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About Us

Our Organization

At Rett’s Roost, we honor each other’s difficult journeys and the children that have suffered, and offer therapeutic ways to cope through moments of stress, grief, and isolation.

A brief history of our organization…

When Jim and Deana’s son Everett ‘Rett’ Cavan was diagnosed with a Malignant Rhabdoid Tumor at six months old, their world turned upside down. This aggressive cancer would take Rett’s life in less than four months—despite having access to the best doctors and treatment plans available. With the support of their loving community, the Cavans didn’t let the loss of their first child ruin them. Instead, they used it as the impetus to create a healing sanctuary for families like theirs.

Knowing they wanted to start a nonprofit to honor Rett’s legacy, the Cavans were able to secure a board of directors and 501(c)3 status within months of Rett’s passing. And in the summer of 2015, using surplus funds from their personal GoFundMe account, they held their first two retreats, hosting eight families whose life was disrupted by childhood cancer. The goal was to give these kids and their families a joyful respite, and ways to manage anxious feelings after their treatment ended.

Following those initial summer retreats, Rett’s Roost held its first two community fundraiser events in the fall of 2015, while continuing to develop its mission—which would include retreats for bereaved families the following year.

From 2015-2019, Rett’s Roost hosted 80 families over 18 retreats, which included 54 bereaved families. The COVID-19 pandemic forced Rett’s Roost to pivot to virtual offerings and outdoor community gatherings. Several online programs were successfully implemented, including the two-day, eight-hour Grief is Love retreat for parents and a monthly support group. Fortunately, multi-family retreats resumed in August of 2021 with a careful COVID protocol.

Since 2021, the organization has thrived in both program and fund development. Three part-time staff were hired and several new local professionals joined the board of directors. In 2023, the organization held six retreats and several community gatherings, along with maintaining a virtual support network for grieving parents.

Deana Cavan continues to lead the organization as its Executive Director. Jim still supports the mission by serving on the Board of Directors and cooking delicious food for families at many of the retreats. And Evie proudly brings the kids together sharing her empathy and sparkling personality with everyone she meets. They truly embody Rett’s legacy in all they do in their community.

The Cavan Family in the Summer of 2018 at their Ogunquit retreat location

Our intention is to help families look for beauty and joy in life again with hope in their hearts for a peaceful future and a cure for childhood cancer.

You can help us continue to provide community and support to our families by donating or volunteering.