Since 2008, the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network (MNN) has celebrated Nonprofit Awareness Day, which seeks to “celebrate the work of the nonprofit sector and raise awareness of causes throughout the state.” The celebration culminates with the Nonprofit Excellence Awards, presented to seven nonprofit organizations and employees that demonstrate impactful, creative, and nuanced work. Wediko is proud to announce that our own Kate Tetuan, LICSW, is nominated for the 2016 Young Professional Excellence Award.
Ten years ago, when Kate began as a therapist in the Wediko School-Based Program, she brought a passion for helping people understand and cope with grief and loss. Having lost her mother and boyfriend, Dominic Valdivia Munoz, all before high school graduation, Kate’s own grief process opened her eyes to the shared experience and familial impact of losing a loved one. Since her start with Wediko, Kate has graciously shared her experience and her skill to help children process grief and to help families navigate stress, trauma, and loss.
As a therapist and consultant, Kate provides individual therapy and works with teachers and school administrators to support children who have experienced loss. Over time, as referrals increased and the impact of loss and trauma experiences became more prevalent, Kate was distressed by the lack of direct support for caregivers and families. She knew of no support services for families in Boston dealing with loss, especially anything beyond death; this is known by Kate and other professionals in the field as ambiguous loss, which includes loss due to incarceration, abandonment, deportation, addiction, neglect, and more.
Kate recognized a need; not only for family-based grief support, but also awareness about the significance and impact of ambiguous loss. As a result, she has become an outspoken advocate for recognizing the significance of all forms of loss and the accompanying intense emotions that may vary by day or even hour.
Given how emotionally tumultuous losing someone can be, children and parents who share a loss experience often mutually struggle. Left unprocessed, their grief can lead to long-term negative consequences, including problems in school or at home, unemployment, drug or alcohol abuse, relationship issues, and more.
Kate, a former volunteer at The Children’s Room in Arlington, MA, adapted their model (with permission and training) for use with Wediko’s Boston client base; creating Wediko’s Living with Loss grief support program. Thanks to her tireless work and effort, Living with Loss groups are now offered to Boston families and provided in Boston and NYC public schools.
Participating children and caregivers feel a sense of relief, connection, and understanding when they have an opportunity to share their experience with peers who “get it.” Together, they share the stories and memories of loved ones while helping others heal.
Kate knows from experience that this is a win-win. “This is how I have made meaning out of my losses; by helping others with theirs. Plus, I get to talk about my mom and Dominic every day; it’s how I keep them alive.”
With award winners announced in June, Wediko already recognizes Kate Tetuan as a champion for children and families in the throes of devastating grief and loss. Through her unyielding dedication to helping develop effective strategies to cope with life’s greatest challenges, Kate has proven herself a leader in the field. Congratulations to Kate on this nomination; we are so glad her incredible work is receiving the recognition it deserves.