I can’t begin to describe the gratitude and excitement I am feeling as we wrap up Suicide Prevention Month. This month is incredibly meaningful to our work each year, but this year seemed even more meaningful as the engagement level across the community was at an all-time high. The Kim Foundation led numerous initiatives to mark September as National Suicide Prevention Month, but we could not have done them without all of you!
More than 125 families and businesses participated in our Chalk it Up for More Tomorrows. That is nearly double those who participated last year! The creativity, hope, and inspiration that people shared through these images were incredible, and we are so grateful to see people from all pockets of our community (and Lincoln!) joining us in sharing hope with those who need it most. The winners will be announced soon, but everyone who participated made a difference and we are so grateful!
The Kim Foundation also had the busiest September in terms of presentations and booths. Our team conducted more than two dozen presentations and booths just in September alone. We had partners from schools, construction sites, banks, community groups, and other businesses bring in our trainings for those they serve and employ. To see the growth in terms of the sheer number of groups and the breadth of the diversity of audiences increase over the years is truly remarkable!
The sticker contest we rolled out through the Metro Area Suicide Prevention Coalition is underway, and we are excited to see the creativity of the youth who are submitting designs. Just as a reminder, any youth grades 9-12 can submit a design, and it doesn’t need to be through their school. Winners will be announced at the Youth Summit on October 19th! Please contact Molly Woodman at email@example.com for more information.
We moved our annual event to September this year since so much of what we do centers around suicide prevention. We thought it made the most sense to honor our work and partnerships by moving the luncheon from later in the fall, and we were so excited to see the community’s response to this. We had 670 people join together to hear Jon Gordon’s message of hope and positivity. The feedback we have received has been incredible, and we know his message resonated with many in attendance. We also announced our 2024 event . . . Save the date for September 12, 2024 to see John Ondrasik from Five for Fighting tell his story through music and presentation at the Steelhouse!
I know much of what we do and are mentioning here focuses on the celebrations and events we did to raise awareness around suicide prevention and the role each of us can save a life from suicide. And while this is true, we also know that there are many out there who are currently struggling or who have lost loved ones to suicide, and this month doesn’t hold the same meaning for you. It is a painful reminder, but we hope you know you are not alone, and all of us at The Kim Foundation support you and wish you hope and healing.
If you would like more information on suicide prevention or how to help someone in need, please visit MoreTomorrowsNE.org. While we celebrate the success of this September, we also challenge and encourage each of you to carry a message of hope, help and healing beyond September, and into each month of the year. Thank you to each of you who played a role in an incredible September 2023!
If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, please call or text 988 to be connected with a trained counselor.
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.