We are kicking off this session of Winter Play with a little something different. To all of our Play volunteers, parents, and kiddos, you might be surprised to find that, even though we act like big kids most of the time, we sometimes play the role of adults outside Brookside Community Church. So, let's get to know our staff!
First up, our dedicated Director and resident "big idea" dreamer Andrew Neal. Andrew is the brain behind Play and steers the team in the direction of "go big or go home." When he is not planning, dreaming, and creating new programs and goals for the organization, Andrew is spending time with his family, friends, and fellow church members.
We asked Andrew some questions to get to know him a little better. Here are the results: the good, the bad, and the ugly!
- Where did you grow up? I was born in Scottsbluff, NE but grew up in world’s best city: Omaha, Nebraska. Go Huskers!
- What is your role at Brookside Community Play? I guess my title is Director, but I mostly just dream up crazy ideas for where our program could go next.
- What aspect of your role do you enjoy the most? I love that I get to equip our team of staff and volunteers to love on some of the most amazing and resilient kids.
- What do you find most challenging about your job? I’m not an expert on urban youth by any means (if anyone says they are, don’t believe them), so I have to constantly fight against my own stereotypes and judgements to see each child as an individual with unique hopes, dreams and needs.
- Describe what you were like in elementary school. I was the class clown who didn’t want other kids to know that I was actually smart.
- What is your favorite sport? I love watching college football and basketball. In high school I played football, tennis, and swimming.
- What is your favorite activity to do locally? When my wife and I get the rare date night, we love to explore new restaurants and see attend a concert, sporting event, or Broadway show.
- If you were a crayon, what color would you be? I’d be white – and here’s my thinking: No one colors with a white crayon. So that means you stay in the box. If you stay in the box, you probably won’t be eaten by a toddler or a dog.
- What is your favorite childhood memory? One of my favorite childhood memories is learning to ski for the first time. My dad was incredibly proud of me… right up until I ran him over.
- Do you collect anything? Cash… if anyone would like to add to my collection, I’d love you forever!
- If you had to describe yourself as an animal, which one would you be? A Hippogriff
- If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be? A wedge salad from Capital Grille
- What is your favorite family tradition? I LOVE Christmas. Every year my wife and I sit down and make a list of Christmas movies we have to watch. Unfortunately, most of hers are Hallmark movies.
- What do you enjoy most about working on the Near Eastside? I love the diversity of the Near Eastside! I love meeting new people that expose me to new food, culture, and backgrounds.
- What was your favorite toy as a kid? My favorite toy was my Dole Banana Kangaroo: https://www.terapeak.com/worth/vintage-dole-banana-yellow-kangaroo-bananimal-plush/252038747876/
- If you could have any superpower, which would you choose? The power to freeze time… so I could nap whenever I wanted.
- What was your childhood nickname? My dad called me Peanut because when I was born I was small and brown.
- Can you play any instruments? One time I played acoustic bass guitar with my friends. On weekends, we’d go downtown and just play on a street corner for change. It took me awhile to realize that my friends gave me an acoustic bass guitar so that no one would hear me play.
- What is your favorite outdoor activity? When I lived in Colorado, I loved to ski. Since there aren’t any real mountains here, I spend most of my outdoor time chasing my boys and dog around our backyard.
- Share a personal fact that no one would ever guess about you. I’m afraid of hair. Specifically, I’m afraid of girl hair in the shower. Probably because my sister would stick her hair on the shower walls and write messages with them.
Thanks, Andrew, for sharing some personal details about your life!
Stay tuned for an introduction to our Play Program Coordinator and our Play Socio-Emotional Coordinator! Exciting stuff ahead!