A Helping Hand: Waves of Hope
SARASOTA - Ivonne Lizarazo is no stranger to grief. She lost two of her best friends to suicide nine months apart.
“The struggle I saw their mothers going through is really what just made me have to act and do something to try and help them with that process," Lizarazo said.
Lupe, one of the friends she lost, had a friend with a retreat center in Costa Rica.
“One thing led to another, and I started doing regular retreats every year," Lizarazo said.
That’s how Waves of Hope was born. Grieving parents from Florida and beyond are given free room and board, meals, and excursions on the Costa Rican retreat. Waves of Hope will even pay for the flight if parents can't.
“Once the funeral and wake is over and people go home, everybody goes back to their lives, and these parents are left lost and broken," Lizarazo said.
That's how Pat Woods felt when her son Max died two years ago, after falling from a hotel window.
"To get the phone call from the hospital that says, you know, 'Your child had a traumatic accident,' and then within ten minutes to receive another phone call that says, 'I'm sorry; we did everything we could, but we couldn’t save him,'" Woods said.
She stumbled upon Waves of Hope's Facebook page.
“I sent her [Ivonne] an e-mail saying, 'How do I become one of the parents you’re helping? What do I have to do?'” Woods said.
Woods went on the retreat, never having been to Costa Rica and knowing none of the other parents.
“Something told me to do it,” she said.
The retreat helps parents work through their grief with journaling, trauma counseling, art workshops, and so much more. Now Ivonne will be able to bring more parents, with A Helping Hand from Attorney Carl Reynolds with Carl Reynolds Law.
“You’re a champion for these parents and for these survivors, and this is just a small token of our appreciation and support for what you’re doing for our wonderful community," Reynolds said.
Woods says you can’t put a price on the new family she’s found.
“The only people in your life that know what you feel. With the other parents being at different stages it gives you hope that you can make it,” Woods said.
Waves of Hope hosts an annual fundraiser at Mandeville Beer Garden.