Project Sanctuary's greatest strength is our dedicated staff, who are the driving force behind our amazing therapeutic retreats and family support program. That's why we are so pleased to continue our Staff Spotlight series, highlighting the incredible team members who are serving our military families day in and day out.
Today, we will be highlighting Kristin Donahue, Retreat Counselor!
Tell us about your role at Project Sanctuary:
I work as a Retreat Counselor. We facilitate the workshop on PTG (Post Traumatic Growth) and work with the teens to provide psychoeducation on similar material related to PTSD/PTG and other stressors impacting their family system. The counseling staff is also available to conduct individual, couples or family therapy sessions throughout the retreat.
What led you to working with Project Sanctuary?
16 years ago, I accepted an internship as a clinical counselor for Fleet and Family Support Center on Naval Base San Diego. This job allowed me to also deploy with the Navy as part of the Return & Reunion program -teaching and counseling service members while we sailed back to the US of A. I soon developed a passion for working with the military population and my trajectory as a clinician has encompassed military families/wounded warriors ever since. While working on NBSD, I met Dreya Kirkland. She relocated to Denver and began working for Project Sanctuary. She consistently encouraged me to apply, noting how great of an organization PS was and how it would be a great fit for my interests. Many years passed (!) and the stars finally aligned for me to join this incredible crew. My only regret was that I did not apply sooner!
What is your most meaningful moment with Project Sanctuary?
This is difficult as there are so many magical moments at each retreat. I love how unique each retreat is and I love to see the friendships/bonds that are formed in such a short amount of time. One standout moment was at a family retreat at Mt. Hermon (oh, how I miss that amazing site)! One of the teenagers was incredibly scared to go on the high ropes course and her parents were unable to assist her. We went together…it took a looong time and we had a crowd below cheering us on. The joy on her face when we completed the course was just priceless. Our amazing volunteer, Doug, was also on the course and cheered loudly (we even managed to get a selfie together -one of my favorite pictures with him). It’s those little (big) moments that are so impactful.
When you aren't serving military families at retreats, what do you like to do?
I split my time between my private practice (mostly serving law enforcement and military families) and as the Clinical Director at Soledad House (a women’s recovery center) in San Diego. We are a 90-bed rehab treatment center -we are BUSY! Both keep me on my toes and are challenging and rewarding in their own way.
When I am away from my offices, I love the outdoors, hiking, tennis, yoga, dogs, and T-R-A-V-E-L! Exploring and adventuring are my favorite pastimes. Learning about new cultures, reading about the countries before I depart, trying new and unique foods; ALL of it! Fun fact: I had a personal goal of 40 countries by 40! Yes, I met (and exceeded that goal). This year was India and Nepal -loved them both! Next spring, I head to Turkey -country #52!
Thank you Kristin for sharing your story and for all you do for our military families! Project Sanctuary is so lucky to have you!