Full Circle Grief Center started nearly 14 years ago at Allyson’s dining room table. The vision was to start a nonprofit organization, solely dedicated to children and families who needed compassionate, professional support, as they work through their grief.

In the organization’s first year, 2008, Allyson Drake, along with 2 employees, 5 contracted counselors, and the financial support of friends and family, started the first Hands on Healing family grief support group, serving nearly 50 children and adults.

The following year, Full Circle served families through Hands on Healing groups and Creative Connection remembrance programs. Full Circle was contacted by a local elementary school requesting groups to be conducted in the school due to the overwhelming number of children grieving the death of a loved one. 

In 2009, Full Circle facilitated 7 school groups serving nearly 100 children and the Hands on Healing family groups grew to nearly 200 participants. We added a Clinical Manager and 10 more contracted clinicians to meet the growing needs of the community. We hosted our first fundraiser and received our very first large grant of $25,000. 

During those first 5 years, we grew quickly and served over 200 children and adults in our Hands on Healing groups. We expanded our services to include other loss specific groups including Perinatal Loss, and the community programs served over 2500 adults. We created Richmond’s first comprehensive Bereavement Resource Manual further advancing our mission to increase the community conversation about grief and its effects on children, adults, families, and communities. We added 4 more employees and 25 more contracted clinicians to respond to the growing needs in the community and help us serve more than 7,500 adults and children participating in our grief programs. 

In 2015, the Suicide Loss Group was formed and our Perinatal Loss Group expanded. In partnership with Child Savers, we offered a Homicide Loss Group. These loss specific groups enable adults a chance to connect and be understood and supported by others who have experienced a similar journey.

In 2015, we added Perinatal Loss and Suicide Loss Bereavement Services Managers to our growing team. We kicked off the annual “Live Your Dash” luncheon to raise funds and inspire others to live their dash, regardless of the obstacles placed in their lives. 

As we look back, we are proud of how many people we have supported during their grief journey and how we have changed the way our community looks at and talks about grief and loss through our educational programs and professional consultations.

Everyone is welcome inside the circle, regardless of where they are on their grief journey.

Yesterday, today, and tomorrow our vision remains the same – to provide professional bereavement support and empower our community to grieve in healthy ways.