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While the Thanksgiving holiday has come and gone, the festive and grateful spirit still reverberates through so much. This time of year is always one of my favorites – family, friends, delicious food…and gratitude seems to flow so much easier when you are near a holiday that by the very name makes you give thanks. If only we could keep up that spirit of gratitude throughout the year! That will be one of my goals for 2017, a daily practice of gratitude.
Here at the foundation we have so much to be grateful for…what an incredible year we have had! Have you seen the Walgreens commercial with the adorable little girl who says, “Happy thanks for giving!”? That is exactly how we feel here at the foundation! We want to shout, “Thank you for giving!” from the rooftops at 137th and Dodge to all of you who made 2016 the most impactful year yet in terms of number of people reached, new supporters, and new initiatives being implemented in the Metro Omaha area. Thank you to those who have given of their time, their treasure, and their talents. There are far too many to name, but each of you hold a special place in our hearts.
A few special groups that I want to thank more specifically are our board and staff. Without their support and passion for what we do, we would not have been able to accomplish all that we did this year. Some of the highlights include 133 community presentations on mental health awareness and suicide prevention to more than 15,000 individuals, a record number of attendees at our fall luncheon with Dr. Thomas Joiner, the creation and facilitation of the Metro Area Suicide Prevention Coalition with Region 6 Behavioral Healthcare, the one year anniversary of our Metro Area LOSS Team, the first ever Hope & Healing through Creativity art contest, the kick off of 13minutes public service campaign and still to come, the announcements of our 2016 program grants. That’s just a snapshot of what our team was able to accomplish this year, and I couldn’t be more grateful to the team!
Thank you to our donors who without your support, we would not be able to accomplish all of those things. Whether it was a major gift or a gift of $15 to mark our 15th anniversary, each dollar contributed to our overall mission of serving as a supportive resource and compassionate voice for lives touched by mental illness and suicide. They also helped us implement programs that assisted us in moving toward our vision of a community free of suicide that embraces the importance of quality mental health service and prevention. We know there is still more work to be done, but without your support we wouldn’t have made as much progress as we did this year!
I also want to thank our Metro Area LOSS Team. This group of men and women have given their time, shared grief, stories, and incredible support to dozens of families throughout the area. Through their outreach to suicide survivors they’ve been able to provide solace to families who are experiencing a tremendous amount of grief, confusion, loss, and pain. To both the team members and law enforcement agencies who make this program possible in our community, we thank you. You’re filling a crucial void in our community that we wish wasn’t needed, but that we are incredibly grateful you’re willing to do.
And lastly, a huge shout out to all of the organizations we collaborate with and fund throughout the community! Whether it’s when you’re sitting on the Metro Area Suicide Prevention Coalition coming up with initiatives that will save lives in our community or other committees we participate in; bringing us in to do a presentation to your students or clients on mental health awareness and how we can all play a part in ending the stigma that still exists; providing services to someone experiencing severe depression or struggling with a diagnosis; or advocating for those who haven’t found their voice yet…you’re making lives better and you’re making this community better, and we can’t thank you enough!
I hope that everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and that you’re able to keep your spirit of gratitude going into the holiday season and beyond. Happy Thanks for Giving!
Julia Hebenstreit is the Executive Director of The Kim Foundation. She received her J.D. from Creighton University in 2005, and her BS in Journalism from the University of Nebraska Omaha in 2002. She has been with The Kim Foundation since 2011, and prior to that worked for local non-profits doing development, strategic planning, communications and advancement. She has a passion for helping people and improving lives, and serves on the Executive Committee for Nebraska Association of Behavioral Health Organizations, as the 2015 Hill Day State Captain for the state of Nebraska, and as an active member of the Nebraska Suicide Prevention Coalition, the Early Childhood Mental Health Coalition, BHECN Advisory Committee, RESPECT Advisory Board, Connections Advisory Board and the Project Propel Planning Group.