At Home in Greater Nebraska – Shirai Armstrong

Name: Shirai Armstrong

Hometown: Ogallala

Occupation: Keith County Foundation Fund Coordinator

What is the best thing about living in your community?
The best thing about living in my community is the feeling of connection I have with newfound friends, neighbors, and acquaintances. I have found distinct groups of people who share my different interests, hobbies, and beliefs. And although each group may have a unique goal or passion, they all make me feel valued and welcome.

Did you always plan to return to Greater Nebraska? If not, what changed your mind?
I am originally from Indiana. My husband and I came to Nebraska due to my husband’s career. After he retired, we could have chosen to live somewhere else. He was considering South Dakota due to the taxes. We chose to stay in Nebraska to be close to our grown children and grandchildren. We chose Ogallala because we liked the area and what it has to offer. We were looking at the surface. Day-to-day living in a community provides deeper insight into what a community is really like. What we found was that we feel very connected to the people. It was one of the best decisions we have made.

For you personally, what has been the most valuable part about moving to your community?
The most valuable part of living here is how accepted I feel. Honestly, the people are lovely. I participate in numerous clubs and organizations. Each group is vocal about their appreciation and lets me know they recognize my involvement and contributions.

Any surprises?
I have been surprised to find so many people who are enthusiastic about and active in investing in our hometown to make it a wonderful place to live. There are those who invest their time; there are those who invest financially. Regardless of the way they choose to invest they are working to improve our hometown for everyone.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about returning or moving to Greater Nebraska?
Greater Nebraska offers a grounded lifestyle where you know your neighbors and will likely get a hug or a loaf of banana bread as you go about your day. You will see beautiful sunsets and wide-open skies. Sometimes a deer or turkey will peer in your window. There are people who might think it isn’t exciting enough; it is exciting enough for me!

What excites you when you think about the future of your community?
I am excited to think of changes that will provide more economic opportunities and increase the resources that residents can access. I want the homeyness to remain but the opportunities and resources for everyone to increase.

How would you describe your experience serving your local affiliated fund?
I work as the coordinator for KCFF, so I am involved with all the FAC committees and projects. I collaborate with some amazing people who provide mentorship, vision, stewardship, and, although they are volunteers, a very strong work ethic. I am amazed at what KCFF has done for our community and how the FAC continues to be focused on transformational change not just transactional change. Being a newcomer, my work at KCFF has also given me the opportunity to meet and connect with members in the community who are committed to keeping Keith County strong and vibrant.

What drew you to the NCF network?
As a coordinator I attend NCF conferences. Going to the conferences has reinforced my understanding of asset-based community development. It is a wonderful philosophy and tool. Also, the ability to network with other affiliates provides insight, ideas, and inspiration on what is possible.

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