Not Just Welcoming, Belonging

In a post-pandemic world, belonging has never been more critical. Early research into the pandemic’s effects revealed an increase in loneliness and mental illness. Creating a welcoming community is no longer enough. Places that foster a culture of belonging will be the places Nebraskans choose to remain in, move to, or return to in the future.

When asked about her dreams for the future of her hometown of Hebron, Hometown Intern Takaylynn Hergott said, “To make everyone feel like they are loved, appreciated, and that they matter.”

Her colleague Mariah Sliva in Shickley adds, “Home should be a place where people feel safe, appreciated, and supported throughout every step of life.”

In Diller, the belonging work starts young. The Diller Youth Serviceship Camp, organized and supported by the local NCF affiliated fund, is pulling back the curtain for campers and showing them how a community really works and, importantly, inviting them to help co-create a place where people feel both welcomed and like they belong. A Community Asset Tour is focused on Diller’s past, present, and the future participants want to see. Not only are campers asked to think about the things that would make Diller even better, they are taking action by chipping in on various community projects and discovering what it really means to be a leader in the process.

“Leadership is not about power. It’s about service,” said Kayla Schnuelle of the Diller Community Foundation Fund. “In the heart of our small rural community of Diller, the seeds of servant leadership are sown through the Youth Serviceship Camp, and the harvest is a future filled with compassionate, capable leaders.”

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