Earlier this month, former First Lady Laura Bush spoke at the dedication of the $7 million National Willa Cather Center in Red Cloud, Nebraska.
Late in March, this community of 1,000 broke ground on a 7,200 square-foot, multi-million-dollar early childhood development center.
In between these two events, two young couples opened “On the Brix,” a cool wine-tasting, art gallery, performing arts-kind-of-place, located on historic Webster Street. It’s slogan, “When you support small business, you’re supporting a dream,” could be changed up a bit for this series: “When you support small towns, you support big dreams.”
Of course, big dreams don’t materialize out of thin air. Community success is highly reliant on patience, trust, and usually, a good deal of charitable investment.
The new vitality we see in Red Cloud has been incubating for more than 20 years. It is the result of determined visionary leaders and hard-working followers. People who were willing to face the music and dance when confronted with great opportunity.
One such opportunity presented itself in the spring of 2001. The Red Cloud Community Foundation Fund had been working on community improvement for just over five years when two former residents, Frank and Shirley (Whitaker) Sibert presented their hometown with a challenge. If Red Cloud could raise $100,000 for its unrestricted endowment within four years, they would match that amount dollar for dollar. Frank Sibert was on the board of Nebraska Community Foundation at the time, and he fully understood the importance and the power of a permanent community endowment.
“The community foundation can do so much for Red Cloud in the way of making it possible to invest in the future,” Frank Sibert said at the time.
Within a year, the community had surpassed its goal, thanks to a major estate…