Nearly 500 passionate community builders gathered at Norfolk’s DeVent Center and Divots Conference Center on Thursday, November 8 for Nebraska Community Foundation’s Annual Celebration. Part volunteer training, part hometown expo, part celebratory banquet, the gathering featured some of the most extraordinary stories from communities all across the Nebraska Community Foundation (NCF) network and centered on topics critical to the future of Greater Nebraska including early childhood development, youth engagement, workforce development and more.
The theme of the event was “Unleash, Inspire, Connect,” a nod to NCF’s newly established mission statement which reads: “We unleash abundant local assets, inspire charitable giving, and connect ambitious people to build stronger communities and a Greater Nebraska.”
NCF’s Annual Celebration began early on November 8 with affiliated fund training which is offered to NCF’s network of 220 affiliated funds benefiting 257 communities in 82 (of Nebraska’s 93) counties. In total, 252 community volunteers attended training to learn about the challenges and successes of their peers in other communities and topics like high impact grantmaking, arts and culture, expanded learning opportunities, homegrown challenge grants, marketing and communications. Volunteer voices were at the center of all training sessions which favor peer-to-peer interactions over the traditional expert model. Afternoon sessions took attendees all over the community to experience a sense of place in Norfolk at locations including the Norfolk Area Chamber of Commerce, Norfolk Public Library, Norfolk Arts Center, Lifelong Learning Center, and Daycos.
In the evening, hundreds more joined trainees for a hometown expo displaying the accomplishments of dozens of communities in attendance, a banquet dinner and inspirational program at the DeVent Center. In total, 477 attended. Speakers included Kent Warneke, vice president and editor of Norfolk Daily News as well as community leaders from Boone County, Butler County, Atkinson and Pender.
The NCF Annual Celebration was made possible through the support of Premier Sponsors Bridges Trust and Pinnacle Bank. Major Sponsors included Bellevue University, CenterPoint Financial Group, Consolidated Companies Inc., Cornerstone Bank, Elkhorn Valley Bank, Security Bank and Union Bank & Trust. Dozens of organizations and individuals hailing from communities all across the state served as table and board sponsors, totaling a record breaking 75 event sponsors.
When asked why she gives of her time, talent and treasure to the Nebraska Community Foundation network, Lynn Roper, NCF board member and Annual Celebration sponsor replied, “I am part of the Nebraska Community Foundation network because I love seeing ordinary people do extraordinary things.”