Our Mission & History
Community. Connection. Acknowledgment.
The mission of Dougy Center is to provide grief support in a safe place where children, teens, young adults, and their families can share their experiences before and after a death. We provide support and training locally, nationally, and internationally to individuals and organizations seeking to assist children who are grieving.
The World's First Peer Grief Support Program for Children
From the beginning, we have listened and responded to the needs of children, teens, young adults, and adults from all walks of life who are grieving.
Founded in 1982 in Portland, Oregon, Dougy Center started the first peer grief support groups for children, and has become a world-renowned model for bereavement support known as The Dougy Center Model.
Dougy Center is named for its inspiration, Dougy Turno, a 13-year old boy who came to Portland, Oregon to receive treatment for an inoperable brain tumor.
Read Our Inspiration to learn how Dougy and Bev inspired the field of bereavement.
Scroll down to see a chronology of Dougy Center’s journey from providing local support groups to an international leader in grief and loss.
We Understand Grief
Dougy Center is a safe place to share and connect with others who understand what you are going through.
When you’re grieving, it can feel like no one understands what you're going through. And truthfully, no one’s grief is the same. But people tell us how helpful it is to share with others who are also grieving.
Dougy Center’s unique approach of using peer support groups offers an opportunity for you to express your emotions — all of them — and helps you find your own path in grief.
Our resources and support are offered at no cost and are welcoming to all members of our community. They provide a safe place to connect and share before and after a death.
Our groups are designed around age, type of death, and the connection to the person who died. Nobody will tell you to move on, or that you are grieving wrong. Through sharing and listening, you’re free to find comfort in your own way.
Our peer grief support model, which was the first in the world, was developed over time by supporting and listening to the families we serve.
Since 1982, when the first peer support group was held in our founder’s home, we have served more than 60,000 children, teens, young adults in the Portland area.
Today, Dougy Center is lighting the way for communities in need of support after crises in their schools, regional disasters, and the coronavirus pandemic.
Our grief support — before and after a death — is provided at no cost for families through the ongoing and generous support of individuals, foundations, and corporations. We receive no government funding or insurance reimbursement for our services.
A chronology of how we became a world leader through our peer grief support program in Portland, Oregon
When Dougy died in 1982, Beverly (Bev) Chappell wanted to honor his legacy through supporting kids like him and his siblings. Visit Our Inspiration to read more about Dougy and Bev.
The very first peer grief support group met in Bev’s home on December 29, 1982. In those days, Bev and Beverly Fulk were the Dougy Center; planning, dreaming, and meeting with families.
In February 1984, Dougy Center celebrated its first graduating class of volunteer facilitators who were trained to work with the families.
In March 1984, Dougy Center moved out of Bev’s home and into our first house on the Warner Pacific University (WPU) college campus.
That same year, Dougy Center was spotlighted by national print and television media as interest in our program and Model grew.
In the WPU house, a new peer support group started every six months for children grieving the death of a parent or sibling.
To meet the needs of individuals and organizations seeking to start grief support programs in their communities, Dougy Center held its first International Summer Institute in August of 1986. Since that time, we’ve helped to develop programs in over 500 cities nationally and internationally in Japan, England, Germany, Switzerland, Ireland, Canada, Australia, Dubai, Rwanda, and the Congo.
In 1986, Dougy Center added a peer support groups for children grieving a suicide death.
Peer groups for Littles (ages 3–5) and Teens began in 1987.
Our First House
In June 1988, Dougy Center purchased an historic house in southeast Portland with room to grow. This would be our home until an act of arson in 2009 required us to find a temporary home until we could rebuild.
In this historic southeast Portland house, a lot of Dougy Center history was made.
In November 1988, Dougy Center started its first peer support group for families after a murder or violent death.
In 1998, we recognized that younger teens (ages 11–14), called Middlers, needed their own peer group.
In late January 2003, we created a group for young adults (ages 18-30). In the years since, the Young Adult Group grew large enough to form additional groups. We now have one for ages 18-25 and two for ages 26-40.
Recognizing the unique needs of siblings who are grieving, as well as their parents, the Dougy Center has two groups for children (ages 6-12) and one for teens (ages 13-18) who have had a sibling die.
Dougy Center Expands
Peer Grief Support for Families Throughout Portland Metro
In 2005, Dougy Center expanded southward to Canby, Oregon after the Walker L. Bean Foundation purchased a home to commemorate the life of 15-year old Walker Bean. Walker’s House and the Willamette Falls Hospice partner to serve children and teens who are grieving.
A year later, Dougy Center began a program in Washington County, a suburb to the West of Portland. Dougy Center West offers peer support for children (ages 5-12), Middlers (ages 11-14), and Teens (13-18).
In 2006, Dougy Center not only expanded into a third county, we also began a Spanish-speaking peer support group. The Esperanza program serves children ages 6–12, and their family members who are grieving.
After the Fire of 2009
Not a single group was cancelled because of the fire.
On Father’s Day, June 21, 2009, Dougy Center’s main house in Southeast Portland was destroyed by an arson fire. Despite the devastating loss, groups were held the next evening in the Resource and Training Center next door to the burned house. Throughout the entire process of finding a temporary rental house and creating office space, no child or family had to go without a group.
The groundbreaking for Dougy Center’s new headquarters took place in April 2012. On January 2, 2013, we held our first group in the new home.
In the fall of 2014, Dougy Center started the Pathways program specifically for families when a family member is living with an advanced serious illness. Pathways peer support groups help children, teens, adult caregivers, as well as the adult who is living with the illness.
In 2015, we aired the first episode of Dougy Center’s podcast, Grief Out Loud. Our reach through the airwaves created a digital community of connection for those grieving a death around the world.
In 2017, we launched a groundbreaking pilot program, Listening and Led by Youth in Foster Care: Grief, Hope, and Transitions (L.Y.G.H.T. ), in Columbia, South Carolina.
In the Summer 2019, we partnered with multiple community sites in South Carolina to expand L.Y.G.H.T. and provide peer grief support for youth in foster care in Columbia, Charleston, and Clinton, South Carolina.
In 2020, the world experienced a global pandemic causing Dougy Center to pivot all in-person peer support groups to a virtual environment. We created specific resources for the community to help children navigate grief during the coronavirus pandemic.