At the end of the year, it is a natural phenomenon to take a look back at the year that you have had. We at Here/Hear thought that we would do the same thing, looking at the year that we had and then looking forward to the year(s) to come.

So, here are a few reflections and then after the pictures are some goals for where we want to go. And, don’t forget that if you want to be a part of what Here/Hear is doing, contact us or donate. We’d love to partner with you to come to your organization or your town and bring awareness to issues pertaining to mental illness.

1. We actually started this year. We got a website, board of directors, Twitter, Facebook, and everything else going this year. We also received our official status as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, meaning all gifts to us are tax deductible. This was a lot of work and energy, but we made it and have the ability now to do a lot more as an organization.

2. We won two grants: one for tourism in Marshall County in Indiana from the Marshall County Visitor’s Bureau for our work with Hear Festival and one from the Marshall County Community Foundation for our work with Hear Festival and the work we do in schools to set up Here/Hear Groups and spread awareness about mental illness.

3. We started Here/Hear Groups. If you do not know, Here/Hear Groups are support groups that are somewhat unique in that they incorporate both mindfulness/meditation and reflective action. We help people set them up in their communities.

​4. We have partnered with The Mighty. The Mighty is a website bringing attention to chronic illnesses and mental illness. We have been fortunate to have Nate Crawford publish a number of articles on their website, along with doing a Facebook Live video that garnered roughly 5,000 views.

5. We have written manuals for both schools and churches to use to institute Here/Hear Groups in their respective organizations.

6. We have spoken to a number of groups about the work of Here/Hear and the promise that our work holds.

7. We held our first Suicide Awareness and Prevention Training. It was a success in that it trained a number of people to better ask questions and prepare in the case that they are confronted with someone who may be at risk for suicide.

8. Perhaps the biggest thing we did was to hold our first annual Hear Festival. Our headliner was Earphorik, a band that is currently gearing up for a 40 date tour of the United States. We also brought in local favorites Pablo’s Great Revenge, Slow Orbit, and The Angles. Along with these great bands, we also had numerous artists on hand, food, and entertainment for kids. It was a great opportunity for us to remind the community about what we do along with giving support to people who suffer from mental illness. It was definitely a hope-filled event.

I often tell people that when we started, I thought that we would be further along than we are now. But, after putting the work in, I’m amazed that we are as far along as we are. And that’s great, because we have done some great work and are going to continue doing great work to bring hope to those with mental illness and their loved ones.

This next year, we have a few goals that we believe will help us help a lot more people with mental illness.

Goal #1: We want to start 15 new Here/Hear Groups around the country. We are going to be starting one shortly on Google Hangout, but we want to start more in physical locales and online. We want to give people the opportunity to set these up in their communities so that people have a resource for hope in the midst of mental illness.

Goal #2: We want to speak in front of 10 schools. We think it is important to talk about mental illness in front of young people because they are the ones most at risk for developing mental illness and for mental illness to do real damage. This is because mental illness often manifests between 15 and 24. We want to prepare students to be able to deal and to know where to get resources.

Goal #3: We want to hold 5 Suicide Awareness and Prevention Trainings. We believe these will actually save lives by helping people be aware of those at risk for suicide.

Goal #4: We want to put on another great Hear Festival. We are currently working on the lineup and the artists and everything that goes into making a great day. We can do a lot to raise awareness about mental illness while giving hope to those who struggle. You can get your Early Bird Tickets now to support the making of a great festival.

Goal #5: We want to raise more money. We have to raise money to do the projects that we think are important. We rely on people buying T-shirts and other merchandise, donations, and the like. And we raise money to make sure that anyone who needs or wants our services is able to have them. We use the money to go into schools and help kids, to start Here/Hear Groups, to tell stories, to advocate on behalf of those with mental illness and their loved ones, and so on and so on. We try not to refuse anyone based on the ability to pay. Rather, we rely on donations to make sure that the message of hope for those with mental illness and their loved ones is able to be spread and enacted.

We have bigger plans down the road, but those announcements will have to wait. We hope to give hope, to help people. We want to partner with you. We want to build a coalition of people who are dedicated to helping those with mental illness. And we hope you are willing to be part of that. And in that regard, it’s been a very good year.