NEW SIENA FRANCIS HOUSE GARDEN
AS FOOD COSTS REMAIN HIGH, THE GARDEN IS PUTTING FRESH FOOD ON THE TABLE.
With help from friends, the new Siena Francis House garden came to life this summer. Sun Valley Landscaping prepped the area, while Mulhall’s Nursery provided seedlings and equipment. From there, volunteer, Deb Sewell and men from the Miracles program were tasked with tending the garden, which includes collard greens, tomatoes, peppers and squash. As the garden matures, we look forward to using the produce in our shelter kitchen.
“It is a great resource for much-needed food for our campus,” said Dan Henke, kitchen manager. “It has been very hard to get produce this year, and fresh fruits and vegetables are some of our most requested items.”
Speaking for all of us at Siena Francis House, Dan continued, “We are thankful for those who worked to make the garden happen.”
THEY LOST EVERYTHING AND WANTED TO HELP OTHERS
Kent Webb has always enjoyed exploring his La Vista neighborhood, striking up conversations with his neighbors. But it is his friendship with Howard and Neva Garber — which grew into far more than a friendly wave or passing hello — that stands out.
“They were wonderful people,” Kent said. “They were also up in their years, so after Howard asked me to help with something in their house, I became their unofficial ‘handyman.’”
As he got to know them better, Kent became a sort of confidant of the couple. When Howard’s health began to fail, he asked Kent to serve as the executor of the couple’s estate. Howard passed away in November 2022. Neva, his bride of 66 years, passed away a few months later.
As executor, Kent realized that although the couple had no living relatives, their legacy will surely survive. After marrying in 1956, Howard and Neva settled in Omaha. They spent 25 years teaching math—Howard in Council Bluffs, Neva at Omaha Public Schools. Unbeknownst to Kent, throughout their years together, the couple amassed a $5 million estate.
“I just never would have guessed that they had that kind of money,” he said.
The Garbers, annual donors since 2015, designated Siena Francis House and two other Omaha non-profit organizations to receive proceeds from their estate.
“They wanted to support individuals living in poverty because at one point, they lost everything and had to rebuild,” Kent said. “They wanted to help others in similar situations.”
We are forever grateful to Howard and Neva for providing such a remarkable example of generosity — as well as to all those who selflessly give to Siena Francis House and our guests.
MORE THAN A ROOF OVER THEIR HEADS - COTTAGES
As a permanent supportive housing program, the Cottages provide more than a residence. To live there, an individual must meet two basic criteria: have a disability and be chronically homeless, meaning they have been homeless continuously for one year or have experienced four episodes of homelessness in three years.
Those who gain residence receive income-based rental assistance, with rent capped at 30% of their income. For those without income, case managers help them devise a plan to change that, while helping all residents identify and work toward personal goals.
The Siena Francis House Apartments house approximately 60 individuals annually. The new Cottages can house up to 50 in a single day and will play a vital part in a housing continuum to close a critical gap in our community for both housing and supportive services. As a permanent supportive housing program, the Cottages provide more than a residence. To live there, an individual must meet two basic criteria: have a disability and be chronically homeless, meaning they have been homeless continuously for one year or have experienced four episodes of homelessness in three years.