Meet Pastor Chelsea Salifou, CEO at Heartland Hope Mission (HeartlandHopeMission.org).
Tell us a little about your business. – Heartland Hope Mission a faith-based organization that is more than a pantry and is dedicated to helping families achieve self-sufficiency. We provide food along with clothing, diapers, job resources and community referrals to support families in need and empower them to make positive changes in their lives. We also offer case-management, senior pantry deliveries, a Job Paths Program and a Christmas program that provides around 4,000 children with new toys at Christmas! In addition to Omaha, our outreach pantries serve Valley, Macy and Walthill. We prioritize making clients, volunteers and donors feel loved. Feeling cared for and appreciated is crucial to building strong relationships and creating a sense of community.
How did you get started in the business? – I started volunteering and fell in love with the organization. I came from a working poor family and loved that Heartland Hope Mission was focused on serving these families that work hard but struggle to feed their children. Heartland Hope Mission is a safety net that keeps families from becoming homeless while they work towards self-sufficiency.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced professionally? – Over the past several years, we have responded to several back-to-back challenges including the floods of 2019, COVID and government shutdowns in 2020, the power outages of 2021 and most recently, inflation rates that have set families in our community back. These events caused the need for our services to increase dramatically. We were able to make immediate decisions to be responsive to the needs of our neighbors in countless ways. We will continue to lead the way to ensure families don’t go to bed hungry and are given resources to become self-sufficient to plan for a better future.
What has been your most important achievement professionally? – Being recognized by the Better Business Bureau Integrity Award, being a NAM best practice partner and achieving a platinum level on GuideStar are all great examples of how Heartland Hope Mission is dedicated to providing high-quality services and maintaining high standards of ethical and transparent practices.
Tell us a little about your family. – I am married and have two amazing sons. I love being a boy mom and soccer mom! My husband and I are entrepreneurs, and I love that my eight-year-old has already started his own business that he is passionate about.
What do you see as one of the biggest turning points in your life? – Developing a personal relationship with Jesus changed everything for me. It gave my life purpose and a strong moral compass that guides every decision I make.
What is your favorite thing to do on a day off? – I love spending time with my family! My kids are at a fun age to play board games with or take to the park. I also really enjoy interior design so I appreciate any opportunity to decorate.
What local nonprofit organizations are you passionate about or involved with, and are there any special reasons why? – I serve on the planning committee for Zion Academy which provides an affordable alternative Christian Education. For me it is important that parents have access to a strong, faith-based education that also inspires entrepreneurs, teaches critical thinking skills and equips children with financial literacy for success in life. Studies show that teaching character improves academic outcomes. Zion Academy accomplishes this at less than half the cost of many private schools.