The Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute announced today that its 2013 class project will be to remodel a former hospice in West Des Moines as an Amanda the Panda grief center.

Amanda the Panda provides grief support to people, including childen, who have experienced the death of a loved one. The nonprofit group currently is located in Windsor Heights.

The grief center, dubbed “Project Panda,” will be the first solely dedicated grief center in Central Iowa, the organizations said in a news release. The organizations will renovate the old hospice at 1821 Grand Ave. in West Des Moines, which was donated to Amanda the Panda from the Maddie Levitt Foundation and the Gregory and Susan Glazer Burt Foundation.

The groups will remodel the interior and exterior of the building, and the new location will triple Amanda the Panda’s square footage. 

Planned renovations include introducing a game room with childcare and games for younger siblings, renovating the outside grounds and planting a memorial garden. Renovations will also include updating and furnishing a family lounge, creating a grief resource library and furnishing six rec rooms.

The project is projected to cost $125,000, which the Leadership Institute, which each year picks a project designed to help develop and prepare future city leaders, will fundraise for. The move-in date for the facility is targeted for March 1.

The Leadership Institute will hold a kickoff event to share details of the project with area business leaders. The event will take place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday at Jasper Winery.  To RSVP, email To donate to the project, go to