What is the best thing about living in your community?
Almost everyone you run into is actively involved and working to make the community a better place to be. There is always someone who can introduce you to someone else who can help solve your problem. People truly want to help even if you’re just a stranger.
Did you always plan to return to Greater Nebraska? If not, what changed your mind?
No. I moved to Omaha for college and never looked back. I always thought I was destined to live in a larger city. I got my Bachelor’s and Master’s at UNO, met my husband in Omaha, and got a job I loved. When my husband, a Nebraska state trooper, was stationed in Sidney, I was originally upset. However, I always tell people now that the move back to Sidney was the best thing that could have ever happened to us, and God knew what I needed before I did. There is no other place I would rather live and raise my family now.
For you personally, what has been the most valuable part about moving to your community?
In small towns, there is ingenuity to get things complete because we often have less resources. Instead of saying “No,” the conversation often turns to “How can we make this work?” A small town can move much faster than a large city as I don’t have to go through multiple hoops to make a difference. If I want to approach someone about a new initiative, I don’t have to fill out multiple applications and wait months for a meeting. I can just call them or approach them when I see them somewhere in town that week.
Sidney has been known for many years for Cabela’s as it was the largest employer in town. After the buyout, I thought the town would lose its identity and potentially everything. However, I learned it’s not an employer or attraction that will ever make a town great – it’s the people and all they bring to it.
What would you tell someone who is thinking about returning to Greater Nebraska?
You won’t regret it. This Saturday night, my kids ran out the front door, rode bikes up and down the street and played football with the neighbors, just like when I was a kid. How many people feel comfortable doing that in a large city? I have some of the most dedicated friends you could ever ask for and I am constantly empowered to make a difference in my community. It’s not just a place to live, it’s a way of life and a family.
What excites you when you think about the future of your community?
Each day we become better than we were in the past. We have people who care and continue to dedicate their precious time to make all aspects of their community better. And they are raising their children to do the same. Fifty years from now, I dream of my kids and grandkids running this town and making it 10 times better than I could have ever imagined.
What drew you to the NCF network?
Jana Jensen became our angel through the Sidney Park Project and then again when introducing us to E3. What I love about NCF is the group just doesn’t give you money and walk away. They teach you how to make a difference in your community and give you all the tools to do so. They’ve broadened my network to some of the very best people across the state who have answered my phone call at a moment’s notice. Without NCF, I likely would have quit working on past initiatives, and they gave me the guidance and empowerment to make a difference in my community.