Opened in 2006, the center provides free counseling services, support groups, walk-in services, wellness workshops and phone consultations to individuals coping with loss – loss of a loved one, pet or even a job.
"It's a place where people can go (when) they know that their life has been changed," said Kelly Andrew, director of development for Horizon.
The center, which builds on Horizon's goal to remain a leading, innovative hospice organization in the country, provides a central place for people struggling with grief to find a new support system, Andrew said.
"It's really about them kind of having a broken heart at that moment, and we're here to help them repair that and get back to where they can function again," she said.
While the center caters to anyone dealing with grief, its volunteers make a specific point to stay in touch and offer services to bereaved families impacted by Horizon's home care and hospice programs for 13 months after they lose a loved one.
With one full-time counselor, one part-time counselor, backup hospice counselors and a corps of at least a dozen regular volunteers, the center served more than 5,000 people in 2012 – up from 700 individuals during its opening year.
"We've really grown kind of exponentially over the years," Andrew said.
Without a budget to advertise the center throughout the community, word of mouth has been key in spreading the resource center's mission and expanding its outreach.
"We use every dime that comes in through fundraising to do the actual work of the center," Andrew said.
The center, attached to Horizon's business office at 8949 N. Deerbrook Trail in Brown Deer, is funded completely by donations, and the annual gala typically raises enough money to cover annual expenses.
The theme for this year's gala event pivots around "Stories of Love." Horizon will share real life stories of those it has served at the center to help gala attendees connect directly with its mission.
"(Grief is) something that will inevitably happen to us all, and people still get through it even when they're not expecting it," Andrew said.
The gala, which serves as the organization's biggest fundraiser, will be held Saturday at the Pfister Hotel, 424 E. Wisconsin Ave. in Milwaukee, beginning at 5:30 p.m. General admission costs $160 and includes a three-course dinner and entertainment, VIP admission costs $250, and an overnight package is available for $500. For more information about the event, click here.