June 2021

Kate Pavao of the Live Like Coco Foundation

by suki wessling

Welcome back to our monthly feature of moms who have faced the task of pandemic parenting while also continuing their work in our community. Research has shown that women have suffered greater economic and personal fallout from the pandemic, losing jobs or having to work while also caring for children.

When local mom, writer, and community volunteer Kate Pavao talks about ‘Marie Kondo-ing’ her life, she’s not referring to physical stuff. She’s working on focusing on what’s important, especially at a time when so many people need so much.

“I used to manage a freelance writing/editing business as well as running the Live Like Coco Foundation, so I am used to working at home and juggling a lot of responsibilities,” Kate explains. “This has been another level, though! When the pandemic started, a lot of my writing projects were put on hold, and I haven’t really had time to pursue too many new assignments.”

Kate has taken this time to focus her work on the foundation, named in memory of her daughter who died in 2015, which hosts book giveaways and beach cleanups, funds scholarships, and places Little Free Libraries in our local parks.

On top of distance schooling this past year, that work was enough.

“My house is small and sometimes I stand on the stairs on the way up to my room (where my husband works) and I can hear all three of them in virtual calls at once,” Kate says. “Add a barky dog and it’s a lot of chaos to manage!”

As someone who has focused much of her time on fulfilling needs in our community, this year has been especially difficult, presenting challenges since most of their work was done in person. The best solution that Kate has found for keeping it all together is mindfulness.

“I really feel so much better after my morning walks at the beach, instead of just trying to start the day with my to-do list,” she explains. “Often, I am more productive afterward anyway. My son’s teacher in particular has made mindfulness a real priority in her class, and I have tried to model that at home, too, either by doing the meditation or breathing exercises with my kids, or just trying to keep us all in the moment a bit more.”

She’s particularly proud of her husband’s ‘bread ministry’—he makes and delivers sourdough bread at people’s houses when it’s their birthday or they are feeling low.
For its part, the foundation continues its mission as best it can. Over the past year, it has adapted to pandemic-era norms.

“At first I was so worried about losing our community and cancelling our events,” Kate remembers. “But I have learned that our community is still there. I am proud that we’ve been able to be adaptable and stay focused on what we could do. We’re all kind of floating around on our own little islands right now, but when I think about the Live Like Coco community, in particular, I see a lot of people who still want to connect, who still want to make a difference.”

At this writing, school is about to end and Kate’s family are making summer plans including swimming and vacation. The Live Like Coco Foundation, she says, is ready to move forward.

“I am excited to start passing out books again and connecting with community!” Kate says. “In July, we will do a book giveaway each Friday at the Watsonville Farmers Market.”

It’s a good message for all of us: Focus on what’s important, nurture each other, and never give up on community.

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