As we gear up for Go Big Give, I can’t help but look back at our history and appreciate how it has been shaped by the kindness and gifts of so many. If you have ever heard the story of how The Leadership Center came to be, you know that three agricultural educators mortgaged their homes in order to purchase the original 27 acres in hopes to fulfill a great dream of providing a location for the Nebraska FFA Association to host their leadership camps. That year, Irv Wedeking, Dr. Ted Ward, and Norval McCaslin, signed the articles of incorporation to form our governing board, The Nebraska Vocational Agricultural Foundation and to set that dream into motion.
In the summer of 1971, the first camp was held here in army tents. As time progressed, cabins were built, a director was hired, buildings built and things began to really take shape. Over the past 47 years, we have grown into a 43 acre property and transformed from a camp that was only open a few weeks a year to a full service conference and retreat center that is now open all but 4 days a year. While we still have the great privilege of serving the Nebraska FFA Association and its many chapters and members, we have expanded service to so many more. Absolutely none of this could have ever happened without the vision of a few wonderful people, the hard work of so many more and the generous gifts of even more people. Our history has been built by the gifts of so many. Our story has been written by the generosity of those who helped establish us along the way. The continued kindness and support will assist us in securing a bright future.
Many people do not know that The Leadership Center was founded and organized as a 501(3)(c) non-profit and is recognized as such by the IRS. This means that the donations and gifts given are tax deductible. As a private non-profit, owned and operated by the Nebraska Vocational Agricultural Foundation, we also do not receive special funding from the government or any special groups. When you donate to The Leadership Center, your donations and contributions don’t just purchase needed items or refurbish a facility, they help further our mission of service forward.
We participated in Go Big Give for the first time last year. It was exciting to know by participating in the day of giving, we could grow our gifts with incentives and matching funds. We collected a little over $4,600 in donations and when everything was done; our donations were grown to over $5,000. With the funds, we were able to purchase 2 kayaks and 2 canoes, a new LCD projector, build new horseshoe pits, corn hole, ladder golf and giant Jenga. Even greater, the horse shoe pits, corn hole, ladder golf and giant Jenga were built by our staff and students learning teamwork, problem solving, and service. These gifts allowed us to personify our mission of service and education in such an impactful level that will continue to do so for years to come.
This year, Go Big Give is on Tuesday, May 3rd. The Leadership Center is one of over a hundred non-profits from Hall, Hamilton, Howard and Merrick counties participating this year. We have set the grand goal of $25,000.00.
To give you an idea of the impact of your gift:
- $25.00– would allow us to purchase a new basketball or volleyball for the gym or 2 new life jackets for the pond.
- $50.00– would allow us to purchase some kitchen dishware or a set of linens for one of our lodge rooms.
- $100.00-would allow us to purchase a new table or banquet ware or chairs to be used in our meeting rooms.
- $250.00– would allow us to plant a new tree in our windbreak which needs several new trees.
- $500.00– would replace windows in our upstairs gym or conference room or purchase a new kayak.
- $850.00-would help us to purchase new AV equipment for our meeting rooms or a new canoe.
- 8 donations of $1000.00-would allow us to install a playground for all our guests to enjoy.
- $1,200.00– would redo a lodge room or allow us to purchase new sound equipment.
$25,000 would allow us to complete all the listed items or redo 20 lodge rooms. To put this in context, your gift doesn’t just buy a ball or a tree or a table. Your gift impacts the experience of our over 40,000+ guests annually.
We know that our goal is big. It’s daring. Some may even say it’s unrealistic or crazy. Maybe it is one or all those things. Here is what I know, every day I get to come to work and see that the work of The Leadership Center is important. We provide spaces where people get to have meaningful moments that matter. Really matter. For some, like the Nebraska FFA Association or William H. Thompson Scholars, they are building themselves into the version of a leader that they desire. Others, such as Aurora Cooperative or ServiTech, are learning tasks, skills or lessons important to do their jobs. Some such as the Nebraska Commission for the Blind and Sight Impaired are learning life skills to help them function as citizens in this great and grand life. Boys Hope Girls Hope brings students from all over the country to help prepare them to attend college. These students are the first in their families to attend college. I tell you this because while our goal is big, the impact of your dollars is bigger.
Go Big Give is May 3rd. I am inviting you to give and help us continue doing the great work we do. I also invite you to call or stop in to see us, to ask questions and inquire. Thank you for your time, your investment and really do hope to see you on May 3rd where we Go Big Give!
Click here to see some of our previous donors.