Sending Our Hearts To Boston

To the Editor:

It is with the heaviest of hearts that we, as a community, are beginning to move forward following the events of 12/14/12.  Newtown has forever been changed, especially in our close-knit community where six degrees of separation isn't the norm, but rather one or two.

Our community has been the recipient of countless acts of kindness from places near and far, and many Newtown residents feel a calling to pay it forward.  One project's simplicity and beauty really struck a chord with me.  Hearts of Hope were sent from all over the country and packaged with explicit instructions from their painters – send my heart to Newtown.  The hand-painted clay hearts, tied with ribbon and accompanied by messages of caring, were one of many ways for us in Newtown to know that people all across the country were keeping us close at heart.

Following the initial Valentine's Day distribution of Hearts of Hope, several people from Newtown reached out to the program's founder and director, Judy Pedersen of Interregnum, LLC, and a community painting effort was set into motion.  Our efforts to pay it forward focused on Boston to show our love and support, united in our grief.  Over 1,600 Hearts of Hope were painted at events all over Newtown in churches, schools, and homes. One look at the hearts and the messages that accompanied them and it was clear that Hearts of Hope was both therapeutic and lasting for so many here in Newtown.    

The hearts painted in Newtown were beautifully packaged and with the help of countless volunteers, loaded up to deliver to Boston.  Hearts of Hope were distributed on the one-month anniversary of the Boston Marathon tragedy, including hand-to-hand deliveries to many medical professionals at both Beth Israel Hospital and Mass General, where many individuals were cared for following the marathon.  Hearts were also delivered to the mayor's office at City Hall in Boston, and many were distributed and hung at the memorial at Copley Square in Boston. 

A project of this scope would not be possible without the help of many individuals.  Heartfelt thanks to the folks at New York Life for their generous grant to bring these hearts to Newtown and to Marilyn at the Senior Center for allowing us to use her space for drop off and packaging.  Thank you to the countless individuals in Newtown who painted, counted, checked, packaged, drove, and hung these hearts.  This truly was a work of love!

To those who painted hearts for Boston, the message of gratitude in being able to participate in a project like Hearts of Hope rang through loud and clear. I can only imagine the emotion when folks in Boston found their Hearts of Hope with inspirational messages from Newtown and Sandy Hook.  Thank you, Newtown, for sending love and hope to Boston, one heart at a time!

To order hearts to be sent to hospitals, cancer centers, or to the military, visit: http://ourheartsofhope.org/cms/.

Kristen Mattera

4 Saw Mill Road, Newtown                                 May 29, 2013

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