Grief support center to host food truck fundraiser March 24 in downtown Niles

Published 2:22 pm Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

NILES — A Niles nonprofit offering community members a space to help process grief in their own way and pace is gearing up for its fundraiser.

Kari Cares Grief Support Center is gearing up for its first on-site food truck fundraiser from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, March 24. According to founder Kari Reed, there will be four to six food trucks located on the 3rd Street parking lot at the corner of 3rd and Sycamore. Raffles and vendors will also be located inside the center.

Located at 305 N. 3rd St., Niles, on the lower level of Custom Computer Company, Kari Cares is a non-profit grief support center whose focus is giving people a safe, free space to talk, vent, scream, cry or just sit in silence. Kari Cares is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday and Friday and from 11 a,m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.
Reed was inspired to open Kari Cares to help community members with their grief following the passing of her oldest son, Nicholas, in 2020. After speaking with her youngest son, Michael, who owns Custom Computer Company, opened Kari Cares Grief Support Center in Niles on October 30th, 2023, on the lower level of the CCC building. 

“I started talking to him about wanting to do something good,” she said. The depression was deep and I just woke up one day and said I can’t live like this forever. I had come up with other ideas of what I can do. I started thinking about the things I wished I would have had access to instead of sitting at home all day by myself…You want to get out but you don’t necessarily want to go anywhere and you don’t want to go to the grocery store or out in public where you might run into somebody. That was my anxiety and still is. I was a very avid shopper before all of this and now I go there and if I run into somebody I know will they bring it up or won’t they bring it up? And if they don’t bring it up, have they forgotten? 

“It’s a whole different set of feelings – you don’t want everybody to ask you about it but at the same time you don’t want them to forget. Just having somewhere to go where you can feel your feelings and not have to worry about what everybody else is thinking.”

While it does not provide counseling, Kari Cares does offer a wide variety of services including:

  • A “Serenity Room,” for those that just need a place to feel their grief. Features include a darker, more quiet space where you can curl up on the couch with a pillow and a blanket and feel your grief fully. There is a soothing waterfall and other calming things. 
  • A Sensory Room, for those who need to distract their minds from their grief. Features include adult coloring books, a television, Lite Bright, sand art, a lava lamp and an ornament craft, so guests can make an ornament in honor of loved ones to hang on our memorial tree.
  • A Kids Corner, so they can bring their children with them, if needed. Volunteers will watch the children for them, while they experience the facility.

In addition, the facility has “Listeners,” people who will actively listen to those wishing to talk and vent to a person about their grief without fear of judgment.

“We’re not gonna tell you what stage you should be in or how you should be feeling because everybody grieves differently,” Reed said. “It’s been over three years for us. I’m still deep into it, so I don’t need anybody telling me what I should or shouldn’t be doing, or how I should or shouldn’t be feeling or when I should be happy.”

Kari Cares Kari Cares is in search of volunteers, donors, sponsors and visitors. For more information, contact Reed at (269) 845-9998 or visit the website at