Memorial Day Reflections…

Michael is laid to rest in Arlington Section 60 8735. Pedro and I do not go to Arlington on Memorial Day to many people for us. So we look for local services. This year we went to Sarasota National Cemetery since I thought their was a service today. But we were two days late and a dollar short. They have these beautiful monuments there and I took pictures of the 3 that struck me the most. Sacrifice, Conflict and Resilience, when I read the words they touched my soul. Sacrifice is what Michael has done. Conflict is the everyday struggle of the emotions that come with grief. Resilience being able to climb out of the darkness and find the fire inside!!

Michael giving his all for others.

Sacrifice - Michael giving his all for others.

Conflict - the everyday struggles of the emotions that come with grief.

Resilience - being able to climb out out of the darkness and find the fire inside!!!

“2016” We Did It!!!

As 2016 comes to an end, Butterfly Circle of Friends is grateful for all of our sponsors, donors, those who attend our fundraisers and our volunteers. This was one of the best giving years yet for BCOF.

Besides helping individual veterans and their families thru out the year. We were able to reach our goal to endow the Spc Michael L Gonzalez Scholarship at Middlesex County College. With all of your help WE DID IT, in April the scholarship was endowed to continue for many years to help veterans and current military personnel.

As our 5K in October approached we discovered Amazing Grace Ministries - Operation Safe Haven, a housing project for homeless and at risk veterans. The new goal was to raise enough funds for a home in memory of Spc Michael L Gonzalez  (The Gonzo Cottage). With all of your help WE DID IT!!

With Much Gratitude Butterfly Circle of Friends, Thanks all of You For Being Part of Keeping Michael's Memory Alive!

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MCC Scholarship Reception, October 27th, 2016. Pictured is Board Members April Kelly and Troy Gonzalez with Albert Coppola the first recipient of the Spc Michael L Gonzalez Scholarship. Albert is currently in the Marine Reserves stationed in NJ. He is pursuing a degree at MCC in Liberal Arts-Physical Education. We wish him all the best in his future endeavors!!!.

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Sign to be placed on the home at Operation Safe Haven, Franklinville, NJ

The Gonzo Cottage – Safe Haven Micro Housing for Veterans

The GONZO Cottage

The Gonzo Cottage Safe Haven Micro Housing for Veterans

A beautful 65 acre lake on the property that is loaded with fish.

Thank you to all who attended our 4th Annual 5K in spite of the cold and rainy day. We appreciate your continued support. This year the funds raised at our 5K will be donated to Amazing Grace Ministries towards Operation Safe Haven Micro Housing for Veterans in memory of Michael L. Gonzalez. (The Gonzo Cottage).

Rob Wilson and I visited the Safe Haven property in Franklinville, New Jersey on Friday October 7, 2016. Donnie the founder and Tony the Director gave us the grand tour of the 277 acre property. The property was originally a campground so it is all nature, woods, dirt trails and creeks. There is a 65 acre lake all I can say is serene. The micro housing for the veterans will be set away on 60 acres of the property with the hopes of having 65 homes that are 300 sq feet. All have kitchen, living room, bedroom and a bathroom. There will be campgrounds for family to come and visit.

Amazing visit and the site is awesome they have many ideas implemented already and working hard on their vision. There is already electric and sewer in place. A larger company is going in to help clear some of the campsites and also restore showers and bathrooms. Also providing job placement for the veterans. January 2016 is when they acquired the property with hopes of completing all housing by 2018. All of the veterans who live there will be required to help maintain the property.

There will be counseling, VA services, employment services, educational services and equine therapy. They will have livestock and agriculture. Fresh eggs from chickens I never tried a fresh egg. Donnie was gracious enough to share a dozen with me.

BCOF vetted them before we went to visit the site. When I stepped on the property I knew that it was perfect place for veterans to find their way back into the civilian world. When Rob and I were walking out we talked that it is something we are definitely going to so we went back in and I said “I think I just bought $10,500 eggs” In my heart I know that the “Gonzo Cottage” will be a healing place for many. What an awesome way to honor Michael’s memory.

Click HERE to learn more about this project.

Below are some pictures from our visit. Click on an image to view the gallery.





 

 

 

When someone else gets… the boy before the soldier

IMG_0367We received this beautiful painting from Matthew who is soldier who knew Spc Michael L Gonzalez. When I opened the gift the tears just started to flow. Not tears of sadness but of joy that someone else would see the boy before the soldier.

I always loved to hold my boys'  hands and held them as long as I could.  Then one day they let go of your hand. All you can do is hope that you did your best as a parent.

Thank you Matthew and artist Yang you gave our family a gift to treasure for the rest of our lives.

 

 

Gold Star Mother’s (Family) Day

 

When the Blue Star turns Gold....

When the Blue Star turns Gold....

On the last Sunday in September the day is set a side for recognizing the sacrifice of military families who's loved one died in service to the United States of America.  The President's Gold Star Mothers and Families Day Proclamation

For many years it was just the mother's who received this recognition.  The death of a child effects the family as a whole in our case Pedro (dad) and Troy (brother).  None of us will ever forget the day the CNOs (Casualty Notification Officers) walked up our sidewalk. "The United States of America regrets to inform you Spc Michael L Gonzalez ..................." .  They did not need to speak the words because as soon as I seen them I knew.  Like you're in a movie but a million times worse because you're at the receiving end of the tragic news. Our lives as we knew it was changed forever.

I remembering saying ,"We can not do this alone." meaning coping with our grief alone as a family.

In recognition of Gold Star Mother/Family Day.  I share some of the resources that we as a family used to help us cope with the greatest loss in our lives our beloved Michael.

 

Military Resources:

Army Survivor Outreach Service

TAPS - Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors

General Grief Resources:

Compassionate Friends - Child Loss

Grief Recovery Method