Team gathered around a table collaborating
Kai Smith

Kai Smith,

Office Administrator / Neurotherapy Technician

Specialties: Neurotherapy Treatment, Adults, Children

“If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?”

– RuPaul


I grew up in a single-parent household. I’m not sure how others may have experienced this, but personally, many times I felt unwanted and out-of-place right out the gate. Raised by a loving-but-critical mother, in a predominantly LatinX community, and fighting against urges to play in other boys’ hair, I never had an easy time “fitting the mold”. 

Because of this, Young Kai spent many, many years straining to be liked. Liked by his peers, liked by his teachers, liked by his enemies, and liked by his mom – It took him a long time to stop and consider whether or not he liked himself.

Up until recently, I would have described myself as a rolling stone. At 14, I left my family and friends in my hometown of Washington, DC and enrolled in a boarding school located in Rhode Island state to pursue my education and athletic career. Once I graduated, I moved back home only for my family to move out-of-state merely days later. Thus began a game of long-distance tag that would continue to this day.

Between boarding school, traveling to Spain (a story for another time, perhaps), living and working in D.C alone at 19, attending two universities, and couch-surfing with friends up and down the East Coast, I began to collect memories, experiences, relationships, and stress like I was 10 years old again, voraciously collecting bugs in dime bags I found lying around my neighborhood streets.  

But because of my journey thus far, my shattered family dynamic, and my strong, critical inner-voice, I found it increasingly difficult to find groups and people with whom I felt I belonged. This struggle continued on for 10 years. 

And then COVID happened.

I was still in university, miles from home, no option to leave campus when the schools shut down. It was terrible. I worried about what would become of me. Would I have to abandon my education? Would I ever be able to be in a place long enough to form meaningful connections? 

Fortunately, the school did not kick me off campus. Instead, I, and seven other students with adverse circumstances, were eventually moved into apartments owned by the university. The quarantine went from being a horrible curse to suddenly becoming the most transformative slumber party that I had ever attended. I would never be the same.

A lot happened that Summer. The Black Lives Matter movement kicked off with the murder of George Floyd. I realized and accepted that I am a member of the LGBTQIA+ Community. I realized that I was cripplingly lonely. I learned that I wanted to love myself despite the sharp voices in my head telling me that I didn’t deserve it. It became apparent that I needed help.

Luckily, that Summer, I was able to finally find individuals with whom I felt I belonged. I found Family. 

[It] feels like everything that has gone missing in my life, joy and love and laughter and companionship, all flooding back into me at once. This is home. This is what I’ve been searching for.

– Marie Lu

With the help of the university’s decision to move us into the apartments, I was able to form a bond with two young men from Rwanda. These are individuals who I would now consider to be my brothers. With the help of a community-oriented social media app, I was able to find people with shared interests and shared experiences. Most of those people I met all of those years ago, I still speak to until this day. They are my Chosen Family. 

It turns out, there are many people out there that feel the same way that I felt back then. I am grateful to myself for having the resolve and hope to keep moving forward. However, I recognize that circumstances like mine can be potentially fatal when someone can’t find support in time like I did. Now, I put my education, experiences, and resources to use by providing safe spaces online for people who feel alienated in their lives. 

And though I know that I’ll never be able to help all of those in need, it’s enough for me to know that at least one person might benefit from my services. So many have helped me, supported me, and lifted me up. I feel called to do the same for others. 

If I could leave this Earth with one message, it would be that service is the antithesis to work. I believe that doing good for others, while expecting nothing in return, can result in the richest feeling of fulfillment. It is my greatest wish that more people could have opportunities and motivation to serve others in their communities around the world.

That and it would be cool to wake up and have Spider-Man powers. That would be pretty cool, too.



  • Bachelor of Arts in Social Work, Minor in Psychology, Bluffton University
Janna Clark

Janna Clark


Neurotherapy Technician

Specialties: Neurotherapy Treatment, Adults, Children

Chris Burd

Chris Burd


Business Development Director
Clinical Therapist for Individuals & Couples

Specialties: Individuals, Couples, Trauma, Anxiety, Depression, LGBTQIA+

Heather Putney

Heather Putney


Executive Director, Founder
Clinical Therapist for Individuals, Couples, & Groups

Specialties: Couples, Addictions, & Trauma Specialist

Sydney Frazier

Sydney Frazier


Clinical Therapist for Individuals

Specialties: Children & Adolescents