National Association of Professional Women's Professional Woman of the Year 2011-12: Kathie FitzPatrick
Kathie FitzPatrick, A Northern California native of the Bay Area, is currently a Realtor-Income Property Owner in Central Washington State, who enjoys living a life of high contrast between business, creativity as an author-writer-illustrator, and working with at-Risk Youth in Yakima County Youth Detention. She also trains men and women to work effectively with these youth nationwide through a faith based program she designed and wrote called "Young Lion's Youth Ministry Program, " which has been a non-profit organization since 2002. Young Lion's Youth is also designated as "youth services," in the State of Washington. The manual for how to work with these troubled teens is entitled, "Extreme Teen Rescue," and is thought to be the most extensive work of its kind available. Kathie wrote it from her actual life experiences and successes working with these youth, in a form that could be passed on to others. More detail on the program, how it began, and how to obtain the program manual can be found on-line at www.younglions.org "Extreme Teen Rescue," has been used by various programs nationally and internationally who deal with teens with extreme issues, anger violence and addictions.
The idea for Young Lion's Youth began in 1997, when a plea for help came from the detention manager, for a group to come in a do a weekly volunteer chapel in the Yakima County Youth Detention facility, as there was no money to pay a chaplain like other facilities in the coastal Seattle area. Kathie originally went in with a local Youth Pastor, and a trained group of about 10 people who did three groups at one time, in various parts of the facility. Many of these teens, usually running about 80 per cent boys, and a small group of girls, were in for serious crimes, and even gang shootings. "At the time we began the program in 1997, the headlines in the regional papers would have been enough to scare anybody off from even attempting the idea," Kathie admits. "The papers were filled with violent youth crimes, and the article about them would always conclude, '...being held in Yakima County Youth detention.' We actually got off to a great start, but over the months the members of the original team dropped off, until I was working alone. I couldn't bear the idea of dropping the program when so many youth were obviously being helped and turned around," Kathie recalls. "I realized I was going to have to slip out of the dressy, tweed wool Realtor jacket, and the outfit with the high heels, and don the black leather jacket and the black jeans and boots, for the sake of communicating well with this needy group of teens...mostly teen felon boys."
Kathie recalls the years of being in the Real Estate office one afternoon, as Friday nights faded in to Friday evenings, and sometimes changing at the office into the "black Knight " look, slipping over to youth facility only about 10 minutes away. "Sometimes if I was called in to do an afternoon group, I might be shopping in a beauty supply store. I remember saying to the lady clerk...'I have to change quickly!' She looked at me, and with a wry sense of humor said, "I think you need a phone booth!" referring to the old superman movies! Kathie remembers those days juggling family, dinner time, husband, and her own teen girls, with bringing love, strength, wisdom and hope for a new destiny and life direction to teens who often thought they had no hope. "I was the chocolate chip baking Mom, wife, and Realtor with the other life in black leather, helping kids no one thought could be helped." The unusual thing is, as I train others to help these kids, I feel that in a sense, I am duplicating myself. I feel proud I have seen this kind of success with these At-risk Youth, but I am only one person.
Kathie, now a widow, spent almost the whole decade of the 1980's, as a television Producer and a writer, with her husband, John FitzPatrick, a Producer and Technical Director. "Those were the years we lived , worked and breathed TV-Land 24-7. We had an editing suite at home, besides one at work. Even the children were actors!" During those years working and Producing for KFCB-Channel 42-Family Christian Broadcasting in Northern California, this husband wife team ran a department of technical crew and pool of talent that produced sometimes 14 television programs at once which were nationally and internationally syndicated.
"I loved working as an on-camera Producer for a magazine show, "California Tonight," during that era. On any given day viewers might see me doing a wide variety of things such as, interviewing people at the County Fair, going down a huge twisting slide to introduce a story,talking to various celebrities or sports figures who were gold medal Olympic winners returning home after the event, or my favorite, doing a story on the recent arrival of Panda Bears from China to the San Francisco zoo. I got to feed them their bamboo at the conclusion of the story. "Remember, they may look cute, but they are wild animals...watch me and follow my lead."The Zoomaster told me. To this day, Kathie has porcelain panda bear figures in her dining room, acting like clowns, "Just like they did for us that day!" It brings back that neat memory from my favorite magazine show story...done on my birthday, no less!"
In 1990, a decision was made to move to Washington State, change lifestyles, and be in a more "regular family environment" for raising small children. "The Yakima Valley region was everything we were expecting for that!" In an article by the Chicago Tribune, Kathie read right before the move, "They called Yakima one of the last Shangrilas in America. It definitely was, and is...but the migrant workers who came up here, beginning in the 1980's from Mexico to pick the world famous apples for the local orchardists, then tried to stay in the area without being financially or culturally adjusted, began to develop the poverty and social problems with the youth that we grew to know so well, and the gang problems which emerged on the North side of the region." In 1994, Kathie left part time TV work in the region, and booking Christian concert artists around the nation, and went into Real Estate. It proved to be a long lasting career.
Since writing the program, other workers began to join Kathie, and by1999, the team concept of "Young Lion's Youth Ministry Program was born. After four years of writing weeklysessions for these teens, the book "Extreme Teen Rescue" was born in the Fall of 2001.
Just as Kathie and her regional Yakima team for "Young Lion's " looked forward to the book/progam "Extreme Teen Rescue" coming out, and being made available to others everywhere, a huge tragedy struck the FitzPatrick family. Karen Lee FitzPatrick, 18 years old, a beautiful, talented and athletic daughter who was a firefighter for the US Forest service, was killed July 10th, 2001 in the now historic fire catastrophe, "The Thirtymile Fire, which occurred in the North Cascades. Karen Lee was one of four young firefighters who lost their lives in that unfortunate episode which changed the world of wildland firefighting forever! A few days after the huge personal tragedy, Kathie still kept her date with her teen boys in youth detention. "I used to tell them...'You're my date for Friday night!'" Well aware of the huge news story, they waited with tender hearts and handmade sympathy cards they had made just for her. "That night...they loved on me, for a change! I still have the cards to this day."
Kathie, who became one of the family members in the Thirtymile fire family group of parents who stood up for greater safety after they huge controversy over how much the young firefighters were unnecessarily risked, became a voice in the news and an advocate to greater firefighter safety on a national level.She was invited to speak on nearly every local, regional and national media in the land. In the Fall of 2001, she spoke on Capitol Hill to groups of Senators and Congress people, and began writing, with her local Congress woman, Maria Cantwell, what Kathie called "The Wildland Firefighter Safety Act." The potential legislation would limit what kind of risk firefighters would legally to subject to. "I hope one day to see it fully pass. But I know one thing: there are firefighters still alive today because of these greater safety measures." More information can be learned on-line by googling the Thirtymile Fire, or Karen FitzPatrick. See www.karenleefitzpatrick.com By May 31, 2011 it is hoped that a new site www.angelpromisesthebook.com will be up and running. Kathie, as Realtor Mom, and her daughter, Karen Lee FitzPatrick, are also among the truelife characters in the book, "The Thirtymile Fire," by John Norman Maclean.
Because of this personal tragedy, many wondered if Kathie would continue her work as Director/Coordinator with the "Young Lion's Youth Ministry Program." However, it soon became apparent that she would not give up her love for working with these needy teens. "I made a decision that I was not shot down over this tragedy. My faith in God did strengthen me to go on." As a result, todaygroups using the "Young Lion's Youth Ministry Program " are active all over the USA in almost every state, and even internationally.
Kathie has personally trained teams of men and women to work effectively with incarcerated youth in other states such as California and Wisconsin, and in Toronto, Canada where youth violence issues are at extreme levels. "I also interfaced with Metro Police and volunteers of youth detention and prisons, such as the "Super Jail", Vanier Prison in the greater Toronto area. "Usually groups or individuals get a hold of my materials, and just run with it. But sometimes they do bring me in to train them in person." Ideally Kathie hopes to do a video training series in the future. "I just can't be everywhere at once!" Last October, Kathie trained youth detention chapel volunteers in the Seattle area, doing a workshop for PFC University. This March, 2011, Kathie received a designation/certification for adolescent/teen counseling and family triage counseling from the American Association of Christian Counselors, from Light University of Forest, VA. The "Young Lion's Youth Ministry Program" is a faith based concept which addresses the issues of overcoming anger, violence, addictions, suicidal tendencies, and discussing positive aspects of and teen relationship issues. "I long to teach my 'Dealing with Destructive Feelings" series to more team leaders. It is something that really gets down to the core issues."
As Kathie continues as an author, writer on various topics, she is moving toward completing her true story of working with these troubled youth over the past 14 years, and also training teams of men and women to effectively work with them through the "Young Lion's Youth Ministry Program." The new book which is yet to come out is entitled, "Rumblings." Everyone's names are changed, or only first names used. "Even my name is changed. I am 'Lizzie Baines,' or as the Mom and Realtor...'Elizabeth Baines.'" The goal is to also do an accompanying screenplay. To read more about Kathie's books, upcoming events, and new creations, go to www.kathiefitzpatrickauthorsfellowship.com
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Kathie FitzPatrick currently lives in West Yakima, WA. with her young adult daughter, JainaFitzPatrick, and two orange tabby cats, Kirby and Kitter.
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