Amanda the Panda, the staff, clients and fellow volunteer's are second to none. We feel that we are part of the organization. True friendships and bonds have been made with everyone we've had the opportunity to serve or volunteer with. When we volunteer with Amanda the Panda we always feel that in someway shape or form we are making a difference. This organization is very well run with only a staff of 3. Every time we volunteer we never feel frustrated or that our time wasn't used to wisely. It is not uncommon to be greeted with a hug. The best feeling is to be recognized and given a hug by a client that recognizes you away from Amanda the Panda
I have enjoyed all the time that I have spent with Amanda the Panda. I went into my volunteer experience wanting to help others who have had a death in their family because I knew the impact that death had on the lives of others. During the time I spent with Amanda the Panda I began to open up and share my own story and feelings about the death of my loved one. The death of my loved one was not something I had every talked about, and at first I didn't talk about it. I learned through the various activities that I had participated in that my experience allowed others to be open and honest about how they felt as well. During one activity there was a child that did not want to share about their emotions during the loss of their loved ones, and when I shared that I was angry at the time that child was able to open up. The remaining sessions we spent together the child was more open and willing to share. The friendships you make with the staff, volunteers, and families impacted by Amanda the Panda are amazing. The staff at Amanda the Panda go above and beyond every day to make all the people they meet feel welcomed and special.
Once you truly understand the purpose of Amanda the Panda you will ask yourself. "Why hadn't I been involved sooner?" I know this because I have heard numerous volunteers say it and I had thought the same. After being involved with support groups and weekend camps, I saw up close and personal what the power of grief counseling can do for those who suffer with the loss of a loved one. The toll that death takes on everyone is different, but resources offered by Amanda the Panda can have life changing affects in individuals and their families. If you or a someone close to you has loss someone recently please check out, http://www.amandathepanda.org.
About three years ago a friend, who used Amanda the Panda's (ATP) services when she was a child, knew of my experience volunteering for a summer camp for chronically ill children and said I should get involved with ATP. I have since had the opportunity to participate and support numerous events and engage families who have experienced the death of someone close to them. Our services are designed to support the needs of everyone in the family/household (like we say, we are here for those from ages 6-96) and provides hope and healing for those most impacted by the loss.
I have enjoyed every aspect of my volunteer experience and continually gain motivation from the amazing volunteers/staff to the family members we serve. My experiences range from helping with the remodeling of the office, to wrapping and delivering Cheer Boxes during the holiday, to serving as a Camp Amanda counselor. The power of our mission excites me daily and I know that with the right people, right motivation and right resources we can/will achieve great things and continue to provide amazing services to support hundreds of families who are going through a healing process. We are thankful for all our supporters, donors and volunteers, and hope you will check out our web-site to find out more about what we do in the community.
Review from Guidestar
I have worked with Amanda Cares for over twelve years and am a financial contributor to the organization also. The prior Executive Director (and founder) had a huge passion for what she did, running Amanda the Panda for approximately 25 years. The current Executive Director (Charlie) has as much passion as the prior. Charlie is a cheerful and bubbly person who listens and is compassionate for the families who have lost a loved one. The other staff are exciting individuals with a simlar passion for what they do also. Death is one of the hardest things for people to live with and knowing others are grieving and listening helps the individuals work through the loss. They realize their feelings are not abnormal. Amanda the Panda assists with allowing the families to grieve openly, knowing there will not be any ridicule, and support groups allow the families to talk and live their life, sharing their experiences. Each person grieves their own way and Amanda the Panda helps them with the process.
Amanda the Panda helps grieving children communicate their feelings and gain an understanding of the grieving process, empowering them with a sense of hope and healing. All of Amanda the Panda's services are provided at no cost to the families. When bereavement support is available, grieving children are 20 times less likely to develop behavior disorders, 10 times less likely to develop substance abuse issues, and 5 times less likely to commit suicide. This vital grief support makes a lasting and life altering positive impact on the children and families of Iowa, allowing more children to return to the mainstream of their lives with the coping tools they need.
Amanda Cares is a wonderful organization that helps grieving families at no cost to those they help. This is an organization that would benefit every community.
Amanda The Panda has delivered wonderful Holiday Baskets to HCI bereaved clients for the past 2 years. The baskets have been a blessing in what may have been otherwise a very slim to non exisitent holiday celebration after the detah of a loved family member. Kudos to ATP, Charlie, and the other awesome women who make ATP click!
I have known two families who were served by Amanda the Panda following a death in their families. The support and thoughtful gift boxes at Christmas time made a huge difference in their lives and helped make what was sure to be a tough holiday much more meaningful. Amanda the Panda is such a unique organization because it serves people in need emotionally during a time of grief. What is so inspirational is that it really does help people - both children and adults - grieve well and to have an outlet for sharing their feelings and emotions with others who understand what they are going through.
This is a great non-profit that works hard to help children and families through their process of grief. It seems like every time I tell someone I volunteer for Amanda the Panda, they tell me how the organization has helped them or someone they know. The loss of a loved one is a difficult experience to deal with on your own, and Amanda the Panda has perfected their process of helping people cope.
As I personally know "Charlie" ..I can only say that she is caring, compassionate person as are the rest of the staff. Cheers. Bob Rees, Jr.
Wonderful organization. Vital resource to our community. Dealing with the loss of parent at an early age is very hard. I'm happy to support their efforts to heal broken hearts.
During an Amanda the Panda orientation a woman was present to share her family’s story of grief when losing her husband. She was so very passionate and thankful for the support and generosity. It was truly an unfiltered sight of expression and gratitude.
The Executive Director is so zealous about this organization, it is hard not to want to be a part of it. She continues to keep Mrs. Zimmerman’s vision insight and expresses the same emotion for Amanda the Panda as if it was the very first day of Amanda’s unveiling. Members of this board are stern and faithful, they watch over this organization just as if it was one of our children receiving grief support.
Camp Amanda provides emotional outreach and a place to collaborate with others cooping with loss. This camp opens our kid’s lives to endless support throughout a weekend long retreat, allowing them to express, heal and have fun.
I would like to Thank Amanda Panda for giving me the strength to get through the holidays knowing that what I was feeling was normal. I became aware of this organization from a co worker who had lost her mother and she told me about the gifts and how much she has received support from Amanda Panda. From there I was unsure about it because I too lost my mother but my son was a infant and could not benefit from the services, also it was not local to my home. It wasnt until I went to the Iowa Donor Network Hope for the Holidays that I became more aware of the organization. First my son was 2 and has such a connection to my mother, who passed away suddenly, when he was 2 months old. His knowledge of her presence and also of HEAven is truely amazing. Most people do not beleive that kids see things and beleive things that us as adults feel we cant. HAving him in my life has made me believe everyday my mother is with me always and a guardian angel. When we arrived at the event Amanda the Panda came over and he fell head over heels with her and sleeps with the BEar that she gave him at the event every night, He says she knows grandma and that is why he has that, becasuse we are special to have loved ones in heaven.. He now has a love for stuffed animals and sleeps with dozens of them becasue of that. He knows that his own grandma gave him one when he was a baby so the understanding of it fit in perfect to Amanda Pandas donation. HE just loved sitting at a table with her and other volunteers playing.. As for me sitting in the event, felt a new found sense of help. Not only what I was going through as a daughter losing a mother, but also to know that there are places for if the unthinkable ever happened to me, and that is that myt son will find comfort in others who have lost as well. I have been on a lonely path of no one understanding and other who have not been through the loss thinking I was crazy. It wasnt until my husband also heard from others they felt the same, abandonment, lonliness, frustrations but also to know they are with us! Charlie gave such a empowering speech that I replay it everyday in my head of, ITS OK, but I also count my blessings everyday and am so Thankful that children who lost loved ones can go somewhere to find that sense of life and togetherness. I wish my son who is only 2 could have that as well. I fear the day he forgets about the bond or quits talking about my mother. We speak of her everyday and to see the video of the kids without their parents was a true eye opener to live each day like it is your last, and to treasure every moment you can!! Thank you!
Review from Guidestar
I am a counselor at a local community college. I have referred students and families to the Amanda the Panda website and camps. This organization provides an invaluable service to professionals like me who make the referrals and, of course, for those who are grieving the loss of a loved one.
Review from Guidestar
Amanda the Panda organization is amazing. My daughter and I attended the Grief Camp and Support Group to help us deal with a tremendous loss. The staff was exceptionally attentive to our needs and helped us navigate the grief process in way where we both came out whole. Amanda the Panda is now on my annual giving list. The staff is budget conscious, the organization has a great network of community support, and clients value Amanda's volunteers. A worthy cause indeed!
I lost my dad the day before thanksgiving 2010. Numerous friends told me about Amand the Panda for my self and my 6 and 8 year old sons. From the moment I walked in the door at the first support group meeting and was greeted with a hug I knew that is where we were supposed to be and it was going to be a part of my life from that day forward. When the boys and I are done going through the program I know in my heart that is where I am supposed to be to help other people that are going through the same thing I am feeling now. Amanda the Panda is one of the most AMAZING things I have ever been a part of and can't wait to continue this journey.
Review from Guidestar
Amanda the Panda has been known throughout the Des Moines, Iowa area just by the mention of the name. They are a wonderful organization in our community that helps young and old alike to deal with grief. As a Funeral Director in this community for over 30 years, Amanda holds a special place in my heart for all those they have have helped. The boy whose father died, and he needed help understanding why. The little girl whose Daddy died in Iraq just couldn't understand what war meant and why her Daddy had to go and not come home. The Dad who lost his wife and was left to raise four children alone. Amanda reached out to all these people, and showed them first of all understanding, then friendship. They figured out how they could best help them, and then did it. What a gift of service Amanda the Panda has..they are just magnificent. God Bless them all for what they do!!
Review from Guidestar
My husband passed away in September 2004 from stomach cancer when he was just 39. He left behind 4 children ranging in age from teenagers to toddlers. From the time he was diagnosed until when he died was just 7 months. During that time - so many friends and family were there to help us, but after his death - everyone had to get back to their lives... and it became very quiet. Not many people knew what to say or what they could do to help - and frankly - neither did I.
Then, along came Amanda the Panda! They offered some unique holiday support that simply became a life line for us during that first Christmas season. Then, we were able to attend camp, family outings, etc... Amanda the Panda is a unique organization that comes in just when everyone else steps out. They understand. They offer support. And, they help you to find your way to a new "normal".
Soon after being a "client" - I began volunteering at camp. More recently, I have helped facilitate support groups. Being able to help others who have experienced significant loss not only provides support to them, but helps me to grow and heal as well.
There just isn't any other organization who can do what Amanda the Panda offers. It almost becomes the "club" you never wanted to join, but you are thankful beyond words that it exists and is always "accepting new members." Simply put - these are services that are life-changing for all involved!
Review from Guidestar
Amanda The Panda is a wonderful organization. They truly help the grieving community in Des Moines. What an honor it is to volunteer with such an amazing group, who truly are passionate about helping people when they need it most. THANK YOU!
Review from Guidestar