Summer in Southern Arizona always gives me pause as I think about our Tu Nidito kiddos and what and who they are missing as they embark on their summer activities. Every season impacts the grief journey. We try to keep our families connected through the summer months with monthly family support groups where the entire family spends the group session together sharing in family-centric activities.
In May, we hosted the Remarkable Celebration honoring Laura Baker, Linda Hardy, Ann Lovell, Sylvia Quigley, and Laurie Nelson Wetterschneider. It was an amazing evening under the stars at Tucson Country Club. Our guests were moved by each Mom’s story and their impact in our community. We also shared a clip from our new Hear Me video’s and heard from Jodi Costello, a grandmother who brings her grandson to Tu Nidito to forge his grief journey after the suicide death of her son, a purple heart veteran. The Remarkable Celebration is a special time to share the impact of Tu Nidito on the lives we touch. And it raises critical funds for our programs. This year we raised over $200,000 which will directly support our programs.
This month we welcome Rachael Blackketter, to our Tu Nidito team, as our Coordinator of Volunteer Services. Rachael comes to us from Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) where she served as the Volunteer Coordinator. She has years of experience in working with and training volunteers. We are excited to see how she will grow our volunteer programs and support services.
Speaking of Volunteers – we have a shortage! For the first time in our history, we have a waiting list for our Children to Children support groups. We are going to be adding an additional program night in August. Please share our volunteer needs throughout your networks.
Be safe this summer. Let’s all be aware of children near water and be prepared to assist if needed. Also, as we travel this summer, let’s be kind and respectful to everyone around us. Enjoy!
What Tu Nidito Families Are Doing in June...
Our new Jenga blocks and Rock, Candle, Elephant sharing activities.
Sometimes we have big feelings since our special person died or someone in the family has a serious medical diagnosis. For the month of June, Tu Nidito has created a special safe place for families and invites them to bring their open hearts and share their thoughts, their feelings, and their worries in some of our new activities.
Littles and Middles get to play Giant Jenga! Each block has a number that represents a question that ranges from light, fun questions to direct, deeper ones. Each of the kiddos grab a block, answer their question, and everyone is invited to offer their own answer as well. While kiddos are welcome to pass on the more serious questions, their answers to the lighter questions might surprise you.
In our first group night in June, one of our middles pulled a block that gave her the question, “If you could have any super power, what would it be and why?”
She said that she wanted the power to travel back in time. Her dad had died, and she wanted to go back to when he was alive.
Sophia, our Support Specialist, asked the middle, “Do you want to go back to change the future or to enjoy the past?”
And our middle said, “Both.”
This middle was usually pretty shy in group, still new and figuring out how to share. For children who have experienced a traumatic death loss, feelings of regret and guilt can be especially common, and we're happy this middle found a way to share through Jenga.
There are new ways for teens and adults to share the light and the heavy stuff too. One activity involves three items: a stone, a candle, and an elephant. They’re passed around teen and adult groups. The stone is for something easy to talk about, the candle to move deeper into conversations about oneself, and the elephant is to talk about things that we usually avoid talking about, “the elephant in the room.”
Easygoing activities like these can surprise you. Children, teens, and adults can find themselves putting their guards down and letting their truth come out. It can be surprisingly easy or surprisingly hard to share our feelings about death and grief. Sometimes all you can do is create the space and provide the activity, but what comes out might surprise you for the better.
Tu Nidito recognizes the families’ bravery to be vulnerable this month. We thank them for it and will continue to do our best in providing the comfort and support they need.
Another Amazing Teen Night at Tu Nidito!
Thanks to the Geiko Gecco for coming to May's Teen Night!
It's been awhile since Tu Nidito hosted a teen night, and we're happy to announce that it's comeback was amazing!
Put on by our very own Amerika, with big help from Brigid and Serena, 22 of our teens attended to eat, play games, tie-dye t-shirts, and play around with our special guest.
Geico was kind enough to send over the Geico Gecko, who passed out a bunch of swag and took photos with our teens!
We'd also like to give a big thank you to our amazing volunteers Lisa Antkow, Nelson Daou, Ricky Sanchez, Davya Cohen, Kathy Hager, and Rain Perez, who were a huge part of the success. We couldn't do it without them!
Tu Nidito's Teen Night is a night where our teens can, at least for one night, forget about grief and just be young.
In the midst of death in the family or an serious medical diagnosis, teens can often take on the role of a caregiver in their family and assume heavy responsibilities. The Tu Nidito Teen Night is a night away from that, where our teens get to meet peers their own age, have fun, and get the often overlooked support of simply acting one's age.
Tu Nidito is happy to be able to support its teens and bring back this night that's just for them!
Mr. Monkey and Elf - A Story from Pathways
A Tu Nidito Support Specialist has been working with an 11-year-old client who has a congenital heart disease.
She has been struggling wearing her oxygen mask and tank for a couple of months now. During one visit, though, our Support Specialist introduced her to Mr. Monkey and Elf, pictured left.
Mr. Monkey and Elf are the best of friends, and Elf helps take care of Mr. Monkey, who has a congenital heart disease just like the 11-year-old client. Mr. Monkey has also been struggling with wearing his oxygen tank and has to go to the hospital because of it.
Elf always asks Mr. Monkey why he doesn't wear his oxygen tank, and Mr. Monkey never shares why, he just ignores Elf. This makes Elf frustrated and sad because all Elf wants is to keep Mr. Monkey healthy by wearing his oxygen tank.
Our Support Specialist had the client draw on Mr. Monkey what she believes Mr. Monkey feels inside that he doesn't share with Elf. She drew a broken heart as well as an oxygen tank for Mr. Monkey.
Our Support Specialist asked the client why she thinks Mr. Monkey doesn’t wear his oxygen tank. She replied, she thinks he doesn’t wear it because he is embarrassed to wear it in front of other people. He is embarrassed of what other people might think or say about him. Our Support Specialist asked the client if she felt like Mr. Monkey too. She said yes.
Elf explained to the client and Mr. Monkey that they shouldn’t feel embarrassed about wearing their oxygen tank because it's what helps keep them alive and healthy and that if people have questions, and they are comfortable answering them, they can tell people why they have to wear their oxygen tank.
Elf then asked Mr. Monkey if it would be helpful for Mr. Monkey to wear his oxygen tank if after every successful day/night, he would get a sticker the next day as a reward. Mr. Monkey loved the idea and asked the client if she would want to do this too, and she said yes. The Patient asked our Support Specialist what happens when she gets 100 stickers. The Support Specialist said maybe after 100 stickers, the client's parents could give her a prize such as ice-cream or a toy.
The client and Mr. Monkey picked out their stickers from the art room and said they would try this out in hopes that this would help them wear their oxygen tanks more often.
Thank You to These Organizations for their Support!
We would like to thank these wonderful organizations and foundations for their support in the form of grants. Know that all of your funding goes directly into our programs and services, helping us ensure that no child grieves alone.