Officials, artists, and community members gathered Thursday, Nov. 4, at Remembrance Garden, Stoever’s Dam Park, to dedicate a mosaic in memory of those lost to suicide and in the hopes of future prevention.
“Not Forgotten,” a mosaic installed over the summer around three walls of the Nature Barn’s attached greenhouse, is the product of community artists and a collaboration between the Lebanon Valley Council on the Arts and the Lebanon County Suicide Prevention Task Force.
Among the roughly two dozen attendees were officials and representatives from both organizations, as well as Lebanon County Commissioners Robert Philips and Jo Ellen Litz, park groundskeeper Larry Bender, Pastor Tim Bouffard, and lead artist Aurelis Figueroa.
“The Remembrance Garden was established in 2016 and continued to be a work-in-progress,” Suicide Prevention Task Force co-chair Janine Mauser said in an opening address. “To that end, we are gathered here today to dedicate the mural as the next installment in its evolution.”
The task force, initiated in November 2008, seeks “to develop strategies to reduce the risk of suicide and provide education to the community of Lebanon County through the collaborative efforts of service providers and agencies,” its website explains.
The Remembrance Garden, located on the north side of Stoever’s Dam Park at 946 Miller St., is maintained by the task force and is the site of an annual remembrance ceremony held in September.
The partnership with the Lebanon Valley Council on the Arts began when task force member Monica Boyer reached out to council president Sharon Zook about a possible project. The council hosts an annual mosaic mural project for local youth involvement, and the organizations saw an opportunity to spread a message together.
“We wanted to give a voice to [people in the community who have lost family members to suicide],” stated Zook.
When Zook approached Aurelis Figueroa as a possible lead artist on the project, Figueroa found the project personally relevant and agreed to help. Around 15 mosaic artists began working in mid-July based on the nature-themed design created by Figueroa.
According to Figueroa, the concept for “Not Forgotten” was originated by one of the students involved.
The three sides of the barn’s attached greenhouse are populated with flowers, birds, butterflies, and messages of hope. In the creation of the mosaic, the students, mostly from Lebanon School District, found personal connection with the project.
The students “did an amazing job,” Figueroa said, adding that a specific scene of a cardinal and sunflowers was created by a student who had lost someone to suicide.
As work progressed on the main mosaic, the artists discovered that there were enough spare tiles to decorate both a planter in the garden and a nearby bench. There are also bricks memorialized with the names of those lost in the garden.
To have a loved one memorialized, call Monica Boyer or Janine Mauser at (717) 274-3415.
The dedication and a responsive reading were carried out by Pastor Tim Bouffard of Mount Aetna Bible Church.
“We are here today to dedicate this mural to those who have lost loved ones to suicide. The bonds created through love are eternal. Through the blessing of memory, the lives of our departed continue to be with us,” Bouffard said.
“This mural is dedicated with the expectation that it will bring hope for your future, healing for your grief, and comfort on your journey.”
See additional photographs below:
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