In December 1978, a new support group was formed to help grieving parents get through one of the most difficult times of the year: the holidays. The workshop was launched by Therese Schoeneck, who founded the not-for-profit Hope for Bereaved — a local organization that provides support, resources and hope for grieving children, adults and families — a
little more than a year after the death of her 21-year-old daughter who was killed in a car accident. The group had met, Schoeneck said, and wanted to continue meeting each month.
Meanwhile, Syracuse native Donna Kalb, whose son died five years prior, would read about the workshops and the need for volunteers in the local newspaper. After three months, she called Hope.
“She knew what it was like to be a grieving parent,” Schoeneck said.
Kalb went from being a volunteer to becoming an integral staff member, working 36 years on behalf of the bereaved. And one of her many responsibilities over the years included the coordination of the annual golf fundraiser — the last project she sponsored before she died last June.
“Donna was an angel and she had a heart of gold,” said Vince Natali, a member of Hope’s board of directors. “Hope was her passion, it meant everything to her.”
Natali, of Liverpool, said Kalb was involved with every fundraising event at Hope and was the first to take the reins when it came to the Tournament of Hope.
“She kept thorough notes from year-to-year, which made planning and execution a smooth process,” he said. “I’m thrilled that Donna is being honored for this year’s Tournament of HOPE. [Her] efforts in the past have made this such a successful event.”
Kalb’s children, Cindy Coughenour and Cliff Kalb Jr., will be the presenting sponsors at the golf event. Coughenour, who lives in Colorado, assisted her mother with the golf program last year. She describes Kalb as “her greatest teacher who lived her life in a manner that exemplified compassion as being the greatest virtue.”
“There isn’t a day since my mom’s passing that I don’t think of her,” she said. “Being at the tournament this year will offer a bittersweet memory — I hope she would be proud of our support of a program she had previously facilitated. While my mom was a very private person who didn’t like accolades or being in the spotlight, I think she’ll be smiling down on us all with joy and humble gratitude.”
A highly regarded history
Hope for Bereaved’s Tournament of Hope has a reputable 22-year history. Hope staff and volunteers organized the event during the first four years. On its fifth anniversary, the golf tournament caught the attention of the Syracuse Police Department, whose members recognized the significance of Hope within the community. Consequently, the SPD celebrated the organization’s mission for 18 years, sponsoring the successful “Syracuse Police Herman Edge Tournament of Hope.” This year, the SPD will no longer hold its tournament, allowing Hope to once again take the reins.
“Hope has gratefully been the recipients of funds raised at the [Herman Edge] tournament(s),” Schoeneck said.
“We are so appreciative of all they did,” added Schoeneck’s daughter, Margie Nye.
Change is good
The 23rd Annual Tournament of Hope will be held on Monday, May 18 at Baldwinsville’s Timber Banks Golf Club, which boasts a Jack Nicklaus design 18-hole championship golf course adjacent to the Seneca River. Schoeneck and staff members are enthusiastic about this year’s event modifications and encouraged by the feedback.
“Golfers are excited about it,” she said, not only about the top notch venue, but also because the tourney is held early in the season when people are bursting at the seams to get outside. The cost, which has significantly decreased, is another reason to celebrate. Teams of four can now register for $500 ($125 per player) as opposed to the past fee of $825.
“We appreciate that many teams return each year because they believe it is one of the most enjoyable tournaments of the year and supports this worthwhile cause,” Schoeneck said.
“I’ve participated in all but one of the past 16 Tournaments of Hope. I missed one year because I was mobilized to active duty with the US Army in 2004,” said Natali, who enjoys knowing everyone on the course, many of whom are repeat participants, is there to support Hope. “People are having fun and they’re seeing friends and associates that they haven’t seen since the last tournament. They reminisce about the tournaments in the past and how Joe sunk a 20-foot putt for a birdie or how the team got on the green in two and four putted. Everyone has a great time.”
For those who aspire to hit a hole-in-one, the challenge is now even more enticing. Romano Subaru, of Syracuse, is donating a brand new vehicle to the first person who makes a hole-in-one.
“In 18 years, we’ve had three holes-in-one. Two of them were the same year, same hole,” Schoeneck said. “It’s pretty hard.”
Why should you support Hope?
“Hope is in our community, helping our community and the funds raised by the Tournament of HOPE stays in our community,” Natali said.
Hope for Bereaved provides core services free-of-charge to anyone experiencing the death of someone close to them. Proceeds from the event will fund these services, which include 12 different monthly support groups, one-on-one counseling and a monthly newsletter.
Hope also holds grief workshops for daycare providers, on-site bereavement support for employees dealing with grief in the workplace, school resource kits, along with training and resources for helping individuals with developmental disabilities cope with grief.
Additionally, the organization has grown to include training, consultation and resources for those who wish to help the bereaved.
“Through my many years with Hope, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting hundreds of people who have used their services and wanted to give back by volunteering at their fundraising events,” Natali said. “An event doesn’t go by that someone doesn’t tell me how Hope changed their life. Hope’s dedicated staff and the services they provide touch so many lives in this community, including people such as myself who volunteer so that they can continue to provide services for those grieving the death of a loved one.”
For more information, to register for the golf tournament, learn of event sponsorship opportunities, make a donation or to seek help, visit hopeforbereaved.com, contact Joyce Ryan or Walt Stein at (315) 475-9675, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Liverpool resident Tami Scott is a freelance writer and editor. She may be reached at (315) 530-7117 or by email at email@example.com.