San Antonio – A San Antonio grandmother is keeping her granddaughter’s spirit alive through a non-profit organization she started in her honor.
Her granddaughter, Saryah Perez, 6, was shot and killed at car meet during what San Antonio police say was a dispute on Mother’s Day.
Cynthia Alvarez said life has been tough since her granddaughter passed away.
“It has been a struggle,” she said as she became emotional. “It has been a big struggle. An emptiness in our hearts and in our home. It has been a tough road for us but we are hanging in there and that is the best thing we can do.”
The man indicted for this crime, Andrew Ray Elizondo, is now facing up to 99 years or life in prison for felony murder.
“I am not going to lie,” Alvarez said. “I was a little upset when they dropped it from capital murder to felony murder but I believe in the Lord and he has brought us a long way. Ninety-nine years to life, I am ok with that. That is what I think the Lord above wants. We are fine with it but closure… we haven’t had [that] just yet until it is finalized. Until he hears what we have to tell him and how he has impacted our life.”
Now, Saryah, who has been cremated, sits in a custom-made purple and pink urn symbolizing her favorite colors.
Alvarez said the fact that she has to hold her granddaughter in an urn and not in person has brought a lot of unforgiveness in her heart.
“I still don’t forgive you,” she said speaking directly to Elizondo. “I think that is in due time but this is what you have left us with,” she said pointing to Saryah’s urn. “Even though she is here, it is not the same. This is what you did to us. But Saryah forgives you,” she said as she wept.
Alvarez said having her granddaughter’s ashes does bring her peace.
“She loved us all,” she said. “That is the biggest peace in our life. She was a little girl with lots of love. She didn’t care if you were a stranger, she loved you. Everyday, we see her and talk to her and tell her how much we love her and how much we haven’t forgotten her.”
The family decided together during their grieving process to create a non-profit in honor of Saryah called Saryah Le’Anna’s Blessings Non-profit Organization.
“She was a small girl with a huge heart,” Alvarez said. “She loved to help everybody. Her biggest concern and worry was a child who didn’t have anything.”
The family is planning the organization’s first event as a back-to-school drive at their church, The People’s House Church.
“We have backpacks, school supplies, and a note from a guardian angel,” Alvarez said. “For the little girls, there will be a bow because she loved her bows. And there will be snacks because she loved her snacks. You would take her to the store and you couldn’t get her out of the snack section,” she laughed.
Alvarez said the organization’s mission is special.
“She is our baby girl,” she said. “We are so pleased to have her the six years we had her and she gave us a lot of blessings. Our mission on behalf of her is for not another child to go through what she went through. For not another child to get gunned down or hurt. For not another family to go through this pain and agony.”
She said they hope to also be able to provide funding for families in this kind of predicament including those who need help affording funeral, burial or cremation expenses.
“Whatever they may need, we are going to keep growing this organization for as long as we can,” Alvarez said.
She had this to say to others in light of this bitter-sweet situation.
“Always remember that tomorrow is never promised,” Alvarez said. “Kiss your children every day and tell them how much you love them and how much they mean to you. Doesn’t matter if it is a small tug on the arm, or a hug, or a kiss on the forehead. The biggest thing to take out of it is that we want for people to start thinking as family and not as enemies because enemies don’t get you anywhere but family can get you a long way. We have made so many family members out of this and this was all done because of Saryah. She is ecstatic. I can see her jumping for joy and giggling and see the smile on her face because her organization is helping a lot of children. She was blessed to have everything so now she is blessing other children.”
The back-to-school event is scheduled Saturday, August 14, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
It will be held at The People’s House Church at 1223 South Hamilton Avenue.
For ways to donate to the drive or the organization, you can visit their Facebook page or contact 201-831-3233 and 210-906-5802.
All donations go directly to Saryah Le’Anna’s Blessings.