Erie County Tribute Garden honors domestic violence victims, survivors

On Saturday a celebration of the Tribute Garden’s fifth anniversary will be held. A poem will be unveiled on the stone steps of the berm.

TONAWANDA, N.Y. — Erie County’s Tribute Garden in Isle View Park is believed to be the first of its kind on public land. II’s designed to raise awareness around domestic violence while honoring victims and survivors.

Karen King of the Erie County Status of Women Commission there garden is “also a space where you can gather information through our kiosk and information about resources that are available in our community, if you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship and needs help.”  

According to the the National Coalition against Domestic Violence “domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence, and emotional abuse.”

On Saturday a celebration of the Tribute Garden’s fifth anniversary will be held. A poem will be unveiled on the stone steps of the berm.

It’s a true community project from beginning to end.

Cornell cooperative extension master gardeners offer service learning opportunities for for middle and high school  students.

“We believe it’s been instrumental in exposing the problem and also teaching young people what they can do if they know someone who is impacted by domestic violence and the resources that are available. it also helps d to support a program called teen relationship violence awareness program,” King said.

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Residents ask mayor to stop removal of angels at Nueces County Victims’ Memorial Garden

Residents took to email to beg Mayor Joe McComb to stop the removal of angels at the Nueces County Victims’ Memorial Garden on Thursday.

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The garden, located at Oleander Point at Cole Park, is a place for families to remember their lost loved ones. 

Fallon Wood, the mother of the late 21-year-old Breanna Wood, began work on the garden after her daughter’s body was found. Families and friends of victims can add their loved one to the memorial with plaques that can be adorned with a name and photo. 

The Nueces County Victims' Memorial Garden is located at Oleander Point at Cole Park.

© Courtney Sacco/Caller-Times
The Nueces County Victims’ Memorial Garden is located at Oleander Point at Cole Park.

More: Never forgotten: Nueces County Victims’ Memorial Garden ribbon cutting set for May

In a Facebook post, the Nueces County Victims’ Memorial Garden said the Parks and Recreation department asked for the removal of the angels by Sept. 25. 

“When Fallon started doing this deal, she did it on her own,” said George Fennema, Wood’s brother, said. “When she got everything approved through the city, she made some revisions to it that she thought would look better.”


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Fennema said Parks and Recreation told them to remove everything from the park that wasn’t approved by the department, including a flagpole and pathway lights. 

The department allowed the flag and lights to stay, but insisted the angels were removed, Fennema said.

“I suggested we submit stuff for review and they said no,” Fennema said. “I did the revisions they wanted, but we left the angels there. The only answer we need is why you want the angels removed. They said they don’t feel they’re aesthetically acceptable in our city park.”

An email obtained by the Caller-Times shows the department requesting the angels be removed.

“The Parks and Recreation Department does not feel that the Angels or the Angel Wings at the memorial garden meet the aesthetics of a City park,” the email said.

Residents asked McComb to intervene in the removal of the park’s angels.

“I am not happy that the Parks and Recreation is demanding we take down the angels in our garden,” Kathleen Garza said in an email. “We were victimized once. Please don’t do it again by removing anything from our beautiful garden.”

Others urged McComb to visit the garden himself.

“If you have not been to the park, I highly recommend doing so,” Rita Lucero said in an email. “Let these people who have gone through things you hopefully never have to go through have their place in peace. It has been accepted by the community in such a wonderful and warm way.”

Lisa Oliver, Community Relations Superintendent for Corpus Christi Parks and Recreations, said the department will give a statement on Friday.

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Local foundation dedicates memorial garden commemorating victims of addiction | Richmond Local News

Jill Cichowicz lost her twin brother, Scott Zebrowski, to an overdose in 2017. Cichowicz visited Zebrowski’s brick in the garden Saturday along with 11 family members, including her mother, Linda, and two young sons.

Linda said one of the last things her son told her before he died was that if something happened to him, he didn’t want his family to be ashamed to tell his story. Cichowicz helps run A Night For Scott, an annual local fundraiser for the Scott Zebrowski Scholarship Fund.

“We’ve cried every day, but we hope we can save somebody else’s life by telling Scott’s story,” Cichowicz said.

Dan Schneider has made it his life’s mission to save other people’s lives by sharing his son’s story in Netflix’s “The Pharmacist,” a documentary series detailing how Schneider has used his grief to help others heal.

Schneider’s son, Danny Jr., was fatally shot at the age of 22 while trying to buy crack in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward in April 1999. Schneider came to McShin’s event to speak, share his story and see a brick in the garden bearing his son’s name.

“I get a chance when I travel to tell my story, and if I can save a life in the process, it’s well worth it. [Addiction] is still horrible, and it isn’t getting better. This is a camaraderie of people who have lost their kids,” said Schneider, gesturing around him to the people milling about the garden, some smiling, some crying and hugging over bricks commemorating their lost loved ones.

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Memorial garden dedicated to victims of addiction


RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — More than 200 people have helped dedicate a new memorial garden in Virginia to commemorate loved ones lost to addiction.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that the dedication on Saturday was part of Recovery Fest, an event put on by the McShin Foundation to celebrate National Recovery Month.

Many people who attended wore T-shirts that read, “Make Recovery the Epidemic.”

Virginia is on pace to exceed the 1,626 overdose deaths recorded last year. In the Richmond area, emergency calls for non-alcohol-related overdoses are up nearly 65% in the first half of 2020.

The event, which in other years might draw closer to 1,000 attendees, was limited to 250 this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

People played cornhole, listened to speakers, grilled burgers and walked around to tents, including one that housed an opioid overdose treatment clinic.

John Shinholser, president of the McShin Foundation, said the event and garden are intended to serve as communal spaces for grieving and processing among people who have lost loved ones and experienced similar trauma at the hands of addiction.

“It’s so important for people to realize that recovery is abundant, it’s out there,” Shinholser said.

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Proposed memorial garden would honor Roanoke homicide victims and provide a place of peace for families | Local News

Ryan Reilly described it as like ripples unfurling across water. The edges expand, flow, stretching outward on and on.

Grief is like that, he said. It shifts over time, changes, affecting more than you ever imagined.

“As it gets further and further out, it seemingly impacts people in all kinds of different ways,” he said.

“Unless you’ve been through something like it, I don’t know that anyone can really, truly understand what victims’ families go through,” he said. “But I do think that ripple effect and how it touches different people and how they can deal with it has a long-lasting effect, on a community as a whole.”

Reilly and his family found themselves plunged into grief in March when his cousin, Cassie Pizzi, 33, was killed in what would be the city’s fourth homicide case of the year.

Her death remains under investigation. Reilly, born in Roanoke but now living in Tennessee, described her loss as painfully tragic for those she left behind.

“It’s unfathomable,” he said in an interview. “Homicide takes a piece of people away when they lose that loved one.”

Reilly’s path through grief led him to a new idea, one that’s still taking shape but which he hopes can be a source of healing for families and the Star City itself.

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