The Gift Of Connection: How Two Residents Were Welcomed To Newtown With ‘Bee’ Subscriptions

Published: May 25, 2019 at 07:30 am


Moving to a new town, let alone a new state, can take some adjusting and come with its share of uncertainties. For two Newtown residents, the transition was made a little smoother thanks to the gift of a subscription to The Newtown Bee.

Thomas Philbrick grew up in a small town in New Hampshire where his mother wrote for the local newspaper, The Newmarket Times. As a preteen, he remembers asking his mother about her work, and although the paper has since closed, it left an impression on him.

In 1993, when he moved with his wife and two young children to Newtown, their real estate agent gifted the family with a one-year subscription to The Newtown Bee.

“I thought that was the neatest thing…” Dr Philbrick said. “I didn’t get to know the town quite as well before I moved in, but getting The Newtown Bee was a real delight.”

Having the newspaper allowed his family to feel connected to their new community and be able to catch up on education news and events that were of interest to his children.

When the year had flown by, he was quick to renew the subscription and has been a devout subscriber to the weekly newspaper ever since.

As the University Senate President and a Professor of Biology at Western Connecticut State University (WCSU), Dr Philbrick has found that many of his fellow colleagues are Newtown residents, too. One of them is Michelle Brown, who moved from western Virginia to begin her deanship of the Macricostas School of Arts and Sciences at WCSU in July 2018.

Understanding that a move such as Dr Brown’s would be a big change for her and her family, Dr Philbrick invited them all to his neighborhood’s annual Cider Festival as an opportunity to introduce them in person to other members of the community.

After the successful gathering, he spoke to his wife who suggested they purchase the Brown family a year’s subscription to The Newtown Bee and pay forward what was done for them 25 years before.

“I thought that was an excellent idea,” Dr Philbrick said.

Even though Dr Brown had come from an area with only regional newspapers and had not heard of The Newtown Bee before, she became quickly enamored with the hyper-localized publication.

“I loved it from the first issue,” Dr Brown said. “It really has been great as a way of connecting and figuring out what’s going on and opportunities for the kids, [as well as] what’s important to the community and what people are thinking about.”

She was particularly happy, too, given the fact that the first issue she received had the school bus schedules inside that she needed for her two grade-school age sons.

Since then, Dr Brown has enjoyed getting to read The Newtown Bee for its coverage of town and school events that her family can enjoy, and she was even featured in its weekly Snapshot profile on page two, which highlights those who live and/or work in Newtown. The experience, she says, allowed her to meet more people in town, both personally and professionally.

Reading her local newspaper has also inspired her to volunteer to be part of an upcoming Community Buzz, a panel discussion about topics that matter to residents, moderated by the staff of The Newtown Bee.

Even though her one-year subscription does not expire until August, Dr Brown says she is already eager to renew her subscription and continue to feel connected to the community she lives in.

Dr Brown also has the desire to gift The Newtown Bee to others, saying “I would love to be able to pay it forward the next time I learn someone is moving to the area.”

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