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Oh What a Year!

It’s hard to believe that Christmas has come and gone already and that 2016 is rapidly coming to a close. This is always one of my favorite times of the year as I sit surrounded by friends and loved ones, and admittedly, on sandy beaches with plenty of sunshine! But mostly, I am always grateful for how the holidays typically bring out the best in people. They make you appreciate the important things, feel gratitude for the chance of a fresh year of possibilities just around the bend, and always serve as a reminder to give to those less fortunate, who may need a helping hand.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could keep up that grateful and giving spirit all year long? As you’re sitting down reflecting on 2016 coming to a close and 2017 ahead full of possibilities, I challenge you to make the practice of gratitude and giving strong priorities in your resolutions in the coming year, should you make them. I will be joining you!

While 2016 went so quickly, we were able to accomplish so much at The Kim Foundation. We are extremely grateful for an incredible year of accomplishments, renewed and strengthened collaborations, and the ability to help some of the most vulnerable individuals in our community. We were able to reach more than 12,000 individuals, while bringing awareness to mental health and suicide and hopefully igniting the conversation in our community. We impacted schools, churches, community groups, families, professionals, advocates, and many more with a message of hope and healing.

While we celebrate much success this past year, we are already looking forward to an upcoming year of growth and continued progress through community engagement and the implementation of programs that work to build awareness around mental health and save lives through suicide prevention. We know that we can’t do it alone and we are ever so grateful to our partners who share our passion for this work.

I know 2016 was a year full of tragedy and despair in many parts of the country. Disasters occurred, too many lives were lost to senseless violence, we experienced one of the most hard-fought and bitter elections in my lifetime, tensions soared around race relations, and suicide rates continued to rise. When looking at it that way, 2016 is one that we should be happy to put behind us, but it also leaves us much room for improvement and hope as we look to a better 2017 and an appreciation for the many stories of strength, character, and hope that also came out of this year. Let’s celebrate those, and hope that in 2017, together we can find solutions to preventable deaths of all kinds, strengthen our community bonds, and make it one of the best years yet.

Happy New Year!

Julia HebenstreitJulia Hebenstreit, Executive Director of The Kim Foundation

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.