Shortly after the events of 12/14, The Rotary Club of Newtown, United Way of Western Connecticut (UWWC) and the Office of Victim Services (OVS) worked together to develop the Immediate Needs Fund. The purpose of the fund was two-fold. First, it helped to meet the short-term (3-6 months) financial needs of Sandy Hook families, teachers and first responders experiencing temporary loss of income due to the tragedy by helping cover basic household expenses. Second, it helped cover the cost of seeking counseling and mental health services by those impacted by the tragedy. Since then, UWWC and Newtown Rotary have spent more than $540,000 to help cover everything from heating oil, electricity, mortgages and car payments to counseling bills for over 130 households. The Newtown Memorial Fund, Inc. now joins this effort as a new partner. The process remains the same for individuals seeking assistance, but now increases the dollars available to the community to ensure support will last longer.
Tucked away on the Newtown Health District website is a raft of information on mental health services and issues being made available to the community by Director Donna Culbert. The Newtown Health District recently added a Mental Health referral page under the Additional Links on its webpage. The district’s mental health site provides a list of local providers of mental health support, with a variety of services and training, for those in the community who are looking for help.
A free workshop, “Chill & Spill: Powerful/Powerless,” will be offered on Sunday, October 6, from 2 to 4 pm, at Newtown Congregational Church. Presented by Art with Heart and geared for tweens and teens, participants will be encouraged to express what is in their heart through collage art. Pizza will be served. The first 50 young adults who register will also be given a Chill & Spill journal to take home. Chill & Spill is a therapeutic guided journal designed to help youth ages 10 and up articulate and transform difficult issues with which they are dealing. It offers a combination of 20 creative writing and artistic expression activities with enough blank pages to explore both head and heart and to talk, yell, cry, boast, dream, and evolve.
Chill & Spill is a therapeutic curriculum and hands-on approach developed by Seattle-based Art with Heart that teaches creative expression as a tool to reach reluctant youth, as well as to engage groups. The program also helps youth increase self-awareness and manage difficult emotions; encouraged coping skills, as well as social and emotional learning (SEL); and provides a “heal the healer” opportunity for youth care professionals. Adults who directly deal with teens and would like to be trained in this creative way to aid in their mental health are invited to participate in a workshop being offered at Newtown Congregational Church. Sessions are planned for Friday, October 4, from 3 to 7 pm, and Saturday, October 5, from 8:30 until 5:30 pm.
Aimee Tabor is among the many Sandy Hook parents making new connections and friendships since 12/14. She is among a group of roughly a dozen women in town who have formed The Sandy Hook Sole Sisters team, combining efforts with New York residents to do the October two-day, 39-mile Avon Breast Cancer walk and fundraising event in New York City. The story began in May, when friendships with a group of mothers in Rye, N.Y., began with an invitation to a day of healing. Rye resident Sandy Samberg, founder of Sole Ryeders, and Sandy Hook resident Adrian Dandrea, who was undergoing treatment for breast cancer, and her friend Kat Young “came up with the idea to join forces” and do the 39-mile Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in New York City, October 19–20, as one team Two communities are now working together to support a cause that has impacted both communities, and many others.
The Resiliency Center of Newtown has been created to provide long-term support and healing assistance to anyone impacted by the events that occurred on December 14, 2012, at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The Resiliency Center of Newtown was founded by Sandy Hook resident Stephanie N. Cinque, MSW, and Connecticut state certified school social worker, along with the help of many dedicated volunteers. Resiliency Center of Newtown offers a variety of programs, services, and events designed to empower the residents of Newtown and surrounding areas. Programs focus on building resiliency in individuals, families, and within the community. The organization provides discreet and confidential services, educational seminars, mentorship programs, and outreach events of various kinds. These wellness-based services are distinguished and differentiated to meet a broad range of individual needs.
For the second consecutive year, Amie Meleshkewich of Flow To Fit Yoga helped Light The Night Team “AHH…Always Have Hope!” raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) through a Yoga For A Cure fundraiser, held Friday, September 13. A donation of $25 was requested for each participant, with all proceeds to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Each participant also received a Light The Night gift bag and bottle of water. Ivy Pearson, captain of Team “AHH… Always Have Hope!,” said this year’s Yoga For A Cure event had more participants than last year’s. By the start of the evening’s yoga session, 15 people were seated on yoga mats at The Graceful Planet in Sandy Hook. Before Ms Meleshkewich began the session, Ms Pearson thanked Ms Meleshkewich and everyone coming for their help in raising funds for the LLS.
For those who want to live a more engaged and balanced life, there is a way of being and doing that allows one to live life more fully through the practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness is a human quality, a way of learning to pay wise attention to what is happening in the present moment, with non-judgmental awareness. Sound (Center for Music, Creative Arts & Mindfulness), a renovated historic chapel at 31 Hawleyville Road, will host a free “Introduction to Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)” program on Monday, September 23, at 6:30 pm.
School District and local Prevention Council representatives have teamed up to warn parents about a high-powered type of Ecstasy that has contributed to the deaths of four individuals in New York, Boston, and in Washington, D.C., since the beginning of September. Martha Shilstone, Newtown student assistant counselor, and Judy Blanchard, co-chair of the Newtown Prevention Council and district health coordinator for Newtown Public Schools say that parents may not be aware their children are consuming the drug, because they are acquiring and using it when they are attending concerts formerly known as “raves.”
NYA Sports & Fitness Center is offering a free community fitness program specifically for seniors. The goal of this program is to provide a safe, fun, and informative environment to help seniors improve their levels of fitness. Led by certified staff at NYA, the program will incorporate walking sessions along with bodyweight and fitness band exercises utilizing the beautiful Fairfield Hills campus (weather permitting) and within NYA. The program will address balance, flexibility, aerobic and strength training along with basic nutrition to help participants increase their energy, coordination, and overall strength. It is free for Newtown's senior citizens. An optional lunch is also available each week for $3