A Heart for Resilience: In Review

March 19th, 2019 –  Notes From Jenn

Happy spring, everyone! 

Four weeks ago, we celebrated and shared the U!Shine story at the A Heart for Resilience fundraising event, and it was a lovely success! We had over 100 friends join us that evening at the beautiful Skyline Building to hear about how they can start shifting the conversation around mental health in their communities and at universities across the country.

We heard from several U!Shine advocates throughout the evening, including Holly Kooi, from Vienna, Austria, who shared via video how the U!Shine Vienna team (U!Vie) is impacting expats and locals in a positive way. They are giving people a place to belong and a safe space to share life - the good and the bad. Thank you to Holly and the U!Vie team for all the work they are putting into building a U!Shine community there!

We also heard from a panel of local leaders, educators, students and counselors who shared how U!Shine is making a difference on campuses in the OKC metro area.

Oklahoma Christian University President, John deSteiguer, talked about how the current world of students is dealing with mental and emotional health issues, like anxiety and depression, on a larger level than we did 30 years ago. So, the prevalence on every campus makes prevention-based programs, like U!Shine, more important than ever. He is excited to see the U!Shine programs continue and expand on the campus of OC.

Clete Ross, Director of Student Culture at Oklahoma Christian Academy, spoke about how anxiety and depression is high for middle and high school students, across the board, and it’s no different at OCA. They had a need for a safe space to discuss mental and emotional health issues with their middle and high school students and there was a lack of strategies and curriculum available to help them do this. Our U!Shine Conversation series has helped their chapel break-out leaders foster an environment of open conversation, and lets the students know the school is there for them. They have been pleasantly surprised at how the students have opened up and engaged in the conversations. We hope to see more middle and high schools, follow this trend, and implement the U!Shine curriculum on their campuses!

Summer Lashley, director of the Ethos program and spiritual life coordinator at Oklahoma Christian University, spoke on how spiritual health and mental health are deeply connected. She talked about how from day one, U!Shine’s presence on campus was like a sigh of relief for the students because they were getting a program completely dedicated to their mental and emotional well-being. And this is such a huge need for them. Summer believes U!Shine is for everyone, ages 10 to 100, and we wholeheartedly agree with her.

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U!Shine’s presence on campus was like a sigh of relief for the students because they were getting a program completely dedicated to their mental and emotional well-being.
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Rachel Parrett and Michael Potts, students at Oklahoma Christian University, shared their experiences with U!Shine. Rachel has been through U!Shine’s Healthy Habits 6 week program, more than once, because she knows the importance of having accountability to keep up with healthy habits that positively impact her mental and emotional well-being. As the president of one of the social service clubs on campus, she was an advocate for having their entire club go through U!Shine’s Healthy Habits program and they have seen positive results from doing this as a group. It has created a more open and honest dialogue about mental and emotional health, given them the correct language to have the conversations, and provided them tools to cope with the issues they face at this stage in life.

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It has created a more open and honest dialogue about mental and emotional health, given them the correct language to have the conversations, and provided them tools to cope with the issues they face at this stage in life.
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Michael shared how U!Shine impacted him as a struggling freshman and that after hearing a U!Shine chapel talk, he was encouraged to reach out to others and find community so that he wasn’t walking his journey with anxiety alone. This gave him the confidence to speak up. He not only created a community where he found encouragement, but he also found that others were opening up about their struggles because of his willingness to share. Michael has been a part of U!Shine’s Healthy Habits program, as well as a U!Shine male focus group to help us better meet the mental and emotional health needs of male university students.

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He not only created a community where he found encouragement, but he also found that others were opening up about their struggles because of his willingness to share.
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This is just a small snippet of what was shared that night, but I think it was clear to everyone in the room that U!Shine is making a positive impact on everyone it touches. It is opening conversations, giving students needed tools to support them on their mental and emotional health journey and giving students permission to ask for help. There is so much that goes on behind the scenes in the U!Shine world. And we can’t always share stories because of the nature of what we do and the confidentiality we must respect, but please know that your support of U!Shine is impacting students in amazing ways and is even saving lives. Your time, prayer, and money is well spent when you invest in the U!Shine mission to bring awareness, education and hope to campuses and communities here and abroad. So thank you for all the ways you invest in U!Shine. You are appreciated!

FUNDRAISING GOAL

By the end of the night on Feb.16th, we were sitting at a total of $71,000 of our $90,000 goal for the school year! We were very pleased with the generosity we have seen over the past several months and are encouraged by the positive feedback we regularly receive about what we are accomplishing. We still have about $19,000 to reach our full goal for the school year and we’d love to have your help and support! We are also actively seeking board members, as we expand, and would love to hear from you if this is an area you would like to be involved. You can give online at www.UShine.org/donate or you can pay by check and mail to: U!Shine, Inc. at 3233 E. Memorial Rd. Ste. 103, Edmond, OK. 73013. Please don’t hesitate to contact me or the U!Shine team at [email protected] or [email protected] with any questions. Have a blessed week!  

Overall, we are thankful to all of you that joined us and have been thrilled with the positive feedback we’ve been given about this first-time event. The night was full of amazing food, provided by the 116 Farmstead Market and Table, and decadent desserts provided by Chefs Lydia Shelton, Neil Jones, Bill Oliveri, & Samantha McConnell. We definitely left full and happy. A 6’ eagle sculpture by Jeff Shoemake and a mixed media canvas by Lindy Jerlow were auctioned off and proceeds were generously donated to U!Shine. Thank you, Jeff and Lindy, for your creative and generous spirits. We are also grateful to the many sponsors that made the event possible! Kimray, Todd & Dee Doson, Branch Family Foundation, CrossFirst Bank, CP Energy, Just Between Friends, Midtown Orthopedics, Terry and Cheryl Bond, 116 Farmstead, Luxiere Magazine, The Journal Record, MidFirst Bank, Opus Entertainment, and a few, generous anonymous donors. 

Thank you for prioritizing mental health and being willing to learn how we can empower students to do the same. 

Jenn Winton

About The Author

As someone who has dealt with anxiety and depression throughout her life, Jennifer personally knows the darkness that can come from mental illness. On the bright side, she also knows the hope and healing that can come through a holistic approach to mental health.  She loves sharing her story of hope with others and is passionate about teaching university students and young adults their potential for becoming more mentally resilient. She also loves helping break the unfortunate stigmas that often come with mental illness, by sharing stories of the many beautiful, creative, and successful people who live full and amazing lives despite a diagnosis of mental illness.