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Hope in the Good Life Podcast

Listen to learn how Catholic Social Services of Southern Nebraska is bringing HOPE IN THE GOOD LIFE to our southern Nebraska neighbors!

Meet podcast host JOHN SOUKUP

With more than two decades of broadcasting experience, Hope in the Good Life podcast host John Soukup has interviewed hundreds of people. When following God’s plan to be development officer for Catholic Social Services of Southern Nebraska, he heard many stories of “hope” from those connected to CSS…stories from clients, volunteers, supporters, and staff. Those stories now have a voice and we hope you will be inspired by Hope in the Good Life.

If you have an idea for a podcast segment, we'd love to connect with you! Reach out to John at 402.327.6235 or by clicking here.

Click to listen and subscribe on your preferred podcast platform!

Podcast Episodes

Episode 40: Bringing Hope on Wheels to a Family in Need

Several local businesses have come together to present a used vehicle, along with the money they raised, to a family who recently endured the heartbreaking loss of their unborn child following an auto accident that also totaled their car. CSS teamed up with a group called BNI to provide this hope on wheels. In this episode, Kendall Warnock of A1 Automotive and Todd Speidell of Eustis Body Shop shares how fulfilling it is to bring this Hope in the Good Life.

Episode 39: Helping to Provide Hope is Just a Part of Doing Business

Catholic Social Services of Southern Nebraska (CSS) has greatly benefited from its longstanding partnership with Sandhills Global. Jim Hansen, Outreach Coordinator for Sandhills Global, emphasizes how their mission aligns with CSS in providing "Hope in the Good Life” for many across Nebraska.

Episode 38: Building Up Treasure in Heaven

If it weren't for our volunteers, CSS would not be able to accomplish the works of mercy for so many through our various programs and services. In honor of National Volunteer Week, Mike and Aggie Gesch talk about their work as volunteers in the CSS Lincoln Food Market and the fact that they are both inspired and humbled to help provide more Hope in the Good Life to so many.

Episode 37: Our 'e' Means So Much More

Whenever you put an ‘e’ in front of something, it usually means ‘electronic.’ When it comes to Catholic Social Services of Southern Nebraska (CSS) and our e-commerce offerings, the ‘e’ could also mean evangelize, extra, and environmental. CSS Director of E-commerce Mario Racicot talks about how his work fits in with the CSS core value of Sustainability.

Episode 36: A Society Like None Other Offering Help in the Home

Discover the Vincentians and their collaboration with Catholic Social Services of Southern Nebraska (CSS) to instill Hope in the Good Life. Larry Ellerbeck, a Vincentian and the president of the St. Vincent de Paul Society's Lincoln Chapter shares insights into how his team engages with individuals in their homes. Collaborating with CSS, they offer assistance with utilities, rent payments, food, furniture, gas, and beds.
To learn more about joining the Vincentians, contact the St. Vincent de Paul Society at or connect with your local parish. Individuals in need can contact 402-HELP YOU (402-435-7968) for assistance.

Episode 35: CSS Office Manager Sandra sees the face of Christ in every encounter

Sandra’s face is the first one many of our clients see at CSS; She, in turn, sees the face of Christ in every neighbor who comes to us for help. As a point of first contact, CSS Lincoln Office Manager Sandra Svajdlenka greets our agency's clients, discerns their needs, and connects them with resources. And, in one very blessed instance, she became a Godmother, too. In this podcast, Sandra shares several powerful stories of the hope she brings to people, the hope she gets in return from those she serves, and how we can work together to inspire hope and love in every encounter.

Episode 34: Emily Villa Finds Beauty, Dignity, and Fun Serving Others as a Volunteer

How does a wife and a mother of nine kids find time to even think about volunteering and making a difference in the lives of others? Emily Villa tells us how in this uplifting and tearful witness to the power of finding beauty, dignity, and even fun in the little things that can make a big difference in the lives of others. Emily, her husband Mike, and her family will be honored at the CSS Celebration of Hope dinner on February 25 as recipients of the Heart of Christ Award. Emily tells us how she learned that when serving others, she’s also being served by God.

Episode 33: A Carole Fest of Hope for Women in our St. Gianna Program

St. Gianna Program Manager Veronica Hotovy talks about how we all need to be surrounded by a little love in order to find hope now and in the future. That's what the St. Gianna Program (SGP) does for women escaping domestic violence. To help support that program, Carole Fest will take place on December 10th to raise funds for this vital program. Veronica tells us why it's important to support SGP and how it nurtures "Hope in the Good Life."

Episode 32: This Bean Counter Bids Farewell

He's been a "bean counter" for Catholic Social Services of Southern Nebraska (CSS) for 24 years, and he's still amazed at what those beans have done for CSS. Bill Meduna talks about his time with CSS as Vice President of Operations and why this agency is such a great place to work.

Episode 31: A New Look For CSS

Katie Patrick, the Executive Director of CSS, discusses the recently unveiled transformation of the CSS headquarters in Lincoln. This extensive renovation and expansion project has introduced elements designed to enhance the facility's overall appeal, creating a more inviting and hospitable environment that promises to be a noteworthy addition to the capital city.

Episode 30: TV may be a Colorful Radio to Him, yet Bill Murphy Clearly Sees Hope as a Volunteer

Bill Murphy fervently advocates for volunteering with Catholic Social Services of Southern Nebraska, extending his recommendation to everyone he encounters. He cherishes his volunteering experiences because, in the face of his faltering eyesight, he can make a meaningful difference in the lives of those who require assistance. This dedication has earned Bill the prestigious Life of Christ Award, which will be presented to him at this year's Bountiful Harvest Dinner in Hastings on October 8. In this podcast, Bill shares his story of how he discovered CSS, and how he's helping others "see" hope as a volunteer.

Episode 29: The Art of Finding Hope

We find Hope in the Good Life in southcentral Nebraska and in the art being produced by Sondra Jonson. She owns SL Jonson Studios in Cambridge, Nebraska, and has donated much of her art to benefit Catholic Social Services of Southern Nebraska and other charities. Like CSS, her art provides Hope to those who may be inspired by her creations. As a supporter of CSS, she talks about the importance of giving back and, in doing so, providing the hope so many need. See her work by clicking here.

Episode 28: You’re Invited to Take a Walk to End Hunger

In this episode of our Hope in the Good Life podcast, we take a walk to end hunger… or at least HEAR about how we can Walk to End Hunger on August 6, 2023, in Lincoln! Mike Hosek tells us how he coordinates this annual event to benefit the CSS Lincoln Food Market. CSS Food Market Program Manager Doris Schueth shares why this event, and the CSS Food Market in general, is a nourishing source of HOPE IN THE GOOD LIFE for our neighbors needing a hand-up. Find out more about the Walk to End Hunger by clicking here.

Episode 27: Honoring the Lasting Impact of a Special Volunteer

This year’s Catholic Social Services Memorial Golf Classic and Auction is being held in memory of Jose Quintero, a long-time volunteer who passed away in June of 2021. This episode features Mary Quintero, who shares stories about her amazing late husband- including how a flower reminds her that Jose is watching over her to this day, providing a special message of Hope in the Good Life.

Episode 26: A Refugee Reflects On The Words Welcome Home

Abdulrazzak Alkoutaini, or "Abdul," is a refugee from war-torn Syria. While starting a new life in a new country can be hard, he said when he and his family were greeted with the words "Welcome Home" by a CSS refugee case worker after arriving in Lincoln, the fear of the unknown disappeared. He is now a CSS refugee case worker himself, and he continues to use those same words when greeting new Nebraskans as he helps them start their new lives.

Episode 25: The Sisters of St. Gianna Program

''Love and sacrifice are closely linked, like the sun and the light. We cannot love without suffering, and we cannot suffer without love.'' That quote from St. Gianna reflects the work of the Marian Sisters, who are advocates for women escaping domestic violence who receive services through our St. Gianna Program (SGP).  In this podcast, we hear how Sr. Carol, Sr. Karen, and Sr. Bernadette help these women and families experience love for themselves and make the necessary sacrifices to build better lives and find Hope in the Good Life.

Episode 24: Diana Amaya uses her Past to Provide Hope in the Present

Diana Amaya didn't know six years ago that getting a food pantry from Hastings Catholic Social Services would eventually change her life. This survivor of domestic violence is now helping others find Hope in the Good Life as a Bilingual Family Support Services Coordinator and Case Manager for Hastings CSS. Diana tells us how the Holy Spirit guided her to where she is today.

Episode 23: Dr. Don Foote Finds Hope in St. Joseph's Workshop

Dr. Don Foote needed to get out of the house. His wife had died a few years ago and he needed to keep busy in order to stave off loneliness. Working in the CSS workshop, which he calls St. Joseph's Workshop, provided the hope he needed to use his talents and benefit others. Now he provides Hope in the Good Life as a volunteer at Catholic Social Services in Hastings.

Episode 22: Heart of Christ Award Winner Shirley Lang

Shirley Lang has humbly made a difference over the years. This year's Heart of Christ Award winner has worked with Catholic Social Services (CSS) over the years, having young women who chose life for their children stay with her during and after their pregnancies. Her love for His children extended to refugees fleeing violence. Years ago, CSS came across a teenage boy who arrived from Cambodia and was living on the street. Shirley and her family opened their home to this young man, who stayed with the Langs for more than two years. Hear how she felt so compelled to reflect the heart of Christ through the years. Click to learn more about Celebration of Hope 2023!

Episode 21: He's Not Afraid To Toot His Own Horn For CSS

For almost 20 years, Kevin Murray has been raising money for Catholic Social Services of Southern Nebraska with his trumpet. He heads up Trumpet Fest, taking place on February 19th at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Lincoln. Kevin tells us how this event not only inspires but also gives back in so many different ways through the gift of music. Click here to learn more about Trumpet Fest 2023!

Episode 20: Providing Hope One Diaper at a Time

Since 2010, Kay Wessel has been providing hope in the good life one diaper at a time throughout southern Nebraska. The diaper drives she's helped to organize through the years have resulted in more than a million diapers going to needy families. Kay tells us what inspired her to start this project and how it has gotten national and international attention.

Episode 19: Giving back by welcoming the stranger

After retiring from a successful professional career, John White wanted to find a way to give back to the community. Passionate about immigration and migration issues and following Catholic social teaching with regard to welcoming the stranger and the dignity of the human person, he chose to volunteer at CSS. He tells us how his work in cultural orientation is fulfilling.

Episode 18: Lindsay Found Hope with our St. Gianna Program

Lindsay was in an abusive relationship but knew there had to be a way out. She knew that God wanted something more for her and her son, so she prayed for a solution and soon found our St. Gianna Program (formerly known as St. Gianna Women's Homes).

Episode 17: A Childhood Memory on the Importance of Giving Back

Ameer Damanhoury didn’t know much about CSS when we first met. The more he learned about the services we provide, the more compelled he felt to give back. The importance of giving back was something his mother taught him when he was a child through her example of helping the poor.

Episode 16: Doing the small things inspires Hastings CSS volunteer Charlene Diers.

Roy and Charlene Diers will be honored with the Love of Christ Award at the Hastings Catholic Social Services Bountiful Harvest Banquet on October 30, 2022. Charlene talks about how a saint inspires her and her husband to do the small things that make a big difference.

Episode 15: Nyabuoy Chan says Lincoln is friendly and welcoming to the refugees she helps

Born in a refugee camp in Africa, Nyabuoy Chan never imagined moving to America as a young adult to start a new life. She now uses that experience in her role as a CSS Refugee Resettlement and Senior Case Manager to help others find hope in the good life in Lincoln, a city she calls very friendly and welcoming to new arrivals.

Episode 14: Elaine Wagener is a "greedy volunteer"

"Why stick around that long?" "Because I'm greedy! I LOVE helping people!" CSS Lincoln is blessed to have Elaine Wagener as a hard-working volunteer who has helped in our thrift store, our accounting department, and our CSS Food Market. In this podcast, Elaine shares her journey to Lincoln and why she continues to help CSS bring Hope in the Good Life to our neighbors.

Episode 13: Even cancer won't diminish the hope Mary and her young daughter get from CSS

Despite facing stage 4 cancer, Mary is not afraid of dying. She’s not afraid because she’s found hope in her faith and the love she and her young daughter feel from the people around them, including those at Catholic Social Services of Southern Nebraska.

Episode 12: Sherry, CSS Lincoln ES client shares her story

"When we're down and hurting, we don't need someone to push us down further. We need someone to grab our hands and pull us back up. And that's what you did for me."

Meet Sherry. In this episode, she shares her story and how a kind hand-up from the CSS Lincoln Family Support Services team got her back on the right path and moving forward.

Episode 11: Steve Sousek and RUNBORN

"I’m on a mission to fuse my love of running with my passion for the pro-life movement, supporting both unborn children and women in crisis." Steve Sousek started RUNBORN as a way to raise funds for St. Gianna Women's Homes and the Women's Care Center of Lincoln.

Episode 10: Walk to End Hunger

You are invited to Walk to End Hunger! John Soukup interviews Mike Hosek, coordinator of the August 7, 2022, event to raise funds and food for the CSS Food Market in Lincoln. The event is sponsored by BetterLife and Knights of Columbus Council 13576 (at St. Patrick Catholic Church). You can donate online at To participate, email Mike at or call 402.570.9294, or just show up the day of the event!

Episode 09: Christ in the City

A group of young missionaries is in Lincoln, Nebraska, this summer that are committed to learning more about their Faith and themselves while serving the poor. They are bringing hope in the good life to our homeless friends and sharing their experience and expertise with CSS.

Episode 08: Dr. Courtney Miller talks about providing hope through counseling

Recognized as a nationwide leader in the integration of contemporary scientific psychology and the Christian vision of the human person, the Immaculate Heart of Mary Counseling Center (IHMCC) is another avenue through which Catholic Social Services of Southern Nebraska provides "hope in the good life". Vice President of Clinical Services and licensed psychologist Dr. Courtney Miller talks about the wide array of services IHMCC provides.

Episode 07: CSS helped Faheem Rashidi find hope in the good life

Faheem Rashidi and his family came to this country from Afghanistan in 2000 and were resettled in Lincoln by Catholic Social Services of Southern Nebraska. Today, he is a successful businessman who shares his story of how he found hope in the good life.

Episode 06: Give Hastings Day with Hastings CSS Regional Director John McDonald

Once again, Catholic Social Services is participating in Give Hastings Day (a 24-hour fundraising event scheduled for 5/5/22). In this podcast, hear Hastings CSS Regional Director, John McDonald, talk about the many services CSS Hastings provides, and why we’re excited to be a part of this event.

Episode 05: Kathy Florence- HIS handmaid art

Auburn's Kathy Florence of HIS handmaid art shares more about how she is using her beautiful mosaic art to give back to CSS in thanks to God for His gifts to her. Kathy is also one of our wonderful St. Francis Gift & Thrift Store volunteers.

Episode 04: CSS Refugee Services Team helps our newest Nebraskans

More than 100 Afghan refugees arrived in Lincoln within a few short weeks after escaping from home country. Catholic Social Services Refugee Resettlement Services helped these new Nebraskans settle in to a new country and culture. Resettlement Director Poe Dee, and Senior Case Manager Elham Fazli talk to John Soukup of CSS about their experiences.

Episode 03: CSS Volunteer Renee Cunningham- turning housing into homes for Afghan refugees

Renee Cunningham is a volunteer for Catholic Social Services of Southern Nebraska. In this interview with CSS Development Officer John Soukup, Renee shares her experience of organizing a drive to provide household items for over 100 Afghan refugees arriving around the same time in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Episode 02: St. Gianna Program client discovers faith, hope, and God's love

Our St. Gianna Program (formerly known as St. Gianna Women's Homes) is a place of refuge and healing for survivors of domestic violence & crisis pregnancies. Catholic Social Services Development Officer John Soukup interviews "Nikki," a resident of SGP, as she shares how she discovered hope for herself and her children.

Episode 01: Introducing Katie Patrick, Executive Director of CSS

In this interview, CSS Executive Director Katie Patrick talks to host John Soukup about being the first woman, wife, and mother to lead the organization. She also shares a few of the challenges faced (and successes celebrated!) in her short time as Executive Director.

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