Jenny Elkins’ Story
Tell us how/why you became involved with NFCC:
I have known Susan Finnegan since we were twelve years old, and my daughter was in the same grade as Nick at St. John’s School. Nick was a remarkable human being, and he will always be remembered and missed. When I heard about his accident, it was the most devastating news I had ever received. I have always been awed and inspired by the Finnegans’ vision in creating such a meaningful way in which to honor Nick’s memory. I am also a member of St. Luke’s UMC, and I value the association between the counseling center and the church. I am so pleased to see how much the support of the community has grown and how much NFCC has accomplished.
Why do you choose to support mental healthcare? What motivates you to stay involved?
During this pandemic, I think supporting mental healthcare has proven just as important as funding research to find a cure for cancer. It is one of the most dire needs in our country; without good mental health there can be no physical health. Mental healthcare is first and foremost among the needs in the healthcare industry. As we all see in life, things sometimes spin out of our control…examples being Hurricane Harvey, the economic downturn in the 1980’s, and the coronavirus. Even in less eventful times, there will always be ups and downs in life, when people need help. No one escapes-even people who seem to have everything going for them have losses and traumatic events in their lives. Mental health will always be of paramount importance, and I will continue to support it.
Your family has been so generous to NFCC over the years. As a long-time supporter of NFCC, I’m sure you have seen a lot of changes and growth over the years. What do you hope NFCC and mental healthcare will look like in the future?
I value the fact that NFCC is getting so many people in the younger generation involved. I didn’t know anything about mental health in my 30’s, and I love seeing so many of Nick’s friends as passionate advocates for mental healthcare and NFCC in general. My cousin’s daughter, Becky Helms, is on the board; I have known Mary Elizabeth Hand, the Executive Director, for years, and I know Joe Herman, the Advisory Board Chair. Joe was a good friend of Nick’s and is also a friend of my daughter and son-in-law. It would make Nick very happy to see how involved his friends are with the organization today. It is so important for Nick’s generation to advocate for the necessity of mental healthcare and reduce the stigma associated with seeking help. It is essential for all of us, of course, but cultivating the younger generations as leaders in the counseling sphere is so critical. In reading through NFCC’s Annual Report, I saw that 21% of NFCC’s clients in 2020 were under 17, which illustrates the great need for adolescents to have access to counseling. I am confident that Nick’s friends and those in younger generations will continue to be leaders and advocates for mental healthcare.
What would you say is the most important work NFCC does?
First and foremost, offering mental health care that is affordable and accessible to people who otherwise would not have access to it. Destigmatizing mental health issues is also critically important so that people are not afraid to seek help. I love the way NFCC is so visible; between the Crawfish Boil and Gala, NFCC brings awareness to the issue and involves a lot of people in the mission. I believe in NFCC and am so proud to be a friend of Susan and Bill Finnegan, who have built an organization which has become so important and impactful.