A Gift of “Stock” is “Appreciated” in Diller
Al Svajgr gave Diller, his hometown in Southeast Nebraska, 48 heifers, and the community was grateful and surprised. “Speechless!” was how Beth Roelfs put it. Roelfs is chairperson of the Diller Community Foundation Fund, which accepted the gift on Diller’s behalf. “It made my day,” she said, “And, in essence, it made Diller’s future.”
Svajgr has been involved in cattle feeding, ranching, farming and banking in Dawson County, at Cozad, since 1977. He was chairman of the Beef Board, a national group of beef producers, so the gift made perfect sense. “All the gain I had in those animals would have been taxable if I’d sold them and then made a cash donation,” he said. “This way, I was able to give more value, because I didn’t have to pay taxes on the capital gains.”
Valued at just over $50,000, the unusual gift infused Diller with a huge boost of hope. “We are now looking at longer-term goals we hadn’t had the resources to consider before this gift,” Roelfs said. The foundation board made Svajgr’s gift the cornerstone of a campaign to raise $200,000 by the end of 2008. The monies generated in investment earnings through that community endowment will help underwrite historic restoration and community development projects in Diller, population 287. Svajgr said, “I visited the community and saw the old opera house and some of the historical buildings that need preservation. I decided it would be meaningful to me to give something that would be useful to the community.”
Another reason for Svajgr’s gift was gratitude. “I come from a generation that feels like we need to give something back,” he said. “I went to a one-room schoolhouse, high school in Diller, on to college. I really wanted to honor of my parents, who were instrumental in my success.” Svajgr said his parents “set a great example in creating an environment for my sister, brother, and me to be used throughout life.” Ed and Bessie Svajgr raised their children on a farm near Diller.
The Diller Community Foundation Fund actively promotes its projects and asks for contributions. Each year, the foundation sends Diller’s alumni—currently 900 of them—a publication called Hometown Connections, which highlights the goals, projects and development in the Diller area. “And we have given people the opportunity to support their community through some sort of gift,” Roelfs said. Svajgr took advantage of that opportunity. “You always think of the possibility of such a gift, but you question whether it will become a reality,” Roelfs said. “It was an exciting gift and has opened the door to so many possibilities for Diller’s future.”