In the aftermath of tragedy, Katherine’s story shines as a tale of strength and hope. At just 7 years old, she endured the heartbreaking loss of her father, Joel Villasenor Salas, to COVID-19 in 2021. Overwhelmed by grief, Katherine was referred to Bridges of Hope.

 Her mother shared, “Katherine was often tearful and anxious about life without her father”. Yet, from her first steps into the Sand Dollar Club at her school in Spring 2021, Katherine displayed a remarkable readiness to confront her emotions. She didn’t shy away from sharing her feelings, crafting a grief mask became a tangible symbol of her inner hurt. Through this openness and reflection, Katherine began her journey toward healing.

As time passed, our programs became transformative for Katherine. Now age 10, she embraced opportunities such as Shannon’s Hope Camp, where she attended multiple sessions, quickly earning praise for her openness and willingness to share. At Community Candlelight, she bravely read a poem, offering solace to others facing similar grief.

But Katherine’s journey didn’t end there. She eagerly embraced new initiatives like Hope Blossoms and our latest addition, Hope, Hooves, and Healing, finding solace and companionship in each endeavor. Most notably, Katherine discovered a newfound sense of purpose. Inspired by her own healing, her mother shared “she is interested in helping more people with the loss of a loved one”.

Facilitators have witnessed Katherine’s growth firsthand, noting her willingness to share her deepest emotions and comfort those in need. She’s become a steadfast presence at camp, warmly welcoming newcomers and serving as a model of resilience and compassion.

As Katherine continues her journey with us, her story stands as a testament to the power of community, empathy, and resilience. In the face of adversity, she not only finds healing for herself but also becomes a beacon of hope for others on their paths to recovery. With Katherine by their side, our Stepping Stones Community grows stronger, step by step.