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Newtown Recovery Leadership Team Prepared For Approaching Anniversary



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The Newtown Recovery Leadership Team would like to take this moment to let community members and most importantly families of loss know they are thinking of them as the tenth anniversary of the Sandy Hook School shooting approaches.

“While the unveiling of the Memorial and the 10th Anniversary may amplify a myriad of emotions, we would like you to know that we are here to support the community,” the team offered in a December 6 shared statement.

The Newtown Recovery Leadership Team was developed in 2015 to channel the compassion and concern from the community in an organized effort to meet the needs and to address the long-term impact of the 12/14 Sandy Hook School Tragedy. The Recovery Leadership Team meets regularly to improve communication, build relationships, foster collaboration, and inform decision-making for the recovery effort.

The team includes the First Selectman Daniel Rosenthal, Health District Director Donna Culbert, Resiliency Center of Newtown (RCN) Executive Director Stephanie Cinque, Director of Human Services Natalie Jackson, Newtown Youth and Family Services (NYFS) Executive Director Candice Bohr, Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation (NSHCF) Executive Director Lucie Connell, Superintendent of Schools Christopher Melillo, and School District Counseling Department Chair Bret Nichols.

“Having been a member of this leadership group, I appreciate the structure in place that unites our efforts,” said Nichols. “There is great value in having community leaders come together to discuss the well-being of Newtown residents. I believe this collective effort ensures that every member of the community is considered.”

Newtown Department of Human Services has a mission to support a high quality of life for the Newtown community through services, programs and information that promote mental, physical, and social well-being.

The department strives to be an initial point of access for information, services, and programs. Through a comprehensive referral system, residents are connected to behavioral health providers and wellness & support services.

The team will be available during regular business hours of 8 am-4:30 pm on December 14, and can be reached at 203-270-4330 or 203-270-4612.

Newtown Public Schools on Wednesday, December 14, will be providing professional development for teachers, which will include community service projects.

Research has shown that volunteering leads to lower rates of depression and anxiety, reduces stress and increases positive, relaxed feelings. The district’s leaders envision these community services having a positive impact on its teachers.

NPS Counseling Department Chair Bret Nichols says he knows first-hand “the important role our school counselors have in each of our buildings. They truly are a great group of hard working and caring people who have the best interests of students and families in mind.

“I believe strongly in the work of our school counselors,” he continued. “We are actively involved in the development of our youth through academic, social/emotional and future planning.

“The counseling department is the hub of each of our schools. We take pride in our collaboration with community providers to be proactive in our prevention and continue to meet each student right where they are to put plans in place to ensure growth.

“If there is any need,” Nichols said, “please reach out to your school counselor.”

NYFS has been honored to be the leader in mental health services in Newtown for over 35 years. Its greatest achievement is to ensure that the community’s youth and families continue to thrive, even in the most difficult of times, by offering high quality counseling services, youth programming, and connecting our clients to essential resources.

NYFS is dedicated to helping children and families achieve their highest potential and promote individual and community wellness.

“Being a member of the Recovery Leadership Team has allowed me to connect with community partners to discuss resources available, identify gaps in services, strategize on increasing communication throughout the school district, and recognize organizations and individuals that have tirelessly provided care and compassion to those affected by 12/14,” Bohr said. “I have been humbled to sit at a table from Day One with compassionate and driven community members, who have chosen resiliency for Newtown.

“NYFS’s work is not done, our agency of experienced, caring and compassionate staff continues to be dedicated to providing a safe and comfortable environment for anyone in need. Thank you for allowing us to take care of you and your families,” she added.

The Resiliency Center of Newtown was formed after 12/14 and provides non-traditional therapy to community members.

“As a new organization in 2013 it was wonderful that a leadership committee was formed to allow us to collaborate as a team to best serve the Newtown community,” Cinque said.

RCN will be open at 9 am on Wednesday, December 14, for a Day of Healing, which will consist of specialized therapies, reiki, massage, and an area to just gather with others to continue on their healing journey and take time to reflect and remember those who were lost.

The Sandy Hook School Support Fund, administered by The Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation, provides financial assistance for mental health treatments to victim families, SHS students, SHS employees, and emergency responders who suffered trauma after the events of 12/14.

Visit NSHCF.org or contact Lucie Connell at LConnell@nshcf.org or 203-461-2233 for more information about the Fund.

Members of The Newtown Recovery Leadership Team — established in 2015 to channel organized efforts to meet the needs and address longterm impacts of 12/14 — are available as the ten-year mark of 12/14 approaches.
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