Dougy Center gives back on ‘Giving Tuesday’

Published: Nov. 29, 2022 at 10:50 PM PST
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - Giving Tuesday is just one day every year, but giving is something the Dougy Center has been doing for the Portland area for 40 years every day.

They’re a nonprofit that helps families and individuals through grief when a loved one has been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness or after the loss of a family member.

Brennan Wood, the Executive Director at the Dougy Center, says the model is similar for all age groups for those who need grief assistance starting at age three and onward. They begin the day by sharing stories, and for those who are younger, using the facility to express themselves.

While the average timeline for someone seeking assistance is just under two years, Wood’s time has been much longer, as she was at the Dougy Center’s doors in the late ‘80s. She was seeking help after losing her mother when she was 12 years old.

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“Dougy Center was just a transformational experience for me,” Wood reminisced. “It was the single most impactful, powerful thing that happened for me after my Mom’s death. Grief is an ongoing journey. It’s a lifelong process, as I know and I’m sure a lot of folks out there also know well.”

Grief is something people like Katie Skovborg, and her daughter Poppy Mann, know all too well. Skovborg lost her husband, and Poppy her father. They were recommended to try the Dougy Center in 2017 when he was diagnosed with brain cancer.

“It’s really nice for kids and adults to have a safe place to share their story of loss and grieve with people who are in a similar situation,” Skovborg said.

“Grief can be such an isolating experience,” Wood added. “Kids might not know anyone else who is going through this.”

Kids like Mann, who said, “it was just nice to have people that I could relate to.”

Wood says that relationship helps kids, “to feel more normal. To feel like they aren’t the only kid in the world that this has happened to.”

Mann remembers her father, Nathan, as a talkative guy. And that’s to say the least.

“He would just start a conversation and go on for, like, 30 minutes. Even when we had stuff to do,” she laughed.

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Skovborg remembers him as funny, admitting memories can sneak up around the holidays.

“We just have so many fond memories of Nathan during the holidays. There can just be moments when it sneaks in and it catches you when you least expect it.”

One of their favorite parts of Christmas is spending time as a family at the dinner table. That’s something Skovborg misses about her husband, and not just for the company.

“Nathan was a stay-at-home Dad. So, he cooked all of our meals and he was a very good cook,” Skovborg said.

Being a stay-at-home Dad, Mann just misses his presence in the room.

“I think just him not being here,” she said.

“Maybe not being able to give him a hug when you really want a hug,” her mother added. “Or, how great your day was.”

Skovborg wants to remind people to let their loved ones know you care for them.

“Especially during the holiday season,” she said. “Reach out to loved ones and tell people that you love them and appreciate them every day.”

During the holidays, the Dougy Center takes some extra care with grief by encouraging families to work through workbooks together and hold onto the traditions that count.

They acknowledge grief can’t be solved in a six-week program and welcome people to use their services as long as they want.

They’re a non-profit that’s services are completely free and thank those who help them keep it that way.