The Fremont County Mastermind Group held its first April meeting on April 5 with five people attending.
Members of the group discussed some of their own business issues and questions and offered each other support and advice where possible.
Once the group moved on to general discussion of the larger and/or prevalent issues the members saw in the County, they waived privacy of that part of the discussion for the sake of this article.
Group members talked about whether people moving in to or doing business in the County felt welcome.  Some said they thought that businesses at least wanted to seem friendly and welcoming, and probably thought they were being so, but that was not necessarily correct.  Maggie Langley, originally from the area, and recently back from living in England, said many of the people she talked to found it hard to meet people or break into the social scene.  Twila Larson pointed out that some of the local establishments can be intimidating or make newcomers feel like outsiders.  Larson didn’t believe that effect was deliberate, and felt that the bold and brash extroverts might not even notice, but for the shy it could be a stumbling block.
This led to a larger discussion of the region’s desire to attract both new residents and consumers, as well as “buy local” promotions, and how well they work.  Members agreed that customer service, knowing the market and knowing how to promote to that particular market were always important.
The group was in agreement that the County has many fun things to do if people don’t mind doing them alone, but then they questioned if there wasn’t an opportunity there.  As Thompson suggested, all of these people and businesses are trying to create events for people to come to, but people don’t know about them.  
The group considered whether some kind of group needed to be formed for anyone who wanted to go explore the assets of the County.  They suggested no commitment or requirement to attend every event, and people could drop in or out depending on whether the particular event was of interest to them.  While this wouldn’t be a dating group, it would provide people with a way to meet others, and it would encourage exploration of the County by locals and others.  Hopefully people who did check out local businesses or events would then spread the word to their families and friends, too, increasing traffic.  Without making any definite plans, group members agreed to think about this problem/opportunity further before the next meeting.
Thompson told the group that she and Tess Gruber Nelson have started a non-profit called “Holly’s Hope.”  Waiving privacy for this article, she said that the idea for the non-profit organization came from watching a recent murder trial in Fremont County and hearing about the victim’s difficulties finding a safe place to stay to escape an abusive situation.  Thompson said they came to realize that while there was organizations that offered such help in Omaha, there was nothing locally for men or women in need.  
They formed Holly’s Hope with the intention of providing vouchers for hotel rooms and meals to men or women who were trying to get out of an abusive home.  Thompson said much of the organization’s program was still being created and clarified, but they were making good progress with potential donors.
(*Editor’s note:  Watch for a story about Holly’s Hope in an upcoming edition of the Hamburg Reporter.)
The group is scheduled to meet again on April 20 at the FREDCO office in Sidney, at 11:30 a.m., and still welcomes any newcomers who would like to come check it out.