Volunteer Spotlight: 2016 Recap & Volunteer of the Year

As Kate’s Club is only a staff of 7, we rely heavily on our amazing volunteers. In 2016 to date, we have had over 9,943.5 volunteer hours donated to Kate’s Club. The monetary value of a single volunteer hour is $23.07, so our 2016 volunteer hours, so far, amount to $229,396.55. We cannot thank our volunteers enough for the important work that they do.

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.

IHG Volunteers at the Clubhouse

IHG Volunteers at the Clubhouse

Salesforce

Salesforce Volunteers

Starbucks Volunteers

Starbucks Volunteers

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 debra.brook@katesclub.org. 

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!

Our 2016 Volunteer of the Year, Elisabeth Bletsch

Our 2016 Volunteer of the Year, Elisabeth Bletsch

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Interview with a KC Member, Age 9

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.

 

Krisandra Evans | Kate's Club | Camp Good Mourning 2016

Krisandra Evans | Kate’s Club | Camp Good Mourning 2016 | Photo not of member in story

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.

 

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Volunteer Spotlight: Mica Davis and Adam Tessler

Mica Davis and Adam Tessler are the married, volunteer dream team that can be found at the Clubhouse on any given Clubhouse day. Their dedication to our mission always goes above and beyond. We interviewed them to find out more about what brought them to Kate’s Club, the moments at Kate’s Club that impacted them as Buddies, how they met, and how Kate’s Club plays a role in their relationship.

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What brought you to Kate’s Club?

Mica: I learned about KC through a client of mine.  I am a play therapist, and realized I HAD to find out about this place! I got to know the great people at KC and decided that I wanted to spend time there too.  It became a second home and oddly enough I describe it to other’s as my “happy place”.  There are not a lot of things that will get me up before 9 on the weekend, but I will gladly get up for my KC family!

Adam: Frankly, Mica brought me to Kate’s Club. I mentioned to her several weeks before we started that I wanted to spend some time working with kids in the area and she had a client who needed Kate’s Club. I suppose you could say that Mica and I have been on our Kate’s Club journey together (with her leading mostly)

 

How long have you been involved with Kate’s Club?

Mica a little over 2 years. Adam a little less than Mica but probably close to 2 years.

 

Can you recall a moment when you experienced the true impact of Kate’s Club?

Mica: This is going to sound cliché, but every single time I come to Kate’s Club I leave a better person because of the KC family. It’s like the feeling you get when you are finished with a massage or therapy session. Specifically, my experience with the 5 year old boys at camp was life changing.  It was not only their first time at Camp, but mine as well.  Learning together at grief camp is a powerful thing.

Adam: I totally can remember. I knew the impact I was making with the kids but the true overall impact of KC hit me last October/November. I had just buried my grandmother who was my best friend (after Mica of course) and I was really out of sorts. I volunteered the week after I returned from her funeral and went on an outing to Piedmont Park with the teens. Several of the teens asked why I was so quiet and not my normal self. I explained why and, of course, they all got it! They put their arms around me and explained how they were there for me just like I was for them. It hit me and helped me express, understand and master my own grief journey.

 

Tell us the story of when you two met. Has volunteering at Kate’s Club affected your relationship in any way?

Mica: We met on JDate! We had been communicating only through emails for about a month, before I couldn’t take it anymore and HAD to meet him in person! So we met up in person and have been together ever since!

Adam: Volunteering at Kate’s Club has changed our relationship for the better in 2 key ways. First, it gives us one more thing to be dually passionate about and more to talk about. The second way it has helped is a bit more selfish and complex. See, Mica has always understood and been great with kids of all ages, me not so much. Working with Kate’s Club has opened both of us up to a new discovery of very complex emotions dealing with one of the most difficult things to handle in life. It has made us both stronger and better so we can take on the world and spread a positive message, together.

 

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15 Tips for Grieving Through the Colder Seasons

Fall and winter are often difficult emotional seasons, especially for those who may be grieving. They bring with them what many of us know as the “winter blues”. Grievers are already more susceptible to depression and poor self-care, and the fall and winter months only increase this susceptibility.

All hope is not lost. We can help you shake those winter blues and successfully navigate through the fall and winter months. Here are 15 Kate’s-Club-approved tips from What’s Your Grief for grieving through the fall and winter seasons:

1. Write a list of winter activities you enjoy, so you can refer to it when the hibernation funk sets in (some ideas coming below).
2. Write a list of indoor projects you want to accomplish this winter, to keep you motivated and inspired (some ideas coming below).
3. Create a scrapbook or memory book in honor of your loved one.
4. Start working on the memorial or legacy project you have been wanting to do (a memorial celebration, scholarship fund, memorial walk, etc).
5. Make a list of people you have lost touch with that you want to reach out to by phone, email or social media.
6. Make a plan to start sorting through your loved one’s belongings, if you have been putting it off and want to do it.
7. Go through and organize, scan, print, etc old photographs (of your loved one or otherwise).
8. Set some TV boundaries – some TV is a great, healthy escape. Too much TV can become a fall/winter hibernation problem.
9. Make a list of shows and movies you really want to watch, so when you are watching TV it is things you really enjoy/value and not just mindless channel surfing.
10. Stock up on puzzles.
11. Stock up on books.
12. Stock up on materials for arts, crafts, etc.
13. Stock up on games.
14. If winter really gets you down, consider a light box designed for seasonal affective disorder.
15. Sign up for a class at a local community college, community center, or library to keep you motivated and get you out of the house.

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Dream Cheerleaders

By Kate Atwood, Founder of Kate’s Club

There is a story behind Kate’s Club that isn’t told often. It is one of a young woman sitting across from her father telling him her dream. I remember that night so well. My dad Bill had come down to Atlanta from my hometown for a visit. We went out to eat at Anis, a nice French restaurant in the heart of Buckhead. At the time, I was 22 and working at a sports marketing agency, but my dad knew of my growing passion for working with kids who had lost a loved one, through my experience at a camp in Virginia.

As we ate our dinner, I began sharing about how I was trying to find something here in Atlanta that worked with kids who had lost a parent, similar to the camp. While I had found a couple of support groups, I had this bigger vision for a place that was more than just about the grief; it was about life. My dad, an artist at his core, began doodling on a napkin (always a sign that I got him thinking). After five minutes of my non-stop chatter, my father just looked up at me and said, “You should just build something here.”

He then pushed the little cocktail napkin he had been doodling on and presented me with “Kate’s Club”.

Kate and Dad

Kate and her dad

I looked at him very puzzled and uttered something along the lines of, “I can’t do that – start an organization and run a business.” My father disagreed plainly and said, “Yes you can.” It was right there at that dinner table that we came up with Kate’s Club, the core model of the social outings, and the key values being that it had to be fun and empowering. That moment was one of the most magical moments in my life. For that brief moment, the huge mountain that I was about to climb in launching Kate’s Club was nowhere in my sight. Perhaps some other person would have told me about that mountain and how hard it would be to climb and to do something as big as start a non-profit, but not my Dad. That moment was about my dad believing in his young daughter’s dream, and it was when I felt how powerful “dream cheerleaders” are in life.

I get to celebrate with my dad today, but I know so many children do not. However, it does bring me peace that they have Kate’s Club. One of the pieces about Kate’s Club that makes the whole experience work for our kids is our Buddies. It’s not written in a job description or part of our strategic plan, but it is one of the most critical roles our Buddies play: they are our dream cheerleaders. They believe in our kids so much that it can make all the difference in the world to a young person facing grief.

I want to dedicate this post to the Buddies: If anyone can step in to fill the role of dream cheerleader, it’s you. Thank you for being so dedicated to our kids and for your steadfast commitment as a champion of their dreams. Too often due to loss and grief, this champion is no longer is around.

And to my dad: if anyone wants to see just how impactful a cheerleader of dreams can be, just thank my dad. I sure do all the time.

Happy Father’s Day to my amazing dad.

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