We spoke with Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation’s Marketing & Operations Manager, Jodi Flicker to learn more about the organization’s work to support the mental health of those currently serving in the military, veterans, and childrenwith ocean therapy!
Can you share a bit about the impact that JMMF has?
Currently, JMMF coordinates 40-50 Ocean Therapy sessions each year between the Military Program, which serves both active duty military and veterans, and the Youth Program. Ocean Therapy sessions are offered year-round and JMMF has historically served more than 500 active duty and veterans annually.
The goals of Ocean Therapy are to:
- Increase participant/athlete self-efficacy by providing coaching and encouragement of learning a new skill
- Build self-confidence by ensuring success in a new and unfamiliar activity
- Offer a healthy alternative to addiction and self-medication habits for those suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI), and physical injuries including amputation
- Provide the foundation for a positive outlook for those who have experienced injuries from traumatic events and stress
- Reduce anxiety about the unknown and reinforce a framework for a successful transition into an independent life
How did JMMF get started?
The Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation was established to honor Jimmy Miller , an incredible waterman who focused his life around the ocean and sharing his joy of surfing with as many people as possible. In the summer of 2004, after a rapid onset of mental illness and a concurrent shoulder injury that kept him from surfing, Jimmy Miller committed suicide. “We believe that if Jimmy would have been able to continue surfing, he would have won the battle against mental illness. That was and continues to be our driving force.”
The Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation continues Jimmy Miller’s legacy of sharing the stoke of surfing and the therapeutic effects of the ocean. They first birthed the concept of Surf Therapy under the direction of Dr. Carly Rogers during her Master’s program in Occupational Therapy at the University of Southern California. The Ocean Therapy program was devised and implemented in 2005 serving underprivileged and abused children in Los Angeles. The results were beyond remarkable. As one clinician stated, “These children have experienced such trauma that there are no positive memories for them to refer to. You have created positive memories for them that will serve them for a lifetime. You have inspired the very core of who they are and what they can accomplish.”
How can others get involved with JMMF? (What opportunities to get involved?)
Volunteers play an important role in making JMMF’s Ocean Therapy sessions successful. They seek volunteers to carry out surf instruction and water safety. They also have several funding pages on Givebox to assist with equipment costs.
Those interested in volunteering can visit: https://jimmymillerfoundation.org/volunteer-sign-up .
If you could give one piece of advice to a new nonprofit what would it be?
Jodi Flicker shares, “There are so many answers to this question! I would say its more of a three legged stool that supports a nonprofit: 1) Great Operations 2) Great Volunteers 3) Great Funding Platform from the start. Make sure to have passionate people to run your operations and the same for your Board of Directors. Then, make sure you have a strong website for informing others about your nonprofit with ways for volunteers to get involved and sign up. And finally, an easy-to-use, dynamic platform for fundraising, managing donations, and donor communications – like Givebox!