FUN, Parent Connection Host Inspiring Concert Collaboration

Published: January 15, 2019 at 07:00 am


*UPDATE (Friday, January 18, 2019): Due to impending weather, the January 20 FUN event referenced in this story has been postponed to Sunday, February 2.

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The local autism support organization Families United In Newtown (FUN) joined with the Newtown Parent Connection (NPC) for the second year, presenting an inspiring and free community concert December 29.

The Newtown Congregational Church, Newtown United Methodist Church, Suzuki Music School, and Connecticut Music Therapy jointly sponsored the Winter Benefit Concert on Saturday, December 29, in the Newtown United Methodist Church.

According to FUN founder Linda Jones, more than 100 people attended the candlelight musical event and reception supporting the two grassroots human services organizations. Ms Carolan said the event was important for the many who attended who lost children or loved ones to an overdose or a drug- or alcohol-related issue.

The two mothers were themselves inspired to establish their causes following tragic losses. The issue of substance abuse became personal when Ms Carolan’s eldest son, Brian, became addicted and subsequently died at age 28 of a prescription drug overdose.

For more than two decades, Ms Carolan and the NPC have been promoting critically important prevention, early intervention, and ongoing support for local youths, loved ones, and their families when substance abuse occurs. The organization and its volunteers and partners work with individuals and families to build resiliency and strengthen the connection among family members and loved ones.

Ms Jones established FUN in 2010 in memory of her late son, Tyler, 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.

Tyler Jones was a 16-year-old Newtown High School student when he passed away at home.

The concert featured a number of local and regional performers as well as a special interlude and talk on the “Butterfly Effect,” by emcee Jay Thomas. The second half of the event featured a candlelight and ribbon-pinning ceremony in memory of those loved ones of organizers, volunteers, participants, and attendees who were lost too soon.

Hafez Taghavi served as musical director and performed during several numbers. He was supported by stage manager Maggie Alexander.

Other performers included Alexi Zingale (pianist); trombone quintet Bryce Doherty (solo), Hayden Fletcher, Elizabeth Heller, Thomas Jensen, and Tim White; Violinists Hafez Taghavi and Lindsey Jones; jazz group Austin Iesu (trumpet), Larry Davis (drums), Richie Sadlon (tenor sax), Niles Spauldin (bass), Danny Toby (piano); vocalists Brendon Fox, Karan Goodhue, Melissa Vitrella, Alisa Popovic, Madelyn Aug, Brittany Watson; and the Eclipse Band, Nell Malyszka (vocals), Trish Keil (vocals), Matt Wilkie (vocals), Andy Lafreniere (guitar), and Dick Neil (mandolin, guitar).

Newtown National Honor Society Students provided event and organizational assistance, and the event’s technology team was supported by Charter Communications public access CommuniTyVision 21.

NPC provides immediate assistance to families in crisis as well as substance abuse support and bereavement support groups. Call 203-270-1600 or e-mail

FUN’s next gathering is open to any families of young people on the spectrum or any who are developmentally or physically disabled. It is happening Sunday, January 20 *(see update at the top of this story), from 3:30 to 5:30 pm in the Newtown High School Cafetorium. It will feature refreshments, DJ dancing, and a special yoga session with Sharon Poarch, along with ziti and pizza.

Anyone attending should wear comfortable clothes. Ms Jones stressed it is important to contact her if planning to attend to ensure there is enough food and refreshments for all. Admission is free, but goodwill donations are gratefully accepted.

Reservations can be made by contacting Ms Jones at 203-512-6284 or To learn more about attending or supporting FUN, visit the organization’s Facebook page at or its website,

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