By Tami Scott
About 400 guests will gather on Nov. 9 to raise money for a local nonprofit’s largest annual fundraiser, Celebration of HOPE. Going strong for 20 years, HOPE for Bereaved’s dinner and silent auction will again be held at the Nicholas J. Pirro Convention Center in Syracuse. Local TV personality Dan Cummings will emcee the event.
“It’s a very upbeat evening,” said founder Therese Schoeneck, debunking the perception that everything associated with bereavement has to be sad. Many people don’t typically link “fun” with grieving, Schoeneck said, but on this night in particular, many supporters return to recognize the group that helped them get through some of their darkest days. “We have music and dancing [as well as] a wonderful, unique silent (and live) auction.”
The numerous items that guests can bid on include themed baskets (Disney, Syracuse University, Boxing Hall of Fame, etc.), restaurant gift card and wine sets, grills, paintings from local artists and Christmas quilts. National celebrity Marie Osmond donates a doll each year from her signature collection as well.
HOPE for Bereaved was established in 1978 after Schoeneck’s daughter Mary was killed in a car accident. Schoeneck formed a small bereaved parent support group which eventually blossomed into what it is today, an organization serving thousands of children, adults and families through one-on-one counseling, a monthly newsletter and more than 10 support groups – at no cost. All proceeds aid in sustaining these services.
On Nov. 29, HOPE is holding an extra workshop, “Coping with the Holidays,” to prepare those seeking solace during what can be one of the loneliest times of the year. “Holidays are difficult,” Schoeneck said. “When people have already had Thanksgiving and realize how difficult it is, they are anxious to get some ideas on coping.”
Last month, Schoeneck was a recipient of The 2012 Women Who Mean Business Awards presented by the American Red Cross of Central New York. This honor is extended to “women who, in the tradition of American Red Cross founder, Clara Barton, share their energy, insight and passion for excellence and achievement with their community.”