• Real People, Real Stories

  • Curious about Grand Island but not sure where to start? Don't just take our word for it – hear it from the people who know best! We've gathered a collection of real-life residents who can't stop raving about this charming Nebraska town. From the friendly locals to the endless entertainment options, let them prove to you that Grand Island is the place to be. So if you're on the fence about making the move, take your pick based on interests or contact them all to get the inside scoop on what life is really like in Grand Island.

  • Michelle Simmons Michelle Simmons

    Michelle Simmons is a Grand Island native, born and raised. Though she has traveled near and far but, Grand Island will always be home. She finds comfort in raising her children here and hopes that Grand Island will soon be your family’s community! Michelle believes there are many great places for family-inclusive outings, fun spaces for young professionals, or a night out on the town. Grand Island has given her so many opportunities to grow professionally and personally. 

    "I love Grand Island because it has the feel of small town living but its community is on the rapid expansion of economic growth, night life, and planting family roots."

    Ask Me About:
    Housing, Childcare, Education, Sports, Entertainment, Food & Drink, Networking

    Ask Michelle about Grand Island!



  • Jay Wren Jay Wren

    Jay Wren arrived in Grand Island in August of 1998. He is originally from Oklahoma, having graduated from Oklahoma State with a degree in Management with a minor in Marketing. Jay has been married to Nancy for 25 years and has four children, Jake (31), Micah (29), R.J. (21) and Susie (19). His first job in Grand Island was with Copycat Printing & Signs, and Nancy and Jay have owned Copycat Printing & Signs since June of 2015. Jay currently sits on the board of Grand Island Little Theatre and Leadership Unlimited. 

    "I love Grand Island because for me it is the perfect size. Not too large or too small. You can be involved in so many ways, like sports, music or theater."

    Ask Me About:
    Food, Community Theater, Volunteering

    Ask Jay about Grand Island!

  • Shane Labenz Shane Labenz

    Shane Labenz grew up in Central Nebraska and was excited to return to Grand Island after college. Working in the Railside District, Shane has been able to witness the revitalization of downtown with several new bars/restaurants and entertainment opportunities. Outside of work, Shane is always out exploring the hike/bike trails and enjoys the many activities available in the parks around Grand Island. Shane is one of those people to ask about fun things going on, cool spots to visit, and ways to get involved.

    "I love Grand Island for its unique cultural diversity, its historical significance, and the growing number of activities and entertainment opportunities."

    Ask Me About:
    ​Breweries, Hidden Gems, Live Music, Restaurants, Outdoor Recreation

    Ask Shane about Grand Island!



  • Joseline Reyna Joseline Reyna

    Joseline Reyna moved from Mexico to Grand Island in 2005. She graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and returned to Grand Island after college. Joseline has over six years of experience in nonprofit and advocacy. In 2020 she received the Top 35 under 35 award from the Chamber of Commerce and in 2021 she was awarded the Community Involvement & Impact Award by Connecting Young Nebraskans. Joseline is a Big and serves on the Board of Directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters. She also runs her small candy business. 

    "I love Grand Island because this is the community where I grew up and this is the community I call home."

    Ask Me About:
    Diversity, Immigrant Issues, Entrepreneurship,  Professional Development, Networking & Volunteerism 

    Ask Joseline about Grand Island!

  • Raúl Arcos Hawkins Raúl Arcos Hawkins

    Raúl Arcos Hawkins has made Grand Island his home and is the executive director of the Multicultural Coalition of Grand Island. An entrepreneur in his free time, Raúl is owner of Arcos Business Solutions and Concepts, in which he assists small business owners. He is also a trained chef in Classic and Modern American cuisine. Raúl worked 17 years in the food service and has spent the last decade in nonprofit work.

    "¡Bienvenido! Our city is vibrant full of diversity and has that small town feeling we all search for!"

    Ask Me About:
    ​Immigration, Volunteerism, Best Foods in Town, Entrepreneurship, Movies, Networking, Events, Entertainment

    Ask Raúl about Grand Island!