Last month Mickey Manley cleaned up gravesites, handed out bus passes to those in need, served food to the homeless and visited the mother of a shooting victim to offer his support.
No matter what it is he’s doing, Manley, 31, spends an hour every day making a difference in the Omaha community, including with Goodfellows, The World-Herald’s charity.
He’s trying to start a movement. Manley wants to encourage people to volunteer for just one hour every year.
“If we took the population of Omaha and put that into just one hour per person per year, the equivalence would be weeks and weeks’ worth of workers’ time,” Manley said.
It all started four years ago, when Manley’s father took his own life.
“After that happened I kind of took a step back and looked at my life,” Manley said. “I wasn’t a bad person, but it really made me look at myself and what I was doing.”
Manley reorganized his priorities and began to spend more time with family and friends.
A year later he and two friends started a nonprofit, We Can Make a Difference.
“What I’m doing now is what I think he would have done had he been able to overcome that darkness,” Manley said about his father.
Both of Manley’s partners had to leave the nonprofit for family reasons. He slowed the pace for a while but became re-energized while listening to a speaker during a conference he attended for his job as an insurance agent at Farmers Insurance.
With renewed excitement he started a challenge. Every day for the next year he would volunteer for an hour. Today marks day 133.
He also has helped out with a suit drive for veterans looking for jobs and a lamp drive for homeless veterans who are moving off the streets and into new apartments.
Once a month Manley gets together a group of 12 volunteers and serves lunch to the homeless population at the Siena-Francis House. The group also has helped out at the Open Door Mission and Moving Veterans Forward.
He also uses donations to support other nonprofits and makes small contributions each week.
This year he gave $10 to Goodfellows, accompanied by the message “Support Omaha! #onehour of your time makes a big difference.”
All donations collected through Goodfellows go directly toward helping community members in need. No money is kept by The World-Herald for administrative expenses.
Recipients are screened by metro-area social service agencies.
“I know it’s a small donation, but it’s something,” Manley said.