By Theresa Freeman
Undoubtedly each of us in Mansfield are filed with questions today.
When will I begin to understand WHY the horrific events in Newtown, Conn., happened?
Or, how much longer can I avoid watching the news because it is all TOO MUCH for me?
Or, how can I HELP?
Or, what in the world do I SAY to my own kids or students or little friends, who live states away but who are still peers to the precious ones involved in Friday’s events? Or, how can I shield them from it?
Where to begin?
I am in the camp where I cannot read enough news stories, mostly because of my journalism background. One of the best opinion pieces I’ve read is this one in The Atlantic penned by a graduate of Sandy Hook Elementary School. I also believe this editorial cartoon by Matt Davies respectfully sums up the feeling right now.
Mostly, I am voracious with my desire to know information because I lived in Sandy Hook. My mother and stepfather live there. My cousins live there. My cousin’s eight-year-old daughter attends Sandy Hook Elementary School and was blessedly evacuated safely on Friday.
So, yeah, I am a bit more passionate about the whole topic. I don’t want to avoid it. I want to get these stages of grieving going.
To the politicos: can I just say, “Enough”? Enough with the gun control. Enough with the mental illness services. Enough with blaming the media errors.
In challenging times, I do my best to focus on being a woman of action rather than becoming paralyzed by the challenges.
My fellow Mansfield Mothers Club members have shared via our email group advice for talking to kids (great for all of us) from The National Association of School Psychologists, The American Psychological Association, The American Academy of Pediatrics, The American Cancer Society, The Children’s Trust Fund and Common Sense Media.
A perfect way to help comes from the Newtown school department itself. If you wish to make a donation, in lieu of gifts, the Newtown School Board is requesting that all donations be directed to the Sandy Hook School Support Fund at http://www.Newtown.uwwesternct.org. Checks can be mailed to Sandy Hook School Support Fund, c/o Newtown Savings Bank, 39 Main St., Newtown, CT 06470.
Another fundraising effort that is quickly gaining traction is the Sandy Hook Elementary School Victims Relief Fund. The money collected will be given to the school’s PTSA group with the intent to be used for items that could include counseling services, funerals expenses or scholarships.
Or, you can take a brief private moment to write supportive notes to the first responders. If you are comfortable, work with older children to send caring, happy notes to:
Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire and Rescue
18-20 Riverside Road / P.O. Box 783
Sandy Hook, CT 06482
Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Corps.
77 Main St. / P.O. Box 344
Newtown, CT 06470
Newtown Police Department
3 Main St.
Newtown, CT 06470
Danbury Hospital Emergency Room Staff
24 Hospital Ave.
Danbury, CT 06810
Finally, I share with you some words that gave me some hope (beyond seeing a photo on Facebook of my smiling, sweet, little cousin waiting to head into last night’s vigil):
“Why are we here? What gives our life meaning? What gives our acts purpose? We know our time on this earth is fleeting. We know that we will each have our share of pleasure and pain. … There’s only one thing we can be sure of and that is the love that we have. For our children. For our families. For each other. The warmth of a small child’s embrace. That is true. The memories we have of them. The joy that they bring. The wonder that we see through their eyes. That fierce and boundless love that we feel for them…. We know that’s what matters. We know we’re always doing right when we’re taking care of them. When we’re teaching them well. When we’re showing acts of kindness. We don’t go wrong when we do that.” -- President Barack Obama, speaking during last night's interfaith service at Newtown High School in a speech I understand for which he was the primary author (bravo, Mr. President!):
I ask simply that our community do just that. Let’s work to love each other and show kindness to one another.