Ronda Graff

Community Connections

News and views from the McCook Community Foundation Fund


To give or not to give

Thursday, July 15, 2021
Dr. Bill Graves

“The value of a man resides in what he gives and not in what he is capable of receiving.” -- Albert Einstein

I’m a retired dentist who moved to McCook with my family in June 1969 to become the junior associate of the famous Blank brothers -- Lavern and Don. I went on to practice dentistry for 45 years.

Three days after I retired at the age of 72, my mentor and friend, Don Harpst, recruited me to join the McCook Community Foundation Fund’s Advisory Committee. Despite being a founding member and a four-hour orientation, I still was not sure exactly how this foundation concept worked nor how I would be an asset.

Fortunately, I found myself on a road trip with Don Harpst, Peggy Been and Ronda Graff to my first annual Nebraska Community Foundation (NCF) training and banquet to Columbus, Neb.

Like the Nebraska Dental Association conferences, the NCF annual conference has a common theme and brings together hundreds of volunteers from across the state. I was part of an NCF network with 1,500 community volunteers from 270 communities in 82 of Nebraska’s 93 counties.

(And mark your calendars because the NCF training and banquet will be in McCook this November.)

But back in 2015 in Columbus while attending break-out meetings on various subjects, I suddenly found my “why.”

The main reason why this work is important to me now is that I love McCook and I love making a difference. The values that MCFF represents are important to me. They are honesty, integrity and inclusivity. Our networking with NCF has accomplished so much and we are incredibly proud and grateful.

But there is more to do.

“The meaning of life is to find our gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” -- Pablo Picasso

The intergenerational transfer of wealth is massive and continues to move rapidly. Nebraska became the “Good Life” because people recognized and seized new opportunities. Now is the time to act on an opportunity that can shape Nebraska’s future.

Over the next 50 years, Nebraskans will transfer billions of dollars to the next generation. This transfer of wealth offers an unprecedented opportunity if we count our communities among our heirs.

Imagine what an investment of just five percent of this transfer of wealth could do for long-term economic development and qualify of life in McCook. Over the next 50 years, $2.3 billion will transfer from one generation to the next in Southwest Nebraska.

The opportunity is massive. The time is now.

We must act now to encourage charitable investment in the future of our community while the window is open. We must teach, encourage and inspire each other to give back today. And we must include our community in our estate planning for tomorrow.

“No one has ever become poor by giving.” -- Anne Frank

Regardless of your age, I recommend everyone consider the following:

Give to the endowment of your community fund or favorite charity.

Talk to your professional advisor about including your community in your estate plan.

Create a donor-advised fund to support charitable giving.

Learning how you can create your own personal legacy.

On a personal note, when I retired in July 2014, my wife, Sandy, and I made a planned gift to the community of McCook through MCFF and NCF with the help of NCF’s Jim Gustafson, Edward Jones’ Garett Rippen, attorney Bryant Brooks, CPA Kristen Stagemeyer and Pinnacle Bank’s Mark Kisker. The gift we made will create a legacy that will live on in perpetuity.

Everyone has the choice about whether to give or not give, but I will say this: Sandy and I both love McCook and this gift was probably one of the most rewarding and grateful feelings that we could have ever imagined.

“We make a living by what we get. But we make a life by what we give.” - Winston Churchill

— Bill Graves is a member of the McCook Community Foundation Fund’s Advisory Committee and has a passion for anything that will make McCook thrive, grow and prosper.

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