Organizations: Kate's Club
Marking Milestones: It’s been six years since Kate Atwood, who lost her mother at age 12, founded Kate’s Club, an organization that aims to empower kids who’ve lost a parent or sibling. From an initial group of just six children, Kate’s Club has expanded to serve almost 300 kids annually throughout the Atlanta metro area. Since last year, members meet in the organization’s colorful new midtown clubhouse.
A Helping Hand: Kate’s Club is open to any school-aged child in the metro area who’s lost a parent or sibling to death. Most members are referred via word of mouth or community partnerships; there are no fees. In addition to spending time with other kids in the same situation, club members engage in support group sessions led by professional therapists. More lighthearted events include the club’s monthly outings to Braves games, museums, tree climbing venues and even improv studios. “We like to introduce our kids to arts and culture and sports, not just to give them a social outlet to be with peers who share a similar experience, but also to introduce them to activities and physical outlets for their grief,” Atwood says. “Arts and music may speak to one child; sports may speak to another child.“
New Pursuits: Atwood, who was named to Georgia Trend’s 40 Under 40 in 2006, hired a full-time executive director, Carmen Giles, to handle the daily operations. That allows Atwood to focus on fund raising, advocacy work and external relations. Her first book, A Healing Place, How to Help Your Child Find Hope and Happiness After the Loss of A Loved One hits the shelves next month. “This is a tool to empower parents and caregivers,” Atwood says. “As great as the work we’re doing here at Kate’s Club is, our work will be even more impactful if the kids are exposed to a healing environment at home. It’s up to the surviving parents to provide that, and I hope this book helps them do so.”
On The Horizon: Are there plans to take Kate’s Club global? It isn’t out of the question, Atwood says, but for now the organization is focusing on the more than 40,000 children in the Atlanta area who will lose a parent to death before the age of 18. “We really want to make sure we have tried to do all that we can do in Atlanta.” – Shannon Wilder