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Participating in the Jim Click Raffle helps us create a community of acceptance and understanding for those grieving a serious medical condition or death. Thank Jim Click! Together we will ensure No Child Grieves Alone.





Pilot Program Aims to Address Unresolved Grief Among Homeless Youth ​

Contact: Meghan Reinold 

Tu Nidito Children and Family Services 


[email protected] 


ARIZONA, April 4, 2024 — Tu Nidito Children and Family Services, a nonprofit that aims to create a community of acceptance and understanding for those grieving a serious medical condition or death,  announced today that they received a $25,000 Community Impact Grant from New York Life. The grant will support a pilot program in partnership with Our Family Services, another local nonprofit focused on tackling homelessness, aimed at addressing unresolved grief among youth in the homeless community. 

The pilot will provide peer grief support groups for youth ages 12-17 experiencing homelessness. It is a  collaboration between Tu Nidito Children and Family Services and Our Family Services. The pilot will offer five cohorts. Sessions will move youth through grief activities designed to address traumatic death loss. Participation is intended to lower feelings of anger and increase feelings of resiliency leading to improved mental health. 

“We are honored to receive this grant to address the needs of youth experiencing homelessness in partnership with Our Family,” says Liz McCusker, Executive Director of Tu Nidito. “Together we will support youth in understanding and processing how grief has impacted their lives, assisting them in moving forward with less anger and isolation.” 

Colleen McDonald, Chief Program Officer at Our Family Services elaborates: “Our services for young  people center around trauma informed care; by adding a grief support element through this partnership with  Tu Nidito, I believe it will help build resiliency with these youth by addressing traumatic grief and death.” 

New York Life agent and Tu Nidito board member Supriya Bakshi continues: “I am grateful for the support of New York Life to help further the mission of Tu Nidito, an organization I passionately support. I look forward to following the progress of the pilot program and continuing the partnership between New York  Life and Tu Nidito.” 

The Community Impact Grant program awards grants of up to $25,000 to local nonprofit organizations,  which are championed by New York Life agents and employees. Since the program’s inception in 2008, 850  grants totaling more than $12 million have been awarded to nonprofits across the country.  

Tu Nidito is a safe place where children, teens, young adults and caregivers find comfort, hope and support  while they are grieving the diagnosis of a serious medical condition or the death of a loved one. All programs  are offered in English and Spanish, at no cost to children and families. For more information, please visit www.tunidito.org

Our Family’s mission is to eliminate homelessness and strengthen our community. This is done by providing stability in times of crisis, linking people to support and resources, supporting social  connections, engaging our neighbors to tackle tough community issue and acknowledging and combating systemic inequities through policies and advocacy. For more information, please visit  www.ourfamilyservices.org 

Banner Article

Don't compare tomatoes

A Grief Support Story written by Sophia Dunne, Support Specialist at Tu Nidito

What I saw, heard, and felt on the 6th floor of Banner University Medical Center felt like another world. A world where children are sick and tomatoes are the size of houses. 

We walked through the sliding glass doors of Banner and to the back of the hospital where an elevator transported us up to the sixth floor. A large mechanical door opened, unsealing the Pediatric Oncology Unit. We stepped through a hallway with curtains on either side. Behind each curtain, I saw the faces of children. They were all laid back in massive chairs, arms extended with IV bags alongside them. For the whole length of the long hallway, the curtains stretched, each one shadowing a child with cancer.

At the end of the hallway was the staff break room, where nurses gathered, lining the walls. A doctor and nurse practitioner squeezed into the gaps as well. My coworker and I introduced ourselves. We shared that we were from Tu Nidito, a place for children and families who are grieving a severe medical diagnosis or the death of a loved one. We even worked with some of the same kids that had come to Banner for treatment. 

We introduced an activity we do at Tu Nidito with our families, Rock, Candle, and Elephant. This activity helps us verbalize and share our experiences and feelings, something very common at Tu Nidito, but felt missing in that staff break room. These nurses spent their days thinking about others’ feelings. The concept of sharing their own felt new and there was hesitation. “I don’t do candles and elephants,” one nurse said.

We began by passing the rock around the circle of nurses. They each shared something smooth and surface-level, like a rock. They shared how long they worked at Banner and their favorite part of their job. After the stone was passed, the candle started in the circle. The candle represents something a little warmer and deeper in us. Then the elephant took to the floor. As the stuffed elephant passed through hands, everyone shared their elephant in the room, our heaviest hidden feelings or experiences.

After each item had passed through the circle of nurses, I was in awe of the people in this room. Everyone’s stones, candles, and elephants were all out in the open, and as it turns out they looked very similar. These nurses existed in another world, with a different definition of hardship, much different from the world I left when I got to the 6th floor. These nurses’ elephants were that they struggled each day after work, leaving the sixth floor and stepping back out into the rest of the world. Nurses shared the anger and resentment they felt toward their family and friends who complained about flat tires and dirty dishes after they had spent their day holding the hand of a child with cancer. A nurse shared she knew she wasn’t supposed to compare tomatoes. 

This nurse used the term tomatoes to refer to individual hardships that we all have and that all look different. Everyone has their own tomatoes, even if it’s a flat tire, so we aren’t supposed to compare our tomatoes to others. Yet this nurse couldn’t help but feel her tomatoes were massive, obviously bigger than most people’s tomatoes. Heads nodded and tears spilled. These nurses lining the walls of this little break room on the 6th floor, all had enormous tomatoes.

I realized, while they were sharing, that their stories all had one thing in common: they loved each other, their coworkers. And their elephants all spoke of how much bigger they felt their tomatoes were than others who didn’t exist on the 6th floor every day. As I looked at these faces, and their stones, their candles, and their elephants all out in the room with us, I shared my realization. We all have the same need for our co-workers’ support and the same pains from seeing what only exists within the Pediatric Oncology Unit. That is support. To have each other, people who can nod their head when you share your heaviest and even darkest feelings, because they have experienced and felt these feelings. 

That is the power of peer support, something we grow here at Tu Nidito. After giving themselves permission to share their elephants, my hope is the nurses working in the Pediatric Oncology Unit of Banner have discovered and felt the strength and comfort of being surrounded and supported by others with the same size tomatoes. Tu Nidito helps connect children and families together who have similar experiences. As I witnessed on the sixth floor of Banner and within our painted walls at Tu Nidito, there is so much comfort and relief to be found within others who understand our experiences and feelings. 

Volunteer Spotlight

Dina Rosengartner

I had the opportunity to talk with Dina about her connection to Tu Nidito and the why behind her volunteer commitment. She is simply amazing! Dina has a MSW (Master’s Degree of Social Work) and 33 years of experience in the field of behavioral health. She currently manages an outpatient clinic for CODAC, but that is not what brought her to volunteer with Tu Nidito.

15 years ago, Dina’s husband died, and she and her three children found their way to Tu Nidito. The time they spent here changed their lives. They attended support groups for 4 years. Tu Nidito gave each one of them a sense of community, providing a sacred and safe space to share their thoughts and feelings. Her children, Michaela (26), Rachel (24), and Trey (22) loved coming to Tu Nidito. After group, they would go to Baskin Robbins and share their experiences and decompress. Tu Nidito became a family ritual for connection and healing.

Fast forward to pre-Covid, Dina found that she had some extra time and decided to return to Tu Nidito to give back some of what she got from her time as a client. She knew first hand the impact Tu Nidito had on her family and wanted to help others travel their grief journey with the support of Tu Nidito. She loved that each of her children had their special support group and that she too could get support from adults, just like her, who were grieving as they helped their children navigate their own personal grief.

I asked Dina what helped the most.

“I had a voice and people truly listened and heard me,” she said. “Life moves on and at the end of the day, there is no-one left but you.”

At Tu Nidito she found other adults experiencing just that feeling and powerful connections were made.

As an adult support group facilitator, Dina hears her voice in those caregivers she supports. Sharing that they too appreciate a place to gather, to be heard and understood. Her group attendees are so happy to be at Tu Nidito. Dina clarified, “not happy in terms of being happy” however still happy in a sense.

Dina’s adult children are still very connected to Tu Nidito. Her oldest daughter, Michaela volunteered with Tu Nidito prior to moving to New York. Rachel, her middle child, is a current volunteer, having just graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in Public Health.

I am honored to share Dina’s story with you all. You can learn more about her and her work in this article.

Debbie Rich

Director of Philanthropy and Communications

Volunteer Spotlight

Volunteer Spotlight Barnard Mthembu

I had the opportunity to talk with Barnard about volunteering with Tu Nidito and what drew him to our organization. Barnard is studying to become a social worker because he is committed to helping people who are struggling. His focus is on clinical therapy and supporting families. 

“I couldn’t think of a better place to do my internship than Tu Nidito,” he shared after his experience here. “I want to be part of their journey and healing. Humans are so unique and deal with their trauma in different ways.”

Barnard views Tu Nidito kids as courageous. He found it rewarding to see how strong they are and how willing they are to come to Tu Nidito and ask for help. “I am inspired and encouraged by the kids.” He believes he is a bridge between caregivers and kids, both can come to Tu Nidito and get the support they need. Caregivers have someone to be with, to share and to be heard, while their kids are in a safe space.

Volunteering with Tu Nidito gave Barnard the chance to look kids in the eye and earnestly say, “I see you, I am here with you, I want to know how you are doing.” 

Barnard will be an impactful social worker; his compassion and empathy shine when he speaks about his work and his love of volunteering with Tu Nidito. Barnard and his wife, a resident at Banner University Hospital, are expecting their first child this year. Barnard will complete his degree and pursue clinical practice.  Barnard, thank you for sharing your time, your talent, your wisdom and heart with all of us at Tu Nidito.

The Remarkable Celebration 2023 Wrap Up


The Remarkable Celebration is Tu Nidito’s largest fundraising event, raising critical funds for our programs and services that serve more than 700 grieving youth each year. This year’s event raised more than $230,000, thanks to the generosity of individuals like you.

The Remarkable Celebration honored five Remarkable Moms, who through their life experiences advance Tu Nidito’s mission of creating a community of acceptance and understanding for those grieving a serious medical condition or death.

This year’s honorees were: Laura Baker, Linda Hardy, Ann Lovell, Sylvia Quigley and Laurie Nelson Wetterschneider.  These women are pillars of strength and resilience for their children and our community.


Laura Baker

Linda Hardy

Ann Lovell

Sylvia Quigley

Laurie Nelson Wetterschneider

Thank You Sponsors!

Mamma Mia! Presenting Sponsor

Dancing Queen Sponsor

Jim & Vicki Click

Take A Chance on Me Sponsors

SOS Sponsors

Larry Wetterschneider

Super Trouper Sponsors

Kind Words from Logan

Logan Lazarus is the grandson of Ellen, one of our longtime volunteers and a former remarkable mom, and he nominated Tu Nidito for a funding opportunity from his high school. While Tu Nidito was not chosen for the grant, Logan’s speech was very moving, and we very much appreciate his kind words and effort.

“Hi everyone! I’m Logan Lazarus and I’m very happy to be here. The charity I chose is called Tu Nidito – an incredible organization based here in Tucson. 

My grandma has been volunteering with this charity for many years and has even been given one of Tu Nidito’s highest honors – the remarkable mom award. What this organization does is extremely special, very unique, and fulfills a true need here in our community – helping ensure that anyone who is suffering or grieving is not alone.

When my grandmother was only 10 years old, she lost her father very suddenly to a heart attack. This traumatic event really affected her and took a huge toll on her and her family, especially because she was so young. Years later my grandma also lost her husband very suddenly – my grandpa who I never met and am named after. My mother was still in college and his death impacted the whole family in such a major way. 

Tu Nidito has helped hundreds of families with their mission: That no child grieves alone. The grieving process is extremely difficult to overcome in any situation, but even harder when it’s sudden or traumatic. Tu Nidito provides a nest – a support system to help families during these unimaginable times. With amazing people on hand to help and programs designed to guide everyone through the grieving process, Tu Nudito is a safe, loving place where children, teens, young adults, and families can find comfort, hope, and support while they are grieving the diagnosis of a serious medical condition or the death of a loved one. 

Thanks to my Grandma I already knew how much this organization extremely benefits children in our community, but I visited Tu Nidito earlier this week wanting to learn more about this great organization. And my visit was truly impactful as I learned even more about how they help people who are suffering or grieving. 

At Tu Nidito, they offer various programs to help every person deal with grief in the way that’s right for them. Programs are twice a week and are usually organized by age, with multiple volunteers assigned per group. When I visited I got to see all the amenities they offer and amazing features that Tu Nidito has. The building has many different rooms designed for all ages and tailored for different things depending on the person in need. For each program, the time is separated into two halves – some play time and some time to talk and connect with the children. 

Most times, it is hard for little children to comprehend the death of a loved one and even harder for them to communicate what they’re feeling. So Tu Nudito created a room specifically for children ranging from 3-7 years old. In this room, Tu Nidito provides games and toys for the children to just have a safe space to relax and even play out their grief. Volunteers may use books and characters from a story to help children understand and process their feelings. 

The middle room is for children ages 8-12 who spend time in the Talking Circle. This room also has an evening curriculum focusing on teaching new skills for coping and gaining a better understanding of the thoughts and emotions these kids are experiencing. 

There is also a Teen room for kids ages 13-18. Teens have specific needs and these programs help grieving teenagers form friendships with others who are going through something similar. Tu Nudito helps provide these teens with a sense of safety and acceptance during what can be an isolating experience for an adolescent. 

Tu Nidito also has other special rooms used for specific programs such as the Volcano Room, Imagination Room, and Art Room. The Volcano Room is very helpful for the children because when emotions build up and need to erupt, kids can spend time in the Volcano Room to blow off steam. In some situations, their special person has been murdered or has committed suicide and that can be extremely hard for anyone to overcome. The Volcano room allows the kids through physical movement and activity, to release complex feelings like anger, stress, frustration, and anxiety.

In the Imagination room and the Art Room, kids grieve more through behavior than words. Children can continue to process what they are feeling through imaginative play, drawing, or dressing up while knowing it is okay to still be a kid and have hope for their future. They can play out their grief in creative, therapeutic ways and know that Tu Nidito is a safe place. 

Tu Nidito provides a truly unique service to Southern Arizona and their organization is extremely impactful for all the children who need a safe nest where they can openly grieve and express their emotions. Like any non-profit, they have a variety of needs, but all the money raised would directly support their ability to keep the rooms, equipment, volunteers and facilities at Tu Nidito going and growing so they can help more families and children. Tu Nidito runs 100 percent off of donations so this would help them in a major way. 

Tu Nidito is such an amazing charity with such an impact on the families going through the most difficult times imaginable. You should vote for this incredible organization because its impact on children and families going through the most unimaginable times is so great. Through peer-to-peer interaction, guided discussion and age appropriate activities, families find comfort, hope, and support so that no child has to grieve alone.”

Mary Wallace “Arms Wide Open”

Volunteer Spotlight:
Mary Wallace “Arms Wide Open”

By Debbie Rich

Have you ever felt someone’s energy through a phone call? It is rare for me, but when I spoke with our Tu Nidito volunteer, Mary Wallace, I felt her energy – and her warmth, compassion and sense of humor.  Mary came to Tucson after having lived 30 years in Los Angeles as a television reporter, producer, director and writer. Her work took her on travels around the country, meeting real life people and sharing their stories through segments and series on HBO, NBC and PBS.  She loved her work and shared “I had fun almost every day.”

Mary came to grief work after having her best friend die from breast cancer. Although she had experienced grief before, the death of this friend moved her to explore grief support groups in her area. She landed at one in at Glendale Adventist Hospital. During her 8 months with the group she grew into the role of facilitator.  She found grief work extremely fulfilling and helped to start a group for adults grieving a death by suicide. 

Fast forward to Mary’s retirement to Tucson. She found Tu Nidito after exploring volunteer opportunities to work with those grieving. She shared, “while at Tu Nidito’s one night, I spotted someone who was so familiar to me and I asked if she had attended a grief support group at Adventist Hospital in Glendale?”  She had! This person was Tu Nidito’s Support Specialist (now Bereavement Programs Manager) Serena Sahajian.  Mary was so happy to see Serena and shared that it gave her the strength to go forward through the world with her arms wide open. 

Mary values Tu Nidito’s grief support programs because they are experiential and not just rhetoric. She found her heart with the Middles and shared, “I love the Middles because they are ages 8-12 and so am I. It is a high honor to walk with these kids and it means so much to be with them – to giggle with them and cry with them.” Completing her thought with, “we cry because there isn’t a definitive answer.” Mary ended the conversation with, “in many ways my heart would sometimes miss a beat without Tu Nidito.”

Mary is enjoying her retirement. She fills her time with art of all kinds. Once a year she finds herself in the small town of Dillion Montana fly fishing, which is her passion. She has only missed one season in the last 20 years. She describes her time there as spiritual “there is so much room for me there and we have a million laughs together as we fish the clear fresh waters.”

Mary is a Tu Nidito treasure. Her energy is effusive. Her passion and compassion are contagious. It was an honor to learn her story and to share it with all of you. 

Tu Nidito Takes Grief and Loss Support Group Training on the Road

Grief and Loss Support Training in Vail

In response to a critical community need addressing the record cases of grief and loss due to the pandemic and resulting deaths from the virus and ripple effect of increased suicide and homicide deaths, Tu Nidito has developed a comprehensive training for school staff and a companion structured 8-week Grief group curriculum.

Amanda Marks MSW, Community Impact Director, describes the need for grief and loss training in the school setting, “The pandemic has drawn attention to grief and loss and how kids are grieving at school. Grief doesn’t have an on off switch, kids are bringing their grief to school. As Southern AZ’s grief and loss experts, Tu Nidito is available to help school personnel better support students during their grief journey. She continued, “one of our core values is – we respond – the pilot training helps us respond to our community’s unmet needs.  Equipping school staff with the tools and skills to facilitate a grief and loss group at their school increases a student’s accessibility to peer grief support, thereby helping to ensure that no one (student?) grieves alone”.

Tu Nidito completed the first pilot program for the Vail Unified School District, training 30 school counselors and student service coordinators, on the Tu Nidito model and how to implement best practices when facilitating a support group at their schools. The curriculum includes discussion topics and activities that focus on identifying and expressing emotions, developing coping strategies while at the same time decreasing feelings of isolation and building connections with other students.

Jill Wells, Family Resource Coordinator for the Vail School District, brought the training to the district and participated, she shared, “thank you for all the great information, I loved that you included reminders on how to talk and what to say, and that it takes practice and we should all be practicing.” Her team gave the training great praise saying they want more.

“We are inspired by the Vail Scholl District’s response to our Grief and Loss group training program,” said Liz McCusker, Executive Director, Tu Nidito. “We know the more we provide support, resources and education to our community the closer we come to our vision – No child grieves alone.”

Our partners at NPR dive deeper into the impact of grief and loss post pandemic:

Losing a parent in childhood is the kind of trauma that can change the trajectory of kids’ lives, putting them at risk of having symptoms of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress and even poor educational outcomes. Yet few schools have resources in place to help kids going through this. The problem has come into sharp relief during the COVID-19 crisis, which left more than 200,000 kids newly bereft of a parent or primary grandparent caregiver, according to some estimates.

Read the article here

Making a Referral

Making a Referral

How to Get Started in Tu Nidito’s Programs

Tu Nidito provides comfort, hope and support to grieving children, teens, families and young adults through an array of programs. A family or individual can get plugged into whichever services are most suitable for their unique needs by completing a referral form online – or by having a professional complete a referral on their behalf. Services (offered at no cost, in English and Spanish) include:

  • Peer-to-peer support groups for children and teens 3.5 – 18 and their caregivers grieving the death of a loved one
  • Peer-to-peer support groups for young adults 18 – 39 grieving the death of a loved one
  • One-on-one support for children, teens and families experiencing a serious medical diagnosis of a family member
  • Peer-to-peer support groups for children and teens 3.5 – 18 and their caregivers experiencing the serious medical diagnosis of a parent/caregiver

Self Referral

If you or your family are grieving the death of a loved one or a serious medical diagnosis, we invite you to complete the Self Referral Form online, or give us a call at (520) 322-9155. Completion of this form does not immediately enroll you in a program, but it is the first step to get you connected with a trained Support Specialist on staff.

Professional Referral

Teachers, medical professionals, counselors, pastors, therapists and social workers often meet or serve families or individuals who may benefit from Tu Nidito’s services. If this describes you, we invite you to complete the Professional Referral Form online or give us a call at (520) 322-9155. We will connect with you if we have any further questions about the family or individual you are referring, then reach out to them directly to introduce ourselves. Please note that you must have permission from the party you are referring prior to completing the Professional Referral Form