After a life dedicated to teaching special education, Buffie Somers decided a Field of Interest Fund at the Omaha Community Foundation is the best way to ensure her work continues for the next generation.

From an early age, Somers noticed the way her parents quietly cared for neighbors, new immigrants, and those in need in her small hometown of Winfield, Kansas. It’s a practice she’s continued.

A Life of Service

In seventh grade, Somers’ class went on a field trip to a state hospital that housed children with intellectual disabilities.

“Our ‘tour’ was in the pediatric ward — the most depressing room one can imagine. Walls painted a pale color of gray, and walls lined with baby beds,” she remembered. “I learned from the hospital administrator that most of these severely handicapped babies would die before the age of 10 due to ” lack of mother’s love,” which of course was the layman’s term. In the ’60s, these babies were given up, put in a bed, and pretty much forgotten.”

Somers, a preteen at the time, worked to be allowed to be the first volunteer in this ward, saving money for a rocking chair so she could hold and rock each baby. She continued this service through college.

Her service to young people didn’t end there, she spent her career as a teacher and volunteered post-retirement supporting children with disabilities. She is a long-time volunteer at the Heart Ministry Center.

“My entire adult life I have been a teacher — a teacher to both children with severe cognitive delays and a teacher to children who have become doctors and lawyers,” Somers said. “Each and every one of them made a difference in my life.”

Making room for disenfranchised people in her will

When Somers began drafting her will, she decided to leave a portion of her estate to the Omaha Community Foundation so she can keep giving back to the community even after she’s gone.

She worked with the team at the Community Foundation to establish a Field of Interest Fund that will provide grants to nonprofits that provide experiential learning. This will allow children, specifically children with disadvantages or special needs, to experience programming including art, nature, and animals.

“The goal is to empower children to become extraordinary people,” Somers said.

A Field of Interest Fund lets donors like Somers target their gifts to address a specific need in the community. Donors identify their areas of interest, then the Community Foundation finds nonprofit organizations making an impact in that area and issues grants from the fund.

Establishing a Field of Interest Fund

When you open a Field of Interest Fund at the Omaha Community Foundation, our team will work with you to create a fund agreement that reflects your values and long-term goals. You can name the fund and define the cause area, geography, and timeline. Once we receive your donation to support the fund, we take care of everything from there. We survey the landscape in your chosen area of interest, and identify nonprofits to support.

Field of Interest Funds can be used to support causes during your lifetime and after. You can also be part of the committee to help determine which nonprofits receive support. Over time, the fund can evolve to serve the community as nonprofits grow and change to address future needs.

You can see all of the Omaha Community Foundation’s current Field of Interest Funds on our website.

“OCF is such a great place because I can bring our money and tell them exactly what I want to do with it and how many people we want to serve over time,” Somers said.

To learn more about Field of Interest Funds or other ways to accomplish your charitable giving goals, reach out to our Donor Services team at or call at (402) 342-3458.