13:30 PM

Payne Continues to Help, Heal Others

Darrell Payne, Associate Professor in the College of Science and Technology, continues to help and heal others through his work with Freeway Ministries Omaha, and the organization’s staff and volunteers – including Payne – were recently recognized with a special award at one of the state’s longest-running Martin Luther King Jr. celebrations.

The Interdenominational Ministries Alliance presented the “Drum Major Award” in the area of Accountability to Freeway Ministries’ Pastor and Co-Founder Rick Lechner and his, wife, Sherri, at the 36th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Unity luncheon held Monday, Jan. 20 at the downtown Omaha Hilton Hotel. Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert, U.S. Rep. Don Bacon, and other community leaders and volunteers, including Payne, attended the luncheon.

Payne, an active and involved volunteer, was proud to see the ministry organization, that helps men struggling with substance abuse, honored for its contributions to individuals and the community.

“It’s very uplifting,” Payne said about his involvement with the organization. “You have a certain expectation, but then you go in there and meet the people and you stop and say ‘wait a minute, it’s easy to love these people.’ It just gets in your heart.”

Located in South Omaha, Freeway Ministries has been in existence for about four and a half years. Payne has served as a volunteer for nearly two years. He and his wife prepare and serve meals, interact with residents, and simply engage meaningfully with Freeway Ministries participants.

Payne said Freeway Ministries offers a number of opportunities for individuals to become involved. “They welcome volunteers who can help with outreach and with mentoring,” he said, “as well as people who can donate time, clothing and funds to support the participants. For more information, visit the Freeway Ministries website.

As a committed volunteer, “my goal is more to encourage them,” Payne said, recounting the hours he’s spent simply sat listening and talking with the Freeway Ministries’ participants. “I don’t have all the answers, but I think sometimes it’s not the answers they’re looking for. It’s to be able to sit down and talk to somebody that cares.”