Posts Tagged ‘seeds of hope


* The DREAM Project CD Release, Five Eight, Victor Charlie, 60 Cycles of Sound @ Blazzues 04/09/11

The Dream

I had a dream of you the other night,
And in that dream everything was alright.
I dreamt that you were alive and well,
Was this dream really real? I just couldn’t tell.
We hugged and laughed and we talked for awhile,
I saw your face and your beautiful smile.
We were together just like before,
It it’s a dream and it’s real, I want to dream more.
Please don’t go yet, I have so much to say,
I want you to know before you go on your way,
Even though it’s a dream, it’s so real to me,
Your beauty is all that I can see.
Your energy feels so pure and strong,
I feel as if I don’t belong.
You radiate your light so true,
As the dream ends, I grab onto you.
I don’t want to wake for the end is near,
Your voice is all that I can hear.
I wake from my slumber, the dream is gone,
I rise to meet the early dawn.

Dedicated to Leopoldo M. Villanueva, “Jr.”
08/07/74 – 03/30/97

By Raela Marie Villanueva, big sister

The DREAM Project is a compilation CD with songs of different genres donated by musicians and artists who have all donated their time to help the University of West Florida’s Chapter of Students for Suicide Awareness (SSA) in loving memory of Tyler Knisely, a UWF student who lost his battle with depression and took his life fall semester 2008 and Jr. Villanueva, a UF student who also lost his battle and took his life spring semester 1997.

The CD begins with The DREAM, a poem written by Raela Villanueva right after her younger brother “Jr.” killed himself. Jr. only said “goodbye” to their mother before he left for Easter Sunday evening mass on March 30, 1997 and never came home again. He came to his sister in a dream, the only way he could say goodbye to her. Since then, Raela has been an advocate for suicide prevention and awareness and speaks openly about her brother’s suicide in an attempt to help save others from suffering such tragic loss.
Raela met UWF and Pensacola State College students Sabra Jernigan and Ashleigh Aaron in November 2008 via myspace through musician and friend Damien Louviere. After commencing plans for their 1st Annual Seeds of Hope music and art benefit show, Raela met guitarist Glenn Burnett at an open mic night. That week, Glenn wrote the music to her poem, and another poem called Sunset. Raela performed the DREAM song with Glenn and friends at the after party show but vowed never to sing it by herself again. Glenn then recruited singer/songwriter Tiffany Pifer, who lost her father to cancer just months before Jr. passed away. She has become the lead vocalist for The DREAM while Raela now confidently sings back up vocals. Tiffany too had a dream about her father and wrote a song called “Out of My Pain”.

All of the musicians and artists are local, regional and national artists who enjoy performing on the Gulf Coast. Musicians and artists own the rights to each song on the compilation CD and have donated their song to help The DREAM Project and SSA’s mission to raise awareness through the mediums of music and art that suicide is still the 2nd leading cause of death on college campuses and CAN BE PREVENTED. The compilation CD will list all the songs, band/musician name, website information, warning signs for suicide and depression, local and national resources for getting help, and list all sponsors involved with the project.

The CD also contains artwork – the cover is the DREAM Project logo painted by Raela on a tambourine during one of SSA’s bi-weekly “Escape” music and art therapy sessions, while the back cover is a sunset painting by Jr. from 1989 that Raela recently found while going through her parent’s house and after asking a friend to draw something up for the back cover. It was her brother’s way of blessing the project and saying, “here you go, now the project is complete, don’t give up big sister, this is part of the reason I had to leave.”

Proceeds from sales benefit SSA and their mission (the students are in the process of turning Seeds of Hope into a non-profit), producing more CD’s for the DREAM Project, and resurrection of The DREAM Foundation (which provides a scholarship fund to encourage high school students to continue with their education by attending college and live out their dreams).

Raela’s goal with The DREAM Project is to reach out to students, set up a tour for musicians to perform at college campuses across the state with the help of the Florida Suicide Prevention Coalition. Raela will continue to tell her brother’s story to help other college students who deal with depression by performing her songs, speaking openly to students in a group setting and one-to-one, and through SSA’s Survivor Art Exhibit. SSA aims to reduce the stigma that surrounds suicide and depression, reach out to other students and start other SSA chapters across the state.”

-“The Dream” poem and organization information were provided and reprinted courtesy of Raela Villanueva and The DREAM Project.

-To purchase The DREAM Project compilations CD click on this link
Related Links

“Seeds of Hope” Five Eight, Victor Charlie and 60 Cycles of Sound


* Five Eight, Victor Charlie. “Seeds of Hope” Celebration @ The Handlebar. 11/20/10

The surrounding red brick holds pictures, paintings and people gathered together to hear music played in the company of friends. That was The Handlebar. A near-mandatory tour stop for aspiring artists from a diverse array of music genres ranging from punk, metal, alternative and nearly every sub-genre you can imagine. But in 2001, The Handlebar was destroyed by fire. Gone are the battered skateboard decks mounted high on walls, retired and left to enjoy a life of people-watching and listening to bands on the nearby stage. Silenced are the ping pong table and paddles that whispered during art exhibits, but breathed rowdy and shook hands with those braving an evening escape from classes or work. What once was more than just a building was no more.

In the winter of 2001, on the edge of Christmas, The Handlebar was reborn. A community, families and friends fought to resurrect the building that held so many memories; memories that were left roaming rusty and knowing no exit after the fire. A new building of brick and heart became foundation for new memories and a marker for the old.

The surrounding red brick holds pictures, paintings and people gathered together to hear music played in the company of friends. This is the Handlebar. And during this night, she provides shelter on National Survivors of Suicide Day. A day recognized locally by Seeds of Hope, an event in which a number of dedicated people used music and art to unite survivors, as well as, raise awareness and support for those who are dealing with depression.

The day began with a 5k walk and the night ended at The Handlebar with a celebration featuring a Seeds of Hope Survivor Art Exhibit and performances by Victor Charlie and Five-Eight.

Among the participants, Raela Villanueva is one of the most active and vocal. Not only checking on band members and making sure that everyone in attendance is enjoying their night, she is also announcing the prize winners of the evening’s raffle. Along with gifts donated by area businesses, Villanueva shares hugs with prize winners who are recognized as survivors. She is also a survivor. “My brother Jr. had everything going for him until depression hit him when he got to college. He lost his battle with depression, even after seeking help, at the age of 22 when he shot himself in 1997. Since then I have become an advocate for suicide prevention and awareness.”

As advisor to Students for Suicide Awareness (SSA), Villanueva, along with the help of students, survivors and community members, organized the event. As defined by Villanueva, a survivor can be “someone who has lost a loved one to suicide” or “someone who has attempted but is still here.” When asked what the goals of the Seeds of Hope event were, she replied, “The main goal was to bring together survivors of suicide and others from the community on National Survivors of Suicide Day for a day of healing and hope and to provide resources and information on suicide prevention and awareness. Students for Suicide Awareness’s mission is to raise awareness about suicide prevention and depression through music and art. Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death on college campuses and can be prevented.”

Villanueva’s relationship with SSA goes back to 2009 after the death of University of West Florida student, Tyler Knisely. “Tyler was another student who had everything going for him until he was hit with depression. We share their stories, along with the stories of others in our community who have lost someone to suicide and depression with the hopes of breaking the stigma associated with suicide and depression. We are speaking out for our loved ones by planting Seeds of Hope so that other families do not have to suffer such tragedy.” Adding to the cause, “Suicide can happen to anyone, any family; young and old, black, white, brown, male, female, gay, straight, bi, rich, poor, or homeless. Everyone should be aware of the risk factors, warning signs, and resources, because you never know who is suffering from depression.”

The night was punctuated with smiles, hugs, laughter, remembrance and music. Opening for Five-Eight were Victor Charlie. The band was formed in Athens, Georgia, but lead singer/guitarist Charlie Garland has strong ties to Pensacola and the evening’s cause. His relationship is explained by Villanueva, “Charlie Garland is from Pensacola and was one of my brother’s best friends. Five Eight was one of the first bands that they saw together right out of high school. Charlie moved to Athens and met Five Eight through the extensive music scene. Charlie heard about the Seeds of Hope walk and wanted to be a part of it.” Near the end of Victor Charlie’s set, Garland paused briefly to introduce and personally thank Five-Eight, “These guys are my heroes.”

Having spent the entire night in the company of fans and event participants, the members of Five Eight, Mike Mantione (guitar, vocals), Patrick Ferguson (drums), and Dan Horowitz (bass) showed no signs of weariness. Displaying the enthusiasm and candor that have laced their performances on numerous visits to Pensacola throughout their long history, they provided a powerful conclusion to the event. Mantione balanced the tone of their music with a moving blend of biting sarcasm and a compelling need to engage, connect and embrace the audience. During a break between songs, he directed his attention to a few people who were loud in conversation while he tried to introduce the band’s cover of a Fugazi song. Not as much commanding or demanding, his plea for respect edged the borders of a young adult, full of excitement, fighting for autonomy, as well as, searching for compassion.

“Five Eight has always been instrumental in raising awareness about mental health issues.” Echoed Villanueva when asked about the band’s involvement. With each song of Five Eight’s performance, the seemingly impossible became real as the communal energy multiplied with intensity as the night flirted with morning. Providing the most physical display of energy was Ferguson, whose heavy drumming attack left his sticks splintered and nearly demolished. Ferguson is active in the Athens music scene, having toured with bands such as the Psychedelic Furs and worked with many artists including folk legend, Vic Chestnutt, who committed suicide on Christmas day of 2009. Ferguson’s presence and fervor complimented the cathartic notes of the performance. Crowd stomps gave way to dance and short cheers between songs grew into full shout-alongs during them. Mantione even shared the stage and his microphone with Garland, allowing the passionate musician to sing the lyrics of the band he held as heroes, while Mantione stood back and rocked his deep-blue Gibson Les Paul guitar. When he finally stepped off stage, Garland was visibly moved while friends came and patted his back and continued watching the show by his side.

Releasing energy and emotions, the event came to an end, but the rebuilding continues. With memories and heart, the community of survivors, families and friends are fighting to support each other and reach out to those who are falling into depression.

If a person is considering suicide or knows someone that is, Villanueva suggests seeking help “through several online resources, a helpline, or if it is an emergency, they can go to the Crisis Stabilization Unit (CSU) through Lakeview Center or any emergency room.”

To those that have recently lost a loved one to suicide, Villanueva offers these words, “You are not alone and that utilizing a support group will help you deal with the roller coaster of emotions. There are also online resources that can help you to understand what you are going through. Everyone in your family will deal with the grief differently, so you may have to reach for help outside your family and even your friends may not understand. It will get worse before it gets better, but it will get better.”

Drawing from the lessons she has learned from fellow survivors, she adds, “We really can lean on each other for support, we can talk about our loved ones, what happened, what we are feeling; the guilt, the shame, the blame, the hopelessness, the anger, etc. That you have to keep going even though the pain you sometimes feel is so intense that you just want to die.”

Online resources:

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

The Jed Foundation

To Write Love On Her Arms

Florida Suicide Prevention Coalition

Students for Suicide Awareness

Suicide Prevention Lifeline.


CSU is located at Lakeview Center, Bldg. “S”, corner of Avery and “J” Streets – 469-3495.”

In addition to the above listings, Villanueva provided this link with warning signs:

Suicide Warning Signs


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