Donna Moss, Kate’s Club’s Development Coordinator: What brought you to Kate’s Club, and how did you hear about us?
Jerry Hall, President of Assured Comfort Heating, Air & Plumbing: The sudden and untimely death of my wife of 29 years brought my family to Kate’s Club. She left behind a six, nine, 26 and 29-year old.
DM: When did you decide to have your business become a Kate’s Club charitable partner?
JH: Day one, when I dropped off my 9-year old for the first time in 2007. I saw that I could make a difference in a community-based non-profit and help other kids who were going through the same thing as mine.
DM: What are the benefits of Assured Comfort Heating & Air’s partnership with our organization?
JH: I’m incredibly fortunate to have this wonderful vehicle to help further the Kate’s Club mission. If I didn’t have it, I’d be contributing on a personal level, but that wouldn’t have nearly the impact. Partnering with Kate’s Club inspires my employees and their families, impassions my clients, and has a positive impact on the way we do business.
DM: What personal benefits does Kate’s Club provide you and your family?
JH: It took two years to get my youngest child Joshua to camp. Brandy, on the other hand, went to camp within nine months of her mother’s death. While I took Josh to individual sessions with a licensed psychologist (VERY reluctantly, and unfortunately without much effect), Brandy was grieving with other kids in the same situation. She was having fun, making friends, and best of all, she was laughing! Brandy is now a Jr. Buddy at camp and Josh has gone to camp for 8 years straight. They tell me the best thing about Kate’s Club was realizing they were not “the only one”, they were not “different”, and they had people they could count on who had been through the same thing.
The benefit to the kids is apparent. The benefit to me may not be so apparent. I can’t tell you what a relief it was to know they had this support system. I certainly couldn’t begin to walk them along the path of grief. My loss was completely different than theirs and I was grieving completely different. We will be forever thankful to Kate’s Club for being our rock for all these years.
DM: What would you say to any family seeking support in their time of grief?
JH: Reach out. It may seem like the most difficult thing in the world at the time, but just reach out and accept the love and support that’s out there. It makes all the difference in the world.
DM: Considering Assured Comfort’s experience with Kate’s Club, what would you say to any organization looking to make an impact in their community?
JH: Find a cause that means something to you. You can make a donation to any organization. But if you partner with a cause that has a place in your heart, it’s SO much more than a donation and it gives back to you one-thousand-fold.
Kate Atwood, along with the Kate’s Club staff, board, volunteers, and charitable partners, created this amazing place for these children to learn, to grieve, to grow, and to connect. I count myself as truly fortunate to have witnessed the blossoming of Kate’s Club from a 900 sq. ft. playhouse to a 3,000 sq. ft. facility and now onto this campus setting that we call our Clubhouse.
I want to thank all the staff and volunteers at Kate’s Club, past, present, and future. Their passion and dedication to taking care of these kids is truly inspiring. And the board of directors, thank you for your vision and leadership. We’re on a remarkable journey. And of course, Kate herself, who’s tenacity and grace over the past [14 years] has led Kate’s Club to where it is now, and forged a path for the future. We all thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
If you would like more information on becoming a sponsor, please email our Director of Development and Communications, Rachel Ezzo.
Written by Lane Pease, Kate’s Club Program Director
At Kate’s Club, we have implemented 4-week, closed support groups in the last couple of years. Closed means that the same people participate for 4 weeks. We have special topics for these groups, and the whole family participates. We have had a teen and parent group, sibling loss groups, and suicide and homicide loss groups. In 2017, we have added a new family formations group to our schedule. The families do some activities together and divide into age groups for others.
During these groups, I have experienced some of the most powerful times of my career at Kate’s Club. In these groups, I see what I see frequently at Kate’s Club that is connection and support. However, I see it more intensely as trust and understanding is built with the same participants over the course of 4 weeks. Who better to offer hope to a parent grieving a child than a parent who is also grieving a child, but is further along in the journey? Who better to cry and laugh with when discussing the insensitive comments made to suicide survivors than other suicide survivors? I watched teens and their parents journal back and forth for our group learning that it is sometimes easier to write about how they feel than to talk. I listened to children who have lost a sibling share how each room in their house has changed for them. I saw both children and adults have “light bulb” moments as they learned the myths and misconceptions surrounding suicide grief. I saw these same members burn letters to their loved ones in a bowl while letting go of some of the anger, guilt, and shame they felt. I watched a girl write a letter to her mother’s murderer expressing her anger and fear. I have seen divorced parents work with their son on a “family shield” that honored their son who died while looking at the strengths of the family that remained.
At the end of one the group sessions I ended with a ritual called “Today I learned…Tomorrow I hope…”. We pass a rose and take a pedal or put the paper hands we have decorated on a poster board together. One of the most common things I hear is “Today I learned that I am not alone” or “Today I learned that I can feel better” or “Today I learned this was not my fault”. I also hear “Tomorrow I hope I can continue to heal” or “Tomorrow I hope I can help others” among many other comments. I learn something every time I lead a Kate’s Club group. Here are some of the things I have learned: the courage of parents and children to move forward in the face of devastating loss, the incredible love family members have for one another, and the love, support, and comfort, that relative strangers can offer one another. Tomorrow I hope that those grieving alone will reach out for help, that those further down the road will reach back to help someone, and most of all that Kate’s Club will continue to be the healing community that people need. I wish you peace in the new year.
For more information about programs, including these 4-week long quarterly support groups, contact Lane Pease at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 404-347-7619.
There are many opportunities to volunteer for Kate’s Club. You can volunteer as an individual or as a team, in an administrative capacity as Clubhouse Support, in a programmatic capacity as a Buddy or by adopting a meal, or at one of our annual special events! We have corporate volunteer opportunities, as well. In 2016, Intercontinental Hotels Group employees came to the Clubhouse to help with the Spirit of Kate’s Club Gala and Clubhouse tasks: building our picnic tables and putting bicycles together for the Gala auction.
However, you don’t even have to come to our Clubhouse, even though you should definitely consider stopping by, to be a Kate’s Club volunteer. This past year, Debra Brook, our Volunteer and Program Manager, brought activities to Salesforce and Starbucks corporate employees. Salesforce drew trees for our Kindness Tree outreach activities, and Starbucks made all of the pinwheels for Memory Walk.
If you are interested in any of our volunteer opportunities or think your organization or business may be, please visit our volunteer website or email Debra Brook at email@example.com.
Our volunteers dedicate their time in many different ways, but the volunteer who volunteered the most overall hours (195.5 hours to be exact) and our official 2016 Volunteer of the Year, is Elisabeth Bletsch. Thank you for your time and effort put toward supporting Kate’s Club!
Everyone has their own unique story to tell. At Kate’s Club, we know that all of our members have experienced the death of a parent or sibling, but each member’s story is their own. The following is an interview of one of our Kate’s Club members reflecting on the death of their brother.
Interviewer: Tell me about what you’ve accomplished that makes you proudest.
KC member, age 9: I think my proudest accomplishment so far is… passing third grade, because the Georgia Milestones test was hard.
Interviewer: What do you see in yourself that reminds you of your brother?
KC member, age 9: Playing soccer. We always went to the park, and sometimes we’d play tennis because there were tennis courts too. I’d say my brother was the better soccer player – he had better tricks. He taught me how to flip the ball over other people and how to pass the ball a little straighter.
Interviewer: Who is your best friend and why?
KC member, age 9: In school, his name is Marquis, he’s funny and helps me out with group work.
Interviewer: Who in your family has lived the most interesting life?
KC member, age 9: My mom. She’s nice, kind, and cares about me. Yes, she’s pretty special.
KC member, age 9: When my brother was in the hospital, no matter what they did to him, he said he was alright. That’s what I miss most about him. That he would never give up.
Interviewer: What are some lessons you’ve learned in life?
KC member, age 9: Share with others. Be kind. Be respectful. Be nice.
Interviewer: If you could use one word to describe your brother, what would it be?
KC member, age 9: Strong
Interviewer: How would you like people to remember you?
KC member, age 9: I think… playful.