Donor Spotlight: Laurel Van Ham and Tom Pappas

Members Recommend NET "Experiences"

Tom Pappas and Laurel Van Ham

Longtime NET members Tom and Laurel recently celebrated their 15th wedding anniversary New Year's Day.

Longtime NET members Laurel Van Ham and Tom Pappas of Lincoln recently welcomed us into their lovely home surrounded by trees, gardens and a bee hotel. Yes, Tom is a master gardener and built a bee hotel for solitary bee species looking for individual nests. "They found it the first day I put it up," he said.

Laurel is passionate about the environment, too, and is active in the local chapter of the Citizens Climate Lobby. They also share their love of public radio and television as Tom turns on NET Radio first thing in the morning and they think twice before going out Sunday evenings. "We don't want to miss "Masterpiece," Laurel said.

A native of Chicago, she valued classical music growing up and was thrilled when NET established a statewide radio network. "I really count on the news," she added.

They are self-described "experience junkies" and make a point to be in the live audience of shows they love like the NPR news quiz show "Wait Wait…Don't Tell Me!" at WBEZ Chicago. When NET brought "A Prairie Home Companion" with Garrison Keillor to town in 2013, they were there for the rehearsal and the show. They've also traveled to St. Paul to enjoy the show at its home base — Fitzgerald Theater. One of their best outings was when NET presented Rick Steves at the Joslyn Art Museum.

"We've also enjoyed the receptions NET hosts for members, like the "Downton Abbey" previews and the special event with "PBS NewsHour" commentator David Brooks," she added.

Tom arrived in Lincoln from Riverside, Calif. as a linebacker for the Cornhuskers and came back after graduate school to teach English and serve as a counselor for Lincoln Public Schools for 30 years. A Wheaton College graduate, Laurel earned her doctorate of psychology from UNL and trained family medicine residents before she "retired" to continue her private practice.

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