Hometown Intern – Lydia Behnk

Lydia Behnk
Hometown: Elgin
Affiliated Fund: Neligh Area Community Fund
College: University of Nebraska-Kearney

Why were you interested in this internship opportunity?
After I read the job description and potential summer projects I could be working on, I fell in love with the idea of being a hometown intern. The chance to be back in a familiar community and give back to the members that have always supported me, the environment to develop deeper connections with those around me, and the opportunity to do meaningful work was everything I could’ve asked for and more.

What projects are you working on this summer for your affiliated fund?
This summer I have worked on completing the strategic plan, identifying and documenting properties in the community in need of improvement, helping with various application processes for possible future funding, and developing awareness for the Neligh Area Community Fund through our new website, newsletters, and social media platforms. The rest of the summer will be filled with continuing to build community recognition for the fund, working to become a Certified Local Government through History Nebraska to begin a Historic Buildings Tour, and helping with the organization process of an upcoming Challenge Grant opportunity.

What do you appreciate most about your hometown?
The people of the community are so willing to lend a hand and are such kind people. I know I will always be welcomed back to the area with enthusiasm and open arms. The community truly cares for its members and wants to see the best for them – being able to contribute to that meaningful work for a better community and being surrounded by members driven with desire to build a greater experience for all has been especially eye-opening and energizing.

How does it feel to be able to give back to your community?
The community has always shown me such compassion and having been given this opportunity to help others feel this same compassion that I’ve been shown for so many years has been one of the greatest blessings. It has been so inspiring to see others my age through this internship as excited and passionate as I am about improving our communities. Giving back to my local community through this internship has reassured me that the future of Nebraska is bright, and there is plenty of talent in the state to make that future possible.

What excites you the most when you think about the future of your community?
Seeing the behind the scenes work that goes into making a community great has given me a greater appreciation for the community members of Neligh, and I am excited to see where this continual hard work will take them. We have made a lot of progress in recent years, but there is still plenty of room for growth and opportunity to get better and continue to shine, and that’s enough to inspire anyone. This community is taking stock in its residents and working to provide them with opportunities most communities this size aren’t fortunate enough to have.

What characteristics do you look for in a place to call home? Why?
Home is where you have people to fall back on, where those around you hug you a little tighter, where community members have each other’s backs, where all are welcomed. When looking for a place to call home, I’m looking for these aspects. The culture of the community dictates where that community will be in five to 10 years. These characteristics are crucial to me because without a sense of community pride and belonging, how can anyone expect the residents to feel the burning desire to make improvements for the future?

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