Arnold Sentinel: Arnold Community Foundation has most successful fundraiser yet



Last Saturday night, the Arnold Community Foundation’s annual fundraiser had its most successful auction ever, bringing in $ 67,000.00. One hundred and eighty people attended the event, which included a social hour, a meal, a live auction and the philanthropic awards ceremony.

Wendell Brott was this year’s auctioneer, and residents were more than willing to raise their hands to build a better future for the Arnold community. Committee members attributed the large sum of money raised this year to the large number of donations received for the auction and the thriving agricultural economy. After the expenses, half of the proceeds will go to the Arnold Community Center Fund for flooring and other needs that will benefit the community center in the future.

ACFF committee member Renee Bubak presented the philanthropic awards, and one of them was a big surprise. His introductions follow:

ACFF Philanthropist of the Year 2021

“Arnold continues to thrive because our community is made up of hard-working, forward-thinking entrepreneurs and actors. Most of the improvements that are happening in our city are the result of the time, energy and generous funds of individuals and organizations who have the best interests of Arnold and his future at heart. While the list of people we could celebrate is long, tonight I have the privilege of speaking about an exceptional member of the community.

If you enjoyed the view from the new football stands, you can bet our philanthropist was a key part of transporting these stands to our new local South Loup team.

If your children or grandchildren were thrilled to play on the new equipment in our Arnold City Park, this person was also an integral part of it – bringing their skid steer loader and crane to set up play structures and more.

How about the Arnold Recreation Area? Construction of the fishing pier, construction of the shower room / toilet, welding and construction of the picnic shelter, dismantling of the children’s play area at North Platte which was transported to become our great new structure recreation area – these are all ways he has helped our local Rotarian projects come to fruition.

Shane Cool receives 2021 Individual Philanthropist of the Year award from Renee Bubak, member of the Arnold Community Foundation Fund Board of Trustees, Saturday night at the Community Center during the annual banquet and fundraising auction funds from ACFF. (Arnold Sentinel’s photo)

Another example is the facelift of our precious cemetery. He and his crew removed at least 40 dead or dying trees and he participated in efforts to re-fencing and installing water pipes for the fire hydrants. We can be proud of these improvements.

Let’s jump across the road from there.

All those golfers out there, remember the year we went from raking our sandy greens to enjoying our lush grass greens? Well, this person was also on the board of directors of the Arnold Golf Association to help with that development.

These are just a few of the highlights, but I hope you notice a trend here – there are very few areas in Arnold that tonight’s winner hasn’t hit. Whether it was through his spare time, his crew, his equipment or his funding, our philanthropist was the guy to call. I spoke to Clay Mohr – another member of our community who is involved in a lot of the projects – and he said this about our recipient. “If you need anything, just ask. He could be counted on to get things done. In addition to all the community projects, there are countless projects at school, large and small, that “this guy” was a part of.

Its impact is also being felt beyond the city. Neighbors helping neighbors – that’s what he does. When ranchers do controlled burns, he and his 200 gallon fire truck he built are there to help. When someone has damage from a storm or a flooded basement, you’ll find them doing whatever is necessary. I happen to have personal experience with this one!

Not only is “our guy” a man of action, he is a leader. Village Council, School Board, Methodist Church Board, SORC Board, Arnold Community Foundation Board, and more. He helped secure the LB840 funds which led to significant improvements in our city and he was SORC Race Director for 20 years. Clearly, he appreciates the quality of life in Arnold and has been part of organizations that have raised over $ 1 million in funds for the betterment of our city.

Our philanthropist has invested directly in the youth of our community. Even as a young man he was an Eagle Scout at age 15 and encouraged many other Scouts to earn merit badges. When my son and my classmates were Cubs, he was once again a volunteer. As his kids got older you could see him coaching basketball, t-ball, or whatever was needed. More recently, his efforts to build sets, haul the stage trailer, and help the highly successful One Act team have been appreciated.

When I asked his wife about the many volunteer experiences our philanthropist had been involved in, she struggled to come up with a list. Why is that? Well, because helping others is natural to him. It’s never a big deal. This is exactly what it does – all the time! Her parents also shared that her most admired characteristic is her kindness to her family, friends and all acquaintances. As a lifelong friend, I would agree!

So please help me welcome our Philanthropist of the Year – Shane Cool.

By the way, our original nominee couldn’t be here tonight, so Shane figured we just weren’t presenting an award this year. Surprise!”

ACFF Group Philanthropy Award 2021

“I feel so lucky to be here in our community center tonight with this brand new floor – isn’t it exceptional! We are very happy to have you all here because half of our money raised tonight goes to this cause.

Which reminds me of a story. It starts with a social worker, funeral director, city clerk, and banker. Oh, and soon after that there was added a couple of farmers / ranchers, and an industrial art teacher – or shop, and later another farmer. We will throw in an old barn for sale and our set up is complete. No, this is not a bad joke or a fairy tale, but a tribute to several members of the community. You see, even though all of these people I just mentioned had very different perspectives and ideas, they shared a common vision: to build an Arnold Community Center.

Here is the very shortened version of this story.

In March 2002, community members went door to door with a community needs assessment survey through the Center for Rural Research and Development. The community expressed its views and the need for a community center was a priority. Without hesitation, the social worker volunteered to lead this challenge and soon a community center building committee was formed.

In typical Arnold fashion, fundraising abounded! The first was a cake decorating contest for Valentine’s Day. No surprise to anyone here, SORC or the Sandhills Open Road Challenge became a partner in this venture and quickly raised $ 10,000 with a motor show in August 2002.

In September, the site – where the old sales barn once stood – was chosen. At the heart of our community, this is certainly the perfect place. In the next 4 and a half years, this story probably became your story too, as our community and surrounding areas worked together to make this dream come true. Chamber, Arnold A-Club, Cardinal Booster Club, Rotarians, Methodist Youth Group, Reed’s Food Center, and many other groups have done their part. There were contests, pond tours, silent auctions, and fundraisers at every turn.

Why is that? Well, this community center, just like the American Red Cross campaigns that take place regularly here, is the lifeline of how our community operates today. Weddings, family reunions, business meetings, after-prom parties, sports training, JH and JV games, summer league, memorial services, town hall meetings, graduation parties, alumni gatherings, events city-wide bedroom, a warm, dry place to exercise, and more.

With a goal of these great possibilities in mind, the first plans were presented in February 2003 and by June already over $ 116,000 had been raised – a good start to the committee’s goal of $ 675,000. In July 2004, a block community development grant of $ 250,000 put them above their original target. Of course, by this point the completion costs had increased, so the fundraising campaign continued. Ground leveling began in September 2004 and by September 2005 construction was finally underway! Many volunteers helped make these steps a reality, but it was truly the leadership and dedication of the Arnold Community Building Committee that moved this project forward. At the end of this process, nearly $ 850,000 has been raised. An open house was held in May 2006. I even found my name and my children’s names on the guest list for that day. With a grand opening on July 3, 2006, a dinner dance with approximately 450 people in attendance took place and our community center was officially opened.

Here we are – 15 years later – benefiting from the efforts of these determined board members who spent hours planning, compromising, knocking on doors and making phone calls seeking donations from. businesses in the region and members of the community. Our Arnold Community Center is truly a shining example of what a community working together can accomplish and today we want to celebrate those who led the way. Their main motto was this quote from Winston Churchill, “You make a living from what you learn. You make a living by what you give. Will the members present, who have all given so much, please come forward. They are Mary Becker, Tiff Varney, Patty Lamberty, Ken Wehrman, Carolyn Watkins, Gary Blevins, Clay Mohr and Bobbie Smith. Several of them also became founding members of the Arnold Community Foundation of which we are a part today. Let us show them our appreciation.


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