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Who's Who in Sonoma: In the Fight for Human Rights

"I don’t want Sonoma to turn into every other city," said activist and world traveler Kathy Hargitt.

 

With a French mother and American father, Kathy Hargitt was exposed to an array of cultures, growing up in Italy, France, Belgium and Nepal. 

Her interest in humanitarian projects began early; at the age of 19, she moved to Katmandu to work with ex-Peace Corps volunteers.

In 1989, Hargitt moved to Sacramento to train as a Waldorf teacher and was exposed to an ‘Americana’ that was totally new.  She eventually went back to school, and today, as a doctor of clinical psychology, she treats children, adolescents, young adults, and provides support to parents.

Passionately committed to issues revolving around human trafficking and sexual exploitation, Hargitt works with victims and survivors. She’s also committed to influencing policy changes, and sits on the Sonoma County Human Trafficking Task Force.

She volunteers at the local soup kitchen, where she says she meets fascinating people. “There’s a couple, just like you and me,” said Hargitt, “who lost their home in the mortgage scandal. They’re trying to rebuild their lives.”

Sonoma Patch: It must have been an interesting adjustment moving to the states after growing up in very different cultures.

Kathy: It was both good and difficult. I went to an American international high school, so I had some exposure to American culture. Still, I mostly hung out with Europeans and people from other cultures.

SP: What was it like moving to Sacramento?

Kathy: It was quite a big adjustment. Coming from Nepal to these huge highways and shopping mall after shopping mall . . . no sense of village, no sense of town.

SP: What brought you to Sonoma?

Kathy: I moved here in 1994. Sonoma has a center - the plaza struck a chord with me. At the time we had a cobblestone street that led to an Irish pub and French restaurant. Now there’s an Irish pub and a Himalayan restaurant. Of all things, Nepal has come to me. Sadly, the cobblestones are gone.

SP: Speaking of changes in Sonoma . . .

Kathy: You can’t push back change. Nothing is permanent. At the same time, sometimes I grieve for the ‘farmer’ aspect of Sonoma. It’s hard to see some of the cow and horse pastures go, and there’s the issue of ‘formula’ stores. I go to city council meetings when I can. I don’t want Sonoma to turn into every other city.

SP: How did you get interested in psychology?

Kathy: Working as a teacher, many abused children came to my attention over the years. I decided to specialize in working with children and their families. And I became very involved with the issue of human trafficking.

SP: Emotional subject matter. How do you cope?

Kathy: I take breaks and nurture myself.

SP: What kinds of policy changes are you working on?

Kathy: We need to train people to work with victims and survivors of human trafficking. My hope is that we’ll have a state and national process for certified crisis counselors and advocates, just like we have for domestic violence and sexual assault.

SP: Biggest challenge?

Kathy: These victims have gone through so much – we need to provide them with support that empowers them. Help them regain what they’re entitled to. And protect them from further exploitation.

SP: How do you nurture yourself?

Kathy: I love hiking, photography, sailing, horses, wildlife, gardening, reading, and dancing. And I used to sing in the .

SP: If you hadn’t discovered this calling, what would you be doing?

Kathy: I guess doing what I am doing, but all over the world. Volunteer at soup kitchens, hang out with the homeless, advocate for an end to child abuse and exploitation. It’s really about human rights, and kindness. Isn’t it?

Nina Forta May 05, 2012 at 02:39 AM
Yea Kathy! Nice article, about a strong, and kind woman. Sonoma is lucky to have you here.
Dorothy May 05, 2012 at 03:11 AM
Interesting young woman with a strong commitment to others.
Sanjay Shrestha May 05, 2012 at 09:30 AM
I am proud to read this ! Keep it up !!

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