The Nebraska Community Foundation network is built on dreams. Members of local affiliated funds recently gathered in Kearney to learn how to put those dreams into action.
People attend the NCF Annual Celebration and Training for a variety of different reasons, and all come away inspired. Katie Gutzmann came from Pender to be a part of it. “It’s an inspiring event where we hear from tremendous speakers, connect with other people in the state of Nebraska, and learn about what they are doing in their communities,” Gutzmann said. “We can bring those ideas, that inspiration, along with that energy and vibrance back to our hometowns.”
The theme of this year’s gathering was “Dreams Inspire Dreams.” “I think that’s such a meaningful statement,” Gutzmann said. “I think what happens in these rooms with others who are working towards making their home place better is contagious. It’s such an inspiring place to be.” The training is a chance to learn from one another. T. Michael Williams is a pastor of the Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church in North Omaha. He is taking initial steps to learn about how to build an endowment fund, and how it can be used to better his community. “Our community has had a lot of promises, but no finishes,” Williams said. “There is not an optimistic feeling in the community. This helps us to build some optimism.”
Williams is excited about NCF, as he says it’s a group that is open, values diversity, and wants to help communities help themselves. While he came from Omaha, Alisha Juelfs came from the other side of the side to take part. After leaving her hometown, she has since returned to build a life in Potter. “It’s really exciting to be back with family, even some other graduates that moved back, and everyone has a strong sense of community,” Julefs said “We refuse to leave now.” She is part of the E3 program through NCF. “E3 stands for Energizing Entrepreneurial Ecosystems. I am serving all of Cheyenne County, which is five different communities, and the whole point of it is to help entrepreneurs get the resources they need, no matter where they are in their business life cycle.” She says this annual training is a great resource. “I feel I’ve been in a lot of leadership and management roles as a youth and an adult, but sometimes you need that matched energy from somebody else,” Juelfs said. “It’s exciting to meet people that are totally aligned with what you are trying to do, and they offer their help to get you there. “
Katie Gutzmann says there were many good lessons learned at this year’s annual training. One is that it’s acceptable to take small steps toward an eventual goal. Another is the fact that Nebraska has abundance. “We have everything we need, and everyone we need right here,” Gutzmann said. “It hit home today of what a beautiful statement that is, and that abundant attitude really helps to create change in your area.” The goal now is to put the energy generated at the NCF Annual Celebration and Training to work in communities across the state.