Bert Nash Center is near and dear to her heart, and mind

“I was lucky enough to have people around me, supporting me, encouraging me to get help, and I had the resources to do that, but not everybody does," LaRisa Chambers said. "So, it’s extremely important to me to bring awareness of Bert Nash and the services it provides."

“I was lucky enough to have people around me, supporting me, encouraging me to get help, and I had the resources to do that, but not everybody does," LaRisa Chambers said. "So, it’s extremely important to me to bring awareness of Bert Nash and the services it provides." by Jeff Burkhead

Note: Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center will observe Mental Health Awareness Month in May with stories of hope and recovery.

LaRisa Chambers understands the importance of planned giving. She does it for a living. She also practices what she preaches.

Chambers is a senior development director for KU Endowment, the fundraising organization for the University of Kansas. She handles major gifts and planned gifts for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and its 54 departments.

Before joining KU Endowment, Chambers helped raise money for the American Cancer Society in Austin, Texas, for 11 years, the last seven in the planned giving department. Planned giving is the process of designating a charitable gift that will be allocated at a future date, commonly after the donor has died.

“I’m very familiar with planned giving, so when I was looking at my own bequests and the different causes I want to support, Bert Nash was definitely at the top,” Chambers said. “I don’t have a family, so philanthropy is my family. Planned giving is a very underutilized way to support organizations when maybe you can’t write a check now but you can after you pass.”

Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center and its mission of advancing the mental health of Douglas County residents is a cause near and dear to Chambers’ heart. And her mind.

“I am currently fighting mental illness — anxiety and depression — and I have been for about five years now,” Chambers said. “It hit its peak when my mother passed away five years ago.”

Chambers knows from firsthand experience how vital it is to offer mental health services to the residents of Douglas County.

“I am very familiar with what people who have mental illness go through,” she said. “I was lucky enough to have people around me, supporting me, encouraging me to get help, and I had the resources to do that, but not everybody does. So, it’s extremely important to me to bring awareness of Bert Nash and the services it provides.”

Chambers shares her personal experience with mental illness in the hopes it will encourage others.

“There is still a stigma associated with mental illness,” she said. “For me, I didn’t want to admit I was weak or had problems. But others around me saw it and encouraged me to get help. I wish I had listened to them sooner. I will tell anybody my story to help let people know they don’t have to be afraid of the stigma.”

Besides including Bert Nash in her planned giving, Chambers serves on the Bert Nash Endowment Board (which oversees the fundraising efforts of the Center) and is an Ambassador for Bert Nash. Bert Nash Ambassadors invite people from the community to attend a Discover Bert Nash event and learn more about the Center and the range of services it offers.

Chambers is happy to support Bert Nash. With her time, her story and most importantly her planned giving.

“It’s important, I feel, to support Bert Nash financially so others can take advantage of the services,” Chambers said. “People don’t like to think about their own passing, but it is so easy to do a bequest. And it’s a gift that will outlive you.”

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