Since the loss of my son, Tyler, in October 2020, to an accidental overdose, I’ve sought solace in support groups specifically for mothers grieving the loss of children related to substance use, as well as retreats for all bereaved mothers. I quickly learned that all child loss — any age, for any reason — is simply unfathomable and unnatural. It levels you, showing you how trivial most things are and how incredibly important the meaningful things are. All of our stories are different, but we are bonded by this unique grief and are compelled to prevent others from joining us. It's impossible to describe this experience to anyone who has not lived it, yet we need few words when in the company of each other. We are able to exhale and release the expectations on us to “be ok” and just "be ourselves".

I want this to be a safe place for vilomahs to share resources, connect with one another, and inspire each other to use our collective pain to bring this society back to a place where we prioritize compassion, connection to ourselves and others, nature, and improving quality of life for everyone. This is a place of grace, understanding, and acceptance. This is a place for us.

Susan Ousterman — Founder

Our Leadership Team

Susan Ousterman

Susan Ousterman


For six years, my life was consumed by attempts to access effective treatment for my son. We were often guided by stigma and misinformation and were not equipped with the knowledge and tools to overcome his opioid addiction. As is common for so many of us, I dove into advocacy after losing Tyler in October 2020. Without the daily distraction of keeping him alive, it’s easy to see where the barriers and failures were. I am committed to removing the unfounded, false perceptions associated with substance use disorder. I believe this loss is a call to action for us to use our collective, fierce, unconditional love to transform our toxic culture into a more compassionate connected society.

Laura Carter

Laura Carter

Creative Director

I’ll never forget waking to the call telling us that our grandson Tyler had finally lost his battle with addiction at just 24. Now I want to do whatever I can to help Susan offer comfort and aid to those who are dealing with this devastating loss.

I wear many different hats as Owner/President of Carter PublishIng Studio, Inc.—graphic designer, art director, publishing manager, consultant. But I spend as much of my free time as possible digging in the dirt, and as a devoted gardener I deeply believe in the healing power of nature.

Ali Higgins

Ali Higgins

Outreach Coordinator

Ali lost her best friend, her brother Dylan, to overdose in 2021, and since then she’s made it her mission to use her boundless energy and determination to help connect those with substance use disorder to the resources they need. As a person in long-term recovery, she understands the discrimination many face and is able to assist in accessing resources. To honor her brother, she started a community outreach project, known as Dylan’s Hope Dealers. Multiple times each week, she and her dedicated volunteers collect donations of basic needs items and distribute them to anyone in need in the Kensington section of Philadelphia. She welcomes the help of anyone who’d like to get involved and encourages everyone to find Dylan’s Hope Dealers on Facebook for more information. You can also email Ali at

Sandra Chavez

Sandra Chavez


During her time working in sub-acute healthcare, Sandra learned how to be an effective patient advocate, but she was not prepared for the barriers that stigma created when she found herself advocating for her son’s medical and mental health treatment. After being prescribed opioids for an injury at just 15 years old, Jeffrey’s journey would include many system failures, spanning from methadone clinics to the cardiologists who denied him the surgery that could have saved his life. Since losing 24-year-old Jeffrey in 2012, Sandra has hosted local events on International Overdose Awareness Day, participated in national rallies, and continues to share Jeff’s heartbreaking story while advocating for drug policy reform in her home state of California as well as Washington DC. Her goal is to see a Ryan White-type program in the future for IVDU-related endocarditis.

Nicole Nichols

Nicole Nichols


I am a mom who is passionate about creating a gentler path for our youth and contributing to a movement focused on producing better outcomes for those with substance use disorder and all other vulnerable populations. My professional career includes experience as a comptroller for a specialty healthcare finance group and as the president of a medical fraud, waste, and abuse prevention and remediation company.

Our Advisory Board

Asia Lee Bentacourt

Social Justice Activist

Housing Works
Never Use Alone

Staten Island, NY

Kathleen Cochran


Moms for All Paths to Recovery

Solvang, CA

Brooke Feldman, MSW


PA Harm Reduction Network

Philadelphia, PA

Valerie Felici

Philadelphia Police Officer, Behavioral Health Unit

Police Assisted Diversion (PAD)
Never Surrender Hope

Philadelphia, PA

Ryan Hampton

Best Selling Author, Recovery Advocate, Organizer

Mobilize Recovery

Las Vegas, NV

Michael J. Lang


Save Our Neighborhood (S.O.N.)

Philadelphia, PA

Kevin Moore, PsyD

Executive Director

Courage Medicine

Philadelphia, PA

Cynthia Munger

Social Justice Activist

Wayne, PA

Marianne Sinisi


Families United for Change

Altoona, PA

Jennifer Steere

District Manager

Bell Nursery

Langhorne, PA

Tiffany White


Pink's Purpose

Las Vegas, NV

Deran Young, LCSW

Best-selling Author, USAF veteran, Founder & CEO

Black Therapists Rock

Washington, DC

Our Mission

To build a hub of resources for bereaved families, to create and maintain public gardens to memorialize our children, and to decrease the number of preventable deaths.

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Please help the Vilomah Memorial Foundation bring our vision to life by making a tax-deductible contribution today.

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We’re currently in the early stages of concept development and design. We are seeking input from professionals and vilomahs, so reach out if you want to grow with us.

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