I am honored to announce that The Kim Foundation will be celebrating our 20th Anniversary throughout 2021! For twenty years we have been providing hope and healing to the Omaha community and beyond. We’ve worked to stay true to our mission of serving as a supportive resource and compassionate voice for lives touched by mental illness and suicide through engaging and educating the community and working to help those in need.
Founded by Larry Courtnage and his family in 2001 in memory of his beloved daughter Kim, Larry has taken his personal tragedy and created a vehicle of compassion, education, and comforting support. One of Larry’s greatest accomplishments was in 2004 when he worked with many community partners and served as a key supporter of LB 1083, which moved Nebraska’s mental health system to a community-based approach. Since, The Kim Foundation has provided millions of dollars to non-profit organizations supporting this community-based approach.
We continue to stay involved in the legislative landscape, supporting meaningful legislation that enhances access to services, supports Nebraskans in need, and promotes fair and adequate funding for providers. Our advocacy efforts have stretched well beyond the walls of our Capitol into numerous communities throughout Nebraska through education, stigma-reduction, and being a voice for those who have powerful stories to share.
One of my favorite memories of working with Larry at the foundation is when he approached me in 2011 or 2012 and said, “I think we should create a speakers bureau.” I remembered saying to him something along the lines of, “Ok Larry if you say so,” but thinking in my head, “I don’t know who is going to want to hear about this from me and schools are NOT going to let us come in and do this!” I worked to implement his vision and that first year our goal was 6-10 presentations, which we of course met. Now, we provide at least 250 presentations each year to thousands of individuals throughout the state of Nebraska and beyond.
We’ve brought hundreds of people together each year at our annual luncheon A Time for Hope & Healing, where we shine a light on the importance of mental health promotion and suicide prevention by bringing a national speaker in to showcase their story and normalize the conversation for everyone. Stay tuned for an exciting announcement of our 20th Anniversary event coming soon!
There have been a number of programs throughout the years that have served as the vessels of our mission, carrying a message of hope & healing through them all. From the Not Alone radio program, Binding Hope & Healing, Metro Area Suicide Prevention Coalition, Metro Area LOSS Team, Nebraska School Mental Health Conference, Don’t Be Sidelined, 13 Minutes, and now an even bigger community-based suicide prevention awareness campaign, More Tomorrows, with 20 partners and a wide-spread message of hope and healing by saving lives from suicide. A lesser-known, but incredibly important, program that we initiated in 2019 is Linked by Legacy, which is a Coalition of foundations just like The Kim Foundation, founded in memory of a loved one lost to suicide, from nearly a dozen states throughout the country. We work together to learn from each other, have a stronger, more united voice, and significantly impact the number of suicide deaths throughout our country each year.
The Kim Foundation continues to evolve where we see the greatest need and are committed to doing so for years to come. While I have only been here for half of these 20 years, I am humbled each day to be a part of something so meaningful. It has been an honor to help Larry and the rest of the Courtnage family carry out their mission in memory of their beloved Kim. I never had the opportunity to meet Kim, but I have to believe she would be so proud of her dad and family, and the impact they have had in creating her legacy. We couldn’t have done any of our work without the unwavering support of a great team, volunteers, supporters, and collaborative partners. From the bottom of hearts, we thank each person who has helped us throughout these 20 years and are so excited to see what lies ahead!
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.