2022 TUSD Volunteer of the Year
Jessica’s House and the efforts of their outstanding staff and volunteers truly rise to the top to provide grief support to countless children, teens, young adults and their families. They are one of the many non-profit organizations supporting the Turlock Unified School District community. Jessica’s House began its mission in 2012 by helping one child. Under the umbrella of Emanuel Medical Center, Erin Nelson and a small group of parents, who could not find local resources to help children who were grieving due to the death of a sibling or family member, launched the grief support program which has brought hope and healing to thousands.
Jessica’s House provides school-based grief support-groups for students in the TUSD. Their volunteers and trained facilitators support children from all walks of life as they navigate grief and express feelings and emotions through therapeutic art activities, and peer support. Through the collaborative efforts of Erin Nelson, Nancy Daley, Melissa Ahlem, Brad Quillen, and the entire Jessica’s House team, students can express their feelings of grief with trained facilitators and volunteers who care deeply about the children and families of Turlock.
Jessica’s House mission is to provide support in a safe place for children, teens, young adults and their families grieving a death because no one should grieve alone. Jessica’s House meets the needs of children who are grieving in a variety of circumstances, including those who have lost parents, grandparents, and siblings to illness or unexpected deaths. During crisis situations, TUSD administrators have called on Erin and her colleagues to support students and staff following accidents or other tragedies. Every time they have received a call, the Jessica’s House response has been immediate and comprehensive, assuring the school administration and staff that the needs of the school community will be addressed with kindness and empathy. This resource is a true treasure to TUSD and appreciated by all.
Jessica’s House serves over 600 children, teens, young adults and adult caregivers throughout Stanislaus and Merced counties, with this number expected to grow in the future. Jessica’s House outgrew its leased facility on Main Street in Turlock and moved into their newly constructed permanent home on Christoffersen Road in Turlock in Summer 2021.
TUSD is privileged to be in partnership with the staff at Jessica’s House and honored this evening to recognize Jessica’s House, namely, Erin Nelson, Nancy Daley, Melissa Ahlem, and Brad Quillen, as the 2022 TUSD Volunteers of the Year.