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Volunteer Spotlight – Dean Belka

At JA of Lincoln, our volunteers are the backbone of everything we do. They are how we can impact tens of thousands of students despite our very small staff. They are why we are able to stretch our budget so far and make sure the lion’s share of all our funds go right back into programs for our students. They are the heart and energy that take our message into classrooms every day, and bring our curriculum to life!

This month, we want to introduce you to long-time volunteer Dean Belka. In addition to being a member of the JA of Lincoln Board of Directors, Dean has been volunteering in Lincoln classrooms for more than 25 years! He’s been in elementary, middle, and high school classrooms over the years, and says he especially enjoys the innocence of the youngest students. Dean says, “My favorite part of volunteering is the wide range of responses, many unexpected that come from the kids. Example: talking needs and wants. One kindergarten girl said a cat is a need, although the J.A. materials label it a want. Her reply, “but we NEED a cat because we have lots of mice!” A boy sitting next to her adamantly said it was neither ….. “because I am allergic to cats!”

Dean says that the rewards of volunteering are many, but one story sticks with him from his time at East High. “One student appeared to get a lot out of my time in his class, and for the last three years, I have found him working at one of the Valentinos take out locations while he is at UNL. When he sees me walk in, he stops what he is doing, and comes up to the counter to fill me in on his life!”

Now as a retiree (from Sandhills Publishing), Dean says he’s trying to volunteer in even more classrooms, and also enjoys volunteering as a team with his wife, Sue. He expects to end up with five classes this semester, and hopefully even more next semester. Now that’s making an impact!

All of us at JA of Lincoln are so grateful to Dean for his generosity with his time, energy, and resources. Literally hundreds and hundreds of students have benefited! Thank you for being such a big part of building a better future, one classroom at a time!

If you’d like more information on becoming a JA of Lincoln volunteer, contact Alison at!

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