Celebrating 12 Years of Full Circle

Thoughts from our staff, board members, and community members

I was introduced to Full Circle by someone who had worked with me during my time at Dominion. As I learned more and “had the tour,” I realized what an important organization this is for so many. I have always had a passion for supporting children through other boards on which I have served. One of the most important lessons I learned is that so many children – especially those growing up in areas where there are limited resources and shootings are a frequent, almost everyday occurrence – is that they need  trauma-informed care to even have a chance to be successful in school and in life. Full Circle provides those services to families and, through their school programs, directly to children. They understand the importance of working with the “whole” family so that they can support each other and recognize the impacts of grief.

In addition, I have seen the number of suicides and drug overdoses increase throughout our community, so I understand how services, such as those provided by Full Circle, are in high demand, but, unfortunately, not widely available or known. What amazes me so much about the organization is how quickly they adapt to changes in our community – including transitioning so quickly to tele-counseling in response to new and increasing needs due to the pandemic.

Most importantly, what truly keeps me engaged and interested in making Full Circle successful is its leadership and staff.  They are passionate and genuinely willing to sacrifice their needs to meet those who need help that they can provide. As the organization works so hard to find ways to help more people, I feel proud to be a member of their board.

Lastly, I am most proud to be on the board of Full Circle which is an organization who exceeds expectations in providing safe, trusting environments that help families when they have experienced a loss.

Shannon Venable, Board Member

I joined Full Circle as a founding member of the board of directors and have been involved as a board member, jr board member, or volunteer ever since. I joined based on a belief in Allyson and a way too coincidental intersection with her ask and my learning of a coworker who had lost his wife very suddenly the day before. I learned about grief and now understand how it has affected my own family and loved ones. And I have stayed because of the interaction I have had with families in our groups and knowing how desperately needed Full Circle is in our community. 

Melanie Frank, Full Circle Board Chair

In my experience as a minister at Reveille United Methodist church, one of the most difficult aspects of life that people face is grief.  Full Circle Grief center has been a great resource for us. Through individual counseling, small group settings, and educational seminars, Full Circle Grief center and their grief counselors are excellent, non-judgmental listeners. They have helped our church members and the community face their grief and find help, healing and hope through the grief journey.

Stephen Coleman, Minister, Reveille United Methodist Church

I work at Full Circle Grief Center because this Griefwork is good work, essential work, and compassionate work. When a loved one dies, we often explore the meaning of life and living as a result of their death and dying.  This is what I feel Full Circle does best! I believe passionately in this work because grief and loss is a natural, normal part of our everyday lives. The deeper we love, the harder we grief; therefore, it should be expected that grieving is a process and journey that takes time, companionship, and support along the way.

Full Circle is here to partner with those who want and need professional expertise from a place that values the normalcy of all types and relationships related to grief and loss. I am proud to work for a center that focuses on how we can join with others in their time of deep grief and sorrow to somehow, someway find positive means of coping with complicated emotions, meaningful methods and ideas to remember their loved ones, and steps where they can remember with less pain, more joy, and integrate their own grief in healthy ways to move forward in a changed life.  

Britt Cowart, LCSW, Grief Services Director

I first was drawn to Full Circle as a way to connect and support community members when they need it most. After getting to know close to 200 grieving families during my time with Full Circle, I feel honored to have been granted permission to be part of their personal grief journeys. From them, I have learned how meaningful relationships can be and also witnessed strength beyond measure.   

Maryse Eubank, M.Ed., Suicide Bereavement Services Manager

I work as a therapist at Full Circle because I have personally experienced grief and loss, and I strive to help those who have lost a loved one to cope with their loss, learn how to handle the pain of grief, as well as be a support when it feels like a heavy weight is making it impossible to get through. Dealing with a significant loss can be one of the most difficult times in someone’s life, and the support that Full Circle provides individuals and families along their grief journey is an invaluable and much needed resource in our community to help with moving forward in the healing process.

Heather Cole, LPC

After working with diverse families for many years, I came to recognize that unresolved grief and loss was a common thread among the families I served previously in other agencies. Across ethnicities, generations, and socioeconomic status, many struggled with processing and integrating past and current losses and it negatively impacted their relationships and wellness. Several years ago, I learned about Full Circle Grief Center and their mission-driven work and programming that aimed to fill this gap I had witnessed within countless families and communities. Since joining Full Circle, I have appreciated the opportunity to support adults, children, families, and communities on their grief journeys– remembering and honoring their loved ones, exploring and processing emotions around grief, identifying healthy coping strategies, and beginning to look towards the future. 

Stacia Macklin, LCSW, ACSW, Clinical Director

In 2015 I was working as a social worker in a hospital cancer center. I had heard about Full Circle before but I didn’t have a good understanding of what the organization offered. A chance meeting with Allyson Drake changed that. After 8 years of working with families grappling with a cancer diagnosis, I had a deep interest in grief work and so when Allyson offered me the opportunity to lead support groups at Full Circle, I jumped at the chance.

Starting with Hands on Healing, I began to lead adult groups and quickly came to understand how important Full Circle is my community. I heard participants share their stories, lift each other up, and look to the future with hope, and I was honored to be part of every group that I led. In 2017, I happily joined the Full Circle staff as the Perinatal Bereavement Services Manager and serving in this role has been the highlight of my career. I’m so proud to be part of an organization that offers grieving families in my hometown the care and support that they vitally need. 

Carrie Schaeffer, LCSW, Perinatal Bereavement Services Manager

I support Full Circle so that kids and families have somewhere to go to help them deal with their grief after losing a loved one. I lost my father at a young age and had a great family and friend support system but would have loved to have somewhere like Full Circle to help me deal with my grief. I hope my support will allow others to receive the help they need and deserve.

Faisal Qureshi, Past Board Member and Event Sponsor

What is grief and why is the work of Full Circle both important and essential? Grief invades each and every component of one’s life often leaving feelings of uncertainty, loneliness, isolation, guilt, shame, and unimaginable raw pain. My name is Melissa Weaver and I have been working with Full Circle Grief Center for over four years.

During this time, I have had the honor and privilege of witnessing the use of an abundance of supportive strategies such as building connections, focus on self-care and compassion, remembrance activities, attention to family and individual resilience, and most importantly a safe an inclusive approach to the overall well-being of those we serve. I continue the work that I do at Full Circle because no one should have to walk on the journey of grief alone. One of the greatest gifts we can give to a grieving individual is a safe and inclusive environment where it is okay to not be okay. 

Melissa Powell Weaver

I serve on the board of Full Circle because I experienced grief as a child when my father passed away. I remember the pain and confusion it caused, and the inability to process that grief based on a lack of maturity. It was not until years later that I understood my struggles could benefit others through their grief process. Full Circle aids individuals with processing their grief through counseling, so that they can move forward. I truly admire the team at Full Circle, and I can’t imagine serving a better team!

Rusty Ramsey, Full Circle Board Member

My husband, Adam, and I completed two Perinatal Loss Groups after our daughter, Logan, died at 23 weeks gestation. My experience was so impactful, I joined the Board of Directors at Full Circle to help other families like ours access support to grieve the death of their loved one(s). Adam and I are passionate about dismantling the stigma related to grief and starting a larger, community conversation about how we can all better support those grieving. Full Circle is an extension of our family and we feel closer to Logan because of their support.

Jillian Carpenter, Full Circle Board Member

Thank you to all of our staff, board members, and community members for your continued support as we continue working hard to fulfill our mission here in RVA!