20 Stories: Ana Tenzer
May 8, 2023
Member of the Board and Volunteer
As we celebrated our 20th anniversary and 20 successful years of serving grieving children and families, we shared the impact of Judi’s House through the eyes of 20 people.
How did you originally come to find Judi’s House and become involved in the organization?
I learned about Judi’s House initially through my work with Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck and my involvement continued when I moved to Hogan Lovells with the full-hearted support of that firm as well. I started as a volunteer for Judi’s House and supported planning for the annual luncheon. When the opportunity to join the board arose I was very enthusiastic, the mission of Judi’s House really speaks to me and I wanted to offer my full support.
My father died when I was nine years old and I lost my mother to cancer when I was nineteen. When you lose a parent at a young age, you feel like you are the only person in the world who has experienced this loss. The beauty of Judi’s House is that they really help children feel like they are not alone. I wish I had had that kind of support when I lost my parents. Having honest conversations about grief is so important. Grief is part of life and as a society, we need to learn how to have conversations about it. I joined the board in January, 2018 and have been a dedicated member ever since.
What do you think makes Judi’s House so unique?
Judi’s House treats grief with such honesty. When you lose a sibling, a parent, or a child, it can be very difficult and scary for the people around you to talk to you about your loss. What makes Judi’s House successful and unique is how they treat the whole child and the whole family. Judi’s House provides a holistic experience – providing food, other families to connect with, and the opportunity for honest conversation from a place of deep caring. Judi’s House supports the whole family and whatever dynamics come along with all the different relationships that those family members had with the person they lost. There is no other place that provides such holistic care for the entire family unit.
I think this idea was very apparent in the open house that we hosted for the new home. It was never just one individual who came to see the new home, it was whole families. Judi’s House is remarkable in its ability to help put families back together again.
What impact do you see with families served by Judi’s House?
Most of my volunteer time has been in the kitchen, serving meals during the group sessions and attending Judi’s House events. When you provide a meal to someone who is going through such a difficult time, you can see the gratitude on their face. They are appreciative of having that warm meal in a place where people recognize what they are going through. You can see such a sense of relief.
Do you have any specific memories or moments in your experiences with Judi’s House that you’d like to share?
This past year I was really struck by the passion and dedication of everyone on the Judi’s House board. We were able to complete a successful capital campaign for the new home and the sense of camaraderie and dedication in working towards this goal was really magical. We realized we needed more space to provide our services and to make it easier for people to park and access the home. The focus and unity of the board in achieving this common mission to serve more people was really amazing. You really don’t see that same level of commitment to a common mission in other places, it is very unique to Judi’s House.
In addition, Brook and Brian bring such a unique level of passion to the organization. Brian is so open and honest when he shares about the loss of his mom, he has such a great passion for the mission of the organization. Brook is so brilliant and passionate too. When you have two people as personable, approachable, smart and committed and motivated to do good with the organization, it is infectious. Brook and Brian are like the glue for Judi’s House. They bring like-minded people together to do like-minded work. Together they have created a rich and beautiful history.
What is your hope for the future of Judi’s House?
As board members, we are always thinking of ways we can expand our services to benefit more families. It is a joy and privilege to have Judi’s House in our own backyard here in Denver. I hope we are able to expand programs like Pathfinders to other like-minded organizations who serve kids undergoing large grief events. I hope we can continue to distribute the research and findings of the JAG institute across the industry. Grief not unique to Denver or Colorado, so we are working on strategies to disseminate services to organizations in different states.