Mission & Vision

Mission & Vision

Kara’s mission is to provide grief support for children, teens, families and adults. Our guiding values are empathy and compassion. Every day we provide caring support to children and adults affected by loss and grief. Our vision is to see people of all ages compassionately supported on their journey through grief so they can move toward renewed hope and meaning. We serve individuals who are grieving a death as well as those managing a terminal illness (their own or another's).


Kara' s founding is rooted in the early 1970s, when a growing awareness swept through the United States, England and other countries that the way contemporary society handled death, based in the medical establishment, was inadequate. The seminal work of Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and the emerging hospice movement stimulated discussions about death and dying in Palo Alto and other communities. During this same period, Dr. Charles Garfield established the Shanti Project in San Francisco to train and engage volunteers to serve and support dying patients. Palo Alto Projects, modeled after the Shanti Model of Peer Support, was incorporated in December 1976, with 17 peer counselor volunteers. In February of 1978 the organization's name was officially changed to Kara to more accurately reflect its grief support focused mission. Today, our staff and over 150 trained volunteers serve and support those who are grieving in our community. Kara does not espouse a particular religion or philosophy. We encourage those we serve to draw strength from their own personal spiritual beliefs, family, friends and other community resources to build sustaining support.

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  • 1976

    Incorporated December 21 as Palo Alto Projects

    Peer Support model adopted from the Shanti Project

    17 Volunteers serving adults

  • 1978

    Name change to Kara - the gothic root of the word 'care'

  • 1993

    Youth & Family Services Program begins

  • 1995

    Community Candlelight Service of Remembrance begins

  • 2000

    Community Outreach/Crisis Response begins

  • 2003

    Grief Therapy program begins

  • 2006

    Community Walk event begins

  • 2008

    Bereavement camp for kids (initially Camp Erin) begins

  • 2015

    Spanish Services Program begins

  • 2016

    Journeys Program begins (school-based groups for kids)

  • 2020

    Annual bereavement camp rebrands as Camp Kara.

    Telehealth Services begin.

Our Name

Our name “Kara” is the gothic root of the word care and was originally inspired from the writings of Henri Nouwen. In his book, Out of Solitude, he pens some poignant thoughts on caring and its connection with grief.

Real care is not ambiguous. Real care excludes indifference and is the opposite of apathy. The word "care" finds its roots in the gothic "Kara" which means lament. The basic meaning of care is: to grieve, to experience sorrow, to cry out with.

- Henri Nouwen