Page 20

18-23-HFS-TBC-1117.qxp_- 10/21/17 12:48 PM Page 18

THE BIG connection

homelessness, poverty, domestic violence, mental health crisis, substance abuse, social isolation, barriers to service access, and other traumas can affect more than just individuals and their immediate families; they eventually hurt the community, too. by addressing these challenging problems, heartland family service helps make the community better for everyone.

HOW DO YOU encapsulate an organization powered by 400 dedicated employees, 1,100 volunteers and a 200-member guild that helps 52,000 individuals annually? how do you summarize the details of more than 50 programs provided from 15 locations in eastern nebraska and southwest iowa and through approximately 100 collaborative relationships with other entities? “it’s hard to describe because it’s such a big agency with so many programs,” said Joann gould, president of the heartland family service friends guild. “i wish people knew all the different ways heartland family service touches peoples’ lives.” “heartland family service has over 50 programs that are focused in three areas: child and family development, counseling and prevention, and housing and financial stability,” melissa crawford, chair of the board of directors, said. “so if someone is in need of help, i really encourage them to reach out to heartland family service, because with the broad range of programs, there is probably a program that can help them.”

he said. other programs enrich the lives of residents through parent education, support for child care providers, a girls’ summer enrichment program and a senior center. eighty percent of the clients served have annual incomes of $20,000 or less, and many programs are provided on a sliding fee scale.

generational” approach are just some of the ways to help individuals and families see lasting change, he said. John levy, omaha community foundation’s director of donor philanthropy, said it’s sometimes hard for community members to see that quick fixes are hard to come by when addressing “what other people in the community are dealing with and that the issues they’re facing are extremely complex and challenging.”

the organization started out in 1875 as the christian workers association, a coalition of eight omaha churches who pooled their resources under the umbrella objective to more efficiently serve the needs of the impoverished “i wish everybody knew that somewhere, somehow, and infirm. as it evolved from an all-volunteer entity to a there is someone they know who has been touched by or more formal service provider, the organization took on is experiencing some sort of trauma, and that the work different names including omaha city mission, we do directly addresses that trauma and helps people associated charities, family welfare association & children’s bureau, and family service of omaha. in 2004, work through that,” dostal said. “the chances are high the current name heartland family service was adopted. that someone in their circle of influence has benefited from our services.”

programs also changed over time, a significant factor in the nonprofit’s staying power, dostal said. services like “we like to see easy wins, but it’s the long deal,” levy said. daycare and foster care support were phased out when “it might not be an immediate result but they’re making a meaningful difference long-term…heartland family other providers emerged, for instance. other programs were formed to address growing community needs, like service is addressing these issues in a thoughtful, the crisis response program developed in partnership strategic and meaningful way. the help that they’re with local law enforcement agencies or the kindergarten providing, you can be confident that it’s truly making a “we’re a health and human service organization that is based right here in the community; we’re home-grown,” readiness program for children of recent refugees. difference. it’s trauma-informed care, it’s best practices, chief development officer donna dostal said. “we’ve it’s evidence-based.” been here for 142 years doing basically the same thing “we’re very fortunate in that we’re home-grown. that’s really unique because we don’t have those national ties,” “they are a very results-focused organization. by focusing we did when we started in 1875: helping families be dostal explained. “we’re pretty agile and able to be the best they can be through education, supportive on results they make sure that their programs really do responsive to community needs as they arise. there has services and counseling.” have an impact. they truly are making a difference in been a tremendous evolution of services based on what people’s lives and they continue to monitor their the community needs, but the fact that we’re homegetting the name correct is a good place to start: it’s programs to make sure they do that,” crawford said. “i heartland family service, not services. “it reflects one grown and entirely local enabled us to do that.” really like the connectedness of their programs, because integrated effort,” president and ceo John Jeanetta oftentimes when someone needs support or assistance said. “heartland family service is a multi-service social Affecting lasting change in one area, they also need support or assistance in service agency.” heartland family service doesn’t just respond to the another area.” immediate emergency and assume resolution, Jeanetta Doing what others can’t said, because crisis “is often a symptom of a bigger Community collaborations heartland family service provides critical services to the problem.” one of his most recent areas of focus has been most vulnerable children and families in our community, upgrading technology and research capabilities to better heartland family service has established more than Jeanetta explained. every year, staff helps clients address evaluate how programs are working long-term. research 100 different collaborative relationships with other service providers that range from sharing information has already suggested that identifying underlying serious, urgent issues including child abuse, juvenile to transferring clients to coordinating services, problems and contributing factors, providing extended crime, family violence, mental illness, substance abuse and poverty, often “what others won’t or can’t address,” follow-up care, and treating the whole family in a “two- Jeanetta said.


mquarterly •

NOV/DeC/JaN 2017/18