STEP Foundation kicks off 25th Anniversary year

Submitted by Tammy Epple Capital Campaign Manager

Nemaha County STEP Foundation is kicking off its 25th Anniversary this year. The Foundation has distributed more than $630,000 in grants and scholarships to Nemaha County residents, projects and communities. There’s more good work to be done! At the 2018 annual meeting, the STEP Foundation announced a $1.25 million dollar capital campaign.

The STEP (Striving To Ensure Progress) Foundation grew out of a meeting of 85 Nemaha county residents held at the Nemaha Valley High School in 1993. Their goal was to ensure consistent growth in local communities and organizations. They realized early on that by expanding their reach, they had the ability to make life better for not just the Seneca area but for all of the communities in Nemaha County.

“The needs are out there,” said Debbie Tangeman, STEP president. “We have received grant requests totaling more than $230,000 already this year.”

These grant applications cover the entire scope of the mission of the STEP Foundation. They encompassed items such as buildings, schools, recreation, medical and historical causes throughout Nemaha County.

Executive Director Tory Jost said, “As government funding is declining, the Nemaha County, STEP Foundation offers so many wonderful opportunities to fill the gap and assist in funding community needs.”

Justin Lueger reported that the majority of the STEP investments are in certificates of deposit. In 2017, the finance committee decided to partner with The Trust Company. The four reasons for moving to the investment company were for continuity, administrative ease, investment support, and diversification of the STEP investment portfolio, allowing for higher returns so even more money can be distributed to Nemaha County communities.

The Nemaha County STEP Foundation is excited to announce the addition of Tammy Epple of Sabetha as the Capital Campaign Manager. Committee members Dustin Walters of Centralia, Nancy Gafford and Sally Lauer of Seneca and a diverse Board of Directors from throughout Nemaha County are collaborating to make Nemaha County a great place to live for generations to come.

Laura Flentie, administrator at Eastridge Nursing Facility, shared a recent example of the impact donations to the STEP Foundation make. With grant dollars provided by Nemaha County STEP Foundation, they were able to expand their Music and Memory Program. By purchasing individual iPods for each resident, they were able to accommodate diverse tastes in music.

Flentie said, “It has been a blessing for each person to listen to their own music style.”

She shared how one resident would shuffle along and never look up. Once they placed the iPod in his pocket and earbuds in his ears, he started dancing! It was an encouragement for staff, residents and families to see that joy made possible by donations to the STEP Foundation.

A variety of funding options are available with the STEP Foundation. They vary from funding of a city park, as was the case for 2017 grant recipient the Centralia PRIDE Association, to something as simple as a larger television provided for nursing facility residents.

Donors have the option of establishing a Fund, which allows donors to give to what they are passionate about. Two recent examples are Jim and Patricia (Tricia) Koch who donated to create a Nemaha County Catastrophic Medical Fund. They saw an opportunity to assist people in local communities who have a financial burden due to medical and/or catastrophic medical expenses. Another example is Debbie Tangeman who, in loving memory of her family members touched by this disease, established the Nemaha County Dementia Fund. Please check out our website on ways to apply for these new funds.

Visionaries created the Nemaha County STEP Foundation. The sky is the limit to where we can go from here. Our vision is to enrich the quality of life in Nemaha County. To join us in fulfilling this mission, visit or contact Jost at 785-410-0543.


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