The Astor Blog

Dr. Mark Katz And His Influence On Children In The Hudson Valley

Dr. Mark KAtz

Dr. Mark Katz

Bringing Hope To Those In Need

Dr. Mark Katz’s influence in the Hudson Valley has been present for many years before Astor and Dutchess County Chamber of Commerce brought him to speak at our Annual Public Policy Breakfast.

Dr. James McGuirk, Astor’s Executive Director/CEO, introduced me to Dr. Katz’s work more than 20 years ago and his book, Playing a Poor Hand Well, has informed my work and many others in this region. Anyone who has been trained or worked in the Astor organization has been well-schooled in the resilience mindset and strength-based approach to working with children and families. I will give a recent example.

Meet Sara

In the past year, I was privileged to work with a 13-year-old girl who I will call Sara (fictitious name). Sara is a high-honor roll student, a talented artist, creative writer, dancer, athlete, and she is unusually personable; the kind of girl that most of us would be proud to call our daughter. Sara, however, did not come from the typical life circumstances of an adolescent – so high achieving, talented, creative, and personable.

In the year prior to my meeting her, Sara lived in nine different homes, several of them homeless shelters, and safe homes for victims of domestic violence. During a portion of the time she and her mother were homeless on the streets. Her mother, presently in drug rehabilitation, supported her addiction by prostitution. Her father had been out of her life for a long time and had spent considerable time in prison.

Bringing Words Of Hope

During the course of our work together she wrote a total of 13 poems. The first excerpts are shown below, expressed in a poetic and creative way her profound pain and heartbreak. The 13th, excerpts, again shown below, express appreciation of her considerable inner strength and abundant talents. It is a poem of hope and empowerment. The last poem was written by me and given to her on our last session along with a copy of Dr. Katz’s book, Playing a Poor Hand Well, which in recent communications, she told me she has read and reread whenever feeling discouraged and it always gives her hope.

Broken Girl in a Broken World
by Sara
(Fictitious name)

Little child across the land,

A broken girl in a broken world,

Crying for help,

Wishing for a father that cares,

A mother that doesn’t hurt her,

And a life worth living.

Unstoppable
by Sara
(Fictitious name)

The smile may fade from my face,

But you could never move my heart from its place.

I’m unstoppable!

The pain you caused me may traumatize me,

But all that you did could never paralyze me.

I’m unstoppable!

I am myself from now on.

My arms are stretched out for my comfort.

My life is MY dream.

I am myself.

I am unstoppable!

No One Can Stop Me Anymore!
Written by David A. Crenshaw, Ph.D., ABPP

Given to Sara (Fictitious name) as a Tribute to her Amazing Courage and Resilience

I was there when a child said, “I can’t take it anymore.”

I was listening when a child told her secret too heavy to bear anymore.

I was watching when she drew her heart with a gashing wound, too painful to hide anymore.

I was there, when a child said, “In spite of the hurt, I can’t be broken; no one can stop me anymore.

I was a broken child in a broken world, but no more, no one, no one can stop me anymore!”