Community Spotlight: Heartland Family Service

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Heartland Family Service

Heartland Family Service is a multi-service, non-profit agency that provides human services to residents in the Omaha metro area, Council Bluffs, southwest Iowa and east central Nebraska. The organization offers a wide variety of programs that empower individuals and families to improve safety, self-sufficiency and wellbeing. HFS provides 47 programs that fall under three categories – counseling and prevention, child and family wellbeing and housing, safety and financial stability. Read more below to find out how to get connected.

What services do you provide?

Heartland Family Service (HFS) is a multi-service, non-profit agency that has been providing human services to residents of our community since 1875. Our mission is to strengthen individuals, families and communities through advocacy, education, counseling and support services. The agency provides comprehensive services that empower individuals and families to improve safety, self-sufficiency and wellbeing. HFS offers an array of programs and services at locations throughout our service area, which includes the Omaha metro area, Council Bluffs, southwest Iowa and east central Nebraska. HFS provides services through three focus areas – Counseling & Prevention, Child & Family Wellbeing and Housing, Safety & Financial Stability. Our unique continuum of integrated services supports the whole individual, and their relationships with family, work and the community. In 2021, our agency connected with over 70,000 individuals through services, education, advocacy and outreach. The agency currently employs 366 staff members, and 207 volunteers have contributed their time and talent to our programs so far this year.

The organization’s wraparound service approach addresses a wide range of challenges that impact clients across the lifespan. Services include emergency assistance, crisis response, counseling and other support services needed throughout their treatment and recovery process. Our clients are often dealing with serious, urgent issues such as mental health crises, substance use disorders, child welfare, domestic violence, human trafficking recovery, early childhood development issues, juvenile justice, poverty and homelessness. HFS incorporates evidence-based practices and promising practices into our multi-service approach to maximize the effectiveness and impact of our services.

Our clients include a wide range of women, men, children, adults, at-risk youth, young adults and elderly adults. Most HFS clients fall into the most vulnerable populations in our community, including people with lower income, people experiencing homelessness, those living below the poverty line and refugees. HFS serves people from many racial and ethnic backgrounds, and continuously strives to provide an inclusive culture for staff, clients and stakeholders. Most of the families we serve are low or very low income, with 82% of clients served in 2021 having annual incomes of $25,000 or less. Support from generous funders helps us to provide services at low or no cost.

How have you seen the organization make a difference?

While I see the organization make a difference each and every day of the year, a specific success story that comes to mind is that of an individual by the name of Beth. Getting help and feeling safe from her unsettling situation was Beth’s number one priority when she came to the Heartland Family Service Sanctuary House. Unbeknownst to Beth, her husband had been running a sex trafficking ring and she was eventually entangled as a trafficking victim as well. Beth found the support she needed at the concealed emergency Sanctuary House. Once Beth settled in, she quickly started participating in therapy sessions and working with her case manager to find her own apartment. Thanks to the help she received at Sanctuary House, Beth is now safely and happily living on her own.


Is there anything you wish more people knew about your organization?

What I wish more people knew about our organization is the breadth and scope of our organization. There are currently 47 programs that fall under three focus areas - Counseling and Prevention, Child and Family Wellbeing and Housing, Safety and Financial Stability. Many people do not realize how much Heartland Family Service does, and how many services we offer to anyone and everyone in our community, So Everyone Can™. With that being said, it is important to note that with so much being accomplished each and every day, we cannot do it alone. HFS collaborates extensively with other local agencies throughout the community to maximize the impact of our services. Some of our many collaborative relationships include BAART MAT programs, local schools, One World Health Center, Charles Drew Health Center, Project Harmony, St. Francis Ministries, local childcare centers, juvenile and/or family drug courts, Nebraska Medicine, Douglas County Health Department, Olson Center, Metro Area Continuum of Care for the Homeless and Omaha Housing Authority.

In addition, to be sure our clients receive the best care possible, and to ensure we continue to make a difference in the community once our clients no longer need our services, HFS has credentialed therapists onsite, and either a Nurse Practitioner and/or Doctor who can prescribe medication as part of Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT). HFS also coordinates with other MAT providers in the community. Case Managers meet with clients on a regular basis and each client has a case plan with goals to work toward independent living. Staff are onsite 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The property manager handles deposits, rent payments and maintenance needs.

What previous event have you held that has greatly impacted your organization?

While nearly every event previously held has greatly impacted our organization, one that comes directly to mind is the annual Safe Haven Golf Tournament. Now in its 29th year, the annual Safe Haven Golf Tournament raises much-needed funding for HFS Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (DV/SA) program. This includes the Safe Haven concealed shelter, a residential facility where survivors and families escaping intimate partner violence can rebuild their lives safely, away from their abusers. Up to 36 teams will compete in this year’s tournament, which includes team awards and special game prizes. Participants will also have the opportunity to learn more about the agency’s domestic violence programming from staff at the event.

Our agency’s annual fundraising events, such as the Safe Haven Golf Tournament, play a critical role in maintaining our capacity to provide life-saving services to our most vulnerable community members, regardless of income.

Because HFS offers most services at no cost to survivors, general operating funds raised during the golf tournament assure that HFS’ DV/SA program’s Safe Haven shelter can continue offering life-saving services. We anticipate that 2,300 lives will be impacted from the proceeds of the golf tournament based on results of the tournament held in August 2020.

In 2021, 44 individuals and children escaped violence with a fresh start at our Safe Haven concealed emergency shelter, and 2,243 survivors of domestic violence received support and/or advocacy from our expert advocates. Events like these continue to ensure positive impacts will be made towards our organization as they  bolster our ability to raise vital operational dollars to achieve meaningful results…So Everyone Can™.

How can people get connected/involved?

People can get connected/involved with Heartland Family Service in a variety of ways. The best way to get involved is by following our social media pages, (found below), to be aware of events such as Gospel on the Green at our North Omaha Intergenerational Human Services Campus, sign up to golf at the Annual Safe Haven Golf Tournament or attend the Carnival of Love Gala held in February or the Strike a Chord Gala held in June. The events listed are just a few of the many held throughout the year at Heartland Family Service. There are a variety for community members to choose from, fundraising events to community gatherings, there is something for everyone! Event information can always be found on our website and social media pages.

Another way people can get connected/involved is through volunteerism. Volunteers are utilized in a variety of ways at Heartland Family Service. The Community Relations Coordinator (CRC) works to recruit and retain volunteers within the organization and works with program directors to develop volunteer opportunities where needed. There are also four formal volunteer programs: HFS Board of Directors, HFS Friends Guild, Student League, and Junior Friends. Volunteers are recruited through a variety of means, including, social media posts and a ‘Volunteer Flier’ that is distributed to schools and churches, and word of mouth.

Contact Information

Contact Name: Tanner Downs

Position: Community Relations Coordinator


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