Karla Houfek has a caring heart. When tragedy strikes in Nebraska and a firefighter dies in the line of duty, Ms. Houfek is one of the first to reach-out. A founding Nebraska Local Assistance State Team (LAST) team member, former president and current secretary of the team, Houfek wants to ensure the family and the department receives the comfort and support she believes they need and deserve.
She has put aside her own obligations and challenges to give to others. And like so many involved with LAST teams around the country, Houfek doesn’t ask for or seek recognition.
Roseanne Scurto, the current LAST Team President, felt the time had come for Houfek to receive some well-deserved praise. She recently nominated Houfek for the Jerry Joyce Living Legacy Award which recognizes a compassionate, caring person in the Lincoln (NE) community who is quietly serving others in some capacity and has never been publicly recognized for their service.
“Even in her difficult times over the past three years of losing her significant other, a horrible car accident that resulted in a brain injury and then losing her father, Karla has stepped up to give of her time and knowledge to help the fallen responders in the State,” Scurto wrote in her letter.
She went on to describe the mountains of paperwork and lengthy hours Houfek spends to make sure all the forms for Public Safety Officers Benefits are submitted correctly for timely processing. “That is a TON of work on Karla’s part in dealing with the Foundation’s needs and working directly with the family,” she explained. “We get VERY close with these families and organizations because we spend SO MUCH TIME with them for such a long period of time.”
The award committee from KFOR-FM and Legacy Retirement Communities were so impressed by this unsung hero that they created a new award, “The Jerry Joyce Caring Heart.” They presented the award and a $1,000 check to Houfek in early November.
As is her nature, and a true reflection of her caring heart, she donated the money to the Nebraska LAST team.