Another New Year Upon Us – 2018

Time to Reflect

As the New Year is upon us makes me reflect on the things I dreamed of5k Thompson Park in Memory of SPC. Michael L. Gonzalez for Michael.  I never imagined when Michael was born that one day he would join the military or even fathomed he would die in a war.  As the new year rolls in Michael's 30th birthday is right around the corner January 22.  If things were different maybe I would be a grandmother now and babysitting so Michael and his wife could bring in the New Year.

5k Thompson Park in Memory of SPC. Michael L. Gonzalez

But.... Things are not different life takes paths that no one can explain. Instead we honor Spc Michael L Gonzalez's memory and legacy with fundraisers Dinner/Dance in the spring and a 5K at Thompson Park in the fall to support other veterans that call Michael their Brother in Arms. 2018 will be our 10th Annual dinner dance and our 6th 5K.  All of this can not be done without all of our sponsors , donors and those who continue to support us.  Click HERE to view the companies that sponsored the 2017 5K. With a grateful heart we thank  all of our sponsors, donors, runners and dancers!!!  Wishing all of you the best in 2018!!!!

Organizations we supported in 2017:

Hoof Prints on The Heart:  https://www.hoofprintsontheheart.org/

ARMS :   https://supportarms.org/

Courageous Healers: https://www.courageoushealers.org/

Amazing Grace - Operation Safe Haven: https://opsafehaven.com/

Do They Know……

A Washington Post photographer captured this private moment of Sgt Brian Scott paying respects to Spc Michael Gonzalez on Memorial Day of 2010. When this picture was placed in a Memorial Day article on the Washington Post website it became very public.  The picture has circulated on Facebook post and placed in Meme’s, liked, loved, commented on and shared thousands of times. Good, bad or indifferent makes me smile to see it shared.

Do people read his name on the headstone? If yes, do they Google to see who he was? Do they read the dates of birth and death? Do they understand that Operation Iraqi Freedom means he was KIA in Iraq? Do they know that BSM means Bronze Star Medal and PH means Purple Heart?  Was it noticed that “In God We Trust” is the last line on his headstone?

Why are the words “In God We Trust”

Why are the words “In God We Trust” the last line?  On September 10, 2008 is the day Michael was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery. Before the service at his gravesite we were sat down in a cubicle with a notebook of symbols and examples of what we could chose to put on Michael’s headstone. If you can imagine for one moment of the fog we as a family were in at that time. We chose the cross at the top and the rest was the same with BSM and PH spelled out with Purple Heart being the last line. About two weeks after the services in Arlington I had an overwhelming feeling that Michael’s headstone needed to say “In God We Trust”.  Immediately I called Arlington to speak with to the head person to see if I could change the headstone. He said “Ma’am the headstone maybe done already. What did you want it to say?”   I told him and he said he would do the best he can and he did.

The Seal of Honor Facebook Page

The most recent post was on the Seal of Honor Facebook page on September 26, 2017. With the post reading,  “To those who gave the last full measure of devotion, may we endeavor to be worthy of your sacrifice.”

The word “endeavor” stuck out for me what does it mean “endeavor to be worthy” for me it is exactly what Butterfly Circle of Friends has been successful at accomplishing since the founding in October 2008. We strive to honor Michael’s memory by supporting others.  Being part of making the difference in veterans, military and civilians’ lives.

Spc Michael Gonzalez

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.