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Kate Braestrup  

Award-Winning Author

In the news, we hear shocking stories about missing people on an almost daily basis. The searches and the work of the local police officers and other teams involved are well publicized while the privacy of the families is well protected, thanks to experienced and compassionate search-and-rescue professionals like Kate Braestrup.

Kate Braestrup’s true story, Here If You Need Me begins with a memory she relives nearly every day: the last time she saw her husband, Drew, a Maine State Trooper, alive. As a young, grieving mother of four, Kate Braestrup coped with his death by becoming a Unitarian Universalist minister, and, eventually the chaplain for the Maine Warden Service, which conducts search-and-rescue operations when people are reported missing.

Kate’s role in the process is quiet yet powerful. She rejoices with the parents of a six-year-old girl when she is found alive after an exhaustive search. She also is the first to inform a wife that her husband’s snowmobile fell through the ice and he did not make it out of the freezing cold water alive. She has witnessed miraculous rescues of people who fell hundreds of feet into rocky ravines and of swaddled infants left in the cold by drug-addicted suicidal parents. She is there, often when nobody else is, to share smiles and tears of elation – and body-wrenching sobs of heartbreak. And, she has written about how these experiences change everyone involved, including herself, in her truly unforgettable memoir, Here If You Need Me.

Kate’s deeply poignant writing enhances her vast and sometimes unbelievable experiences, and in person she is just as moving and eloquent. With poise and grace, she brings to life the truths and complexities of a sometimes unbearable subject that continues to affect millions of people every day – whether in the news or in one’s own backyard.

Kate Braestrup is one of the first chaplains ever appointed to the Maine Warden Service. She is the author of a novel, Onion (Viking, 1990), and has written for Mademoiselle, Ms., City Paper, Hope and Law and Order. She lives in Maine with her husband, Simon van der Ven, and their six children. Here If You Need Me won the Barnes & Noble Discover Award in Non-Fiction.

At the podium, Kate discusses coping with the loss of a loved one who’s job is dangerous; how faith has helped her in her searches; which of her cases was the most difficult to work on and what does it mean to be the first chaplains to work with the Maine Warden Service?

“Kate Braestrup’s role as both memoirist and minister is to ponder why bad things happen to good people and, as a grieving widow, to accept that death comes for its own reasons and on its own schedule. This she does affectingly, with style and grace.”

-Boston Globe

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