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New Beginnings

On behalf of The Kim Foundation I would like to express our deepest condolences to the family of Karen Bricklemyer. She led the United Way with a strong vision and passion for helping some of the most vulnerable in our community, and has left behind a legacy of service, compassion, and change. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her husband, twin daughters, family, friends, employees, and all who have collaborated with Karen along the way.


It’s hard to believe summer is more than half way over. With this week ushering in August, back to school is at the front of many of our minds and new beginnings are abundant. This is such an exciting time for so many youth, but also a very stressful time for many others and their families. Changes in schedules and environments, new faces of peers and teachers, and new lessons that may prove to be a difficult subject matter for some, can all be causes of anxiety for a number of youth. We want every youth to feel like they can put their best foot forward to have a successful school year without these anxieties or other concerns getting in their way. This, among many other reasons, is why we have supported school-based therapy and clinics throughout the Omaha Metropolitan area in the past two years of grant funding.

We have financially supported two specific organizations focusing on school-based programs in the past, but this month at our first ever organizational fair, we learned of many other organizations that are working with youth in the school system and in their comfortable environment (possibly their home or church) to most effectively serve them. This was just one of many learning moments at The Kim Foundation’s 2014 Organizational Fair. It was an enormous success that resulted in very positive feedback and an overwhelming feeling by the majority that we need to offer another fair in the future, possibly expanding to other organizations. The fair came about when in several meetings the same feedback continued to arise – we are not sure who is providing what specific services; we aren’t sure of where to refer for various services; and it would be nice to just have an update from organizations on what they are doing or new contacts they may have.

The organizational fair featured 38 organizations that focus on mental and behavioral health. Each managed an informational booth as well as had the opportunity to present for three minutes to a captive audience about their services, current highlights from their organization, and possible future plans for the organization. Some filled the entire three minutes (which goes by much quicker than you think!), while others had a very short and concise message – one only took 54 seconds! I know that many could have gone on for an hour (and then some!) sharing success stories of their organization and highlighting new programs or features of current programs, but in order to get the most efficient use of everyone’s time we found the three minute format to work well. Each individual also walked away with an organizational resource guide that contained the contact information and program description for the participating organizations. Here are a few photos from the event.

I learned so many new things from organizations I thought I was beginning to learn everything about! Many connections between old and new colleagues alike were made and an overwhelming consistent message rang through . . . we are working to serve the individual where they are and prioritizing their needs for recovery instead of trying to fit them into a mold of therapy that previously existed. We are best serving these individuals by providing wrap-around services, and including the families in the recovery process, by empowering them through education, knowledge, and a variety of experiences. I would just like to tip my hat to those participating organizations for all of the wonderful, meaningful work they are providing in our community. I hope it can serve as a reminder to each of us who are working daily in the mental health field that we must meet the individual where they are and help facilitate a “new beginning” for them. If you would like more information about the organizational fair, please contact me at or 402.891.6997.

I want to wish everyone out there – students, parents, educators, and administrators alike – a very happy, successful, stress-free back to school season. If you are one of those working in the schools each day, keep in mind the anxieties and stresses that may be impacting your students and work to find ways to ease this transition for them. Don’t be afraid to take a unique approach to serve your students or their families. They depend on you!


About Julia Hebenstreit, Executive Director, The Kim Foundation

Julia 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 for two and a half years, 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 as an active member of the Nebraska Suicide Prevention Coalition, Nebraska Association of Behavioral Health Organizations, the Early Childhood Mental Health Coalition and the Adolescent Mental Health Coalition. She also serves on the Women’s Fund Circles Board.