We’ve all spoken at length about how 2020 was a year like no other we’ve experienced in decades, and for many, like we’ve never experienced before in our lifetime. But as the days of December dwindle, hope seems to be rising throughout the country and our community, and as we look to 2021 I look forward to that hope carrying through.
Despite the numerous setbacks and barriers that 2020 presented, I am so proud of what our team has accomplished throughout the year. I’ve continued to focus on the silver linings of the pandemic, but overall, I have been incredibly grateful for the way our team adapted and evolved our work to meet the needs of the community. Business as usual was no longer an option! The mental health needs of our community are greater now perhaps than ever, which has increased the need for our programming around mental health awareness and suicide prevention, as well as finding new ways to connect individuals and families with much needed resources.
We’ve adapted our programming to meet more online and virtual needs, while being cognizant of the safety for attendees. Our team has become more creative on how to engage audiences through a virtual platform and has ensured follow up as needed for any environment we’re presenting to. We were fortunate to receive some CARES funds from the Douglas County Health Department and this allowed us to expand the launch of our More Tomorrows campaign far beyond what we first thought we’d be able to do. For the first time we were able to have Spanish and English speaking resources, you’ll also hear public service announcements on local radio stations, YouTube, Spotify, and other digital platforms. We delivered More Tomorrow toolkits with a number of promotional items featuring the website – MoreTomorrowsNE.org – and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1.800.273.8255 – to nearly 45 local schools and organizations, which allowed us to get these materials into the hands of thousands of community members. We are excited about the potential of this comprehensive, data-driven campaign, and we would not be able to make it such a success without all our amazing, generous community partners and sponsors, so thank you to each and every one of you! If there are other organizations interested in becoming a part of More Tomorrows, make sure to reach out to the foundation today to see how you can get involved!
This year also allowed our team the opportunity to become experts on hosting virtual events! Our hope is that as we move to 2021 we will once again be able to have in person events at some point, but in the meantime, I am proud of our team for jumping right into the uncertain waters of virtual events and finding creative ways to engage our supporters and still get the important message from our events to our attendees.
The Kim Foundation was able to donate nearly $1 million in grant funding to non-profit organizations in Nebraska to support mental health programming and suicide prevention efforts. We know this year more than ever; these dollars are needed for organizations as the pandemic created difficulties in raising funds, while the need for services increased. We are grateful for the work each of our grantees does in our state and are so honored to be able to be a very small part in what you do.
Like all our partner organizations, we were faced with the need to adapt and evolve, and I am so proud of our team for doing this in an impactful, meaningful way that continued to further The Kim Foundation’s mission and serve our community. As we look forward, we know that 2021 will also present some challenges in what we do, but we’ve found it so important to encourage everyone to find ways to connect with loved ones, check in on someone you care about, celebrate those things – no matter how small – that we have to be grateful for, find joy, be kind, hold on to hope, and most importantly, if you are in need of mental health or crisis help in any way, don’t wait. Please reach out to someone within your circle, or any of the numerous resources available on our website – www.thekimfoundation.org. Specifically the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1.800.273.8255 or the Crisis Text Line 741.741. I wish everyone a blessed and memorable holiday season filled with hope, joy and kindness.
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.