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Mourning Hope group

Honorees and guest presenters at the annual Hope in the Morning fundraising breakfast April 26 included (front, from left) Laura Pankoke, Alicia Millard, Michael Alesio, Mourning Hope participants; Iris Pleskac-Clinch and Maggie Pleskac, daughter and wife of the late Pat Clinch; (back row, from left) Carly Runestad, executive director, Mourning Hope Grief Center; Sam Breske, 2018 Spirit of Hope Award winner; Cayenne Joyce; Gayla Nelsen, 2018 Spirit of Hope Award winner; and Angie Alesio. Laura Pankoke, Alicia Millard, Michael Alesio, Angie Alesio and Cayenne Joyce are involved in the Pat Clinch Peace Project, which received the 2018 Partners in Hope Award.

More than 250 business and philanthropic leaders, elected officials, community members and grief professionals joined the Mourning Hope Grief Center at the annual Hope in the Morning breakfast April 26 at the Country Club of Lincoln.

In its 13th year, the invitation-only event raised more than $65,000 for Mourning Hope, an organization that served 5,183 people last year through grief support groups, community education, resources and referrals.

Allison Gilbert, one of the most thought-provoking and influential writers on grief and resilience, was the keynote speaker. The author of “Passed and Present: Keeping Memories of Loved Ones Alive,” Gilbert spoke of “active remembering” to commemorate the lives of family and friends we never want to forget.

Maggie Pleskac and Iris Pleskac-Clinch, two Mourning Hope participants, shared their grief journey since the death of husband and father, Pat Clinch, in 2015.

The morning’s highlight was the celebration of the 2018 award recipients. Carly Runestad, Mourning Hope’s executive director, was honored for 10 years of dedicated service. The Partners in Hope Award was given to the Pat Clinch Peace Project, a group created to keep Pat’s spirit alive by making life better for others.

The Spirit of Hope Award was presented to Sam Breske and Gayla Nelsen. Breske is a UNL Honors student heading to law school this fall. He has served as a Mourning Hope board member, Camp Erin volunteer and grief group facilitator for the past three years. Nelsen is a retired LPS teacher who has volunteered with Mourning Hope for over 18 years, including as a board member and grief group facilitator.

Mourning Hope companions grieving children, teens, young adults and their families when someone significant in their lives has died. Programs and services are available at no cost to participants. Visit or call 402-488-8989 for more information.


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