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Project Harmony honors Sally Kaplan
Annette van de Kamp-Wright, Editor of the Jewish Press
2.24.12 Issue

 Although Sally Kaplan wasn’t born here, she considers Omaha her true home. And she’s made it quite a home: since she moved here in 1974, she has been involved with many organizations, such as the Planned Parenthood board, the Child Abuse Coalition, the Junior League, and the Child Saving Institute Board. In addition, she is the current president-elect of the Temple Israel board. She has been working in the field of child welfare since 1979.
 On March 7, Project Harmony will honor Sally for her service to the community with the Kids First Award. She works both as a Forensic Interviewer for Project Harmony, and as a therapist for Jewish Family Service. JFS Director Karen Gustafson cannot say enough nice things about her:

Sally Kaplan
 “We couldn’t be more proud that Sally is being honored for her commitment and distinguished service to the children of our community,” she says. “Many people might not know how influential Sally has been to Jewish Family Service. She has made a difference in ways that were not always planned. She was the first supervisor of previous JFS Executive Director Steve Stiel, current JFS therapist Teresa Drelicharz, and myself. We all began our experiential training in therapy at the Child Saving Institute. Since that time, Sally has served on our board until 2003, after which she became a therapist for JFS. She is a valued colleague, but most of all, she is someone that we can truly call our mentor and our friend.”
 Sally and husband Gary have three daughters and two grandchildren. Elizabeth Kaplan and Carrie Gobel live in Omaha; daughter Katie Cohen lives in Oak Park, IL., with her husband and two children, Haley (4) and Jacob (3). 
 Sally completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in St. Paul and her Bachelor of Science in elementary education at UNL in 1975. “During the process of adopting our middle daughter Katie at Child Saving Institute,” she says, “I became interested in the area of adoption and pregnancy counseling, and was hired by CSI as an adoption/pregnancy counselor.”
 She eventually went to graduate school and received a Masters in Social Work degree from UNO in 1988. After that she coordinated a sexual abuse treatment program for four years, and then returned to CSI as a therapist, and eventually Director of Clinical Services.
 “I work in the field of child welfare because I have to; knowing that children are being abused and neglected in our community, and not trying to do something about it, is just unthinkable to me,” she says. “I see my own children in every child who is abused. I want every child to be loved and treasured as I love my own children; that is why I do the work and why my profession has added so much meaning to my life. I appreciate the recognition from Project Harmony, but the work itself is the best reward!”
 The event at which Sally will be honored is titled “Speaking of Children,” and features Olympic gold medalist boxer Sugar Ray Leonard, as well as several training sessions. Sally will receive her award during the luncheon, which is scheduled from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
 “Project Harmony is a child advocacy center,” Sally says, “which includes law enforcement, Child Protective Services, and an on-site medical staff as well as Forensic Interviewers, like me. We aid law enforcement agencies in Iowa and Nebraska in the investigation of child abuse by providing medical exams, advocacy services and forensic interviews to children who have been physically and sexually abused.”
 Executive Director of Project Harmony Gene Klein says: “Sally has given her life to helping others, especially the most vulnerable. We are so grateful for her contributions, and welcome the opportunity to recognize her hard work. She is such a wonderful person, she consistently gives of herself and makes sure the community is taken care of.”
 Sally says we can all do our part: “The most important thing people can do to make children safer is to report any suspected child abuse to law enforcement or Child Protective Services. Child abuse, particularly child sexual abuse, happens because adults fail to intervene. In Nebraska, every adult is a ‘mandatory reporter’ of child abuse. Reports are confidential, and you do not need proof of abuse to make a report. The other thing everyone can do is support agencies who offer help to families in crisis, like Project Harmony and Jewish Family Service.”
 One way to show that support is to attend the Speaking of Children event on March 7, from 8:45 a.m.-3:30 p.m., at the CenturyLink Center. Cost is $50 for lunch only, or $75 for lunch and training. For more information and to make reservations, please visit www.projectharmony.com, call Kathy Baer at 402.680.3493 or email speakingofchildren@gmail.com.