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5.23.14 Issue

by Sherrie Saag, Communications, Jewish Federation of Omaha

Jewish Family Service Assistance Coordinator Sandy Nogg has been selected as this year’s recipient of the Jody and Neal Malashock Award for Professional Excellence.

The award, established three years ago, recognizes professional leadership and excellence in service to the community. She joins previous award winners Marty Ricks and Shane Kotok.

Jewish Family Service (JFS) is so much more than the agency whose original mission was to provide assistance to those with financial difficulty. Today, it helps community members with a job or housing search, with substance abuse issues, mental illness and physical disabilities and even parenting skills.

Clients are as young as 18 months and as old as 92. It takes a truly unique individual to be the first point of contact for those in need of JFS services, and for the past five years that person has been Sandy Nogg.

Karen Gustafson, Executive Director of Jewish Family Service, believes Nogg’s position to be invaluable to the success of JFS. “The families Sandy works with trust her. They feel respected, understood and secure knowing their Jewish community is here to help them.”

“Sandy is worth her weight in gold, and the many thank-you notes we receive from clients attest to her value to the agency and community.”

While reviewing requests for financial aid is an important aspect of her job, Nogg has always emphasized a full spectrum of services for JFS clients. She keeps in regular contact with them and attends medical appointments, parent-teacher conferences, stocks the JFS Food Pantry, and even meets with county and state social service professionals to serve as an advocate.

Nogg said recently, “I learned a long time ago that Omaha Jews have big hearts. We show our generosity over and over again. And yet, hunger, poverty and mental illness persist, even in our own community. That surprises people. But I am proud that we rarely have to say ‘no’ to a request.”

“Each day as Assistance Coordinator brings new and unexpected opportunities. I am never bored,” she added.

Shelley Fox is proud to call Nogg her colleague and describes Nogg’s work ethic in this way, “She always finds a way to help. As Director of Community Outreach, we often collaborate to assist community members, and I think her most important quality is her ability to form trusting relationships with those who need her. She is strong and confident and at the same time compassionate and caring.”

Gustafson continued, “Sandy has an exceptionally big heart accompanied by a very logical mind — potent combination that proves invaluable to the work she performs every day. She is also exceptionally giving of her empathy and her time. She truly builds relationships with her clients and in so doing, valuable assistance is used to its maximum benefit. There is never a question of her commitment to helping them.”

Join the entire community in honoring Sandy Nogg and all the Jewish Federation of Omaha award recipients on Monday, June 2 at 7 p.m. in the JCC Theater during the Federation’s Annual Meeting.