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(January 19, 2019)

Each year, City of Omaha and Douglas County employees have the opportunity to nominate colleagues for the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. award.

This year, Adams Park Community Center Supervisor Orentheian Everett and Douglas County Corrections Officer SongQuenetta Neal received the awards.

In September, Orentheian and his staff welcomed hundreds of refugees to Adams Park after City housing inspectors closed Yale Park Apartments.

“In the days of great uncertainty for these families, his team offered safe shelter, compassion, and reassurance,” said Mayor Jean Stothert.  “This is an example of leadership, the type of leadership he displays daily. Thank you Orentheian.”

Everett has worked for the Omaha Parks and Recreation Department for 12 years, 11 as Supervisor at Adams Park.  A coworker nominated him saying, “He has worked tirelessly to turn the reputation of Adams Park Community Center from a dangerous location to a positive light in the community. In both his work life and his personal life, Orentheian continues to advocate for kids to live up to their potential and overcome any adversity they face. His life and attitude is one that Dr. King would surely be proud of.”

Parks Director Brook Bench described Everett as inspiring, patient, and respectful of everyone. “Orentheian is truly an excellent example of commitment and compassion for all,” said Bench.

“I’ve had many great mentors in my life,” said Everett. “My view is to treat all humans the same, meet them where they are. I learned to always speak from your heart.  If you speak from your heart, you can’t go wrong, if your heart is in the right place.”

When she learned she would receive the Dr. King award, Douglas County Corrections Officer SongQuenetta Neal said, “That’s insane”.

Another corrections officer nominated her saying, “Her words and actions inspire other people to make the most of their career and to perform to their highest potential.  Her life reflects love and kindness and her works and actions emulate just that.”

“To accept an award named for an American hero is an honor. Being able to help others is worth it,” said Officer Neal. “I never thought I’d receive an award just for being good to people.”

Community leaders Omaha City Council President Ben Gary and Maria Garcia Vasquez, Vice President for Student Affairs at Metro Community College also received awards

“Dr. King’s work is necessary and far from finished. We would do a disservice if we didn’t continue the work,” said Gray.

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