New Year Means New Opportunities

In July it will be nine years since we lost Sugar Bear.  In those first few years after his death, I was honestly only focused on all he was missing and all that the kids and I were missing in our lives by not having him physically present. And then I made a turn, I began to look at these anniversaries in a different light. The focus became more positive. I marked the milestones in terms of living life and less on loss. This outlook only increased with the formation of the Foundation. Now, as each year passes, I celebrate in the successes that our children have found, their happiness and of course, in the growth and impact of our work.

Last year we implemented the RF-LAMBDA Memorial Scholarship in honor of Sugar Bear, which is helping a Gold Star student finish his college degree at a university in Utah. This year, our scholarship partner has increased their commitment to Gold Star students and us by offering an internship program, Science Saturdays and the opportunity to attend a STEM based program in Boston with the RF-LAMBDA team (More information and applications in the next few weeks). Their belief in our mission is allowing us to make not only a greater impact on some deserving young people but also help in shaping the direction of their lives.

Our work with the MCRD Command Museum’s Family Forever program is also growing through the forum series, social outings and gift card program for back to school shopping needs. Our desire has been to assist families in the survivor community with such necessities and we are happy to be doing so.

And we are working on several other initiatives to best serve surviving spouses and children with their career, educational and financial needs.  As we grow, so do the opportunities for individuals and communities to join us in our efforts to give back in Sugar Bear’s name. Please contact us if you have an opportunity for an internship at your company or business that could provide valuable experience for a military surviving student or spouse, have a desire to fundraise for us, would like to donate or have a different idea to lend support. We are dependent on such involvement and value any and all opportunities. We are excited for the future and growing our work and mission in honor of our sweet hero.  In doing so, we continue Sugar Bear’s legacy of service in a truly impactful manner.

Thank you,

Jennifer Carazo

Gold Star Wife and Chairman

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Giving Tuesday - Focusing on Gratitude

This Giving Tuesday we are focused on gratitude. We have had an amazing year and could not have done any of it without the support and opportunities we have received. As a result, we have not only been able to grow our mission but the impact we are making on military surviving spouses and children. We are excited for 2019 and the launch of some amazing programs and initiatives that we know would make Sugar Bear proud.

 

Thank you,

Jennifer Carazo

Gold Star Wife and Chairman

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Support Vs Strength

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Since Mario’s death people have told me I am incredibly strong. Although I always appreciate their kind words and encouragement I do not agree with their sentiments. From the day we received that knock at the door, the Marine Corps and our military community has stood with me and my children. They not only conveyed their love and support for our hero, but they have embraced our family and taken this incredibly painful journey along with us.

In the past eight years, I have never felt alone. In fact, it has been quite the opposite. I continue to attend events, ceremonies and spend time with the friends and families Mario served alongside. It is this same support that led me to the opportunity to form The Sugar Bear Foundation.  Once again, I am blessed and grateful to have this community not only encouraging me but reaching out and wanting to assist me in our endeavors.

A perfect example of this assistance was seen in July with all the support we received for Sugar Bear’s Virtual Run, especially from so many friends. It was a beautiful and impactful way to honor our hero while giving back to Gold Star families.

One of the main reasons I wanted to form the foundation was to extend the love and support my children and I have received to other survivors. I believe we are doing just that!

In August, along with our partners from the MCRD Command Museum's Family Forever Program, we provided gift cards to Gold Star Spouses for their children’s back to school shopping. Later this month, we will be hosting the first of a three-part forum series for Gold Star spouses to assist them with their educational, career, and wellness needs.  These are two examples of us not only providing support but ultimately instilling strength to families who have given so much.

When I look at my life now as compared to eight years ago, I do feel strong. I can carry on Mario’s spirit in a way that would make him happy. The support I have received has defined my life and that is a message I will continue share in the hope of helping others.

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A Legacy of Love

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It's so hard to believe it has been almost eight years since losing Mario.  When Mario died I struggled with knowing there was so much more he wanted to do with his life. So, when I received the opportunity to form the Sugar Bear Foundation I ran with it. I consider the foundation a gift! It's the perfect forum for us to continue what Mario set out to do with his life; to serve and give back. It also gives me the opportunity to extend all the love and support my children and I have received to other Gold Star families. 

What started out as us hosting some events in breweries to raise funds and awareness for programs that support military surviving spouses and children has grown and I feel so blessed. Thanks to our friends at RF-LAMBDA we now have a memorial scholarship in Sugar Bear's name. We are additionally working with RF-LAMBDA on a local internship and STEM program.

We have also joined forces with the MCRD Command Museum (Family Forever Program for San Diego Gold Star Families) on several events and projects, such as a women's forum and gift card program.  The women's forum will bring Gold Star, active duty wives and female veterans together for a series of workshops that will focus on transition, resiliency and living a truly fulfilling life. The forum will provide a relaxed atmosphere with the intent of fostering new friendships, honest discussions, and support. 

The gift card program will provide assistance to San Diego Gold Star spouses who are preparing their children to return to school. This process can be expensive when purchasing school supplies, uniforms, and other school-related needs and we want to not only help relieve that burden but let these families know we honor their sacrifice as well as daily challenges.   

Within the coming months, the Sugar Bear Foundation will be launching a national grant and internship program. Our goal is to assist surviving spouses and children with their financial needs and career goals. We feel these are critical areas Sugar Bear would deem vital and services that are needed. Our mission has expanded and I am grateful for the opportunities and support we are receiving. For me, my life has drastically changed. I have been presented with a beautiful new path. One in which I am carrying Mario's spirit in all that we do. Although I have a renewed sense of purpose, Mario continues to serve as my inspiration.

This year, on the eighth anniversary of Mario's death, we have the honor of working with the Marine Corps Association Foundation on a virtual run that will honor Mario's legacy while raising funds for programs that support Marines, surviving spouses, and children. We hope you will join us as we celebrate his life and continue his legacy of service. CLICK HERE for more information.

Thank you for your interest in the Sugar Bear Foundation, our hero and that of the lives of the survivors we support. If you are interested in learning more about any of the above initiatives, would like to support or have an idea, please do not hesitate to contact me. More information is coming regarding the launch of our new programs. 

Jennifercarazo@thesugarbearfoundation.org 

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