Last week on June 30, a seven-month effort to offer a nationwide ABLE program culminated in the official launch of the Enable Savings Plan at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium. First National Bank of Omaha and the Nebraska State Treasurer’s office hosted over 425 guests to celebrate the day.
The day began with a press conference at which several speakers talked about the meaning of the new Enable Plan. Lt. Governor Foley, on behalf of Governor Ricketts, presented a proclamation declaring June 30th Enable Savings Day in Nebraska. We heard Clark Lauritzen, Executive Vice President of First National Bank and State Treasurer Don Stenberg both talking about the importance of persons with disabilities being able to save for their future.
While the entire day was a momentous occasion that none of us are ever to forget, there were some moments that particularly stood out.
Senator Kate Bolz of Lincoln, who was the sponsor of legislation in 2015 to create Nebraska’s Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) law, perfectly conveyed our central mission in creating the Enable Savings Plan when she took the stage: “To me, the Enable Savings Program is about equality and achieving the American dream. That includes homeownership, job training, higher education and achieving independence.”
Senator Bolz was followed by Jacob Gehringer, a 20-year-old with Down Syndrome, who brought the entire crowd to their feet in a standing ovation with his words. Jacob addressed the things he would be “able” to do with the launch of the Enable Savings Plan. “I am able to work and earn a paycheck,” he said. “I am now able to save for my future in my Enable account.” Jacob also told of his plans to own his own home, with a yard for his dog Miller to play in. Jacob was the very first person to open an Enable Savings Plan, with a ceremonial account opening on stage with myself, Clark Lauritzen, Senator Bolz, Treasurer Stenberg, Lt. Governor Foley and Rachel Biar, Assistant State Treasurer.
Next up was Jason Gieschen, the 11-sport Special Olympics Athlete and the Sargent Shriver International Global Ambassador for Special Olympics. Jason’s remarks gave a realistic insight to what Enable means for the disability community. As an individual with Autism, before the opening of Enable Jason had to be meticulous about how much money he was saving. Before ABLE plans were available, individuals with disabilities were prevented from becoming financially independent because Social Security benefits were subject to reductions if they held more than $2,000 in assets in their name. With the launch of Enable, Jason is now able to just start a second job, in an effort to put money away toward his future into his Enable Savings Plan account.
It was a wonderful way to see our work pay off and hear from the people it will work to support. It was heartwarming watching hundreds of people adding their thoughts to the Enable Signing wall by writing things that they are able to do. We hope these stories and this experience inspire more people to save for their dreams and future aspirations with the Enable Savings Plan. Read more about the plan on the website where you can also enroll online. Follow us on Facebook. If you have questions, please call all us at 1-844-ENABLE4 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org .
- Deborah Goodkin, Managing Director, Savings Plans, First National Bank of Omaha