SARASOTA (WWSB) - A local non-profit is hosting a fundraiser to send grieving parents on an all-expense paid for retreat to Costa Rica.
The group, called Waves of Hope, launched last year after a Sarasota woman lost two loved ones to suicide.
It’s a message everyone can learn from. Life has a way of bringing waves of grief, sadness and hurt, but what we do with the pain is what sets us apart.
“My son was murdered March 29th, 2006,” said Maria Joseph, a mother who few to Sarasota for the fundraiser.
Peter Michael Joseph was murdered in Spokane, Washington at just 19-years-old.
“It was a brutal murder. I mean they came up behind Peter with a bat, put a bag over his head,” explained Maria Joseph. "They duck taped the bag on, duck taped his feet, his hands, put him in a tarp and hid his body in a basement.”
For five and a half weeks, no one could find him.
“They found his body on April 28th,” said Joseph. “I’m in this house looking for him and he was in the basement. I was from here to you, to opening that door. I would’ve found him. I wouldn’t be here today if I had found him.”
She wouldn’t be here today, without Peter’s voice.
“Yo, get up and live," said Maria Joseph about the voice in her head. "Get out of that dark room, get out of your head. Live, love, laugh, hope. smile.”
The path to the place Maria Joseph is in now was lead by Waves of Hope.
“It was the best thing that’s happened to me in the 12 1/2 years since I’ve lost Peter. It helped me put myself in a place I never knew existed in life,” said Joseph.
“Waves of Hope is a retreat that was started for parents that have lost their children," explained Founder Ivonne Lizarazo. "It was started in memory of two very special, dear girls to us, Holly and Lupe. We lost them to suicide, unfortunately, about nine months apart from each other.”
Lizarazo watched her best friend, the mother of Lupe, struggle with overwhelming grief and decided she would start raising money to send her friend on a healing retreat to Costa Rica.
“And I did the first fundraiser and it went amazingly well and there was so much love and so much, just beautiful energy and community that came out to support us," said Lizarazo. "Now, fast forward to a year later, we’re part of a 501C3. We now also work with veterans, gold star parents that have lost their children and we’re hopefully going to be doing this on a very regular basis.”
Waves of Hope raised enough money to send seven people to Costa Rica, including Maria who has re-found her life after death. Now, they want to do it again.
“Live, love, laugh, hope, smile,” said Joseph. “Today I no longer feel like the victim.”
The fundraiser to send another group on the next healing retreat is from noon to 9 p.m. at the Mandeville Beer Garden on Sunday, November 11.
For more information about Waves of Hope, click here.