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HOPE for Bereaved Inc. in Geddes seeks donations to renovate building, secure future

Donations needed to pay for repair of sinking foundation.

Apulia Station, NY - June 7, 2016

GEDDES — For nearly 40 years, HOPE for Bereaved has been there for the community to provide free counseling and support groups for people dealing with grief.

Now, it is hoping the community will return the support by donating toward a project to renovate the building at 4500 Onondaga Blvd. in Geddes and keep the organization going into the future.

Therese Schoeneck, the founder and executive director of HOPE, said the organization has raised $29,500 of the $80,000 it needs to pay for the first phase of work to repair the sinking foundation of the more than 30-year-old building — dropping down four to six inches in places, she said. 

That phase also includes removing carpets, tile and laminate flooring and replacing them with all new materials, repairing cracks, priming and painting walls and ceilings, installing three code-compliant exterior doors and renting storage pods for office furniture during the renovations.

"It's been a wonderful building," Schoeneck said of the location into which HOPE moved in 1991. "This works for us. ... It's an ideal building for us with that parking on the side and just the way the rooms are all configured."

She also noted the building is completely paid for, as she made the last two mortgage payments to the bank on Dec. 31, 2013. In the time that HOPE has occupied the building, there has been a new roof, a new furnace, a new water heater, a new air conditioner and other repairs.

"We do keep the building up, but those were all smaller projects," Shoeneck said. "This is a big one. ... We just have to fix this, but it's a big fix."

A second phase of the project would involve installing outdoor lighting for the parking lot, repairing and repaving the parking lot, installing a new handicap ramp and repairing the outside landscaping in front of the building. That work is anticipated to cost $35,000.

Schoeneck said Woodford Brothers, a central New York construction company, is slated to begin the first phase in the middle of July in order to complete it by the beginning of August.

Though Woodford Brothers comes at a higher price, the company also comes highly recommended, she said. A couple of other contractors visited the building to examine its needed repairs, she said, and almost immediately told her, "This is beyond us. You need Woodford Brothers."

I don't know that there is anybody else, but they're wonderful," Schoeneck said of Woodford Brothers. "They're the gold standard."

One of the areas sinking the most is the large room where Schoeneck said HOPE holds its support groups, workshops and committee meetings as well as other gatherings.

Because of that, HOPE's support groups will move to nearby St. Ann's Church during the two-week construction, though counseling sessions will still take place at the building since counseling can be done in the offices.

Rather than starting a generic capital campaign, Schoneck said the organization established the Forever HOPE Fund separate from its regular operating expenses in order to pay for the building repairs as well as maintain the organization well into the future and "ensure that the community will always have a place to go when they are grieving," as a letter from the organization tells its supporters.

Schoeneck said the upcoming project will be funded solely through donations, as fundraisers such as HOPE's annual golf tournament, run/walk and dinner already support its main services of counseling, support groups and a monthly newsletter, all of which are free to clients.

"I'm just very hopeful that somebody — we've helped them or their mother or their sister, their coworker, their neighbor — we're hopeful they'll support this project," she said. "That kind of (fundraiser) money goes to provide our core services. ... They have always been free. They always will be."

Schoeneck also said the organization also is seeking grants to help defray the costs of the renovations and otherwise is relying on donations from individuals, service clubs and corporate groups to pay for the work. She noted the organization does not receive any annual public funding.

Aside from the letter, HOPE is circulating papers that detail the needed repairs to the building and parking lot and the estimated cost of each piece, as well as the services provided by the organization that Schoeneck founded in 1978 after her daughter died in a car crash the year before.

Completing the renovations, Schoeneck said, will ensure that the organization is on solid footing — literally and figuratively — as it continues to help those who are dealing with the death of a loved one, whether a spouse, a child, a parent, a sibling or friend.

"People are so positive about HOPE," Schoeneck said. "We just hear so many good stories. People will say we saved their lives. Sometimes people wonder how we keep doing this. When you hear that, you have to keep going. ... We want to always be able to provide HOPE for everybody in the community."

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