At Home in Greater Nebraska – Jay Wallinger

What is the best thing about living in your community?
Stuart has always had a “get it done” attitude and I believe our children learn from that and carry it forward. Community Pride is alive and well here.

What was the most important factor in your decision to move to your community?
This is home. It’s where I grew up. It’s where Emily, my wife, grew up. Our families are here. Our family’ s businesses are here. And now our business is here. Raising our family here only makes sense. They learn a work ethic that is second to none, along with growing up understanding that giving back to community is just something we do!

Did you always plan to return to Greater Nebraska? If not, what changed your mind?
I always planned to return. Even at times when rural Nebraska seemed to “push” their kids away upon graduation, it seems that Stuart never did. There was always a pride in “returning.” After obtaining my college degree I was fortunate enough to find a job that I could excel at, right back here at home.

For you personally, what has been the most valuable part about moving to your community?
Being able to be involved is important to me. The ability to use my talents on our FAC has been rewarding.

Any surprises?
I always knew that people were generous, but I didn’t know how generous! It seems if there is a need, we are able to take care of it. Distributed leadership is a key to Stuart’s success. All organizations work together to accomplish things. It’s amazing what can be accomplished if no one worries about who gets the credit.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about returning to Greater Nebraska?
With the ability to work remotely, many of us can do what’s needed for employment almost anywhere. If it is something you are thinking about exploring, DO IT! We have people of all ages move to our community. Whether you are just starting a career, or if you want to relocate and work remotely, or if you want to retire here to enjoy the rural setting. Go talk to the people in the community you are thinking about and explore the resources they have to help you. You’ll be surprised how much most have to offer.

What excites you when you think about the future of your community?
We’ve only began to focus on building our endowment, and already we can see the ability to give nearly $50,000 per year to worthy causes in the community. I’m excited to think about further growth and larger payouts and dream about what could be accomplished in the future. Engaging youth also excites me. We’ve now done the surveys with our high school students for two years. My goal is to keep involving them a little more each year, where we can and when it makes sense. Listening to our community and what the needs are that others see excites me.

How would you describe your experience serving on your local affiliated fund?
My experience has been humbling and rewarding. We have achieved some lofty goals, only with the generosity of many. It humbles me to think how giving people really are. If you share your story and your excitement, people will support your ideas. Rewarding for the fact that we have achieved so much. Our group is very diverse. All ages and many occupations make up our group, yet the idea sharing and “get it done” attitude still exists.

What drew you to the NCF network?
I was asked to be part of the original FAC. We started out very much as a project-based organization, being an avenue for the charitable funds to “flow” through. With the leadership given to us by NCF, we’ve grown to an FAC that thinks more about the future, building the endowment, and determining how we work with other organizations to leverage their projects to something even bigger. NCF has definitely “earned their keep.” We couldn’t be where we are without them.

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