Gratitude for Kathy Brophy’s Impact on REACH

Date:

*Written by Molly Pistrang-Gomes, REACH’s Youth Education Program Manager

What does it mean to belong to myself and live a life that brings me joy?

Last month, I had the honor to speak at Kathy Brophy’s retirement party on behalf of REACH Beyond Domestic Violence. Kathy is an educator for the Wellesley Public Schools who has worked with REACH over the span of many years. In 2019, she received the Ruth and Virginia Bigwood Voice for Justice Award at REACH’s Annual Meeting and spoke about her primary goal of listening to and creating space for others so they can access their voice and feel their truth.

REACH has worked with Kathy in various capacities over the years, but in the context of our work, Kathy is mostly known for an elective class she developed called Power Up. Power Up is a thirty-session class where students learn about boundaries and consent, build community and confidence, and practice physical and emotional self-defense skills with IMPACT Boston.

As part of each Power Up semester, the REACH team teaches a lesson specifically about trauma, boundaries, and consent, and how our identities and the roles we hold impact our ability to establish and maintain boundaries. We engage in deep conversations with young people about their interpersonal interactions and how the power they hold (or don’t) impacts their ability to share their voice. The vulnerability felt in the room while conducting these lessons is palpable.

During my time working with Kathy, I have seen her address the needs of individual students and help young folks build their confidence. Kathy is an educator and advocate who sees the whole worth of a person, not just one piece of them. However, Kathy is also humble; always learning, growing, and creating for the betterment of others.

Kathy embodies intention and compassion. One year, she asked me to work with her on a project for Power Up. Kathy was concerned because the class schedule at the time worked out in a way where Power Up had their graduation, but then there were a few unplanned class days afterwards. Kathy wanted every moment of that class to be intentional, thoughtful, and inspiring. Together, we came up with an arts-based reflection project where the students responded to the prompt “what does it mean to belong to myself and live a life that brings me joy?”

At her retirement party, I turned to Kathy and asked: how will you answer that question? How will any of us? Asking the question to ourselves is a good place to start. However we choose to answer it, let’s try to make it vibrant and true.