Meet our Board: Jessica Kuttner!

Empty Arms is so excited to introduce Jess Kuttner! Jess will serve as a resource for peer companions and support group facilitators. Welcome, Jess!

IMG_2405.jpg

While I have not personally experienced the loss of a baby, my early life was certainly shaped by loss.  My mother was diagnosed with cancer when I was 17 and lost her battle with it 3 years later when I was 20.  In the months just prior to her death, my mother started what she called a "healing circle" with close friends and family to process the impending loss together.  This incredibly potent experience planted a seed in me about the power of group support in the face of heartbreaking loss.

I currently work as a psychotherapist in private practice and specialize in postpartum mood complications, grief and loss, and trauma.  I am trained in the MotherWoman model and facilitated mothers groups for two years in Ashfield through It Takes a Village. I have been a member of the Franklin County Perinatal Support Coalition since 2013.   I also volunteer as a Healing Circle Leader (group facilitator) for Comfort Zone Camp, a weekend bereavement camp for children who have lost an immediate family member.

I have experienced both personally and professionally the deep connections that can be forged in the wake of loss, and the healing that can happen through coming together with others who are on similar journeys.  Empty Arms weaves together several of my professional interests and personal passions and it is an absolute honor to be joining the board.

Meet Our Board: Jacqui Kates!

My name is Jacqui Kates and I am an Obstetrician/Gynecologist in the Pioneer Valley. I have lived and worked in this area since 2006. It was soon after that I first encountered Empty Arms. At the time, I was in private practice in the Northampton area and had a strong desire to provide extensive emotional support for my patients.

As an obstetrician, I am fortunate to share the moments of immeasurable joy with my patients; I am also honored to be present for, and bear witness to, the overwhelming sorrow that is experienced when a child dies. Therefore, I am forever grateful to be able to guide my patients and friends toward Empty Arms. This is a welcoming community full of caring, non-judgmental folks who offer meaningful support and compassion that extends beyond the clinical setting.

I have recently become a member of the Empty Arms Board. In this role, I am very hopeful that I will be able to help reach more individuals and their families to assist them at such pivotal moments in their lives.

I currently work as an obstetrician/gynecologist at Women's Health Associates in Westfield and Springfield. I am also on staff at Baystate Medical Center, where I supervise and teach residents and medical students. I have been fortunate enough to have an outstanding medical training, but traditional training often ignores this particular aspect of our patients’ lives. I consistently strive to incorporate the psychosocial aspects of medicine into my teaching.

My professional interests include the psychosocial determinants of health, adolescent gynecology, community outreach, and perinatal mood disorders (including postpartum depression and anxiety). I have worked with MotherWoman, training other healthcare professionals to diagnose, treat, and support patients with perinatal mood disorders. I also volunteer and am the vice-president of a local private school board. I live in Northampton and in my rare and ever so precious free time, I try to spend every second soaking up time with my extraordinary family. 

Meeting our Development Director & Support Group Facilitator: Beth!

Hi, Empty Arms community. I'm so excited and honored to be sharing this space with you. My name is Beth Pellettieri. I have met many of you, but not all of you, and I look forward to meeting everyone as my work with Empty Arms continues.

In January 2014, I emailed Carol and Lexi about volunteering with Empty Arms, and they quickly put me to work. I was new to the area, and looking for an organization that felt special and unique. My background is in women's health -- from teen pregnancy and HIV/AIDS, to providing support as a doula, and working in hospitals. My most recent gig was as board president for the Chicago Volunteer Doulas.

Empty Arms also hit an important note personally, as I had my own early loss in 2009. During that time, I felt lost and alone. The idea of an organization like this blows my mind in the best possible way. I'm grateful for the space it provides for families in the trenches of loss, and for those of us working through our journey of grief.

I'm thrilled to be our newest staff member. For now, my work includes increasing our development and fundraising activities, organizing databases, and improving our blog, communication and social media outreach. Please reach out with any questions, ideas, concerns. I'm really excited to be a part of this organization.