KC Belitz: Celebrating our great state and its people

Originally published by Columbus Telegram

Many of the volunteers associated with affiliated funds in Platte, Butler, Colfax and Boone counties will be off to York next week for an inspiring day! As we describe it, “Part volunteer training, part hometown expo, and part celebratory banquet,” the Nebraska Community Foundation annual event is a week from Thursday.

NCF’s Annual Celebration on Nov. 14 in York brings together hundreds of ambitious community leaders under one roof to embrace the assets, abundance and optimism that have earned us the name “Greater Nebraska.” Without question, what makes NCF’s Affiliated Fund Training unique from other seminars or summits is the focus on peer learning. Just off the top of my head, I know Rick Chochon and Eve Jacobson from the Columbus Area Future Fund, Tina Stokes from Boone County, Mike Moravec from Butler County, and Kathy Heard from Howells, will be presenting. The crowd will also hear from NCF partners from our region including Yesenia Peck with NPPD, Matt Gotschall from Central Community College, and Karina Perez from Centro Hispano. So yes, there is a lot for this region to teach our neighbors around the state!

As you would expect, that learning goes both directions. Local participants will learn from experts from across our state at the same time. And when I say “experts,” these are people who earn that title because they are actually doing the work, not because of a credential or hypothetical qualification. And while I’m biased, I think that’s the best kind of expert there is!

Anyone who attends this event will be blown away by the array of expertise present in the NCF network. Local volunteer leaders are going to teach each other about marketing, diversity, leadership, fundraising, planned giving, internships, youth attraction, using the arts, housing development, workforce development, virtual reality in schools, and early childhood education…just to name some of the topics being covered. Just think about that: Right now in rural Nebraska, we have community leaders, supported by NCF staff, successfully leading efforts in all these areas…and next week that knowledge gets shared with people from every corner of our state!

With this style of learning, not only do attendees get a great hour or two of education but have the chance to build lasting relationships with the people they just learned from. That multiplies the value exponentially and continues to build out this learning network way beyond a one-day event.

The end result will be volunteer leaders coming back to this region better equipped to lead, to inspire, and to tackle the opportunities that we all have to grow our communities. I will report back on what’s been learned and I hope to bring you some of their voices as well. While the training and banquet are just one day a year, the impact of these events continues long after and I can say confidently they will make your county a better place to live, work, play, and grow because local volunteers are committing their time to attend!