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If Courtney and Katie had to describe Kate’s Club in one word, it would be ‘community.’
“It’s funny that we both thought the same thing, but that’s the word that always comes into my head as well,” said Courtney, who answered second. “But I think that would be a lot of people’s choice too.”
This was one of the last questions we asked Courtney Krygiel, Development & Marketing Manager, and Katie Hart, Buddy Volunteer & Memory Walk Committee Chair, and evidence of that ‘community’ was woven into every story they shared during our conversation.
Both Courtney and Katie have been involved with Kate’s Club for years, and have a lot to share about the memories and bonds they’ve formed, as well as the past, present and future of the organization. But all of their stories shows the power of connection, support and fun for grievers everywhere.
One instance is a memory from the first Memory Walk Courtney headed. At the end of the day, a teenage boy came up to her, gave her a hug, and said, “Thanks for the day.”
“You don’t always think of a teenage boy doing something like that,” Courtney explained. “But at Kate’s Club, you don’t have to be a cool teenager, or fit into a stereotypical box of what you think you’re supposed to be. You have a community here that is different from the world outside of Kate’s Club.”
Katie’s stories also show how much she values the community she’s found while volunteering at Kate’s Club. From her first exposure to the organization during a company volunteer day, she knew she wanted to stay involved with the mission.
She cites that death has been a big part of her life: "Both of my father’s parents died while he was young, and I saw how that impacted him, and I lost all of my grandparents in a short period of time when I was young.”
Now, volunteering with an organization whose vision is a world in which it’s okay to grieve, she sees how having a community can support the grieving process.
“We talk about grief here, and grief feels so lonely sometimes, and it can be so scary without anybody to help you to navigate sometimes,” Katie said. “But the community you gain is forever at Kate’s Club. No matter how far away you move, how old you get, you know there’s always people who get it. And that goes for Buddies, that goes for members, for caregivers, for staff.”
Memory Walk is another great opportunity for our larger communities throughout Georgia to connect with the Kate’s Club mission. This year’s walk is themed ‘20th Anniversary Celebration Stroll,’ which allows us to celebrate 20 years of service to children, families and young adults, as well as the amazing supporters who have facilitated the mission for 20 years and counting.
Through the years, Courtney has seen people with years of Kate’s Club history attend events, or even people who have never heard of the organization joining their friends as guests. It’s special to see “so many people impacted by the mission in one place,” from other nonprofits to small local businesses to members and families.
“You see so many groups interacting in ways you don’t normally get to, even with the other volunteers that come out,” Katie said. “There’s just this whole melting pot, and you get to see people talk about their grief together, and also have some fun. It’s just beautiful.”
Courtney and Katie agree that a quote printed on a wall of the Atlanta Clubhouse sums it up: “We all came from different places, but we’re all coming from the same place.”