHS unlawfully delaying food assistance

NE_Appleseed_Icons_Legal-128***For Immediate Release***

Contact, Jeff Sheldon
Nebraska Appleseed
Office: (402) 438-8853
Mobile: (402) 840-7289
Email: jsheldon@neappleseed.org
 

Class-Action Lawsuit Filed on Behalf of Nebraskans Eligible for Food Assistance

Suit claims Nebraska DHHS unlawfully delays SNAP beyond legal time frames

LINCOLN — Today, Nebraska Appleseed and the National Center for Law and Economic Justice filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of a working, single mother who has been unlawfully delayed from receiving urgent and necessary help providing food for her family through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

The suit (Leiting-Hall v. Winterer) comes as a result of continued delays by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in processing SNAP applications and delivering food assistance. DHHS is supposed to process these applications within a certain timeframe — given the urgent need for a program like SNAP — but has consistently failed to meet this most basic requirement of federal law.  These failures have forced thousands of Nebraska families to face hunger and inadequate food access.

“The Department of Health and Human Services administers SNAP through its ACCESS Nebraska system. Unfortunately, the ACCESS Nebraska system continues to have systemic problems, which has resulted in households across the state being unable to access food programs in a timely manner as required by federal and state law,” said James Goddard, Director of the Economic Justice Program at Nebraska Appleseed. “It is crucial that ACCESS Nebraska work efficiently to serve the needs of its clients quickly, otherwise many Nebraska families will be faced with the instability of not being able to meet their basic needs.”

The suit was filed on behalf of Tami Leiting-Hall, whose household has faced delays well beyond the required legal timeframes to receive food assistance under SNAP. It alleges hundreds of Nebraska households have also waited longer than the legally required timeframes for receiving SNAP and requests that DHHS administer SNAP in a manner that complies with federal law.

“When DHHS fails to provide SNAP in a timely way, children and families face hunger and uncertainty,” said Jenny Pelaez, Senior Attorney at the National Center for Law and Economic Justice. “This class-action suit aims to ensure Nebraska families who are eligible to receive SNAP know where their next meal is coming from, making our communities healthier and stronger.”

The suit was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Nebraska against two Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services officials in their official capacities.

The plaintiff, Tami Leiting-Hall and other households similarly situated, are represented by Molly McCleery and James Goddard of Nebraska Appleseed Center for Law in the Public Interest, and Gina Mannix, Marc Cohan, and Jenny Pelaez of the National Center for Law and Economic Justice.

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Appleseed In Action – News and Events for August 2014

8/6/2014

In this August edition of “Appleseed in Action”

  • Support compassion, due process for children fleeing violence
  • Dangerous USDA Poultry Rule gets approval
  • Big numbers for Minimum Wage petition drive
  • Introducing our 2014 Good Apple Award honorees

Support compassion, due process for children from Central America fleeing violence

Stand With KidsSince last fall, approximately 200 children who have fled violent circumstances in Central America have been placed with family members or sponsors in Nebraska. The U.S. has both a legal and moral obligation to treat these children with compassion while they seek safety in our country and to ensure they receive due process as courts investigate their asylum claims.

Appleseed joined other community, faith, and immigration organizations to draft a set of principles for any legislation that deals with these children who are seeking safety. On August 2, more than 90 Nebraska faith leaders signed a statement urging compassionate and humane treatment that reflects our values, while more than 50 Nebraskans gathered outside the State Capitol in a show of support for the children.

While Congress is in recess during the month of August, it is a crucial time for them to hear from you! Contact your U.S. Senator to urge them to help protect kids fleeing violence, and tell them any legislation must put the safety, privacy, and legal rights of these children first.


 

Final approval given to dangerous USDA Poultry Rule

The new Poultry Rule allows plants to reduce number of federal safety inspectors and operate at line speeds that lead to high rates of worker injuries.

The new Poultry Rule allows plants to reduce number of federal safety inspectors and operate at line speeds that lead to high rates of worker injuries.

On July 31, the Office of Management and Budget approved the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new Poultry Rule that will endanger the safety of our food and the workers who prepare it.

This new rule allows for the reduction in the number federal food safety inspectors in plants and does nothing to slow the punishing line speeds that result in a drastically high number of crippling worker injuries.

Appleseed joined food and workers’ safety groups nationwide in denouncing the approval of this dangerous rule. Thanks to the work of a strong coalition and workers’ voices in Washington D.C., the final rule did avoid a provision to allow further increasing work speeds in most poultry plants.


Minimum wage petition drive gathers over 134,000 signatures

The “Better Wages Nebraska” campaign collected nearly 135,000 signatures to put raising the minimum wage on the fall ballot.

The “Better Wages Nebraska” campaign collected nearly 135,000 signatures to put raising the minimum wage on the fall ballot.

Thanks to your support, it appears that Nebraskans will have the chance to vote this fall on whether our state will raise the minimum wage from its current $7.25 an hour to $9 per hour by 2016.

On July 3rd, leaders of the Nebraskans For Better Wages campaign announced nearly 135,000 signatures had been collected to put the issue on the November ballot – well above the 83,000 signatures needed.

The signatures still are being counted and verified by the Nebraska Secretary of State’s office, and an announcement about the measure officially being placed on the fall ballot could come any day.

We encourage you to go to the polls this November to cast a vote for hard-working Nebraskans, increased opportunity for families, and a more robust economy.


Introducing our 2014 Good Apple Awards honorees!

good-apple-awardsSave the date for Nebraska Appleseed’s Good Apple Awards on Thursday, October 2, 2014! The Good Apple Awards is Appleseed’s annual fundraiser reception to honor people who stand up for justice and opportunity for all Nebraskans!

We are proud to unveil this year’s honorees!

Jan Gradwohl

 

 

 

Jan Gradwohl

JIM WOLF EQUAL JUSTICE AWARD

 

Beth Professional Headshot

 

 

 

Beth Riley

MILO MUMGARD EMERGING LEADER AWARD

 

Husch-Blackwell-300x119

 

Husch Blackwell LLP

SEEDS OF JUSTICE AWARD

 

CreightonCenterforServiceandJustice

 

 

Creighton Center For Service and Justice

ROOTS OF JUSTICE AWARD

Stay tuned for info about purchasing Good Apple Awards tickets. We look forward to having you join us to honor people who stand up for justice and opportunity for all Nebraskans.

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2014 Appleseed Interns and Law Clerks – Meet Haley Mead

Haley mead photo

Appleseed intern Haley Mead is a Lincoln native and currently attends the University of Kansas.

Note: Each year, Nebraska Appleseed is fortunate to work with a number of bright, talented law clerks and interns. This is one of a series of posts that feature Appleseed’s clerks and interns discussing their backgrounds and experiences.

As befits all good fairy tales, for Nebraska Appleseed intern Haley Mead it started with a pair of shoes.

“I’ve always been a fan of the organization, TOMS (a shoe company that provides a pair of shoes to children in need for every pair purchased by a customer). My freshman year of college, I did more research on the company and fell in love with their mission,” Haley said. “I liked how a simple one-for-one movement improved the lives of numerous people. I decided that I wanted to pursue a career in the nonprofit field to continually make changes for the betterment of others and be a part of movements I’m passionate about.”

And so Haley began working toward that goal. Originally from Lincoln, she wants to continue to give back to her native Nebraska through her internship with Appleseed.

“I wanted to work at Nebraska Appleseed because I wanted to become well-versed in the economic, political and social issues relevant to the state of Nebraska,” Haley said. “I’ve become very interested in the minimum wage issue. I like that Nebraska Appleseed continually strives to give a voice to everyone in our community. I hope to become a more active member of my community and help spark positive changes for Nebraska.”

A current student at the University of Kansas studying journalism with an emphasis in strategic communication and sociology, Haley keeps her focus on the nonprofit side of business.

“Ideally, in the future, I’d like to work for a nonprofit as a marketing executive or account executive.” Haley said. “My dream job is to work as an account executive for TOMS. It’s been my favorite organization for a long time and I greatly support their mission and work.”

Name: Haley Mead

Hometown: Lincoln, NE

Position: Intern

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