A TV program and her mom’s lifetime commitment to community service fueled Nickie Daneke’s passion for helping others and led her back to Lawrence to become coordinator of emergency assistance and case manager for Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas.
“I was watching TV when I was about 7 and saw a program about a social worker driving a rattley old car into really tough areas to help people,” Daneke recalls. “She was like a superhero to me and, without too much knowledge I decided I wanted a cool job like hers.”
Her other influence, her mother, Donna White, worked for Topeka Association for Retarded Citizens for nearly 30 years and encouraged Daneke to volunteer at TARC when she turned 10.
“I assisted preschool special-needs children, taught them to swim and helped in the classroom,” Daneke recalls. “I feel those experiences shaped my career development as a social worker.”
She graduated with a degree in human development and family life with a minor in special education from Kansas University in 2000, did an internship with Bert Nash Community Center in 2001 with a year’s placement at Lawrence High school, then earned a master’s degree in social work in 2002.
Daneke became a WRAP therapist (Working to Recognize Alternative Possibilities) at Bert Nash in 2003 and worked at Prairie Park School and Free State high schools.
“It was very worthwhile and enjoyable work,” she says.
Daneke moved to Austin Texas in 2007 to take a position at Texas School for the Deaf.
“I’d worked with some students who were deaf and wanted to learn more about the deaf community and become proficient in sign language,” she says. “It was a fascinating and enriching experience for me to work with such empowered and inspiring people. I loved the job but wanted to return to Lawrence to be nearer my family.”
In 2010 Daneke accepted a position with CCNK at its Lawrence office.
“I’m excited to be part of an organization with a great knack of meeting the community’s needs with love wherever they are,” she says.
“Our program offers emergency assistance and strength-based case management to individuals in need,” she says. “I’m also excited we’re able to offer bimonthly legal services to help people navigate the immigration process.”
Daneke’s thrilled to be in back in Lawrence again where her teenage daughter is continuing the family tradition of commitment to community service.
“Maddie’s already volunteered with me at the Homeless Shelter, the Humane Society, and she’s supported her friends in helping people with disabilities find a stronger voice,” she says.
“Lawrence is such a great place to be. I love the relationship between the university and the community, the school systems and the influx of new people and all that comes with that, including new ideas and diversity.”
Daneke’s looking forward to developing CCNK’s programs in the Lawrence area and continuing to build strong partnerships with local agencies and community members.
“It’s important for us to work together to assess needs thoroughly and to adequately meet the needs of Douglas County residents during the current economic challenges,” she says.