Local grief support group celebrates 40 years with special dinner

Hope for Bereaved’s annual Celebration of Hope dinner is being held in memory of Mary T. Schoeneck, daughter of the not-for-profit’s founder and executive director Therese Schoeneck, and in honor of Wegmans. The evening kicks off a year of celebrating the organization’s 40th anniversary of providing comfort, compassion and services to the bereaved of the local community and beyond.

Headquartered at 4500 Onondaga Blvd., Hope for Bereaved is dedicated to helping grieving children, teens and adults by providing services such as support groups, counseling and monthly newsletters, all free of charge. Proceeds from the annual dinner help pay for these services; the organization does not
receive annual institutional funding from any source.

“We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves at the celebration,” wrote a 2017 attendee in a note to Hope for Bereaved. “It was a wonderful time with an awesome silent auction and dinner. What a great way to support the much-needed services they provide.”

Like every parent who has grieved the death of their child, so has Therese Schoeneck. Forty-one years ago on Aug. 21, 1977, her daughter Mary, age 21, was killed in a car accident.

“I didn’t think we would survive or ever be happy again,” recalled Schoeneck. “If there had been a support group anywhere in the state, I would have attended.”

But there were none at that time. She, her husband David, and Mary’s brothers and sisters were forced to find other ways to cope with grief and carry on.

The following year, as Schoeneck and her family faced another holiday season, she decided to hold a meeting for other parents grieving the deaths of their children. The parents asked to meet again and Hope for Bereaved was born. “It is heartwarming to hear the bereaved reflect ‘how helpful, even life-saving’ Hope is,” Schoeneck said.

Hope for Bereaved’s 2018 goal is to expand its support, services and outreach to the bereaved, with emphasis on helping grieving youth, and to financially solidify Hope for decades to come.

Community chairs Jeffrey and Dorothy Booher and the Celebration of Hope committee members have planned a special evening with music, dancing, raffles and a live and silent auction. Among the items to be auctioned: seven days in Acapulco, an overnight stay at Mirbeau Inn & Spa, and a composite ruby and diamond pendant. WSYR-Channel 9 news anchor Dan Cummings will serve as master of ceremonies and auctioneer.

Hope for Bereaved will continue to accept donated items or themed baskets for the silent auction. These items may be donated in honor or in memory of a loved one, and may include a short write-up and photo. Items or baskets should be at least a $40 value; gift certificates should be a minimum of $25. Ideas include art, children’s items, home decor, holiday decorations, jewelry, sports and gift certificates for golf, hotels and restaurants.

The dinner is set for Friday, Nov. 2, 6 p.m., in the Pirro Convention Center’s Ballroom, 800 S. State St. Admission is $125.

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