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Kara

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Children & Youth, Counseling, Human Service Organizations, Human Services, Mental Health, Youth Development Programs

Mission: Kara’s mission is to provide grief support for children, teens, families and adults. Our guiding value is empathy. Every day we provide compassion and support to children and adults impacted by loss and grief. Our vision is to see people of all ages compassionately supported on their journey through grief so they can move toward renewed hope and meaning. Our clients include those who are grieving a death as well as those managing a terminal illness (their own or another's).

Target demographics: Change, loss and trauma are natural in the cycle of life and grief is our natural reaction. Kara offers a safe and caring environment where those coping with death and dying can express and normalize their feelings of grief. Our peer services are provided by volunteers with experience in healing from their own personal loss and are carefully screened, trained and supervised. Our support model advocates listening, speaking, and acting from the heart in service to others. Kara is a self-referral organization and our services are offered to individuals, families and organizations in the Bay Area community.

Direct beneficiaries per year: 4800

Geographic areas served: San Francisco Bay Area

Programs: Kara provides comprehensive grief support, crisis intervention and education to individuals and communities facing the difficult realities of grief and loss. Our services offer emotional support and information to those grieving a death or coping with a terminal illness. Kara provides a safe place to express and normalize feelings of grief, to learn to integrate grief and move toward renewed hope and meaning. For individuals and families, we offer both peer support and therapy. Kara peer services are provided by volunteers with experience in healing from their own personal loss; volunteers who are carefully screened, trained and supervised. Our peer support model advocates listening, speaking, and acting from the heart in service to others. Fees are not charged for our peer support services but donations are suggested (one's ability to donate never affects service availability). Kara is a self-referral organization. Some people find it helpful to have a supportive family member or friend present with them when they contact us for services. Grief therapy services are provided by supervised interns who have completed their course requirements and are working on their client hours for licensing. These services are offered for a reasonable fee. Our comprehensive services also include crisis support and training for schools, community organizations and businesses dealing with tragedy, trauma and loss.

Community Stories

6 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Kara does a wonderful job generously helping people heal after an experience of grief - but what impresses me even more is how they support the volunteer peer grief counselors with on-going training and regular meetings where we can get feedback. Nurturing a community of volunteers is one area where Kara really excels.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Hi. Please donate to KARA. Please donate to KARA, NOW.

I want to share a life changing event with you.

January 9th, 2006, my 19 year old daughter. Stevie, took her own life. She changed the lives of many with her beautiful self and her existence. She changed the lives of many with her final act of suicide. Stevie changed my life with both.

As a result of Stevie’s death, I have a profound urge to help others suffering from the loss of a loved one who has died by suicide. I desperately want to be there for them. That is the only way for me to go on. This is the only way to make a negative experience have positive meaning. This is the only way for me to continue, to give, and to grow. And what else is there?
We all know life is about creating love and meaning for our loved ones and ourselves. I hope you, who are reading or seeing this, can create meaning for yourself and for your loved ones in this life.

KARA is an organization dedicated to helping others get through, survive and come out on the other side of grief. Kara exists in Palo Alto, California. I am a volunteer at Kara. I am a peer counselor. I also facilitate groups for survivors of suicide loss.

I want to share a short story of suicide loss and a bit of healing along the way that I was lucky enough to be a part of, because of KARA.

A beautiful vital young woman came to me recently. She lost a brother to suicide almost 25 years ago and was coming up upon the 25th anniversary of his death. As often happens with clients of mine, there was a similarity in our losses. My client lost her brother when she was 22 years of age, her brother was 19, blame of loss resided partly with the parents. I lost my 19 year old, my surviving daughter was 22 at the time, I was to blame.

The 25 year anniversary was a milestone for my client, and brought up feelings of depression, sadness and guilt. At our first meeting, we spoke of her loss, feelings of love, happiness, guilt, and sadness. My client’s feelings were further complicated by the fact that the anniversary date of her brother’s death was the same date as her husband’s birthday, a happy date that needed to be celebrated by all, including my client. At the end of our 1st meeting, I recall my client commenting on my openness regarding my loss.

At our 2nd meeting, my client was in a positive frame of mind. She had gone through the 25th anniversary of her brother’s passing and she had shared her loss of him on Facebook. As a result of this, she had received many supportive and loving responses from friends of hers and her brother via Facebook. She seemed really happy to me. I was surprised that she was so happy. We talked about the change in her demeanor and feelings. She said she had never openly shared her loss before – her feelings of loss were wrapped in shame and secreted away. She also deferred her sad feelings to the happiness of her husband's birthday.

With the open sharing of her grief, she was coming out and owning her feelings. She acknowledged her dear brother, his love and his positive life.

That was big!! I don’t know if I will see this wonderful woman again, but she has changed my life, and KARA has changed hers. Most Kara clients and Kara relationships are not that short, but all are meaningful and healing.

I am grateful to be part of the Kara organization. I hope you call for help if you would like any kind of grief support.

AND PLEASE DONATE TO KARA. KARA IS A LOVING, GIVING, MEANINGFUL ORGANIZATION.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My late wife, Mary, told me I needed a Kara peer-counselor nine months before she died. I got one and that gifted woman stuck with me for nearly three years, helping me through the trauma of loss and recovery. We closed I was asked if I was interested in becoming trained as such a counselor for others. I knew immediately that the answer was yes, and have been rewarded immensely ever since.

Doing bereavement counseling for over 20 years now has probably been the most educational endeavor I’ve ever undertaken, particularly so with regard to understanding the human condition. Having sat weekly, with over 50 bereaved people for periods up to three years each, has led to a profound respect for and a deeper understanding of the unique properties of the human mind and soul. There seems to be an “architect-builder” residing in the “deep mind” that, given a chance, knows what to do. In the process of repeatedly combing back through our wounds and the “stories” or narratives we have built around them, and slowly bringing them current, there develops revised, clarified forms of how we hold what happened. These are almost always more apt, enlivening and healthier. Renewal and energized release follows.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My experience with Kara has been incredibly positive and rewarding. They spend considerable time evaluating their volunteers, training them, and ensuring they are a good fit, not only for the organization overall, but for the specific programs they are assigned to. The breadth and depth of their programs are amazing, and the services they offer the community are very much needed. They really connect with the people and communities they serve. Kara is a role model for community based crisis support and grief counseling programs.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Kara is a compassionate organization that serves the grieving community in a very generous caring and safe manner.

I have had much grief in my life, loss of a fiance, a son who died at the age of 37 in 1995, and 6 years ago I lost my husband of 31 years. I did not have the opportunity to come to Kara with my grief, but I decided that maybe I could help. That was 5 years ago and I can say that everyone of Kara's counselors are devoted to helping the grieving in our community, be it suicide, sudden death, anticipating death, and even with community outreach and crisis intervention. Yearly we run a wonderful camp for children who have lost a parent, and we have groups for spouses, sibling loss and loss due to suicide. We are well trained and have ongoing support from each other at regular meetings, as well as ongoing education.

It is a great privilege to have a part in helping people during their journey, and it has been very healing for me to help.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have had nothing but wonderful experiences with Kara as a volunteer for the past two years. They provided excellent and thorough training for all of their volunteers and have created a warm, safe, and supportive environment for the families that they help, as well as the volunteers who help them. The work that they do is so incredibly important and I hope to see the continuation of their work for years to come!