The Calamus Area Community Fund is having a big impact in the Sandhills.
Lindsy Roberts is a young entrepreneur, who's certainly busy in Burwell. Along with helping her father with real estate, she enjoys operating a local photography studio. "It actually used to be a two-car garage," Roberts said. "We turned it into a cozy studio about 4-and a half years ago." Not only that, Roberts owns and operates a charming house that serves as an Air B & B called the "Barefoot Bungalow". "My husband and I thought this would be a great opportunity for Burwell to have a place to stay," Roberts said. "We took it down to the studs. It's a beautiful remodeled home."
Roberts moved back to Burwell about five years ago after traveling to many other places, and she's never regretted that decision. "In a small town, everyone is important, everybody plays a role, and I definitely felt so comfortable coming back and opening up a business, because the community is so supportive and my family is so supportive. It's been an awesome experience," Roberts said.
The fact that a local community fund exists, was another selling point for Roberts. "As soon as I came back, I was invited to a meeting. At the time, it was called the Burwell Community Fund. I started learning about it, and how it's just amazing for these small towns to have a fund like that," Roberts said. Now the fund is called the Calamus Area Community Fund, and it serves not only Burwell, but Taylor and the Calamus lake area. It's an affiliated fund of the Nebraska Community Foundation. "We just completed a challenge grant put on the by the Sherwood foundation, and the Nebraska Community Foundation," Roberts said. "If we were to raise $200,000, we would get $1000,000 from the Sherwood foundation, and we recently just completed that. Now, we have $300,000 in our unrestricted endowment."
This means there will be more funds available for projects in the area. There are already many examples of how Burwell has benefitted from the fund. "The rodeo grounds have had major improvements, and the veterans memorial park was just recently finished," Roberts said. Other upgrades such as gym wall mats at Burwell High School, playground equipment at Loup County Public School, or the welcome to Taylor Arboretum sign are all the result of money from the fund. The fund could be one reason why people are coming back to these communities to be entrepreneurs, and are looking to open businesses like the Barefoot Bungalow B & B. "There are a ton of entrepreneurs who have moved back within the last 5 years," Roberts said.
With the help of the fund, Burwell is moving forward. "I knew I could start a business here, you know, from nothing, and have support of the community," Roberts said. "Now Roberts hopes to keep her photography studio and other ventures moving forward, and she's glad to be living in a community that embraces a fund that seeks to keep the area strong. "It's a great opportunity," Roberts said.