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In a Garden of Hope, Purpose Grows - Reflections on our first month

It has been about a month since we officially launched Joshua's Peace, and we have learned a few things along the way.

For one thing, we have learned like a garden, there is much work to do to make it grow. And planting a garden is a good analogy. Before you start, you must have hope - in fact you are filled with it, dreaming of a bountiful, beautiful harvest. It requires tending on a daily basis. This is not an easy task taking into consideration work and raising a family, but somehow we find the time to plant, to water, to weed - and we are beginning to see life sprout up through what was once the empty, barren ground. "Hope springs eternal," Alexander Pope tells us.

We continue to be grateful for a deep well of love and moral support from many of our family and friends - and strangers alike. We are overwhelmed with thanks to many of you who have provided a financial contribution to help Joshua's Peace get off the ground. We could not do what we are doing without you!

So many good people doing good things have come into our life. The outreach from others and connections we have made truly touch our heart. There is so much passion and concern for others who are struggling with the disease of addiction, we are blessed to be welcomed into this caring and active community - those who walk a road similar to ours, others who are working in the field of treatment and recovery, clergy who are tending to this most vulnerable flock, educators, community leaders and importantly, those who are in the midst of their struggles.

Joshua's Peace remains focused on a mission to spread understanding, love and compassion for anyone touched by the disease of addiction. Our dream, like so many others working in this space, is to remove the stigma of shame and guilt so that people who need help are not afraid to get it. We can do this by opening our hearts, embracing others who are struggling, to let them know that they are not alone, they are loved, and we can help them heal.

Over the course of this past month we have been connected with some amazing people in our local community as well as within our state and region, and on a national level, all of whom are committed to helping others beat addiction. Among them, Victor DeSousa and everyone who supports the Hackettstown NJ Stigma Free Task Force, Michael Calderon of A Center for Counseling and Psychotherapy in Hackettstown, the incredibly caring duo of Debi Natale and Helen Carey of Parent To Parent Addiction Services Inc in Washington NJ, Robert Detore, CEO of TurningPoint, Robin Carroll-Lavorato of Essex Health and Wellness Recovery Center, and United States Surgeon General VADM Jerome M. Adams, M.D., M.P.H. We are grateful for their work, their guidance and inspiration.

In the coming month, we are set to continue efforts meeting others who share our vision to save more lives from the disease of addiction. In March we look forward to meeting with Gary and Mary Mendell of Shatterproof, Gary started Shatterproof after his son's death, and has turned it into one of the largest addiction advocacy nonprofits in the nation; and Morris County NJ Sheriff Ed Gannon and Corporal Erica Valvano who leads Hope One, the Sheriff's mobile recovery access vehicle, while they are on location in Dover, NJ. We will also continue telling our story - Joshua's story - at two functions in March. We will share our journey with Allamuchy NJ 7th and 8th graders and their parents in an evening talk to highlight education and prevention. In late March, we will appear in Newark at a breakfast with elected officials, health care and treatment providers, law enforcement officials and families who are or have struggled, to share our story and raise awareness.

All of these interactions are important. They help us prepare for the investments Joshua's Peace will make in organizations, people and programs that are making a difference. As we think about our garden, every conversation we have, every person we meet, every time we speak, it's like shot of "Miracle-Gro" providing our mission with the nourishment it needs to grow. We have learned so much in a short time, and have much more to learn ahead of us, but one thing remains clear - we must do everything we can to help others who are struggling and have lost hope in the deadly grip of addiction.

As we till the earth and plant our seeds we water our garden through our tears. We pray for the sun's warmth to help it, and us, grow - not one moment goes by without feeling the pain of why we are doing this. It tugs at our heart, it is a pain that aches in our bones, a constant reminder of the tremendous, gaping hole in what was once our complete family of 7. And on many days gardening is the last thing we want to do. But we do it. We do it in honor of Josh, who fought each day through unimaginable obstacles. We do it because we love him, and from love, with love we can make a difference. And through it all, good and bad, we never gave up on love, we never gave up on Josh.

And Josh, throughout his journey, even when it was a journey through darkness and deep valleys filled with regret, he never gave up on his family and we always knew how much he loved us. This is why we cannot give up either.

This first month of Joshua's Peace has provided us with a firm foundation for the future. It is helping to bring our purpose into focus. We are formulating some plans and will be excited to announce our first major campaign very soon - one might say, our garden is taking root, and our plants are beginning to blossom.

Until then - thank you for your interest, for your moral and financial support, for your prayers, kindness, compassion and love. Please don't hesitate to drop us a line - feedback, an idea or suggestion, or a contribution at .

Thank you sharing our concern and commitment to help others who are struggling with addiction.

Thank you for helping us to make a difference, inspiring us with your confidence and faith to carry on.

Thank you for honoring our beloved son, Josh. In his peace, there is purpose and a garden of hope grows.

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