our mission

The Dougy Center provides a safe place for children, teens, young adults and their families who are grieving a death to share their experiences. We do this through peer support groups, education, and training.

Our History

The Dougy Center

The Dougy Center was founded in 1982 by Beverly Chappell in tribute to Dougy Turno, a young boy who died of an inoperable brain tumor at age 13. Before meeting Dougy, Bev was a registered nurse who had worked in the area of death and dying since 1974. Through her work, she found most people were uncomfortable when faced with death and grief and that doctors, clergy, hospital staff, and school personnel often did not have the training to support children in their grief. This reality inspired Bev to attend the first of many seminars and lectures by Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, pioneer and author in the field of death and dying.

In August 1981, Dougy wrote a poignant letter to Dr. Kubler-Ross, asking why no one would speak to him of dying, even when he was facing his own death. Dr. Kubler-Ross corresponded with Dougy, and encouraged Beverly Chappell to meet him and his family when they visited Oregon Health & Science University for experimental treatment. Bev clearly saw in Dougy a thirst for life and deep compassion for others, which many never attain, even in their older years. After Dougy’s death later that year, his wisdom and inspiration stayed with Bev and led her to start support groups for grieving children. Those first families in need of grief support met in Bev’s basement family room in her Southeast Portland home. Soon a board of directors was recruited, volunteer facilitators were trained, and The Dougy Center entered a phenomenal period of growth.

The Dougy CenterToday, The Dougy Center serves 500 children and their 350 adult family members each month. Our 27, open-ended peer support groups meet every other week and are divided by age, type of death (illness, sudden death, murder, suicide) and who died (parent, sibling). The concurrent 27 adult support groups meet at the same time for the caregiver of the child or teen who is attending group. Since our founding, The Dougy Center has served over 40,000 children, teens and their families and has received national and international acclaim for our pioneering peer support model for helping children cope with the death of a family member. Through our National Training Program and training materials, thousands have learned how to help grieving children and more than 500 programs modeled after The Dougy Center have been established worldwide.

The Dougy Center relies on the generosity of individuals, businesses and foundations. We receive no government funding and are supported entirely by private donations and professional training fees. We never charge families for our services.

Walker’s House, Canby Oregon

Through the generosity of the Walker L. Bean Foundation, The Dougy Center opened our first permanent satellite location in Canby, OR in April 2005. The Foundation purchased a historic house for use by The Dougy Center to provide peer support groups for grieving children and their families from Oregon City, Wilsonville, Woodburn, Canby and other neighboring communities. Ongoing funding for operations is provided by Willamette Falls Hospital.

The Walker L. Bean Foundation was established by Warren and Bernice Bean after their son, Walker, died by suicide at the age of 15 in 1997. In the early days after Walker’s death, his parents and their son Wally, visited The Dougy Center. They were impressed by our mission of providing a safe place for children and families to express their grief. The Bean family decided to establish a foundation in Walker’s name with a mission of promoting education and counseling to prevent teen suicide and to provide support for families grieving a child’s death.