Advocate Spotlight: Kim Praitano
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got connected with the Cancer Support Community.
Since 1984, I’ve worked in many areas of social work, including Domestic Violence, HIV/AIDS, Women’s Equity, Early Learning and Persons with Disabilities. In 2011, my sister was diagnosed with lung cancer, so I knew how devastating the diagnosis is on the person and their family. Cancer Support Community was a natural fit for me because the foundation was solid, but there was so much more potential and work for me to build on. I was ready to finish my career building a legacy to be proud of by serving others and fulfilling the needs of my community.
Did you have experience with advocacy in any capacity before joining CSC? (e.g. legislator meetings, hosting educational events, writing letters or calling, writing pieces for media outlets, posting on your personal Facebook, sharing information with your community, etc.)
As a social worker, I’ve always advocated for every group, issue and nonprofit for which I worked. My first donation as a teenager was to the National Organization of Women, and I realized early on the importance of advocacy. Most of the issues I have believed in involve disenfranchised communities, so advocacy became a critical means of affecting social change.
Is there one issue you are particularly passionate about?
Psychosocial supports in cancer care are critical because they positively affect health outcomes. When we talk about the social determinants of health, we are talking about the work of the Cancer Support Community and Gilda’s Clubs, yet there is no recurring funding that I am aware of for this service from the local, state or federal level. Why is that? My passion is finding a way to change this so that our values are reflected through funding.
What is one tip or piece of advice you’d like to share with others who are interested in becoming an advocate?
Advocacy happens naturally when you see a need, a gap or injustice and know that we can do better, and you seek out the people and resources to help us do better.
Tell us something fun about yourself—any hobbies, interests, or fun facts?
My passion outside of work is practicing Krav Maga, a self-defense system that incorporates many different martial art techniques. Throughout the pandemic, I’ve practice with my training partners via Facebook video so that we can motivate and learn from each other.