A positive place where kids can get through grief together

 

 

Kate's Club founder Kate Atwood

SB’s had it with stock market updates that read like obits, and is nursing a migraine over how bailed-out AIG dispensed bonuses, like a farmer tossing government-subsidized seed corn to hens that have quit laying eggs.

But Kate Atwood cheered me right up. She began an organization for children who have lost a sibling or parent, years after the untimely death of her own mother. Yet she’s one of the most positive people you’ll meet.

“We’re truly breaking a cultural cycle of how grief is handled,” said Atwood, founder of Kate’s Club. The non-profit started in 2003 with a bowling outing for six kids and just moved from an office park into roomy new Midtown digs.

“There’s an art therapy room, a music room, a game room. It’s a positive, uplifting place for kids to be, even when they’re facing something as solemn as death,” said Atwood, 30. At age 12, Atwood lost her mother to breast cancer. She’s been featured in mags from Georgia Trend and People, and club members have appeared on “The View.” 

“These kids are a daily inspiration,” said Atwood, whose club serves about 200 kids ages 5 to 17. “Our biggest challenge is how to meet the need.”

Kate’s Club’s fourth annual Champions Dinner will honor a club participant, a volunteer and a community advocate. It’s at 7 p.m. Wednesday  at Il Mulino, 191 Peachtree St. Silent auction items include four tickets to the Monday practice round of the 2009 Masters. See the web site to buy tickets ($100 each) or learn about volunteering opportunities.

“We walk around and we’re sometimes so cynical and frustrated at society today,” Atwood said. “You come into Kate’s Club and all that washes away.”

 

Raising funds, raising awareness

Seeking help for an autistic child was a lonely business two decades ago.

“We were told there was maybe only one other child in Georgia with autism,” said Marjie Truax, who spoke Saturday at the 24th annual Candlelight Ball, which raised more than $150,000 for the Childhood Autism Foundation. More than 300 guests attended the event, chaired by CADEF executive director Stephanie Christianson. Patty Conard served as auction chair and Derrick Farmer headed up the junior committee. 

Truax, accompanied by her son Justin, 27, presented the Partnership Award to Delta Air Lines for its 20-plus years of supporting CADEF.

“At a time when less than one in 1,000 children were being diagnosed, despite the numbers, Delta said yes,” Truax said.  

The festive crowd took to the dance floor even before dinner; Fred Abeles and Orchestra donated the entertainment for the 24th year.

11Alive’s Fred Kalil emceed and the crowd heard from CADEF president Alan Wolfe.

“Unfortunately, autism is recession-proof,” he said. “In these difficult times everyone is bidding on silent auction items…right?”

Speaking of the silent auction CADEF chairman Doc Schneider, a King & Spalding partner and Renaissance man, donated an “economic stimulus” tree, complete with Monopoly money affixed to its branches, valued at $800 billion. We’re told it brought somewhat less than that. The 100,000 American Express miles Schneider donated for the live auction brought $1,700. As a bonus he will compose an original song for the lucky traveler.

3 comments Add your comment

[...] The founder of Kate’s Club, an organization for kids who have lost a loved one, Atwood is a vivacious young philanthropist who brightens any room. (Here’s an item we wrote about the club). [...]

Sarah

April 2nd, 2009
5:13 am

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

Sarah

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[...] circuit, you see the lousy economy on display every time a live auction begins. At the March 14 Candlelight Ball benefiting the Child Autism Foundation, the auctioneer joked that “any move at all, including [...]