Newtown’s Chance To Pay It Forward

For local volunteer Eileen Byrnes, hanging Hearts of Hope — palm-sized ceramic hearts accompanied by a message of love — all around Newtown for Valentine’s Day, the two-month anniversary of the 12/14 shootings, was “like being the Easter Bunny. It was so much fun.”

Ms Byrnes also assisted in hanging more of the hand painted hearts in Newtown earlier this month, and found joy in knowing the messages of caring had been discovered.

Hearts of Hope, first created in response to the tragedy of 9/11, is a program of Interregnum, Inc, a grief support organization based in Cooperstown, N.Y. Interregnum was established by Judith Pedersen, MSW, LSW, FT, a former hospice worker.

The organization is now officially known as Interregnum Inc, Finding Life After Loss. To date, over 30,000 Hearts of Hope have been shared and over 100,000 people have been touched by Hearts of Hope.

Newtown now has a chance to share that love. A week-long event called “To Boston With Love” is being launched. Hearts of Hope is asking that from May 4 to May 11, Newtown residents paint hearts supplied by the organization. The hearts will then be hung around Boston and Watertown, Mass., the site of the April 15 Boston Marathon bombings and shootout that disrupted the city for over a week and created a scene of grief too familiar to those who live in Newtown.

According to Ms Byrnes, the hearts can be painted at home, or at a painting party to which friends and neighbors are invited to come together as a community and pass on some love to Boston and Watertown.

Hearts of Hope supplies the kits, which includes hearts, paints, brushes and cards, all packaged for distribution. The kits can be ordered at www.OurHeartsOfHope.org, where details about hosting a party can be found. The recommended donation is $4 per heart.

Kits are usually mailed in boxes of 25, but smaller kits will be sent to Newtown residents, and deliveries will be made locally to those wanting hearts in a volume less than ten.

The goal is to have Newtown and Sandy Hook residents paint at least 1,000 hearts, ready to be hung in and around Boston on May 15, the one-month anniversary of the Boston Marathon tragedy.

Completed hearts can be dropped off at Newtown Senior Center, 14 Riverside Road, by May 13.

Volunteers are being recruited in Boston to distribute the hearts, but any Newtown residents interested in being part of the distribution in the Boston area can contact founder Judith Pedersen at info@ourheartsofhope.org.

“It is a great way to send some love to Boston and Watertown and let them know that we understand their pain,” Ms Byrnes said in e-mail to The Newtown Bee. “How awesome to have kindness and compassion generated here and sent up there,” she said.

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