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).  

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

Rachel Cottier

Rachel Cottier

Residential Care Supervisor

Janece Ferris

Janece Ferris

Director of Foster Care



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.


6 + 14 =

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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