Sierra Tucson Alumni Build Bikes and Give to Tu Nidito Children and Family Services

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Sierra Tucson Alumni celebrated the miracles of recovery at the 24th Annual Alumni Retreat in Tucson, Arizona, and made a difference in the lives of children dealing with grief and loss.

Tim McLeod, Serenity and Sonia Hammrich at Sierra Tucson’s 24th Annual Alumni Retreat

When we step aside and work together with other people, taking the time to give back and connect, we can make a difference and help others who are hurting.

Sierra Tucson’s 24th Annual Alumni Retreat (S.T.A.R. 24) was all about celebrating the miracles of recovery and creating new miracles for children who are hurting. Over 150 Sierra Tucson alumni gathered the weekend of November 3-6, 2011, to reconnect and renew their passion for recovery and self-care. Alumni in attendance represented a wide range of years, from the ’80s and ’90s through 2011.

This year’s retreat theme was “Carrying the Message.” Alumni were encouraged to think about “how we carry the message of hope and love to the world” and were given an unexpected chance to do so. Behind the scenes, Senior Alumni Coordinator Tim McLeod had planned an exercise into the retreat where alumni worked together in teams with an unknown outcome.

On Friday afternoon, the alumni gathered on a sunny, grassy field at the Westward Look Resort and found 25 stations stocked with bicycle parts and tools. Splitting into teams, the alumni collaborated to assemble the bikes, calling on assistance from their own “Bicycle Inspection Team,” as needed.

When the bikes were almost complete, a large group of children surprised the alumni as they swarmed the field to claim the bikes that they were excited to receive.

The children were brought by Tu Nidito Children and Family Services, an organization that provides comfort, hope, and support for children and families whose lives have been impacted by a serious medical condition or death. Tu Nidito, which means “your little nest,” gives emotional, social, and educational tools to children and families and empowers them with strength and skills for the future.

Tim McLeod became connected to Tu Nidito through Sonia Hammrich, Sales Manager for Westward Look Resort, where the Alumni Retreat was held.

“Shortly after the shootings on January 8, 2011, had impacted my 9-year-old daughter, Serenity, Tim came to us for help in planning the annual Alumni Retreat.” explained Sonia. “Serenity was best friends with Christina Taylor Green. We had found rich support for Serenity at Tu Nidito, so when Tim asked about a group of children to help, I immediately thought of the wonderful children who are supported through Tu Nidito.”

While the bikes were being built, the children ate lunch at the Westward Look Resort. The surprised alumni warmly welcomed the children and were overjoyed with the opportunity to give bicycles and helmets to them. One alumni commented, “I really enjoyed that activity and the cause… I was touched by who the bikes were going to.”

Serenity and her mother, Sonia, joined Tim on the field to express their own appreciation and thanks from the children at Tu Nidito. “Serenity wanted to be there to thank the people,” said Sonia. “This has all been part of the healing process for her.”

“It didn’t matter if you were young or old,” Tim McLeod affirmed, “lives were touched. Everyone gained something from this. One alumnus was able to teach a child to ride his bike. Two children are happy to be able to participate in the Junior El Tour de Tucson next weekend because they now have bikes. One child and alumnus found mutual encouragement when they discovered a shared loss of losing of a family member to cancer."

“When we step aside and work together with other people, taking the time to give back and connect, we can make a difference and help others who are hurting,” continued Tim. “That does more for us spiritually and emotionally than anything money can buy. Everyone walked away full of gratitude to be a part of the event.”

About Sierra Tucson

Since 1983, Sierra Tucson has provided “Compassionate Care and Clinical Excellence.” Multi-licensed and accredited as a Psychiatric Hospital and Behavioral Health Residential Treatment Center, Sierra Tucson excels at treating coexisting disorders and has developed internationally acclaimed programs for:

Full-time medical staff and professional multidisciplinary teams utilize a bio-psycho-social-spiritual approach and the most progressive, innovative therapies available. Individualized treatment plans are developed for each patient, and a comprehensive Family Program is included to enhance recovery and extend healing to the family. Located on 160 acres at the foot of the Santa Catalina Mountains near Tucson, Arizona, Sierra Tucson offers a beautiful natural healing environment and the highest level of confidentiality. For more information, call 800 842 4487 or visit SierraTucson.com.

Sierra Tucson is a member of CRC Health Group, the most comprehensive network of specialized behavioral care services in the nation. CRC offers the largest array of personalized treatment options, allowing individuals, families, and professionals to choose the most appropriate treatment setting for their behavioral, addiction, weight management, and therapeutic education needs. CRC is committed to making its services widely and easily available, while maintaining a passion for delivering advanced treatment. For over two decades, CRC programs have helped individuals and families reclaim and enrich their lives. For more information, visit CRChealth.com.

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Christi Cessna, M.S.

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