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Autism Support Agency Closes Out Year With Concert, Passing The Torch



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Families United In Newtown (FUN) closed out a year full of challenges, with founder and Newtown resident Linda Jones, her family, board, valiant Newtown High School National Honors Society student volunteers, and other helpers from the community working hard through the pandemic to serve dozens of young people with disabilities, including many on the autism spectrum.

The autism support nonprofit’s annual schedule of meetings and events coincides with the school year, and culminated with FUN’s annual fundraising concert, and a ceremonial “passing of the torch” from departing NHS seniors to future seniors and other student representatives who will carry on supporting the organization this fall.

During the summer, Jones said she will be seeking and meeting new adults and youths from Newtown who might like to participate as volunteers, along with more young people who could benefit from being part of the group’s monthly social and recreational activities.

“We always have incredible support from our high school honors society students, but we always welcome others to be part of our group from the community as well,” Jones told The Newtown Bee this week. “We are also in need of adults who may either want to volunteer for our activities, or to be part of our board. And of course, we’re always happy to see more and more kids joining us for meetings and events.”

Founded by Jones and her husband, Duane, FUN offers supervised social and recreational activities for young people with developmental disabilities as well as those on the autism spectrum, while helping to raise awareness about autism and funds to support autism research. The Joneses — parents to Lindsey, Austin, and Tyler — turned the tragedy of Tyler’s untimely passing in 2009 into a positive living memorial for their son to help bring special needs families together in a safe and welcoming place.

At each FUN meeting, families are paired with an NHS National Honor Society student who spends time with the kids, giving the parents a much-needed break. Any and all are welcome at FUN meetings. The organization is also grateful for tax-deductible donations to help underwrite the expense of activities, which are all offered free to participants.

This year marked a departure from the usual indoor venue for the organization’s annual benefit concert, which was held on Sunday, June 6, outdoors at the Dickinson Park band shell. And the week of June 21 found young volunteers gathering to say farewell to their departing senior colleagues and to welcome a new class of FUN student leaders.

To volunteer or donate, or for more information, visit the Families United in Newtown Facebook page, familiesunitedinnewtown.org — or call 203-512-6284.

A high point of the June 6 Families United In Newtown fundraising concert was the ‘Senior Sendoff,’ celebrating the group’s volunteers and members who are graduating high school as part of the Class of 2021. From left are, top row, Elise Beier, Gabby Porto, Emma Walsh, Arianna Forzano, Anne Marie Carlson, Jack Warner, Jordan D’Amico, Dasha Lipke, Sawyer Findley, and front row, John Boccuzzi, Steven Leuci, Ava Berry, Ailish Roche, and Emi Rosenthal. —photos courtesy Linda Jones
One of the traditions maintained by FUN is the ‘passing of the torch,’ where graduating Newtown High School National Honors Society seniors hand a ceremonial miniature torch to their younger counterparts, who will continue supporting the nonprofit through the 2021-22 school year. From left are FUN founder Linda Jones, graduate Emma Walsh, graduate Gabby Porto, graduate John Boccuzzi, graduate Arianna Forzano, graduate Jack Warner, graduate Anne Marie Carlson, rising senior Ally McCarthy, rising senior Carlo Marano, junior Lauren Jacobs, junior Riley Powers, junior Angie Romano, and rising senior Katie Rowan.
The Ridgefield Jazz Giants — Hunter Sims, Ryan Francis, Sarah DiMiceli, Scott Robert, Caroline Morton, and Thomas Hasselburger — warmed up an already hot crowd gathered in the 90 degree sun on June 6 at Dickinson Park for the Families United In Newtown concert and fundraiser.
Founder Linda Jones, second from left, welcomed perennial FUN spring concert participants the Eclipse Band, who did not disappoint the crowd June 6 at the Dickinson Park fundraiser and concert. Band members are, from left, Dick Neil, Nell Malyszka, Trish Keil, and Andy Lafreniere.
A number of performers and musicians gathered under a pop-up seeking some shade during the steamy Dickinson Park fundraiser and concert benefiting Families United In Newtown, June 6.
Families United In Newtown (FUN) volunteers, from left, Rayna Toth, Leah Crebbin, Madi Singlak, and Allie Bradley lent their invaluable assistance during the nonprofit’s annual spring concert June 6 at Dickinson Park.
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