In fall 2016, The Junior League of Omaha nominated Active Members Chinh Doan and Sheena Helgenberger for the Omaha Jaycees’ “Ten Outstanding Young Omahans” (TOYO) award. Both ladies were named recipients in the 84th TOYO Class.
Following, the Omaha Jaycees nominated Doan (and others) for the “Top Outstanding Young Americans” (TOYA) award in 2017. She was named a TOYA recipient in 2017 and went to the TOYA gala in St. Louis in September. State Senator Tony Vargas, also in the 84th TOYO Class, received the TOYA award as well. Doan recently shared some of her thoughts and memories from the event with theColumn.
Column: What did being recognized as a TOYA mean to you?
DOAN: We [Vargas and Doan] were humbled and honored to represent Omaha and Nebraska. I asked the award committee whether they knew of any other city that had two TOYA honorees in one year and was told not to their knowledge. Go, Omaha!
Being honored with the TOYA Award was an incredible recognition for many reasons, including being a part of the prestigious group of current and prior recipients who have made a positive impact in their communities and our great nation.
I desire to uphold the values represented by this award and will always cherish this honor as I am reminded that our small seeds of kindness, compassion and community service can grow to immeasurable heights.
While it’s not about the title or distinction, I hope this long-standing tradition continues to be a major platform in helping unite our country’s movers and shakers to be catalysts for change.
Column: Favorite moment from the TOYA event/weekend
DOAN: My favorite memories from the TOYA weekend included getting to know the JCI members and other honorees, staying in touch with them and continuing to be inspired by their incredible work and service to their communities around the country. I also will cherish having my family there to celebrate with me because they are my rock-solid support system and constant motivation.
Column: How do you continue to giving back to TOYO alumni
DOAN: I was invited to emcee the awards banquet for the 85th TOYO class in February. I was inspired by the TOYO alumni who continue to give back to our community and was motivated by the stories of the latest class of honorees. I had the opportunity to share how my life has been positively impacted after being honored a year ago. I shared how proud I was to represent Omaha at the national level and how my experience as an Omaha transplant serves as an example that you don’t have to be a native of a community or have lived there a certain amount of time to make a difference. I’ll always be grateful to the League for believing in me and finding me worthy enough for the TOYO nomination. I’ve made some lifelong friends.
Column: Any advice/insight for this year’s TOYOs?
DOAN: Congratulations! You are among the changemakers our community needs. You are each honored for your unique talents and contributions. Your leadership, experiences and dedication keep our community moving in the right direction. Remember that and use it as your motivation to inspire others to “work hard and be kind.”