The Community Foundation of Greater Huntsville helps donors be generous, however that looks to them. By helping donors leverage the strategic impact of their generosity, they are able to create lasting positive change in the lives of individuals and families in the Huntsville area. In June 2023, Jack and Jean Lee Family Trust granted $50,000 for a local Healthy Minds Initiative to support a health and wellness collaboration with Boys & Girls Clubs of North Alabama and WellStone. This programs is aimed at promoting mental health and wellness among children and families in the Huntsville community.
Jean Lee, spokesperson for the Jack and Jean Lee Family Trust, says, “We all recognize the need for increased mental health access across the community, and we have all witnessed the effects of mental health struggles in those closest to us as well. The Healthy Minds Initiative is a perfect way to support school-aged children to be able to access the mental health resources they need to thrive. I feel so much hope as a parent and grandparent in helping children navigate the difficult challenges of youth.”
The Healthy Minds Initiative provides Boys & Girls Clubs employees with comprehensive education and training on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and on how ACEs affect brain development and resilience as well as Mental Health First Aid Training. Through these targeted trainings, Boys & Girls Clubs staff will become equipped with the knowledge and tools necessary to address the effects of traumatic experiences and to promote positive mental health outcomes.
“As we look to the future for Boys & Girls Clubs and all the kids we impact, our top priority is mental health. Addressing mental health is highly important to combat the long-term effects of trauma for disenfranchised communities. This partnership with WellStone will allow us to collaboratively care for our kids who have faced trauma and who need our support and understanding,” says Pat Wynn, President, Boys & Girls Clubs of North Alabama.
ACEs, which are traumatic events occurring during childhood, have been shown to impact the structure and functioning of the developing brain and have both short- and long-term health consequences that affect individuals’ physical and mental well-being.
WellStone Inc., a leading local mental health provider, will train Boys & Girls Clubs staff in the Connections Matter program. WellStone began using this evidence-informed program following funding in 2019 by a $50,000 grant from the Women’s Philanthropy Society, another giving initiative of the Community Foundation.
Jeremy Blair, CEO, WellStone, says, “We love that this program brings people together to help support children who experience trauma. These experiences can impact a child during development and on into adulthood and present in a variety of physical and mental health issues. By sharing our Connections Matter curriculum, we increase the chance of identifying ACEs early in the life of a child. This will have a tremendous impact on the kids and communities that Boys & Girls Clubs serve.”
Through the Healthy Minds program rotation, Boys & Girls Clubs staff will be able to normalize conversations about mental health with their students. For youth who may need specialized help, WellStone will provide counselors for children and their families two to three days per week.
“We are tremendously grateful to the Jack and Jean Lee Family Trust for their generous contribution to the Healthy Minds Initiative,” said Melissa Thompson, CEO/President of the Community Foundation of Greater Huntsville. “This grant will make a significant impact on the mental health and wellness of children and families in our community, providing them with the necessary tools to overcome adversity and to build resilience. We are thrilled to play a part in this collaborative effort, and we look forward to the positive outcomes that will emerge from this partnership.”
The Healthy Minds Initiative is an example of the power of collaboration to tackle systemic issues in a strategic way through generosity. With a holistic approach towards mental health and wellness, Jack and Jean Lee Family Trust leverage a philanthropic investment to create a brighter future for countless local students and their families.