Playmaker Spotlight – Kay Walsh


Addiction has done it’s best to swallow Kay Walsh.

It ravaged her father.

Tormented her mother.

Took two of her brothers.

“I’m addicted to food,” she admits, “and I’ve worked my butt off to keep addiction from consuming my children.”

But, Kay didn’t stop with just her kids. Professionally, Kay’s been a community organizer, trauma counselor, and a lifeline for Boston’s human services for nearly 50 years.

She’s devoted her entire career to helping kids overcome trauma in her hometown territories of Dorchester, Charlestown, Chinatown, and S. Boston. She’s worked with everyone from the Mayor, to the Department of Public Health, to the Boston Police, to Boston Public Schools. She’s been at the helm of campaigns and initiatives to build awareness, promote prevention, and truly connect, help and work to heal the addicted and those who love them.

She’s done everything from supporting families who’ve lost relatives to suicide, to taking care of workers in the field who’ve absorbed the trauma of failing to save a client, to protecting children who suffer the agony of dysfunctional parents.

Currently, Kay is the Trauma Response Team Coordinator in S. Boston and the main driver behind the recent collaboration between the South Boston Association of Non-Profits (SBANP) and The Life is Good Kids Foundation (LiGKF).

According to Kay:

“I’ve known Steve Gross (Founder of The LiGKF) for more than twenty years, and in that time whenever I came across a kid or an adult that had gone through something just too horrible to imagine, he’s who I call. And he always helps. He has always had a way to help those who’ve been robbed of their childhood – rekindle their own sources of joy from within.”

Earlier this year, Kay reached out to Steve to help develop an optimism plan not for single individual, but instead for an entire neighborhood.

“We’ve suffered enough in South Boston. The trauma is always here. It’s time for us to rediscover that the joy and love can always be here, too.”

With Kay and Steve’s guidance the SBANP and The LiGKF are now collaborating on ways to build optimal healing and learning environments for the South Boston community. Working together to connect, engage and explore across 35 social service organizations in S. Boston will build resilience and ignite childhood delight in joy.

“I know our work (SBANP and The LiGKF) will help bring more people together, help more people understand, and help more people just be good to themselves and each other. Honestly, I know that – I expect that,” Kay admits. “That’s why I pushed for this partnership to happen. What I wasn’t quite ready for, was being open and accepting that all this good stuff…all this joy…all this compassion…all this optimism and healing…that it could be there for me, also. I finally got it.”

At 75, Kay Walsh has been a Playmaker (someone who’s made game-changing, life-saving plays for children during critical times in their development) for her entire adult-life – and now, she’s finally ready to become one for herself, too.

Thank you, Kay.

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