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Video: Helping others at Thanksgiving

November 23, 2022 | Jodi Baker | community, OPPD employees, powerful life, video
OPPD employees volunteer
“I definitely want to thank my North Omaha (Station) co-workers who have really helped out and donated to this event,” Tim Stephan said of the annual event.

What began as a small church volunteer effort in 2013 – helping to provide turkey dinners for Siena Francis House residents at Thanksgiving – turned into an annual calling for Tim Stephan, shift supervisor at OPPD’s North Omaha Station.

A team of roughly 60 volunteers works from Tim Stephan’s home, frying upwards of 100 seasoned turkeys that will be donated to Siena Francis House. Photo by Joe Comstock

“We do plan for this all year long,” Stephan said. “The majority of it is the week of. I usually take one or two weeks of vacation to prep.”

Under his leadership, a team of 60 or so volunteers works from Stephan’s home, frying upwards of 100 seasoned turkeys. Thawing and injecting the donated birds is a weeklong process Tim handles mostly on his own.

“I buy a Cajun seasoning that I like to use because I hear it’s popular with the residents,” he said.

Once volunteers debone the cooked turkeys, they freeze meet in storage bags with chicken stock to keep the meat moist until it’s needed on Thanksgiving. You can watch the process in action in the video below.

A group effort

The effort is a huge undertaking, but Stephan gets a lot of help.

“I definitely want to thank my North Omaha (Station) co-workers who have really helped out and donated to this event,” Tim said.

From OPPD colleagues to other friends and family, the annual turkey fry is well-known to those who know Tim.

Volunteers help prepare and package about 100 turkeys to be donated to Siena Francis House. Photo by Joe Comstock

“If you have ever talked to my husband,” his wife, Lisa Stephan, said, “You’ll get a text and an invite.”

With the Sienna Francis house counting on the Stephans’ efforts, they found a way to carry on even during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We kept it to just family,” Tim said. “About five of us managed to cook and prep around 50 or 60 turkeys.”

He admitted he doesn’t get much sleep a couple weeks before Thanksgiving, pulling this all together. But taking care of the shelter’s residents and guests is worth it.

“We do not know what their struggles are like, but they need a helping hand,” he said. “And if we can give them at least one good meal, we all believe in that.”

Tim’s volunteer brigade is giving the shelter enough cooked turkey to provide for not only Thanksgiving, but a couple of extra meals.

“I encourage everybody to do some community service in some way. I feel this is a small part, but we can do more.”

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About Jodi Baker

Jodi Baker writes stories and shoots videos for The Wire. Jodi was a television news reporter before she came to work for OPPD as a media specialist in 2013. Jodi earned her degree in broadcasting from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. She's worked for news stations from her hometown of Omaha to sunny San Diego. She’s married with two bright and energetic children (a boy and a girl) and an allergy-ridden little Cairn Terrier. She and her husband enjoy catching up on some grown-up DVR time once the kiddos are asleep.

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