Double Your Gift’s Impact!

Thanks to the generosity of Scott and Cindy Heider, every donation to our annual fundraiser made in honor of RESPECT’s staff will be matched up to $25,000.  While the event takes place on August 5th, the matching campaign will run through August 31st.  Here’s how it works:

Donating Online:

  • Go to our donate page and make your contribution there!

Donating By Mail:

  • Print out this form and follow instructions.
  • Mail check made out to RESPECT to 820 South 75th Street, Omaha, NE 68114 by August 31st.

Learn more about RESPECT!

RESPECT has been building healthy relationships using theatre and community collaboration for more than 20 years.  While we have always relied on the power of live theatre performances to to reach our audiences, COVID-19 has driven us to go virtual and offer programs that consist of a combination of pre-recorded educational plays along with interactive virtual talkbacks.  See a sample of RESPECT’s work with this video and see what our staff members have to say below!

Honoring RESPECT’s Staff

Our administrative and theatrical staff has gone above and beyond this year to not only continue providing much needed programs during the pandemic, but also creating brand new content addressing emerging and pressing issues of our time.  Each staff member has stretched, learned new skills, and grown in order to make our work possible.  Scott & Cindy Heider are recognizing the work of RESPECT’s staff by matching each donation made in honor of a RESPECT staff member.  Learn more about who makes up our team and what makes RESPECT special and effective through their eyes!

» Dr. Patricia Newman, Founder/Executive Director

I love so many things about RESPECT  – that our staff and programs give participants the information, skills and resources they need to be able to make changes in their own lives. That RESPECT provides opportunities to develop empathy for others – and to participate with practical skills in our community with more caring and compassion. That RESPECT encourages participants to value their own worth – and to keep reaching out for help and support because even though they may feel alone and lonely, there are people who care.

Over 20+ years I have been part of scenarios too numerous to count with students of all ages in which participation in a RESPECT program resulted in life changing and sometimes life saving decisions and choices: students who share that they have been raped or sexually assaulted but were not going to tell anyone because they thought it was their fault; children who thought it was acceptable to be sexually abused because it was a family member who was abusing them (or a teacher); students who needed help with a friend who was threatening to kill themselves or runaway or take an overdose; students who were worried about parents who were hurting each other or could not get proper medication; students who did not know how to get others to quit threatening them.  Having information, knowing they had resources, choices, support, practicing things they could do to help themselves and others. I was able to see these scenarios resolve with positive outcomes.

Learn more about Dr. Patricia Newman
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» Ilana Weiss, Associate Executive Director

I love that RESPECT cultivates the strengths of everyone who we work with – our audiences and staff!  Our audiences learn strategies that stay with them for life and lead to positive relationships and mental health.  Our staff, myself included, are given opportunities to learn new skills and grow professionally so we can improve the world around us through the work of RESPECT and in our personal lives.

I know we’re doing things right when we ask for students to participate in role-plays and immediately lots of hands go up to try out their ideas based on what they learned from our educational play.  All the more so, seeing the look of success on a child’s face when they’ve successfully addressed a problem in an improvised scene, and then get a round of applause from the entire audience is priceless and will no doubt give participants the courage to do the right thing when they encounter real-life challenges.

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» Paige Brenneman, Program & Development Manager

There are so many things I love about RESPECT. The fulfillment I receive from the hard work and energy we put into staging conversations to help build healthy relationships pushes me to do better for our mission every day. It is so great knowing that the organization is making such a positive impact on not only the lives in our community, but also my own.

What makes the work of RESPECT important and effective for students is the growth we are able to see from start to finish. Our after school programs have proven to break students out of their shells, improve their social skills, and give them the ability to form trusting relationships with individuals of all ages in their lives. 

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» Michele Phillips, Co-Artistic Director

RESPECT gives area actors the opportunity to hone their craft on a daily basis. In addition, they have the chance to experience membership in a bona fide repertory theatre company. True to its name, RESPECT affords the entire staff regard for one another, as well as a way to make a difference in the lives of all audience members. 

In the midst of a play or presentation, I have seen many “Ah Ha” moments, moments when you know the material has connected palpably with an audience member. I’ve been left with the impression that people have been affected enough to seek help or that a paradigm shift has taken place for the better.   

Learn more about Michele
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» Samantha Zarders, Co-Artistic Director

I love RESPECT because our programs are responsive to current events and the communities we serve. We work really hard to make sure that all of our content is relevant and impactful, which means that we are constantly adapting and evolving. I also love that we get to tell poignant stories and have important conversations with thousands of people per year!

Through my work as an Actor Educator, and now Co-Artistic Director at RESPECT, I’ve seen how our work has the ability to break down barriers, start important conversations, and positively impact communities and individuals. The most meaningful experiences I’ve had have been touring the rural communities of Nebraska, performing at Juvenile Justice centers, and having intimate one-on-one conversations. These conversations have occurred with audience members after a performance where they have shared their personal experiences and connections to the characters.

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» Kathleen Sorensen McGee, Education & Training Director

I love that RESPECT uses theater games and activities, such as role play, to teach and practice social skills, skills that build healthy communication and healthy relationships- skills that are needed now more than ever!

RESPECT plays, talkbacks and workshops allow students to recognize, discuss and practice changing their responses to difficult, but very real situations, such as bullying, exclusion or teen dating violence. And the methods we employ to engage students seems to especially draw out students who may not otherwise engage.  

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» Aaron Winston, Consulting Artist

It is always an honor to bridge my personal growth with my work as an Actor-Educator.  As I learn more about life, specifically my own flaws and talents, I get the opportunity to make effective teaching points out of what I have recently learned with our audiences.

When students express eagerness to participate in roleplays, it excites me that our programming has helped us to humanize these topics.  Audiences can understand they are not alone in the unpredictable attribute of problem solving. 

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» Daisy Friedman, Actor-Educator

I love RESPECT because it gives me a chance to teach kids things I didn’t have the opportunity to learn growing up. I like being able to relate to the kids because I’m young enough to be learning the social/emotional skills right along with them.

I think that engaging the students by asking them to recreate the situations within the shows is a very effective tool that RESPECT uses. It helps students connect what they’ve learned during our performance to how they can apply it to real life.

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» Donovaughn Daniels, Actor-Educator

One of the things I love most about RESPECT is the open dialogue with the children getting to see their faces as they figure out answers to questions we might pose to them and getting to see them put their skills learned in the classroom and on the playground to the test.

I think RESPECT brings a much needed element of diversity and inclusion in places and schools where they’re needed. Showing children people who look like themselves. And I know even into the future RESPECT will continue to bring that much needed element to the community.

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» Julia Ervin, Actor-Educator

One thing I love about RESPECT is getting to see students’ faces when the information really clicks with them. I feel like we’re really making a difference with the information we present, and the way we present it. 

I have seen first-hand the impact that RESPECT has on young people. Some of the most amazing experiences I’ve had with this organization have been when students feel comfortable enough with us to disclose something they’re struggling with to us – something they haven’t felt comfortable talking about before seeing our presentations. 

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» Many Onate, Actor-Educator

The thing I love most about RESPECT is seeing the enthusiasm in the students faces when we are doing our plays and programs. Hearing and helping them work through the ideas and thoughts they have is incredibly rewarding. I also love the care and support that RESPECT staff has for each other.

Having students come up to us after programs to discuss or disclose difficulties they face shows how important the work is. Being able to enter a space and have students feel safe and confident enough to talk to us shows that the format we use is effective and impactful.

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» Paige “Nola” Cotignola, Actor-Educator

What I love about Respect is seeing kids’ faces light up when they “get” it. When they start to understand that they have a voice and it’s okay to use it to tell others how to treat them and to use that voice to also ask for help. They learn that they are not alone.

Going into classrooms virtually during COVID, I had my reservations. I was worried that students wouldn’t want to engaged with yet another talking head on a screen. Zoom fatigue was as real for kids as it was for adults. I was wrong. Very very wrong. Students were so excited to have us in for talkbacks and workshops. They were always so engaged and insightful and eager to learn and talk about the tough topics we presented. We even got willing engagement from students that counselors had told us probably wouldn’t want to participate. It was clear that students were starved for a break from the day to day behind a screen. And many were eager for material to help them cope with this unprecedented time.

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