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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
By Donna Moss, Development Coordinator
About three years ago, I received the call that one of my best friends, Calvin, had committed suicide. In that moment, a numbing wave washed over me. Feeling like I took a hit to the stomach, I couldn’t talk, let alone breathe. In the days following the news, my breath returned, but the numbness failed to subside.
My world completely shattered. As a student working through college, I felt I simply didn’t have the time to pick up the pieces, so I stuck to my routine. Each morning, I would wake up, brush my hair, pull on whatever clothes laid in a pile on my bed, and I’d head off for work or class – often times both. Each evening, I would return straight to my bedroom, peel off each layer, throw them back on my bed, and crawl into bed for the night. And on I went.
One day when I returned from class to begin my evening routine, I entered my bedroom to see that my clothes were neatly folded and put away. My roommate had cleaned up while I was out for the day. It doesn’t seem like the biggest gesture, but it showed me that someone cared about me and that I needed to begin to care for myself. The numbness began to dissolve as I finally addressed that I was not okay, and in the days, weeks, and months that followed, I began to take the time to pick up the pieces.
By Cindy Schoell, Board Chair
I was 4 years old when my mother died after a 4 year battle with breast cancer. My parent’s were quite amazing in the fact that they never hid my mother’s illness from my sister, who is 2 years older than me, and I. When my mother died, my father sat my sister and I down together, talked to us about her going to heaven, allowed us to attend the viewing, funeral, etc…just like everyone else who needed to say goodbye to her.
As an adult, I realize how amazing it was that my dad allowed us to grieve and wasn’t afraid of our grief – at least he didn’t show it. When Mother’s Day was approaching this year, I couldn’t help but think about my dad. I have spent most of my life without my mom on this earth, but Mother’s Day was always a special day in our home. My dad taught us to honor those women in our lives who loved us and supported us. My dad filled in for such activities that are typically a “mom’s job” and once we were old enough to realize this, my sister and I starting getting our dad Mother’s Day cards.
I was blessed with 2 wonderful parents : a mom who fought like crazy for 4 years to spend as much time with her daughter’s as possible; and a dad who stepped in to fill her shoes as much as he could! As I was scrambling to have my girls sign the Mother’s Day cards I put in the mail late – I smiled in amazement when remembering how many Mother’s Day cards my dad made Amy (my sister) and I sign every year, as he purchased one for our Grandmas, aunts, Great aunts, neighbors, etc. (I have a very large extended family so believe when I say that it was a lot of cards!).
Now with Father’s Day approaching, I think about what a wonderful and loving dad I had. He raised 2 daughters from the ages of 4 & 6 as a single father. He attended dance rehearsals, dance recitals, choir concerts, teacher conferences, held us when we cried, snuggled us when we were scared, gave us consequences when needed, went prom dress shopping, wedding dress shopping and cheered us on to achieve our goals in life. My dad – Larry Barnes – was simply the best. I loved him and so much of who I am today, as a parent, friend, spouse and person are because of him. When I was 27, my dad lost a quick battle with pancreatic cancer. My heart broke. Now 13 years later I am proud to say I feel him, and my mom, with me every day and my daughters talk about Grandpa Larry and Grandma Tina – even though they have never met them – because I followed my dad’s lead, and have kept the people I love alive in my heart. Happy Father’s Day Dad!