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How it all began


Photo Credit: Clare Cassidy

Lauren Maucere, Kavita Pipalia & Lisa Hermatz Chahayed

As Deaf mothers of hearing children, Lisa Hermatz Chahayed and Lauren Maucere began seeking out resources for their families only to be met by exasperation due to the lack of services for KODAs (Kids of Deaf Adults) on the west coast. In the United States, around 94% of Deaf parents have hearing children; however, programs for this demographic were few and far between. They got together to discuss the importance of parents being well-informed and well-equipped to empower their KODAs with tools to help them embrace their multifaceted identities, and found themselves inspired to provide those tools themselves. As they were working to establish a solution, they were introduced to Kavita Pipalia, another Deaf mom of hearing children who was equally frustrated with the lack of support for KODAs in the area. Together, they became the impetus for KODAWest--the first non-profit organization that provides year-round programs such as workshops, mentorship, and annual camps for KODAs.


In addition to working full-time and raising children, Lisa, Lauren, and Kavita dedicated much of their time to their vision, and the three women were the driving force behind KODAWest for the first 12 years. They have witnessed countless KODAs blossom into proud individuals who no longer struggle with their identities. These children gained a better sense of self, a whole new community, and a network of support, and numerous parents have expressed profound gratitude for the constructive transformations they have seen in their kids. Knowing the impact they have has been one of the most rewarding "paychecks" for these moms. One teen camper told them that camp was only the place she could be herself and feel free.


Lisa, Lauren, and Kavita express their deep gratitude for the support of their community: families, friends, and CODAs. “Without them and their belief in us, KODAWest would not have been as successful as it is today,” they say. It indeed takes a village of dedicated volunteers who share the same passion as these three mothers to achieve the mission of enhancing of the lives of KODAs out there. Their constant and uniform message to all the Deaf parents of KODAs: “Be sure to let your children know they are nothing short of awesome, and that there are many others just like them.” At the end of the day, their goal is to help all KODAs embrace and cultivate the wonders of their unique identities.

Used with permission by Sofia Seitchik, author of The Light of Deaf Women.

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There were other influential people during the growth of KODAWest who deserve recognition.

Charles Katz was with us at the beginning and is still with us today. He has contributed to KODAWest in many aspects, as one of our collaborators, advisor, board member, and assists us with most of our camps and events.

Joyce Linden, also with us at the very beginning stages, and on the first board. We have valued her input, advice, and insight and thank her for her support. 

Richard Ray, who is currently on our board, was the one who saw three moms working hard at finding support for their KODA children, and ultimately introduced Lisa, Lauren and Kavita. 

Molly Bowen, our Camp Director, has been with us also from the very beginning and is still with us today. She shares her expertise and passion with our camp counselors, counselors-in-training and campers. 

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