Newtown Site Visit, Feb. 14–17

Core Team/Directors’ Meeting: On Thursday, Feb. 14, the core team consisting of Kristina (KSW founder and program director), Jen (creative director) and Lauren (curriculum director) returned to our new favorite breakfast spot, King’s Restaurant, to discuss the work we had been doing on the Newtown project since our initial site investigation in January.

Over some delicious apple-cinnamon French toast, fresh fruit crepes and one hearty waffle, we reviewed our progress to date. An enormous amount had been accomplished since our last meeting just one month earlier! Our team had grown to 20 volunteers; our logo and our website had been redesigned to better represent our mission; our mission statement itself had been rewritten and posted to our website; registration for the April workshop had opened and was already nearing 50 percent capacity; donations had begun to come in; and T-shirts were about to be printed at a generous discount by Gina Sanderson of Go Promotions! Wow!

We also outlined our schedule for the next few days, which would include a return visit to the Newtown Youth Academy, a stop at the schools superintendent’s office, and a dinner meeting with our volunteers. It would also include a serendipitous encounter with a future volunteer, though we didn’t know it yet.

Visit to Newtown Youth Academy: After breakfast, we headed to Newtown Youth Academy for a meeting with Cody Foss, who had taken over the role of NYA’s sports wing manager since our initial site visit. Cody was very helpful, and graciously took time out from his busy day to sit down with us and discuss the logistics of hosting a successful workshop. He even let us take his picture.

Directors with Cody Foss

Cody Foss of the Newtown Youth Academy takes time for a picture with (left to right) Lauren, Kristina and Jen.

A Walk Through the Newtown Municipal Center:  Following our visit to NYA, we stopped next door at the municipal center to have our workshop registration form approved for distribution in Newtown schools. As we walked through the door, we were absolutely stunned by the overwhelming array of correspondence, artwork, posters, poetry, quilts, origami doves and other beautiful items that lined the seemingly endless central hallway. Unbelievably, this was only a fraction of the love and support sent from around the world to comfort the people of Newtown.

Lauren in Hall

Lauren pauses after taking time to read through some of the heartwarming artwork sent to Newtown.

Volunteers’ Dinner: On Friday, Feb. 15, we had our largest volunteer dinner yet at the Blue Colony Diner in Newtown. Not only did we accomplish quite a bit, we were thrilled to see several new faces as well as familiar faces! We talked about the themes for the workshop, which will be narrowed down to four. Volunteers stepped up to take responsibility for procuring workshop supplies. Others volunteered to work on the party we will put on post-workshop for the children and their families. And when we weren’t discussing business, we simply had a great time! We love our KSW volunteers!

Volunteers Dinner

Everyone enjoys a good meal and a good time at the KSW volunteers’ dinner at the Blue Colony Diner.

The Kindness of Strangers: By Saturday, Feb. 16, KSW had received a total of about $600 in donations to offset the cost of workshop supplies, so Kristina and Jen headed to the bank to open a local account. We are very thankful for all the support KSW has been receiving in Connecticut—emotional, practical and fiscal—much of it from strangers. A man we encountered at the Newtown municipal center, just back from the Feb. 14 rally in Hartford, shared kind words with Kristina. Our waitress at the Blue Colony Diner was quick to offer her help with the project. And at People’s United Bank in Danbury, branch manager Jennifer Dwyer-Castagna was friendly and accommodating even before she knew why we were there; once she heard we were with Kids Share, we instantly had a new volunteer. Jennifer, it seems, is another wonderful Newtown mom. Welcome aboard, Jennifer!

Kristina & Jen

Kristina and Jen are all smiles at the volunteers’ dinner.

One Last Meeting for the Weekend: On Sunday, Kristina and Jen Canning met with team member Kristen Marshall, who was unable to attend the volunteer dinner Friday night. As mother to three Sandy Hook Elementary School students, Kristen has been a precious resource for us and has played a critical role in shaping Kids Share Newtown’s program and message from the beginning. She is also an experienced marketing professional who has contributed valuable business insights as well. We’re so happy to have Kristen on board!

In fact, we directors are thrilled and honored to have an entire team of amazing and enthusiastic volunteers on this project! With this kind of help, who knows what good news we’ll have to share with you here in March?

Stay tuned!

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