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The Nebraska Community Foundation holds its annual celebration and training the first week of November, and the Nov. 1 and 2 gathering at the La Vista Conference Center was one of the best.

The Butler County Area Foundation Fund, one of NCF’s more than 200 affiliates, was represented by members of its fund advisory committee.

All volunteers - Lindsay Truksa, Kent Clymer, Carol Fuxa and Mike Moravec - were in attendance for the training on Nov. 2. Larry Peirce, past FAC member and chair of the Looking Forward – Giving Back Campaign, also attended.

The committee members took in separate training sessions during the day with the goal of bringing knowledge back to the rest of the committee. Another key element is the chance to hear from community fund leaders from across the state who are sharing the same goals and dreams, along with similar challenges.

Lindsay Truksa, one of the newest FAC members, said she was inspired by the progress of other communities.

A few examples she cited:

• Byron, a town of 83 people raised $1.3 million for community center. The local fund utilized the “gift of grain” for pledges and had a huge impact for the community

• Red Cloud has harnessed the tourism attraction of being the childhood home of renowned author Willa Cather.

“Wow! The tourism that comes through this community is amazing,” Truksa said. Red Cloud also raised funds to build and sustain a child development center, not just for daycare but to help young children get a great start at life.

• Atkinson is doing a week long “Big Give” this year. Each night a different business is hosting an after-hours or event inviting the community. 

The BCAFF volunteers were able to relate to volunteers from other communities who are working to build on their community’s strengths.

Truksa offered her biggest takeaway:

“Butler County has so many things to offer with numerous businesses that are very supportive of the Community. We have a beautiful event center to utilize to bring the communities together for events in which some communities don’t even have,” she said. “Our schools are very supportive of the community as well. We are fortunate to have a community where younger generations are moving back due to jobs, schools for their children, a place to live where it is slower paced than city living. And finally, they want to come back and continue those traditions they grew up with in Butler County.”

She said that a Red Cloud volunteer put together a way to think about the future. It’s important to respect the past, but to let go of it and strive for a better future.

“What has happened in Butler County has happened. We can’t look back and ponder on the ‘why and why nots.’ We need to live in the present and look to the future. What do you want Butler County to look like now, for your children and grandchildren and other people. He ended with, ‘A community can only be as good as one makes it.’ So true!”

Truksa said that the BCAFF volunteers are on the right track with the Looking Forward-Giving Back Campaign, which is directed at rural development philanthropy, or RDP.

“We have endless possibilities within Butler County to make the communities better and raising money for the RDP campaign will showcase this, she said.

Mike Moravec, chairman of the FAC, said the event was inspiring.

“It was a great event for people who want to help their hometown. It was encouraging to hear all of the success stories from around the state, from early childhood development to sourcing local beef in the schools. Our BCAFF committee is energized to make things happen here back home,” Moravec said.

Looking Forward-Giving Back

The challenge of the Looking Forward-Giving Back Campaign is to raise $200,000 in unrestricted endowment funds. So far, pledges and donations have surpassed the $100,000 mark, but there's a long way to go.

Once this goal is achieved, The Sherwood Foundation will grant our Fund an additional $100,000. The donations must be received by Dec. 31, 2018. 

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