About Amanda the Panda 

The idea for Amanda the Panda was born in 1980 by JoAnn Zimmerman. The primary focus for Amanda the Panda during the first seven years was to be a special friend to children living with cancer.  Amanda the Panda’s work with grieving children evolved naturally from this work with children living with cancer. Over time, Amanda the Panda’s work evolved to include grieving children. 

In the fall of 1982, a grief camp was created. This was a weekend camp exclusively for children that had experienced the death of a loved one. Our grief camp is the first and longest running camp in the United States for grieving children and teens. That first camp has now grown into two weekend camps each year for children and teens aged 5–17, as well as adults. The first adult camp was held in 1989. To date, about 35,000 children, teens and adults from across the state have participated in Amanda the Panda’s programs.

In 2013, Gregory and Suzie Glazer Burt gifted Amanda the Panda with a forever home at 1821 Grand Avenue in West Des Moines, the site of former hospice house. In November 2014, Amanda the Panda became a program within the family of compassionate non-profit services offered by EveryStep. Amanda the Panda’s expertise in supporting children and adults through the grieving process is naturally aligned with the bereavement services offered by EveryStep that address children’s health and mental well-being. This partnership is an exciting one that allows us to continue to serve more children and families across our state.

As we look towards the future we are eager to share our story and mission and continue to provide hope and healing to many more families with your support. With vision and dedication, Amanda the Panda and EveryStep Grief & Support Services will continue to bring compassion, healing and joy to children, individuals and families. 

Download our brochure.

Register for an Amanda the Panda support group or camp.

EveryStep Grief & Loss Services' Amanda the Panda Team

Questions for our Amanda the Panda team? Please call 515-223-4847 or email griefandloss@everystep.org


Ashley Mori,

Director  |  MA, LMHC, IADC

Megan Mondt

Program Coordinator - Volunteers

Claire Mraz

Program Coordinator - Programs


Amanda Fagen

Program Assistant