Photo of Melanie Clark from Today's Omaha Woman magazine.

Melanie Morrissey Clark

Together Again

Photo by Ben Semisch

The cover art on this issue of Today’s Omaha Woman—created by local artist Teonne Clark—says a lot about the past 20 months. Despite a terrifying pandemic, women have continued to fill all the roles listed on the mask of the woman depicted in the artwork (and most likely more). No surprise there.

And yet women have also been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. They are leaving or considering leaving the workforce in droves, with some estimates as high as 25 percent. Women have taken on more work at home than ever before and are more likely to see their health suffer from the stress of the pandemic. And the list goes on.

In response, we have devoted this issue to highlighting some of the positive things local women have accomplished—both in response to the pandemic and despite it. We profile 20 women in this issue, all of whom are doing worthy, inspiring things to make our world a better place. Like converting an embroidery business into a PPE factory during the pandemic, writing award-winning plays that address injustice or helping women get elected to public office. In each story is woven a secondary message: None of us can do these things completely on our own.

Because the fact is, we women need each other. The isolation of the past year and a half really illuminated this for me. Missing out on the joy I derive from gatherings of my women friends has been tough. I know I’m not alone in saying that I draw tremendous strength and inspiration from my friends.

They fill my bucket, I fill theirs, and we all leave feeling ready to take on the world again.

This translates on a much larger scale to gatherings like the annual Women’s Fund Luncheon. In my last editor’s letter, for the 2019 event, I wrote about the palpable energy and joy many of us experience at these events. About what happens when we bring together 1,400 “friends” who are passionate about making life better for women and girls. How the experience of being in that room reenergizes and inspires us all to keep fighting for what’s right.

We postponed last year’s luncheon and held off celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Women’s Fund—a momentous occasion considering how much good the organization has done over the past three decades. Started in 1990 by a small group of women who wanted to address issues impacting Omaha women and girls, the organization is now awarding $10 million in grants annually to nonprofits with programs to do just that. And that’s just the most visible thing the Women’s Fund does. They also provide critical research reports, important policy efforts and so much more.

As I write this, I don’t know for sure how many of us will be able to gather in person this year. But it is my hope that even if we gather in smaller in numbers, the energy and joy will still be there, and felt also by those at home who are joining us virtually.

Because these meetings of the mind give us the resilience and fortitude we need to be our very best selves. Be it a one-on-one with our bestie, a girls’ night out with half a dozen or so friends, or a luncheon with a few hundred like-minded women, these experiences remind us that we are all in this together, that we need to support each other, and that there is nothing quite like the joy derived from a conversation with a good friend.