Kitty Powell lived life in the moment. She loved to smile, laugh, and connect with people. She taught her children to have compassion. She embodied grace, courage, and determination in everything she did. In the workplace, she was a beloved colleague—a leader in value-based accountable health care. At home, she was a wife and mother of four young children. But in April of 2014, she lost a five-year battle with breast cancer, leaving her husband, Mark Swinth, to care for their children, Emily, Kira, Tucker, and Milo.
Prior to her death, Kitty told Mark about Dougy Center. A place she knew would provide her children a place to connect with other kids grieving the death of a parent; a place she knew would also provide her husband the support and resources he needed as a grieving and newly-widowed father.
Initially hesitant to go to Dougy Center, Emily and Kira didn’t know what to expect. Kira imagined a hospital room with chairs in a circle” and the last thing she wanted was to spend more time in a hospital setting. Instead, the girls found a safe place that felt like home. Emily shared, “I immediately found friends and people I could talk to.”
Tucker and Milo were excited to go to Dougy Center from the very start! Tucker liked that Dougy Center “encouraged expressing yourself through play and having fun with people who really understood.” Tucker likes playing instruments in the music room, bouncing off the walls in the volcano room, and playing air hockey with friends who have had similar losses. Milo said he “started making friends really fast.” Milo enjoys making popcorn upon arrival, and playing in the theater room and game room.
Mark found solace in talking with other parents dealing with common challenges and struggles. “You weren’t born with a muscle for how to talk about grief,” Mark shared. “It’s helpful to have a safe and welcoming setting where people can come together, communicate and share.”