Note: PACEs Connection is in dire financial straits. We need you, our 57,651 members, to help cover the loss of foundation funding that was promised and did not come through. Unfortunately, pay and hours have had to be cut for our staff. Most of us will be laid-off for the month of December. The good news is that, since sounding the alarm this Summer, we’ve raised $46,000! Thank you to all who’ve donated. To get a sense of who your fellow members are, who is donating, and why, please read and share this fourth in a series of donor profiles. Now that you know we need your help, please join Peter Chiavetta and make a generous donationto PACEs Connection!
Peter Chiavetta said he knew what he wanted to do when he was three years old.
“When I was three,” says Chiavetta, now 70, “there was a threat of nuclear war. Everyone was scared. And I knew then I wanted to save the world.”
At 21, Chiavetta witnessed a horrific car crash, one he himself was almost in. As he stood watching a victim, not knowing how to help, he knew he had to learn how to save people’s lives in emergencies. So he became a volunteer emergency medical technician (EMT) at the Farnham New York Fire Department & Seneca Volunteer Fire/EMs Department.
Fast forward 40 years and many emergencies later. That’s when Chiavetta stumbled on the Adverse Childhood Experience survey (ACEs) study, (CDC-Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences Study). It was then he knew he’d found the way to do what he’d wanted to do since he was that three-year-old child.
“I always said if I found a way to help this country continue, I would support it. The PACEs science movement is that movement.”
For Chiavetta, the ACE Study was the “aha” moment he needed to connect the dots between people having challenging childhoods and then experiencing chronic health problems as adults. And he saw no reason to not help people connect the dots…in his family catering business, with his family, in medical offices and town meetings, and on his most familiar turf—the back of an ambulance.
Learning about the ACE Study in 2014 put it all together for Chiavetta, who is, to his knowledge, the only EMT in the country spreading the news about PACEs science in a formal way, on almost every call.
Chiavetta counts connecting with Jane Stevens, founder and publisher of then ACEs Connection, now PACEs Connection, as a turning point for him.
“Jane brought, in ACEs Connection, the information, community, tools, courage, and more,” he says. All of which help Chiavetta on his quest to make the science mainstream, a matter of course everywhere, all the time, and make Chiavetta an ardent supporter of PACEs Connection.
“I always said that If I found a movement that I would help this country continue, that I would support it. The PACEs science movement is that movement. It can keep this country going—the understanding, forgiveness, help and hope it brings. And PACEs Connection leads the movement, because it can help people understand that the accidents they’re in, the diseases they have, they are not their fault,” Chiavetta says.
“I now know how to look at everything through a trauma lens, and can help people. I ask a motorcycle accident victim about his childhood while we’re in the back of an ambulance. I hear he’s had a rough childhood. I can say, ‘Man, I hear you’ve had a tough life and an even tougher childhood. It’s not your fault. And this accident is not your fault,’’’ he said.
“I tell him he’s not alone, and that he should have been protected, cared for and loved. It’s that easy to help someone,” Chiavetta says.
He believes it is that easy to help people begin to see that they want their children to have better lives, to plant the seed of their wanting their children to know the love, protection and security they may have missed.
“I support PACEs Connection because of what it has given back to me—the information to help people forgive themselves and start their lives with a new understanding of how they are where they are,” he says. “I am helping them. ”
Though Chiavetta does far more than have moments of connection in a speeding ambulance.
He has a handout he shares, goes over it with patients, and checks on them in the hospital. He estimates that he’s shared his eight-page handout (shared below) with more than a thousand people over the years.
He’s not saving the world in a grand, single swoop, but he is helping to change the world for those patients. He has a brief chat with each that helps them connect their childhood trauma with why their lives have turned out the way they have, and what they can do to help turn things around. And then he hands them easy-to-understand bits of the science, along with some inspiration. He believes some of this sharing is taken to heart.
“I recently had coffee with an old friend, and she said she wanted me to know how much what I have done over the years has helped our town, with working for better safety in getting four-way stops instead of lights, and in helping share this information about ACEs. It felt good,” he says.
For Chiavetta, the benefit of PACEs Connection has been getting the word out on the science and tracking how it is changing the world. It also validates him as he takes the science with him into hospitals and board rooms.
Documentation and dissemination—outside the comfort zone.
“We are tracking the integration of PACEs into the workplace. It’s not in the culture yet, but seeing the work go into the workplace gives us hope,” he says.
“PACEs Connection has documented that and it helps feed the hope that we will eventually see the integration occur throughout our culture. I’m on a call on Mondays with other people who want to apply what they know about PACEs science in the workplace, and they experience pushback as they try to get trauma-informed care going. Having PACEs Connection helps keep us going. It’s the documentation and the dissemination of what we know. It gives us validity. It helps us step outside of our comfort zone to push for a more trauma-informed world.”
How does he hope PACEs science will change the world?
“So many young people who are stuck think they don't deserve to have better lives,” he explains. “This science helps people realize they don’t have to live this life—there is an alternative. I’ve heard it said that ‘traumatized people stand on the grave of dreams.’ Traumatized people have dreams, but don't know how to access them. I think this information helps people access those dreams. It helps prevent more trauma. It helps them realize the struggle is on the inside.”
“I wish some politician would get up and say ‘I want one year of paid paternity leave.’ One year of paid paternity leave would turn the world upside down,” he explains. “I wish they’d ask for it and go into the ‘why’ of talking about the importance of secure attachment, safe, stable, nurturing environments. PACEs Connection helps get ideas such as that out there.”
“It's too early for this shining star to die.”
Why should other members of PACEs Connection provide financial support to our organization?
Chiavetta is straightforward in his answer.
“It's too early for a shining star to die,” he says. “We really need to perpetuate the efforts of PACEs Connection. It can become extinct. When trauma-informed care first started in western New York, people poured everything into it, and it failed. And then it got resurrected again. But the original founders of it lost traction. They had all the enthusiasm in the world and lost traction.
“I feel like we’re showing people the door to save themselves, and people are still running back into the fire. It is very important that PACEs Connection keep going—that it be that light, be that open door. This is the direction.”
Chiavetta encourages fellow members of PACEs Connection to join him in making a generous, tax-deductible donation to PACEs Connection here.
Make check payable to:
TSNE (Third Sector New England, our fiscal sponsor) and write PACEs Connection Donation on the memo line.
Mail check to:
PACEs Connection, c/o TSNE, 89 South Street, Suite 700, Boston, MA 02111