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Avera Announces Region’s Largest Philanthropic Campaign to Support Behavioral Health Care for Patients and Families

Aug 13, 2021 12:34PM ● By Med Magazine

Avera is proud to announce the Light the Way Campaign to support the $28 million expansion of the Avera Behavioral Health Center in Sioux Falls. This is the region’s largest philanthropic campaign to support behavioral health patients and families.

Thanks to generous families, foundations and organizations, construction on the four-story wing is underway and adds capacity to serve more children, adolescents and at-risk adults; residential addiction care for youth; 24/7 psychiatric urgent care; and partial hospitalization space. The facility is on schedule to open in late spring of 2022.

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust boosted the project with a $13 million grant, which includes an $8 million gift and a $5 million community match. Thanks to this transformational gift, hundreds of others have shown their generosity to benefit patients and families.

“We’re grateful for the many benefactors who joined us with their heartfelt support because they see the importance of our campaign,” said Dzenan Berberovic, Avera Chief Philanthropy Officer. “Together, they have committed more than $20 million in just eight months towards our fundraising goal of $22 million.”

One of those supporters is Jennifer Kirby, who, along with her husband Joe, committed a lead gift to the campaign. “The difficulties associated with addiction affect everyone in our community,” she says. “Thankfully, the strong mission of Avera ensures quality health care is available to all who face mental health or addiction challenges. That’s also why it’s important for the community to support this endeavor.”

Currently, the need for psychiatric care for at-risk youth is great and Avera Behavioral Health is the only provider of many of these services in a 250-mile radius. This is the first time Avera will offer partial hospitalization to youth, allowing them to spend part of their day in school and part of their day making progress on their behavioral health condition to help improve their overall quality of life.

Because Avera Behavioral Health serves a wide region, the project includes a state-of-the-art telehealth component to provide chemical dependency evaluations and mental health assessments for students in schools across the region.

Supporter Mike Huether is also pleased with the progress, and looks to the community with hope. “So many of my family, friends, co-workers and fellow citizens know the enormous challenge and heartache when someone we care about is faced with mental and behavioral health issues,” adds Huether. “We need you, your family, your business and your organization to join this important endeavor. I’m blessed to play a small role in this fight and am thrilled to have you join us in the quest as well.”

The Light the Way Campaign is co-chaired by Kirby and Huether and includes a campaign cabinet of Avera clinical leaders and community members.

Lead gifts to the campaign include commitments from these generous benefactors:

  • The Helmsley Charitable Trust
  • Jennifer and Joe Kirby
  • Mike, Cindy and Kylie Huether Family Foundation
  • Al and Judy Spencer
  • Anonymous family
  • George E. and Joan Sercl
  • Greg and Pam Sands
  • Miles and Lisa Beacom
  • Scott and Julia Jones
  • Tom and Kathy Walsh
  • Delta Dental of South Dakota Foundation
  • Journey Group
  • The Robert and Rita Elmen Foundation
  • Seed for Success Foundation

Learn more and make a gift at