If There’s A Need, Attempt To Fill It

The Write Stuff – Editorial

There’s no place like home.

That is the 2021 theme of the Republic County Community Foundation. That phrase has double meaning. It both spotlights the positive things going on in Republic County, and is a reminder that investments we make at home, in our communities, make lasting impact for our families and friends in the place we’re privileged to liv

Wednesday night I gathered with representatives from eight communities to talk about what has been accomplished with the more than $1 million in investments from the RCCF and the Dane Hansen Foundation in Republic County in recent years.

Those improvements range from a new place for community members to gather in Munden, to a new fire station in Narka, an ongoing effort to preserve heritage in Cuba, to beautification projects that make downtowns Agenda and Courtland places that do their citizens proud.

Some projects plant seeds. Funds for interns to focus on housing and downtown buildings have resulted in grants to individual homeowners to improve their properties and make way for new residents and new homes. A new coshare office building in downtown Belleville that will open in coming months drew on an idea an intern designed last year.

As I listened to presentations Wednesday night, I heard people from different communities say more than once “I didn’t think of that idea”. “That’s a great project–we could do that in our community.”

Sometimes those projects aren’t sexy, like infrastructure improvements to sewers, or renting an excavator to clean up after a storm.

Sometimes it’s the things we take for granted that we would miss the most when they’re gone.

It’s been almost 20 years since the RCCF formed. The organizational meeting was held September 24, 2002 in Belleville with Jim Blecha, Rod Woods, Chris Thayer, Arlan Benyshek, Jeff Thompson, Richard Campbell, Connie Shulda and Randy Holloway as the first directors. The Scandia State Bank was the first depository.

Soon after, the board decided to affiliate with the Greater Area Salina Foundation to manage its assets.

And directors faced what seemed like an insurmountable goal: raise $30,000 in a year to establish the fund. “There was a lot of discussion about the timing of starting a foundation now with the economic conditions what they are. There were great concerns about an unsuccessful effort to raise the initial $30,000 and losing what had been raised,” reports early minutes.

Flash forward to 2019 when the community foundation raised over $137,815 to match a $50,000 grant offered by the Dane G. Hansen Foundation. Over the last four years, the Match Month has raised $663,232 in the county.

Since its inception, the RCCF has awarded $1.3 million in grants and scholarships.

As of June 30, 2020, the Foundation’s total asset size reached $4.1 million in 28 funds.

How many people do you know that were born and raised in Republic County, but have since left for bigger cities such as Kansas City, Denver, or Chicago? When the parents of these individuals pass away, where does the family estate go? Chances are, the money in the estate that was built in Republic County will now transfer to one of these larger cities, leaving the area forever. This is an example of transfer according to research from the Kansas Association of Community Foundations:

■ In 2020, an estimated $137.9 million transferred from one generation to the next in Republic County.

■ If 5% or $6.9 million could be preserved in community foundation endowments, it would create close to $345,000 in annual grants to Republic County.

■ By 2064, $696.7 billion will transfer from one generation to the next in Republic County.

I often think it is nothing short of miraculous that we are in the Dane G. Hansen Foundation service area. I always hope the citizens in Northwest Kansas fully appreciate the vision of Hansen, a lifelong Logan resident and entrepreneur who started a road and bridge construction firm, and then an oil company, along with multiple other businesses.

“If there was a need in Northwest Kansas, Mr. Hansen attempted to fill it,” says his biography.

You don’t have to have millions in the bank to apply that same attitude to your community and county today. I normally gripe about the number of meetings I attend, but Wednesday night, I was proud to sit among a group of citizens of our county who have the same heart of Mr. Hansen.

Learn more about RCCF at www.republicocuntycf.org.

Click to watc the 2020 RCCF slideshow on recent projects.

Click below to view the RCCF 2020 Annual Report