With the goal of making Jefferson County the healthiest county in the world, the Bethany Legacy Foundation (BLF) shared its strategic focus on Thursday to seek long-term solutions for everyone from babies to seniors.
“We want this culture shift to happen here in Jefferson County,” said Dora Anim, BLF chief executive officer and president, in a presentation that shared the vision to community leaders and residents at the Cotton Mill Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriott.
“What if we made a conscious decision together that Jefferson County is a little county in southeastern Indiana that has big goals that can really make a difference and inspire others? What if we moved from temporary and short-term relief to permanent relief to those in need? We know there will always be need for short-term relief, and we will be here to provide it. What we’re saying is we want the majority of people who live here to get that permanent relief and reduce that dependency because we know that is going to build the fabric of our community. So, we want a place where children, adults and seniors can live, work and play with hope and dignity.”
BLF was established last year after the change of ownership of King’s Daughters’ Health from Bethany Legacy Foundation to Norton Healthcare. “When the change of ownership happened, Bethany Circle changed from being a hospital owner to being the recipient of more than $100 million. A new Bethany was created and it’s the Bethany Legacy Foundation, a private foundation,” said Darleen Connolly, chair of the BLF board.
Anim outlined the foundation’s mission “to put faith into action and serve Jefferson County by bringing the community together, and creating sustainable solutions for issues affecting health.”
In talking with people in the county, Anim said she has been “continuously heartbroken by the stories that I hear every day about the people who live here. These are stories of pain and despair, stories of despicable child abuse, heart-breaking domestic violence, mental health, substance abuse. There is so much pain in this county. And you know the stories. You hear them, too. We’re certainly not unique to other places in the country but this is our reality that we face. These are the people here that we need to help.”
She said old solutions aren’t working. In 2021, Anim said $485 billion was given to U.S. charities, yet critical issues still are not being effectively resolved. “The reality that we face is that we are part of a greater society that is part of a system that repeats the same thing over and over again,” she said. “What I am saying is we are pumping a lot of resources to solve what I call short-term solutions. Short-term relief does not lead to long-term solutions.”
Anim said BLF’s strategy for a healthy Jefferson County combines dignity, hope and self-reliance. With that, she said the goal is for people in need and suffering to
recognize their own dignity, to have hope and realize their own capacity to achieve. If people have those things, Anim believes they can “flourish to do the things that are quite unimaginable. That’s exactly what we want for this county.”
She outlined three components that include strong youth, empowered adults and stable seniors. “No one group precedes the other, or is a higher priority because we realize this is not a hierarchy,” said Anim. “These are all interconnected issues, and we want to support the entire county, from babies to seniors, looking at the full spectrum and multi-generational approach. What it matters is to get acutely good at social problem solving, and that’s what we want to work on today.”
Anim said BLF’s funding priorities will be “things that will affect the culture shift” and bring long-term solutions. They include projects that have systems level impact to bring structural changes and align to BLF’s mission for sustainable solutions. The project’s priorities will also be peer supported, catalyzing projects and initiatives, fill gaps in needs, create prevention, and deal with root causes versus symptoms.
Innovation is also important. “We know what we’re doing is not always working so we’re looking for initiatives that question the status quo, and break from previous practices,” Anim said. Also, “we want solutions that we can test pilot and scale that requires taking some risks.”
“Bethany’s Legacy is really the legacy of those 12 women in 1896” who created King’s Daughters’ Hospital, Connolly said. “It’s also the legacy of all the generations of Bethany women through the 20th century, and now in the 21st century. In a very sense it has become not only our legacy but our inheritance. We will honor our history and the women who were a part of it by the work that we will be doing in our community.”
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