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As I enter Thanksgiving week, I find it more important, this year than ever, to focus on the gratitude that fills my heart and the many blessings that surround me. 2020 has been a year unlike any other I’ve seen in my lifetime. Certainly, there have been other years where I faced adversity or our country experienced heartbreaking loss. But not until 2020 have I experienced adversity and loss on such a widespread level along with the rest of our country. Given all of that, it would be easy to get lost in the negativity, the missed experiences, the loss of family as the holidays near, or just the overwhelming aura of uncertainty that blankets our current society. But I challenge you to join me in doing just the opposite.
Let’s take some time to reach out to a loved one – albeit while physically distancing; create a list of the things we DO have to be grateful for; show appreciation for those public health workers and healthcare workers who are tirelessly giving of themselves to keep our community healthy; do our part in slowing the spread of COVID-19 by accepting this Thanksgiving may look different than past years, but understanding we don’t have to be physically together to be thankful for each other; watch a favorite movie that fills you with happy memories or laughs; let someone know you are there for them and that they are not alone; take the time to appreciate the slower pace of life; donate to a cause you are passionate about if you are able; create a vision board for what your life may look like when our new normal is finally upon us; write a letter or send a card to someone you would normally spend the holidays with; hang a few extra holiday lights this year; read a book that you kept putting back on the shelf to get to “later;” FaceTime those grandkids, parents, nephews, siblings, friends, and loved ones who would normally be around the table with you and instantly feel that love that you may be missing . . . there are so many things that we can do that will outweigh the negativity that keeps seeping in for many.
That’s not to say that the depression and anxiety that people have been feeling, and for some on an increased level, isn’t a very real thing. For those of you who are experiencing this, please take care of yourself. Please stay with your treatment plan and add to that in some ways if it doesn’t seem to be enough. Most importantly, if you are feeling alone and that things are becoming too much, please don’t wait to reach out. Call your mental healthcare provider. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1.800.273.8255. Text the Crisis Line – 741.741. Visit MoreTomorrowsNE.org for additional resources and information. And for those who are feeling healthy, but worried about someone you care about, reach out. Don’t wait. Let them know you are there for them and that you will support them in whatever way you can.
Together, we will get through these incredibly difficult times. Today more than ever, together means more than it ever has. And we just have to continue to get creative on how to make together a reality even if we aren’t side by side.
I would like to close by extending my heartfelt thanks to our team at The Kim Foundation and our board, who have all stayed together and helped each other through this year. Jill, Katie, Sarah, and Tiffany . . . you make this job so much more than a job, and you inspire me each day to be a stronger leader, friend, and advocate in our community. THANK YOU! And to all our supporters, volunteers, and community partners . . . the same. THANK YOU! We could not do what we do without each and every one of you, and we will continue pursuing our mission to do our part in making our community healthy, whole, and resilient as we all move forward together.
Julia 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.