The mission of Full Circle Foundation is to support the activities that foster a sense of self worth and independence in persons with disabilities such as Autism Spectrum Disorder and Intellectual Disabilities, by providing opportunities to contribute and participate productively in their community.
Full Circle Foundation is a fully accredited 501 (c)(3) charitable organization working in conjunction with the Grosse Pointe Public School System to provide opportunities for increased independence for individuals with special needs. Our vision is to provide diverse training experiences and independent living skills for persons with these disabilities in our community. As part of our mission to foster independence, our goal is to prepare participants for employment, either in local businesses or one of the Foundation’s enterprises.
Our Core Values
At Full Circle Foundation we believe in:
- Achieving personal potential
- A transition to independence
- Early and continuing advocacy
- A strong sense of community
How We Started
Full Circle Foundation was born in the Grosse Pointe Public School System in 2009. The goal was to fill a need to offer new or gently loved donated upscale prom dresses and blazers at an incredibly discounted price to thrifty local high school students who may have not been able to afford to go to prom otherwise.
For $5-$15, local high school students snapped up the dresses and blazers of their dreams in the Performing Arts lobby at Grosse Pointe North High School. Proceeds supported area young adults with special needs.
It was so successful, organizers were begged to return the next week. Soon, multiple clothing racks were full of gently used merchandise.What was supposed to be a weekend project turned into our fourteen year old history.
How We Grew
Increased demand led FCF cofounder Mary Fodell, a retired Parcells Middle School art teacher with a daughter with special needs, to open the Full Circle Upscale Resale Shop on Kercheval and Beaconsfield in Grosse Pointe Park. Offerings again expanded to donated upscale women’s clothing, suits, ties, hats, shoes, costume jewelry and accessories.
Full Circle continued to grow and moved to even bigger store at Kercheval and Lakepointe and later at its current location on Mack and Harvard, in GPP.
First at Kercheval and Lakepointe and later at its current location on Mack and Harvard, both in GPP.
What We Added
Along the way, Full Circle added microenterprise services, such as shredding, online selling, laundry services and the Edible Garden. Such microenterprises allowed Full Circle young adults opportunities to learn and expand their skills and interactions with and within the community.
The TEAM 26 program was added for those who graduated or aged out of the school system but continued to require support in maintaining skills, or learning new skills.
For more information, visit FullCirclefdn.org, or call Stephanie at 313.469.6660.
Thanks to GPPSS
Thanks to the Grosse Pointe Public School System, scores of local young adults with special needs now live independent lives and every day share their skills and smiles with those in the community.
Indeed, at Full Circle and at GPPSS, it’s a Circle of Love.
President of the Board
Sue most recently served as FCF Director of Operations. She is a retired administrator from Grosse Pointe Public Schools where she worked for 18 years. She has been involved with the Full Circle Foundation since the beginning. During her GPPSS career, she was a Teacher Consultant for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Principal at Barnes Early Childhood Center, and Supervisor of Programs for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Cognitive Impairment. In her early career, she worked for Macomb County Community Mental Health and Detroit Public Schools. After receiving her Bachelor Degree in Special Education and Master’s Degree in Guidance and Counseling, she eventually completed her Education Specialist Degree in Special Education from Eastern Michigan University.
Founder and Vice – President of the Board
Mary is a retired Grosse Pointe Public Schools art teacher with degrees in education and administration. As a mother of a daughter with special needs, Mary knows of the challenge facing these young adults to live independently in our community. Seeing the need for transitional support for families with children with special needs, Mary envisioned a partnership between the schools and our community to provide such support. Thus, she and her daughter became the inspiration for Full Circle Foundation.
Treasure of the Board
Chris received a BA from Hope College and an MBA from the University of Detroit. He worked for 7 years for a CPA firm and a Fortune 500 company prior to joining the Grosse Pointe Public Schools.
He finished his 37 year career at GP Schools as Deputy Superintendent of Business and Operations. After retiring, the district honored him by renaming the North Performing Arts Center, the Christian A. Fenton Performing Arts Center. Besides doing consulting work for some private trusts/estates he also is a member of the Grosse Pointe Woods Planning Commission and the Grosse Pointe Woods Community Events Committee.
Mary Jane Failla
President of the Board
Mrs. Failla worked her entire professional career for the Grosse Pointe Public School System, and is best known for her 15 years at Parcells Middle School. During her time at Parcells, Mary Jane founded the all-school musical and produced 15 consecutive years of sold-out shows. She also founded with Glen Hipple the Parcells’ show choir Mack Avenue Magic. During its short tenure, Mack Avenue Magic was named Most Outstanding Middle School Choir for 2005 in the State of Michigan, and performed in concert at Hill Auditorium at the University of Michigan for the Michigan Music Conference.
Since her retirement, Mary Jane has focused her attention on her family and volunteer efforts at Community Campus and the Full Circle Foundation. She currently serves as the Secretary of the Board of Directors of Full Circle Foundation, and is active in Full Circle’s fundraising efforts.
Jill is a parent of three children who attended Grosse Pointe Public Schools, one of which is a daughter on the Autism spectrum. She is a Board Member of the Grosse Pointe South Blue Devils and active member of The Friends of the Grosse Pointe Public Library. Jill has been a practicing nurse and is currently a licensed nurse in New York & Michigan. Jill has coordinated several Full Circle Foundation events, as well as has served on several Full Circle Foundation Gala committees. Currently she is Co-Owner of Dragon’s Landing (micro-brewery connected to 1st Dragon Mead brewery.
Alicia is the mother of three children who attended Grosse Pointe Schools and a community business owner who is very invested in developing opportunities for individuals with special needs. She currently owns Cabbage Patch Saloon and will soon be launching a non-profit business which will employ individuals with special needs in the community. She also is the Director of Community Services for the Grosse Public School System which links high school students to community organizations for volunteer experiences through SERVE. Owner of Grosse Pointe Compassionate Care, a residential facility within the community her company services traumatic brain injured individuals.
Rich is Vice President of Marketing for Mahindra Automotive North America. He started his career with Young and Rubicam in 1985 after graduating from Michigan State University. He has more than 25 years of international automotive marketing experience. He has extensive global experience, having led teams in China, India, Japan, Europe and Brazil. Rich joined Mahindra in 2014, and is leading Marketing, PR and Community & Government Relations work for the North American automotive activity. He grew up in Detroit. He has three daughters, one of whom has autism. He spent eight years in leadership roles with Autism Speaks Michigan, raising over $2 million to help research autism spectrum disorders. In 2017, he joined the Full Circle Board of Directors.
Bob is a shareholder with the law firm of Howard & Howard. His principal areas of practice include business law, commercial litigation, complex insurance coverage matters and alternative dispute resolution.. He is admitted to practice in both Michigan and Ohio, and professional accomplishments include the prestigious Michigan Super Lawyers, the D Business Top Lawyers, and Leading Lawyers in Michigan. He has been an active participant to the community, having served on the Planning Commission, Grosse Pointe Township Clerk and Trustee, Village Clerk, and a City Council Member for Grosse Pointe Shores. He is actively involved and supports Special Olympics. Bob believes he has been blessed and is very fortunate to be able to give back and help those with special needs. His goal is to encourage others to do the same.
Patty’s professional career includes Director of Therapeutic Recreation for MORC (Macomb, Oakland Regional Center), as well as being the Project Director for MORC in grant writing and program development for 28 years. She recently was the Executive Director of The Family Center of Grosse Pointe and Harper Woods before retiring. She currently is the Project Director of the Non-Profit Coffee Connecting Communities. She has years of experience with non-profit businesses as well as serving on several non-profit Board of Directors.
Operations and Programs Coordinator
Assistant Store manager
TEAM 26 Coordinator
TEAM 26 Job Coach