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FUN Invites Local Families To Holiday-Themed Meetings, Collects Donations For Troops



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Families United in Newtown (FUN), a social and recreational nonprofit supporting families of children on the autism spectrum and those with special needs, has slated a number of meetings and activities stretching into the spring.

Organization founder Linda Jones is inviting any local youths and their caregivers and family members to get to know the organization at its next planned gathering, Sunday, February 9, from 4 to 6 pm, at Newtown Community Center (8 Simpson Street).

“This will be a Valentine-theme meeting where we’ll add to the 53 cards we already made for troops,” Ms Jones told The Newtown Bee. “We’ll also be collecting items to send along with the cards.”

Items including T-shirts, socks, canned meat, playing cards, books, chocolate, and cookies are especially being sought, she said. February 9 activities will also include a beginning knitters session and a ballet lesson and demonstration from volunteer and Newtown High School National Honors Society member Kylee Raiano.

The public is also encouraged to drop in and bring donations for the troops, Ms Jones said.

The March 7 FUN meeting, from 4:30 to 6:30 pm at Newtown Congregational Church (14 West Street) will have a St Patty’s Day feel with a lesson and demonstration from the Ashurst Academy of Irish Dance.

The April 4 Autism Awareness Month meeting will bring a disco dance party to the Congregational Church Great Room, featuring a DJ music and other activities from 5 to 7 pm.

In May, Ms Jones is planning a pre-Mother’s Day pancake party — back by popular demand after a “hugely successful” pancake breakfast meeting January 18. And June 6 marks the annual FUN Benefit Concert, also planned for the Congregational Church.

Details on these May and June events will be announced as soon as they are finalized, Ms Jones said.

On March 14, Ms Jones is planning to take a number of Honors Society volunteers to the “Current Trends In Autism” conference in Burlington, Mass., where FUN has been invited to present on its unique, grassroots programming. Students Mary Locke, Sophia Romano, Milan Chand, Ava Holmes, and Lauren Granville will be the featured speakers.

Started in 2010, Families United in Newtown was begun as a recreation program in memory of Tyler Jones to help bring the community of special needs families together in a safe and welcoming place. At each FUN meeting, families are paired with a National Honors Society student from Newtown High School who will spend time with the kids, giving the parents a much-needed break.

Parents to Lindsey, Austin, and Tyler, Linda and Duane Jones turned the tragedy of Tyler’s untimely passing in 2009 into a positive living memorial for their beloved son. Linda Jones, a local registered dietitian and advocate for the autism community, had already seen a need for a community-based recreation program for families with special-needs children.

She started fundraising in 2008 and hosted the first FUN meeting in 2010. For more information or to learn more about FUN, to volunteer, or to support the cause, visit familiesunitedinnewtown.org, or the Families United in Newtown Facebook page.

On March 14, Newtown High School National Honors Society volunteers, from left, Mary Locke, Sophia Romano, Milan Chand, and Ava Holmes will be attending the “Current Trends In Autism” conference in Burlington, Mass., where FUN has been invited to present on its unique, grassroots programming. They will be joined by NHS senior and FUN volunteer Lauren Granville and organization founder Linda Jones (not pictured). —photos courtesy Linda Jones
The first Families United in Newtown (FUN) meeting of 2020 included a pancake breakfast served up by volunteers, board members, and Newtown High School National Honors Society students, from left, Anna Burns, Kylee Raiano, Sophia Romano, and Anne Marie Carlson.
Laura Gardner was barely able to get the hood off her son William Rose before he dug into his pile of pancakes.
From left, Lauren Granville, Nick Meszaros, Anne Marie Carlson, Sophia Romano, Peter Meszaros, Ava Holmes, Beth Maszaros, and Laura Gardner enjoy pancakes and socializing at the latest Families United in Newtown meeting January 18 at the United Methodist Church.
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