NCF annual celebration goes virtual

Originally published by 10/11’s Pure Nebraska Program

The pandemic has members of the Nebraska Community Foundation thinking creatively to hold an annual celebration.

Employees with the Nebraska Community Foundation are gearing up for a big event.  “Every year we have an annual celebration, and it is typically one day,” NCF Marketing Director Carrie Malek-Madani said.  “It’s where hundreds of volunteers from dozens of communities all across the state come together under one roof.”

But that can’t happen this year, due to the pandemic.  “It’s challenging everybody, and it’s definitely making our annual celebration look and feel a lot different,” Madani said.

The goal is to keep people safe. So, NCF is moving to a virtual event.  “Usually we have a full day that’s packed with training sessions and opportunities for volunteers to get together and engage and learn,” Madani said.  “This time it’s going to extend for an entire week.” The week is being called “Dreams Welcome Week.”

“It extends the whole week from November 9th through November 12th.  And, throughout the entire day there will be all kinds of sessions that people can tune into virtually,” Madani said.

The hope is this event will foster the same connections on-line that could have been done in person.  Organizers are working hard to make the event personal.  “One of the ways we are doing that is we are creating celebration boxes,” Madani said.  “That’s just a little piece of the NCF Network that’s being sent to the people who are participating.”  Kristine Gale is overseeing the training sessions that will be offered during the week-long virtual celebration. “The Nebraska Community Foundation really relies upon peer-to-peer learning,” Gale said.  “We think that’s the best way to get good hands-on experiences, and to hear from other communities who are going through the same situations.” The training sessions connect people, and there are a wide variety of offerings this year.  “It can be on a number of topics,” Gale said. “This includes youth engagement, how to bring young people back to our communities, and collaboration in a community.”

The annual celebration usually involves an annual banquet.  That can’t be done in person this year.  It will be held on-line.  The good news is the banquet is going to be offered to a wider audience.  “We will be hosting a live stream event that is free and open to the public where everyone can join in, whether you are a volunteer in the NCF network, or just someone that really cares about the future of Greater Nebraska,” Madani said.

During the event there will be a focus on how communities have responded to the pandemic.  And the pandemic didn’t stop communities from moving forward.  “It didn’t stop them from getting their work done.  It didn’t stop them from making grants to impact their communities,” Madani said.  And the challenges of 2020 won’t stop NCF from celebrating statewide accomplishments during “Dreams Welcome Week.”

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