Katie’s life was changed when her family helped welcome a refugee family from Afghanistan to Lincoln. They helped furnish a home for a single mother and her six children in 1999. That family still lives in Lincoln.
The experience set her on a path to do what she could to do to help people in other parts of the world. She pursued a Masters Degree in Diplomacy and International Relations and ultimately spent a year in The Congo where she worked in a bakery, an Internet café and opened a public library.
"There is true beauty and real joy in The Congo. I helped women use their talents to create some handbags which are shipped to me in Lincoln to sell to help the women in Congo start an artisan cooperative."
After her time in Africa, Katie returned to the United States and lived in Denver. We asked her what drew her back to Lincoln. “Family’s a big part of it, I read a lot about Lincoln and the growth that was happening, the opportunities for young professionals so I wanted to be a part of it. One thing I really love about Lincoln, having lived in other cities and other countries, Lincoln and people in Nebraska really invest our time in what matters most. People here are so sincere and so genuine, and we have time to get to know one another.”
We asked about Lincoln’s welcoming atmosphere for refugee families. “Catholic Social Services and Lutheran Social Services, the Salvation Army, Matt Talbot Kitchen, Cedars Home, and so many more organizations help refugees. Their gratitude for their experience here in Lincoln has just been beyond amazing. We have affordable housing, strong schools, we have jobs for men and women to help them rebuild and support their families.”
“The more challenging experiences I’ve had, the more people I meet, the more opportunities that I pursue, the better person I’m going to become.”
Katie has created a nonprofit organization called Totonga Bomoi to help manage and sell products made by women in Africa. Take a look, we think you'll be impressed.
Helping Women in Africa
There is true beauty and real joy in The Congo. I helped women use their talents to create some handbags which are shipped to me in Lincoln to sell to help the women in Congo start an artisan cooperative.
On Becoming a Better Person
I think a lot of it is the personal experiences and encounters I’ve had throughout my life in school, volunteering with my family, people I’ve met. Just really getting to know people and who they are. I’ve been guided through my family and my faith.
Building the Future
We started with handbags and later added bow ties for men which we sell through Totonga Bomoi. They also make head wraps for women. Totonga Bomoi means “build our future.”