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Central New York to celebrate HOPE

On Sept. 15, 2005, Kim Bermel's husband died by suicide and her life ended as she knew it. When she finally found HOPE for Bereaved five months later, her life began again.

"My husband committed suicide. It was pretty unexpected," Bermel said. "Even though I should have known what to do and how to feel, I really did not have any idea of how I was supposed to live, so I had to try and figure out how I was going to get through."

Bermel went on the Internet and found HOPE for Bereaved, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to serving grieving children, adults and families through counseling, support groups and an array of services, free of charge. Over the past year, it has served more than 10,000 people on their journey from grief to hope.

"It was an amazing thing to be in a room with other people who were suicide survivors, because it sets you apart from the rest of the world, it truly does," she said. "And being in that room at HOPE was the most peaceful and safe place to be."

This year, HOPE will be celebrating 32 years in Central New York with its annual fundraiser, "Celebration of HOPE," set for Friday Nov. 12 in the Nicholas J. Pirro OnCenter Ballroom. The event provides a way for people to come together to keep the memories of loved ones who have passed on alive. The event includes dinner, music, live and silent auctions. There will be more than 250 items on which to bid, including dinner, golf and service certificates, art, sports equipment, unique furnishings, antiques, jewelry, dolls, toys and more.

"This is our major fundraiser every year," said Therese Schoeneck, founder of HOPE for Bereaved. "We do not charge the bereaved for our core services, and we also do not receive annual funds from any source. It really is a wonderful event. People come year after year and have a good time."

Tickets for the event are on sale now. Table hosting, underwriting, and advertising opportunities are also available. To purchase tickets, for more information, or to seek help, call 475-9675, e-mail hopeforbereaved@cnymail.com or visit its website, hopeforbereaved.com.

Chelsea Mary Holmes is a Syracuse University student minoring in journalism. She is also an intern at Hope for Bereaved.

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