After Emancipation, former slaves flocked to Richmond seeking work and looking for missing family members. Having lost a daughter to the slave trade, Brooks had a special concern for the plight of parentless children. A leader of the Ladies Sewing Circle for Charitable Work, she convinced the group to support a home for orphans. She also obtained aid from the local Cedar Creek Meeting of the Society of Friends and won the backing of several black churches.
The orphanage building was completed in 1871 in Richmond's Jackson Ward neighborhood, and the General Assembly incorporated the Friends' Asylum for Colored Orphans in March 1872. After operating until 1932, the orphanage became a child-placement agency working primarily with foster families. Today the renamed Friends Association for Children operates three family-support centers, one on the site of the original orphanage building. The Lucy Brooks Foundation, created in 1984 to raise funds for the association, was named in honor of its founder.
Reprinted with permission of the Library of Virginia.