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How Jane Kaczmarek Is Dealing with Her Divorce

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Fittingly, Jane Kaczmarek hosted the Children’s Defense Fund Los Angeles Beat the Odds Awards Thursday night, to honor local students who have overcome adversity – given that the actress has faced public personal challenges of her own the past months.

She and husband of 16 years Bradley Whitford filed divorce papers in June.

“It’s been very hard,” Kaczmarek, 53, told PEOPLE about the split. Still, she says, volunteering for charity organizations like the Children’s Defense Fund and Clothes Off Our Back, which Kaczmarek and Whitford founded together, helps her get through.

“Realizing that even when things go bad, compared to the way the rest of the world lives, we are sitting in clover,” she said. “Being in India [with the organization], you know there’s nothing you can ever complain about again.”

Looking forward to a fresh start in the new year, she said, “Brad and I have three magnificent children and we look forward to raising them. We say we are going to be a family that lives in two different houses.

“There are challenges, but I think it will be a good year.”