Excellence in Grief Support in the Greater Omaha & Council Bluffs Region
Omaha Metro Area Hospice Network and Centering Corporation held the first KidsKamps and Tinsel & Tears day camps.
On January 31, 2001, the IRS approved Ted E. Bear Hollow as a certified nonprofit. The nonprofit application was submitted by one of the agency’s founders, Joy Johnson. From January to April 2001, the founding board members studied and trained while preparing Ted E. Bear Hollow’s first official home at 1531 North Saddle Creek Road.
In June, Ted E. Bear Hollow’s very first support group drew seven families. Those that tell the story say a line of people waiting for support stretched outside the building and down the street. It’s a sight that will not soon be forgotten.
2002 – 2003
In 2002, Ted E. Bear Hollow hired its first part-time employee, a program staff member. In 2003, Ted E. Bear Hollow published its first newsletter.
In 2005, Alegent Health provided the necessary finances for Ted E. Bear Hollow to hire its first Executive Director, Nancy Hemesath. One year later, Ted E. Bear Hollow moved into a new facility at 2511 North 73rd Street. This space at the Paralyzed Veterans Building could be used for support groups.
2007 proved to be a year of many additions. The Omaha Public Library and Ted E. Bear Hollow partnered to provide grieving children and teens with backpacks full of useful grief literature. These backpacks can be checked out at any Omaha Public Library at no cost.
Birthed also in 2007 was Ted E. Bear Hollow’s Comfort Food Classic, a signature fundraiser showcasing the metro’s most talented chefs. The inaugural Comfort Food Classic grossed $30,000. Little did Ted E. Bear Hollow know, only five years later, this fundraiser would surpass $100,000 in proceeds.
Added also in 2007 was Camp Hope. Camp Hope, an overnight retreat for grieving teens, provides social opportunities as well as grief support activities such as horseback riding, drumming, hiking, photography.
2008 – 2009
In 2008, Ted E. Bear Hollow moved to midtown Omaha, and, for the first time, offered support groups year-round. 2009 brought with it the addition of Young Adult Groups (YAG) and Adults Helping Adults (AHA), necessary programming for grieving adults.
In 2010, Children’s Hospital & Medical Center offered Ted E. Bear Hollow a building at 7811 Farnam Drive for seven years at $1 per year. Soon thereafter, Ted E. Bear Hollow launched the “10 Years…and Growing” campaign to raise $500,000, and building renovations were completed on the new space.
In 2011, Ted E. Bear Hollow moved into its new home at 7811 Farnam Drive — on its 10th anniversary. Ted E. Bear Hollow also began hiring additional staff. By late 2011 TEBH doubled its staff from three to six employees.
During 2012, Ted E. Bear Hollow continued its outreach into underserved populations, introducing the first North Omaha day camps and also offering bilingual camps and support groups in South Omaha. To continue to spread the word about the work of Ted E. Bear Hollow, a group of staff and volunteers created “Hope at the Hollow” hour.
In April 2013, Ted E. Bear Hollow hired its second Executive Director, Rebecca Turner, looking forward to expanded outreach, programming and philanthropy. Former Executive Director, Nancy Hemesath, transitioned to a contractor position to engage in rural community outreach. Plans for both rural and urban community outreach were refined.
Ted E. Bear Hollow served almost 800 unduplicated individuals —18% growth over 2013 — due, in large part, to growing the Program Coordinator position to full-time. Outreach efforts continued to pay-off as well, as Ted E. Bear Hollow provided assessment, training, and services in 6 counties and developed MOUs for off-site support groups at area schools and agencies. The organization hosted a successful Inaugural Grief Awareness Conference in November 2014.
Ted E. Bear Hollow announced the addition of a new program for families grieving a serious illness or injury. Unlike former TEBH programming, this program addresses the grief needs of families who are not bereaved, but who are grieving. The organization thus opened the door to other grieving constituencies. Also in 2015, Ted E. Bear Hollow was named the official Mustaches 4 Kids (Omaha Chapter) Charity partner. Over 100 men grew mustaches throughout the month of May to raise money for Ted E. Bear Hollow. The gentlemen amassed more than $250,000. It was M4K’s and Ted E. Bear Hollow’s most successful fundraising campaign to date.
Ted E. Bear Hollow developed a new vision — that no one has to walk their grief journey alone. Significant market research, business analysis, and strategic planning culminated in a rebranding initiative and expanded programming to address the community’s most critical grief support needs. The agency hired their first Spanish-speaking Outreach Coordinator. She and the other outreach staff were given the green light to work with schools and agencies to address grief due to immigration, deportation, and incarceration in addition to bereavement.
Ted E. Bear Hollow changed its name to Grief’s Journey to reflect its growing mission and commitment to serving all ages. In October 2017, the agency was honored with an integrity award as the recipient of the BBB 2017 Silver Award of Distinction for Significant Commitment to Ethical Business Practices.
Grief’s Journey merged with pregnancy and infant loss program, HEALing Embrace, to form a backbone organization called The Collective for Hope. Under The Collective for Hope umbrella, Grief’s Journey, HEALing Embrace, & Ted E. Bear Hollow live on as program brands serving different, yet overlapping constituencies. The merged organization also purchased 1.5 acres of land and commenced work on a capital campaign project to establish a collaborative campus that would host not just the program brands of The Collective for Hope, but also other complementary services and organizations.
What can one say about 2020 and the onset of a life-altering pandemic? The Collective for Hope was proud and grateful to be in a unique position to help. The agency adapted quickly to working remotely. They maintained routine services via virtual platforms and stepped up their educational workshops and caregiver programs to provide support for frontline healthcare workers, educators, and direct service providers taking care of those directly impacted by Covid-19. The agency also welcomed its first two campus partners: A Time to Heal Cancer Foundation and Restoring Dignity, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing refugee support. The agency maintained its existing campus properties yet suspended new facility development.
The Collective for Hope continued its provision of virtual programs and slowly reintroduced safety-adapted in-person programs and events, envisioning indefinite hybrid (remote and in-person) activity. The agency also hosted its first Grief & Social Justice Conference.
The Collective for Hope developed and launched two new affinity-based support groups, citing increased need surfacing during the pandemic. One program is dedicated to Survivors of Suicide Loss; the other is a Young Adult Group distinct from its other adult programs. The agency also welcomed its third campus partner: Band of the Strong, a non-profit organization that provides music instruction and performance as a creative outlet for kids and teens who have experienced trauma and loss.
“[In 2011,] Children’s Hospital & Medical Center had extra space available next door to Children’s Home Healthcare World at 78th & Farnam Drive. When we became aware of Ted E. Bear Hollow’s need to expand, it seemed like a perfect fit. The space kept Ted E. Bear Hollow in midtown as a convenience to families. It was also fairly large and could be customized through renovation. One of the most important factors for Children’s was our belief that this support would be a natural extension of our mission, ‘So that all children may have a better chance to live.’ Ted E. Bear Hollow delivers a significant and unique service to families that can truly shape lives for the better now and into the future.”