The mission of Lift Up Sarpy County is to help people reach a place of well-being by connecting them to resources to fill their most basic needs. These needs may include shelter, food, transportation assistance, education and mental health services and child care. When we work together to help families in need overcome situations they face, we benefit as a community.


Lift Up Sarpy County will help Sarpy County residents reach self-sustainability so all in our community can live in a place of well-being.

We fulfill our mission by:

  • Collaborating with schools, government, businesses, other nonprofits and faith-based organizations, and by providing direct help when funding allows
  • Helping families to become more knowledgeable and confident in assessing local and state resources
  • Providing coaching and assistance with application to local, state and federal programs
  • Bringing together stakeholders that can help us identify the needs in our communities and help us plan for the future.

What we do

Lift Up Sarpy County has grown and morphed into an organization that follows a preventive strategy, one that supports a more holistic initiative called, “community response.”

We serve as the conduit between many organizations, all of whom inform and support each other on family and individual needs. We work with other organizations, schools, government and faith-based groups to bring relief and sustainable well-being to families. When our collaborative is well informed and working cohesively, we have found we can do more, more effectively and more efficiently.

Most importantly, when we collaborate, outcomes are better for those we serve. We more easily identify needs, make connections, help coordinate case management and provide the long term support our clients need to become sustainable, independent members of our community.

Partner Organizations

We work with a variety of supporters and organizations to complete our mission. Learn more.

Form 990

Our Form 990 is available for review for our generous donors here.

Our Board of Directors

Angie Lauritsen

Board President

Angie received her Bachelor’s degree from Bellevue University, spent 13 years in corporate banking and is now an entrepreneur. Angie created and runs the Gretna HomeTown Hero Program, is a Concord Mediation Center advocate and Survivors Rising board member.

Efrain Rosas

Board Member, Treasurer

Efrain is a lifelong Nebraska resident with more than 15 years of banking experience with various roles with Pinnacle Bank. Prior to banking, Efrain served in the United States Air Force and Nebraska Air National Guard.

Jeffrey Wagner

Board Member, Secretary

Jeffrey joined Michael Schirber in the practice of law in 1999. In 2003, they formed the firm of Schirber & Wagner, LLP. The firm concentrates primarily on family and criminal law.

Darla Berger

Board Member

Darla earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Wayne State College and has been employed by the State of Nebraska’s Department of Health & Human Services for more than 35 years, most recently as a Community Support Specialist for the Prevention division. She works with four community collaboratives: Douglas, Sarpy, Lancaster and York Counties and believes the work is one of the most proactive and successful initiatives with which DHHS has been involved.

Scott Mertz

Board Member

Scott is originally from Papillion and a Creighton Law graduate. He has been with Legal Aid of Nebraska for the entirety of his legal career, where he’s helped countless Nebraskans preserve their rights as renters. He sees the need in Sarpy County and looks forward to helping Lift Up further filling the gaps in housing, food and transportation.

Deanna Wagner

Deanna Wagner

Board Member

Deanna is the manager for the Bellevue Food Pantry, which is part of Eastern Nebraska Community Action Partnership (ENCAP).  She is a Bellevue resident and has been active in the community for the last 25 years working and volunteering as an advocate for children who have been abused and neglected, homelessness solutions, affordable housing and community development, domestic violence and sexual assault survivors, and anti-poverty programs.

Dr. Debra Anderson, PhD, MSW

Board Member

Debra Anderson, MSW, PhD, is the District Mental Health Liaison for Papillion La Vista Community Schools in Papillion where she is working to ensure students have access to quality mental health supports. She formerly served as Deputy Director at Project Harmony Child Advocacy Center, where she was the founding director of a school-based mental health program and a national child abuse and neglect training institute. Dr. Anderson has presented at regional, national, and international conferences.  She has over 35 years of experience training and consulting with public and private child welfare agencies across the Unite States. Dr. Anderson holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of Missouri and a doctorate in public administration from the University of Nebraska – Omaha.  She is also an adjunct professor the University of Nebraska-Omaha’s Grace Abbott School of Social Work.

Ilissa Talkington

Ilissa Talkington

Board Member

A long-time resident of Sarpy County, Ilissa is currently the Program Manager of the Parent Ambassador (PA) Program at the Nebraska Early Childhood Collaborative. She earned her B.S. in Psychology and Biblical Studies and has spent the last 16 years working with children, parents, and families. Ilissa is passionate about elevating parent voices, particularly of those who are often marginalized and without a platform in order to make real changes in our communities.

Bruce Fountain

Bruce Fountain, AICP

Board Member

Bruce Fountain has been the Community Development Director for the City of La Vista since October 2019. He has an extensive background in the planning, economic development and business management professions. He has a bachelor’s degree in Community and Regional Planning with an emphasis in economic development from Iowa State University, and earned  a master’s degree in Public Administration from Drake University. He has served as both a Planning Commissioner and City Councilman in communities where he has lived. In addition to Lift Up Sarpy, Bruce has also served on the Boards of TeamMates Gretna and the Gretna Baseball Foundation.

Board Member Ceciwa Khondowe

Ceciwa “Cece” Khondowe

Board Member

Ceciwa is an immigrant from Zambia, Africa. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Communication and a minor in Family Studies at Bethel University in Minnesota. After graduating, she worked for a non-profit in Minnesota serving low-income families by developing an action plan toward self-sufficiency. Her desire to help families in need began at age 12 as a Child Rights Activist advocating for children who were victims of child abuse, especially the education of girls in poverty-stricken communities in Zambia. Currently, she is a Family Liaison Specialist at All Communities Outreach Services, mainly serving families from Sarpy, Douglas, and Cass counties.

Alicia Elson

Past Board President

Alicia joined QLI shortly after its inception in 1986 and now serves as Vice President of Human Resources. Ms. Elson has an undergraduate degree in social work from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, and a Masters in Social Work from University of Nebraska at Omaha. Ms. Elson is currently a member of leadership and community organizations such as the Omaha Chamber of Commerce’s “We Don’t Coast” Landing Crew, Executive HR Round Table and Vistage.