Annual Celebration connects Greater Nebraska’s people, places, and ideas


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Adorned in a white wig and flashing a matching grin, Nebraska Community Foundation’s Anders Olson channels his inner Bob Barker as he takes the stage.

His task? Hyping up the hundreds of Nebraskans attending NCF’s 2022 annual training and celebration. He leads four volunteers through the Future is Bright, an NCF-themed version of a certain popular daytime gameshow. The winner gets a new remote-controlled car.

Olson doesn’t have to do much. The energy in the room is already crackling. He just needs to keep it rolling.

The celebration gathers hundreds of NCF supporters to celebrate the achievements of the organization’s 1,500 volunteers serving 276 communities in 83 Nebraska counties.

Attendees embrace this year’s theme: Connect. They mingle in corridors, laugh over coffee, and encourage each other’s grand ideas for Greater Nebraska. They’ll connect through training sessions, educational talks, and a banquet bolstered by interactive activities.

Attendees like Gavin Harsh, a member of McCook Community Foundation Fund’s advisory committee, say getting to meet fellow Nebraskans is a highlight of the annual event.

“Today is really a big day,” Harsh says. “It’s a whole year’s worth of work for the whole entire state of Nebraska. We are here today to learn and to celebrate because all of our work is being transferred to other communities. We get to tell stories of what worked, and we can help each other out in really building an interconnected community for our state and our communities to be a better place to call home.”

In the past five years, the NCF network has reinvested more than $172 million into Nebraska’s people and places. Among the $40 million NCF affiliated funds reinvested through grantmaking and disbursements in the most recent fiscal year, $2 million benefitted people attraction efforts; $1.4 million went to parks and recreation; $2.7 million furthered education; $1.2 million went to arts, culture, and humanities; $1.3 million benefitted health care; $1 million went to community centers and libraries; and over $370,000 was granted in support of entrepreneurship.

For Kayla Schnuelle of Diller, connecting with other volunteers leads to inspiration.

“Innovation happens at the intersections,” Schnuelle says. “So, we know the intersections of all these ideas and the different things people are trying that’s where that true learning happens and so I really believe that this is a chance for people to learn from each other, to try new things, to experiment with what other people have done and try to apply it to their own places.”

Attendees certainly left La Vista this year with new connections and fresh ideas to build a brighter future for their places in Greater Nebraska.

I really believe that this is a chance for people to learn from each other, to try new things, to experiment with what other people have done, and try to apply it to their own places.

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