Our First Meeting: On Thursday, Jan. 17 over brunch at King’s Restaurant in Newtown, Conn., we held our first Kids Share Newtown meeting. Quickly we came together as former Ridgefield High School classmates and new friends. Although only a core group of five could meet on this day, we accomplished a lot!
First we talked about how we can come together as mothers and professionals to create a powerful voice for the children of Newtown. It was clear this would be a bookmaking workshop, but on which theme? With vital input from Sandy Hook parent Kristen Marshall, we discussed how Sandy Hook Elementary School students are missing not only their lost friends and teachers, but also their familiar school building and grounds. Kristen related the healing power of fond reminiscences, leading us to focus on what we—and more importantly, the kids—love about Newtown. The idea of a “thank you” for the outpouring of support this community has received since Dec. 14 was also raised. Many incredible ideas flowed from a unified enthusiasm for creating a sort of yearbook with Newtown children.
It is important to note that Kids Share Workshops is fueled by volunteer support and drive. We encourage community volunteers to take control of how they want to be represented in a Kids Share book, steering the project to the right destination for their children.
Site Location Visit: After some great food at King’s, Kristina (KSW founder), Lauren (co-director) and Jen (creative director) visited the Newtown Youth Academy for our site investigation. NYA sports wing manager Kathy Brophy gave us a tour of some workspace options and discussed the viability of hosting us there.
Our visit with Kathy was more than delightful—it was filled with high emotions, hope and empowerment, and an uncanny shared vision. Kathy is a true kindred spirit! All of us were excited about our team and the great work we were proposing to do at the NYA. Kathy showed us two rooms available for our use, as well as some evidence of the amazing outpouring of support her organization has received—including countless paper snowflakes and 30,000 teddy bears! (The teddy bears had already gone to good homes by the time of our visit.)
We also discussed the possibility of NYA acting as an umbrella non-profit for this project, which would make contributions of supplies and funding tax-deductible. Kathy and our team are sorting out the details. Stay tuned!
Concert for Hope & Healing at The Ridgefield Playhouse: The following Saturday, Kristina, Jen and Lauren attended the Concert for Hope & Healing at the Ridgefield Playhouse. The performances were heartfelt, uplifting and supportive. We were all moved to tears when the children of the Newtown Choir came on-stage, singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” along with video of themselves performing on “Good Morning America.” There were other fantastic young performers that evening: 13-year-old guitarist Bobby Paltauf blew us away with his mastery of Jimi Hendrix riffs and an easy stage presence; his teenage cousin’s duo Carly & Eliza performed their original acoustic songs with true heart and soul; and boy band Kicking Daisies got the crowd of mostly middle-agers feeling like kids again with their joyful energy! After the show, Kristina asked the Connecticut-based band if they would be part of the musical celebration that traditionally closes each Kids Share Workshop. How fitting to have so much young talent! Check back with us, as we hope to get all three of these great artists to perform for our special group of kids sometime this summer.