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I’ve been writing columns for the Butler County Area Foundation Fund’s great team of volunteer leaders that is the Fund Advisory Committee. Over the past year, this committee has been quite busy with the Looking Forward – Giving Back Campaign, and I hope you’ve read about it and understand it. You will see more about the campaign at the bottom of this column.

The campaign has a deadline of December 31, 2018. And now that I’m beginning my 60th year on this planet, I recognize that deadline may as well be tomorrow. It will get here before you know it.

So with that in mind, and thousands of dollars still to be raised, I figured it was time to get to a more personal level. As I urge you, dear reader, to get involved with our campaign, it’s time to share why I am involved. Whether you live here in Butler County or you live elsewhere and still call it home, I sincerely hope my words will make you feel like you should get involved too.

There are several reasons why I am part of this team of volunteers.

Reason 1: Gratitude

My family moved here in late 2002 when I took the editor’s job. Angie and I raised our two daughters here, and we are keenly aware of the community’s role in shaping them into the strong, intelligent and compassionate young women they are today. Perhaps some of you know Jana and Maya. Both had opportunities, in and out of the school setting, to help shape their futures. Butler County helped our family grow and succeed. We are grateful, and working with BCAFF allows me to give back to the community.

Reason number 2: Jack Tarr

About a year after we moved here, a couple leaders of the David City Area Foundation asked me to join “the board.” DCAF was in flux because longtime leader and sometime one-man band Jack Tarr, was stepping down. Many, many people have known Jack and Betty Tarr for decades before my time. Still, in just a couple years, I came to understand that Jack, a very humble leader, never quit thinking about how he could help his community. Or better, how we could help the community help itself.

How he, and we, could give back. Perhaps you can ask someone who knew him better than I. Those aren’t exaggerations. Jack passed away in 2004, and we lost not only a newspaperman known statewide, but also someone who nurtured the David City Area Foundation for 20 years. In 1982 Jack and Betty helped to launch the fund by asking the family of Joyce Hall (of Hallmark Cards fame) for a gift of $100,000. Research has also recently helped me understand that James Norton, a local attorney who passed away last month, was integral in founding DCAF. 

Jack strongly believed that I should join the Rotary Club of David City, and who was I to say no? Looking back, I’m glad he roped me in, not only for the Rotary fellowship and emphasis on “Service Above Self” but also because got to know Jack, and his humility, a little better in the time that proved to be much too short. Jack’s humility struck me the most. Later, when DCAF’s fund leaders asked me to join them, I began to grasp what Jack’s vision was for the fund. Since then, it has been quite a journey of progress with some setbacks mixed in. Through our fund’s affiliation with Nebraska Community Foundation, we’ve learned how other small towns are acting to change their futures. DCAF changed too, becoming BCAFF in 2007 in order to reach out to the entire county. Slowly but surely the vision of Jack and those early leaders came into focus.

Reason 3: We can change our future

Flash forward to 2018, and I try to imagine what Jack would say about what he helped to start. He might say, “Nice work, but don’t stop now!” Safe to say he would be pleased, but would want more. Safe to say he would encourage us to engage many more people across the county. We need partners for all kinds of projects, for making a difference right now to making future dreams come true and building the team of leaders to be stewards of BCAFF’s unrestricted endowment. We’re really just getting started.

BCAFF’s potential is much bigger than anyone could have imagined. We also know a couple things about the future: Development requires local involvement and no one can do it for us. If I somehow had to start over in a new community I’d either want to join an endeavor like BCAFF or get one started.

Reason 4: It’s the right thing to do

As with any worthwhile endeavor, our volunteers get busy, get tired and wonder if we’re “doing it right.” There are so many possibilities to promote what we do, that knowing where to start is a challenge. Who do we talk to first? How do we inspire people to join us? Despite the inevitable setbacks, I can say we have a great team working for the BCAFF cause. They are busy people with families and jobs to manage while also offering their time, treasure and talents. At the end of the year, our campaign will be complete, but the work of BCAFF will still just be getting started. It’s our job to keep inviting inspired leaders to carry on this vital work. Why? Because it’s the right thing to do. Developing the fund is just the start.

Reason 5: Because I was asked

Early in 2016 I was meeting with Mike Moravec, our committee chairman. He pointed to me and said, “And for our campaign chairman……". I eventually got over the terror of the assignment, but mainly because Mike and our team of volunteers have done the heavy lifting, and that includes a lot of personal sacrifice. They have planned events, created and organized promotional materials and generally got the ball rolling. At times I feel like at best, I’m the cheerleader and encourager. And now, we’re within 11 months of our campaign deadline, and it’s time to really get it in gear.

That’s it folks. My reasons. If some of this helps you step forward and contact us, that was my goal.

Now you can read about our campaign. Thanks for your time.

Looking Forward - Giving Back Campaign

The Sherwood Foundation, working through the Nebraska Community Foundation, has challenged us to raise $200,000. When we reach that goal by December 2018, the Sherwood Foundation will contribute another $100,000. This boost of $300,000 will bring our unrestricted endowment to around $1.1 million. Those funds will stay put forever, while the local committee can derive income from the funds to make good things happen. The best part is that the funds will be available for needs and opportunities that won’t be known for years to come.

Campaign Committee members: 

Mike Moravec, Fund Advisory Committee chairman, Larry Peirce, campaign chairman. Committee members: Milt and Janet Bemis, Kent Clymer, Diane Duren, Carol Fuxa, Amy Slama, Ed Siffring, Robin Sullivan, Lindsay Truksa.

Our Vision:

The Butler County Area Foundation Fund collaborates with other organizations to identify and support projects, programs, and people who are helping to build a community where our children can choose to live, work and raise their families.

Contact information: Butler County Area Foundation Fund, P.O. Box 91, David City, NE 68632

Facebook: Butler County Area Foundation Fund

Phone: 402-875-2073

The Butler County Area Foundation Fund is an affiliated fund of the Nebraska Community Foundation.

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