Written By: Carson Rowh – Kearney Whitewater Park
Being a transplanted citizen, parent to school age children and member of the business and non-profit communities, I get to see Kearney from many different perspectives. For that reason, I’m proud to have the opportunity to write about my experience with the annual Give Where You Live event coming up in December. As a board member of the Kearney Whitewater Association, this event has given our cause a great deal of exposure to audiences we may not otherwise have and in turn has helped us raise needed funds to move our initiatives forward. As a donor, it’s made it so much easier to find great causes and help me see how my personal donations can make an impact locally and immediately.
Kearney is such a unique community in so many ways, from the vibrant business sectors to the healthcare and University organizations that drive growth in such a positive way. This city is stocked with ambitious, progressive and well educated people with a desire to see the future far exceed the past. You can see the commitment of the citizens here in so many ways, from our Volunteer Fire Department to the incredible support our local schools receive at the G.O.L.D. and C.L.A.S.S. Act fundraisers to great new community additions like the Merryman Performing Arts Center and World Theater. Kearney residents are quick to support new ideas and see the value in visions of a future that require their action. This should never be taken for granted. I know from speaking to people from other communities that this sense of partnership is special and not found everywhere.
So often it seems hard to see a translation from the small amount you may have to give into the actual direct impact it can have. We’re all familiar with the news stories of our national charities being exposed for selling us the idea of need and then passing on just a pittance of their collections to the causes they promote. And have you ever wondered why so much attention is paid to people and causes in far off places when you know there is need and opportunity right here at home? One of the things I love so much about the Give Where You Live event is that I get exposed to worthy organizations, causes and people working right here in my own backyard all year round. This collage of fantastic organizations are all worthy and it’s so fulfilling knowing that as I choose where to share my blessings, the impact is working right here at home and may benefit my children as they grow up in this wonderful community.
The Give Where You Live event is a perfect example of rising tides lifting all boats. The non-profits in the area get much needed time in the spotlight and the community gets introduced to all of these amazing organizations working to make a difference right here at home. When our organization first heard of the new concept of a local 24 hours of giving, we immediately realized it could be a big opportunity to showcase our cause. Much more than the actual dollars raised, we needed to introduce our ideas to the greater Kearney area and we desperately needed a public vote of confidence for the project concept itself. As is always true in our group, we had a great number of people offer their time, effort and creativity to put together an action plan to host a public event to educate and excite the community.
In its inaugural year, the Give Where You Live event produced over $450,000 in total donations for the nearly 100 non-profits in the Kearney area who participated. With a team effort from our membership and the help of people from throughout the area, we succeeded in attracting the highest number of unique donors out of all area non-profit organizations. The following year, we again ended among the top few organizations in total number of donations and with that were able to take the next step in the progression of our goals of bringing a Whitewater Park and Water Trail to our city. This fall we engaged the top Whitewater Park Engineer in the world, Scott Shipley of S2O Design and Engineering, to assess our local streams and natural resources for feasibility and preliminary design of in-stream whitewater and adjacent areas.
While this will be a long term project with on-going development, we’ve taken a historic step toward changing the future of Kearney to a city that holds it streams and natural areas up as points of pride and builds a more active and engaged outdoor community. Without the help of thousands of supporters absolutely none of this would be possible. We know that there are many others that understand how rare this opportunity is to do something that will have a positive impact for many generations to come.
For more information and to support all local non profits in the Give Where You Live Campaign:
Day of Giving: You can make an online donation today through December 3rd. Online donations end at 11:59 pm on Thursday, December 3rd.
Kearney Area Community Foundation
Address: 412 W 48th St., Ste 12
Phone: (308) 237-3114
Kearney Whitewater Park