History

 

Release began in 1994 with two guys, a Bible, and a boom box. They used Christian rap music and God’s word to reach the youth at the Douglas County Youth Center.

Early on the ministry became aware of the need for mentoring, Bible studies and after care that would go beyond the walls of the DCYC. Mentoring was formally added in 2001, and the overall ministry continued to grow every year adding chaplains, more Bible studies and more mentors. In late 2004, Release opened up our first residential care group home. This allowed us to then work with the youth’s families in their homes, connecting them to services in the community. In 2018, we have added a new foster care program to serve children in loving homes.

Today we minister in 19 locations, have mentored over 420 youth with more than 60 active mentoring matches, and operate two intensive therapy group homes. That translates to roughly 350 kids per week being reached in multiple ways all across the Metro (Douglas, Sarpy, and Pottawattamie counties).

 

Board of Directors

David Janovec—President
Product Owner,Orion Advisor Tech

Aimee Lowe—Vice President
Attorney, Lowe Legal Group PC LLO

David Martin—Secretary
Chief Strategy Officer, Formerly with Farm Credit Services of America

Reid Peters—Treasurer
Controller, Orion Advisor Solutions LLC

Eldridge “Rick” Bell
Enrollment Program Specialist and Adjunct Instructor, Metropolitan Community College

David Raymond
Account Representative, Trane Inc.

Dwayne Hosey
Owner/Operator, Hosey Baseball Training Center

Christopher Felts
Law Clerk, Nebraska Supreme Court

Our Staff

Dave Wininger

Dave Wininger

Executive Director

Donna Saffles

Donna Saffles

Administrative Assistant

Dale Carter

Dale Carter

Chaplain at Douglas County Youth Center

Garth Hilton

Garth Hilton

Impact Facilitator

Marcus Brown

Marcus Brown

Mentoring Coordinator

Garrett Swanberg

Garrett Swanberg

Director of Operations

Kristina Ferguson

Kristina Ferguson

In-Home Services Supervisor

Masego Kracke

Masego Kracke

Parenting Time Supervisor

Tina Owens

Tina Owens

Chaplain at Douglas County Youth Center

Rachel Cottier

Rachel Cottier

Residential Care Supervisor

Janece Ferris

Janece Ferris

Director of Foster Care

Janece Ferris

Janece Ferris

Director of Foster Care

With the Ministry Since: 2018

What brought you to Release? I was working closely with Release at my previous job with Nebraska Families Collaborative. I got to know many different people, and I could see their heart and love for the youth they were serving. I worked on a project involving foster care for graduate school, and I knew that someday I wanted to work in foster care and am excited that God is allowing me to do this with Release.

Best part of your service to at-risk youth: I love getting to know these youth – there is so much more to them than what is in their paper file. Teens have so many gifts they give me when I work with them – and they keep me in tune with the world! So many of them just need a friend, an advocate and a mentor to help them navigate this time in their life. I appreciate that Release sees their value as being created and loved by God.

Garth Hilton

Garth Hilton

Impact Facilitator

What brought you to Release? The desire to see the lives of troubled youth and their families healed through the compassion and tender care of Jesus.

Best part of your service to at-risk youth: Knowing that healing is happening and that hope is taking root and trusting God for all of it to come to pass in the lives of these youth and their families, even in my own life and family.

Rachel Cottier

Rachel Cottier

Residential Care Supervisor

With the ministry since: 2017

What brought you to Release? I needed employment and wanted to be used by the Lord. This was not what I had expected the Lord to call me in to, but He did. He has been growing me and healing me while at the same time using me to grow and heal the youth I minister to.

Best part of your service to at-risk youth: It is amazing to see some of the changes these youth have undergone. It takes a lot of commitment, strength, and courage to learn and live a new way of life; one that is often at odds with old friends and/or family. But these kids do it. I don’t think any of us who have not been through it could truly grasp what battles they are experiencing on a daily basis.

Masego Kracke

Masego Kracke

Parenting Time Supervisor

With the ministry since: 2017

Best part of your service to at-risk youth: We get to love our community in action not just words. We get to be hands and feet of Jesus to the at risk youth, families in dire need of support as they go through a crises of some sort. We can impact and influence generations to come. 

Kristina Ferguson

Kristina Ferguson

In-Home Services Supervisor

With the ministry since: 2009

What brought you to Release? My husband and I felt called to work in a group home setting with teenage youth from 2009-2013. Through that experience we learned to love the guys unconditionally, to provide a family environment where the guys felt accepted for who they were versus who they were on paper, to provide structure and routine, and to provide them skills to become independent when they aged out of the system.  From 2013 to present, I have been a Community Intervention Specialist. January 2017, I also became the Parenting Time Supervisor, where I oversee a team of Parenting Time Specialists who provide supervised visitation for parents and their children who have been separated due to neglect and abuse.

Best part of your service to at-risk youth: The best part of serving the youth and families all these years is to know how we, Release, have had a positive, direct impact on the families and the community and that the youth and families know we genuinely care about their well-being.

Garrett Swanberg

Garrett Swanberg

Director of Operations

With the ministry since: 2002

What brought you to Release? I have always enjoyed youth ministry but I never set out to work with at-risk youth. I was just a college student attempting to follow Christ. I began as a bible study leader and mentor at DCYC. After two years, my wife and I had the opportunity to become house parents at the first Release home. Five years later I was offered the opportunity to oversee the houses. There is something about the youth we work with that keeps drawing me to them.

Best part of your service to at-risk youth: I love building authentic relationships. Relationship is a core value that permeates every level of our organization. The genuine relationships that we offer to the youth are something we experience every day as staff.

Dave Wininger

Dave Wininger

Executive Director

With the ministry since: 2005

What brought you to Release? Became a volunteer after my daughter and son-in-law started doing Bible study in the Douglas County Youth Center with Release.

Best part of your service to at-risk youth: Seeing God change my heart to be me more like His as I seek to love His kids

Donna Saffles

Donna Saffles

Administrative Assistant

With the ministry since: 2010

What brought you to Release? God’s direction and my heart to serve Him wherever He leads me to serve.

Best part of your service to at-risk youth: While I don’t work with at-risk youth directly, I do support those that do. It has been a joy to meet others on staff, hear their testimonies, and get to know each one individually. I look forward to seeing how God will change and use me as a result of my connection with Release.

Dale Carter

Dale Carter

Chaplain at Douglas County Youth Center

With the ministry since: 2009

What brought you to Release? The grace and mercy of the Living God. I was born and raised in north Omaha and have experienced some of the same things as the young people with whom we work at DCYC. Relationships with the kids have allowed room for me to introduce Jesus Christ.

Best part of your service to at-risk youth: Building relationships with young people without expectation, but accountability to do better.

Marcus Brown

Marcus Brown

Mentoring Coordinator

With the ministry since: Volunteered 2007-2009. Brought on staff 2009-current.

What brought you to Release? I was released from jail in 2006. I gave my life to the Lord while in  jail and heard a mentoring presentation in early 2007 that instantly broke my heart for youth and families in our community. I responded to the call without hesitation and have been on that journey since.

Best part of your service to at-risk youth: I take the opportunity and responsibility of being the salt and light to a family I come in contact with seriously. We live in a community that is plagued with brokenness and social ills that are hurting the design of family and distorting youths life’s. Coming from a lifestyle and experience of brokenness like the youth we serve, I have a passion and desire to be all I can be while I am present in their life.

FAQ

 

Have you ever had a question and didn’t know where to find the answer? If so, you’ve come to the right place.

This section is a compilation of answers to the questions most commonly asked by our constituents. Just start by following one of the links below. If you can’t find the question you wanted to ask, don’t hesitate to contact us.

 

2 + 7 =

Q. How can I get involved?

A. We’re always on the lookout for individuals like you wanting to get involved. Visit our How To Help section to find out ways to donate or volunteer.

Q. If I were to donate funds, how is my money used?

A. We have a responsibility to our community and our donors and work hard to ensure long-term sustainability of the organization. We make our IRS Form 990 available for review, as required by law. Visit our Financials page to learn more.

Q. What is your organization's privacy policy?
A. Our organization takes our privacy policy seriously and takes steps to protect and ensure the safety of our supporters. We do not sell or otherwise disclose information about our volunteers or supporters outside of our immediate organization. This policy has no exceptions. We do not sell or exchange your information with any other organizations, public, private or nonprofit. For more detailed information visit our Privacy Policy page.
Q. What is at Risk?

A. The United States government defines at risk as:
A school-aged individual who is at risk of academic failure, has a drug or alcohol problem, is pregnant or is a parent, has come in contact with the juvenile justice system in the past, at least one year behind the expected grade level, has limited English proficiency, is a gang member, has dropped out of school or has a high absenteeism rate.

The youth we work with come from a variety of backgrounds and come to us for a number of different reasons. The common thread is pain. All of the youth we work with have experienced significant pain and it is this world of hurt and pain that we enter into with a message of love and hope.

Q. What is the Guidestar seal of transparency and why is it important?

A. The Guidestar Seal of Transparency is a sytem used to rate non-profit organizations. GuideStar is a 501(c)(3) public charity that gathers and disseminates information about every single IRS-registered nonprofit organization. They provide as much information as possible about each nonprofit’s mission, legitimacy, impact, reputation, finances, programs, transparency, and governance so you can take the information and make the best decisions possible about which organizations to support.

Q. What is a Matching Gift?

A. Employee matching gift programs are corporate giving programs.

Here’s an example. Let’s say you work for General Electric and donate $100 to Release. General Electric’s matching gift policy has a minimum gift requirement of $25 and matches at a 1:1 ratio. After you submit your matching gift form, GE will double your donation by also writing a check for $100. Gifts from employees’ spouses and retirees may also qualify for a match.

It’s a quick and easy way to double your contribution!

Q. How do I request a matching gift?

A. Requesting a matching gift is normally a five minute process which must be initiated by the donor. You can do this by filling out and submitting a paper form provided by your employer or through an electronic submission process.

There are typically 3 steps:

1. Donate
Make your personal donation and save your tax receipt. Many matching programs will allow for up to one year after you’ve made your donation to request a corporate match.
2. Search
Using our matching gifts page, find out if your company offers a matching gift program and review the guidelines. No results? Contact your HR department directly to ask if they offer a matching gift program.
3. Match – There are two common ways to submit the matching gift request:
a. Click on your company’s intranet link provided in the search results. Log-in and submit your request electronically.
b. Download your company’s matching gift verification form using the link provided in the search results. Print it, fill it out and send it to us.
We will take care of the rest!

Q. I made a donation a few months ago. Can I still apply for a matching gift?

A. Yes! It’s not too late to apply for a matching gift! Many companies allow employees to submit match requests for 1 year following the date of the donation.

Q. What are volunteer grant programs?

A. Volunteer grant programs (also referred to as volunteer matching programs or Dollars for Doer’s) are corporate giving programs in which companies provide monetary donations to organizations where employees volunteer regularly.

For example: If you volunteered your time as a mentor in our Juvenile Justice Mentoring Program and fundraised for the Annual Banquet and Auction, your employer may donate cash for your volunteer time.

Each company has specific guidelines for their volunteer grant programs — search here to see if your company offers this benefit and find everything you need to submit your volunteer time. You can always contact your company’s HR department for more information.

If you volunteer with us, it’s an easy way to provide us with additional financial support!

Q. I didn't find my company on the search page. Now what?

A. It’s still possible that your employer will match your donation, even if you don’t find your company on our list. Check with your company’s HR manager and ask if your donation can be matched.

Q. Can my company's matching gift be applied to a participant, team, or event?

A. Absolutely! Matching gifts are a great opportunity to boost participants’ fundraising totals.

Q. How is this information obtained?
A. We partner with a company called Double the Donation. If you see anything that should be changed, please email Double the Donation’s team at data@doublethedonation.com.
Q. What if I still have questions?
A. For questions regarding your company’s program policies, please contact your employer’s HR department. Much of the necessary information is also available on your company intranet.

For questions regarding obtaining a tax receipt, submitting and verifying a matching gift request or a volunteer grant please contact us at info@releaseinc.org or call 402-455-0808.

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