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Staying strong, brick by brick

Butterfly Garden of Hope offers engraved bricks to buy, will hold special Memorial Day ceremony

It's a place to escape and still, to remember; it brings solace, comfort and peace to those in need. The Butterfly Garden of Hope, located off Onondaga Parkway in Liverpool, is a memorial to those who have died and a symbol of hope to the living.

"It's very unique the way people use the garden and benefit from it," said Therese Schoeneck, founder of the nonprofit organization HOPE for Bereaved. HOPE established the garden in 1992.

Shaped like a butterfly, the garden was created for all people, not just those who are grieving, Shoeneck said. The butterfly is a symbol of hope, she added, and all people need hope in their lives.

Benches and bricks, adorned with the names of loved ones honored or memorialized, capture the essence of its existence. People can often be seen at the garden with friends, by themselves or as part of special events such as weddings and proms.

Maureen Lobko lost her son to suicide in 2005. She wrote HOPE last year to acknowledge the garden as her own private sanctuary.

"I visit the Butterfly Garden daily in the warmer months," she wrote in an email dated last year. "It has become my escape from the daily pain."

Lobko bought an inscribed brick that is now part of the garden pathway. Bricks are available to purchase as a way to forever memorialize or honor loved ones. Schoeneck said families will purchase a brick if their loved one was buried in another location -- it gives them a place to visit; to reflect: "Engraved bricks are a great way to keep a part of that person close to them, and a place they can visit to feel closer."

Others who have moved out of the area, like Lobko, are drawn to the garden when they return.

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