Spotlight: Hope for Grieving Families


My name is Troy Riemer and my company, Red Clay Creative, helps to design The Georgetowner every month. We thought it would be a great idea to highlight non-profits and organizations who are doing good, and The Georgetowner thought it would be a great idea too. An inspiring story can have a huge impact when consumed by the right people at the right time. Our goal is to share stories from leaders who do good and who have the power to make change in a positive way.

Here is an excerpt from a conversation I had with Tara O’Brien, the Executive Director at Hope for Grieving Families.

What was a major problem you faced as a non-profit leader, and what emotions were associated with that challenge?

A unique problem I faced when I took over the position of Executive Director last June was, “How do we rebuild our community after Covid stopped our in-person events?” Hope for Grieving Families supports families with children in the DMV who have suffered the loss of a parent, child, or close family loved one. All of our community is on their own grief journey. It’s important that our community feels supported, less alone, and at the same time able to make some new happy memories together as a family and a community. So creating a welcoming supportive environment was important to me.

So how did we do that? We started having monthly events for our community. Not only did we provide fun events for our families with children of all ages, but also provided a space where friendships could be fostered all while the understanding of grief was the unspoken bond that brought these families together. Having that peer-to-peer support, whether they discuss it at an event or not, provides comfort to our families. Seeing the smiles on these families’ faces at an event truly makes all we do worthwhile.

What solution or process did you apply to overcome that challenge, and how did it feel when you accomplished that?

Hope for Grieving Families is currently fully funded by individual donations. We currently don’t receive grants or government funding, although we would like to receive new sources of funding in the future. We are so grateful for all the donations we do receive. That said, that makes putting on monthly events mostly possible through some of the wonderful partnerships we’ve created. Whether its tickets donated by a local theater company or a business that’s willing to either donate an event to us or provide a discount. It’s through relationship-building and networking that we’re able to do as many programs as we currently do.

Being able to provide opportunities for community and connection for our grieving families makes everything we do worthwhile.

Why did it matter so much to solve that problem, and how did it affect you, your mission, and your network?

It was very important to both me and the Hope Organization to build our community. We’re the only grief-support organization in the DMV that focuses on fun. I know “grief” and “fun” generally don’t fall in the same sentence. However, we know that life moves on through your grief and we hope that we can provide a supportive place for families to come, meet others who have experienced loss, and create some wonderful friendships together.

As I’ve said previously, meeting these wonderful families, seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces, and seeing families enjoying time together, creating new memories makes everything we do worthwhile. If we can provide a fun afternoon once a month in a supportive environment that takes the weight of grief off of them for even an hour, then it’s all worth it. Yes, their grief will always be there, but we hope that our community allows them a place to feel supported and cared for.

What is the top priority or goal for 2023 for you and your organization?

Our top priority is really two-fold. One, we want to reach as many families as possible who could benefit from the Hope Community. So spreading the word about our organization across the DMV. In addition, finding more events we can offer our families in the area is always a priority.

What can people do to help your mission?

The first thing people can do to support our mission is to share Hope for Grieving Families information with any families with children in the DMV who have experienced a loss of a close family or loved one.

We are also always looking for volunteers for our events. So if you’d like to give the gift of your time, please reach out to us.
If individuals or their companies are interested in supporting our programs through donations, sponsorships, or in-kind donations, we’d love to hear from you. You can help make a difference in grieving families’ lives.

You can see more about what we do on our website

Thank you so much for highlighting the important work we’re doing for grieving families.


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