The members of Newtown's newest commission began their work at their first-ever meeting Wednesday, drawing up the first draft of a mission statement for a permanent memorial for the victims of the Dec. 14 shooting.
The members drew up the first draft of what will eventually become a mission statement, using as their guideline the kind of words they feel the memorial should embody: "Hope," "Compassion," "Inspiration," "Love" and about two dozen others.
"We need to [express] he effect you want to have on individuals, the effect you want to have on the community," said facilitator Anne Alzapeidi. "What is the purpose? What is the mission? What are you trying to create? What's the story that we want to tell?"
According to the first draft of the group's mission, they will "make a recommendation for a permanent memorial that remembers, honors and celebrates those who died and serves to provide comfort and hope to those who loved them. This memorial shall also provide the community a place of quiet reflection to embrace peace and connect with one another."
Alzapeidi, who is not part of the group, noted the mission statement will likely change as members reevaluate and hone their goals in the coming month.
"I'm going to step away in a few meetings, and you all will be left to your own devices," she said. "But I'm always here, as is my team, to help you — to gather data or get things for you to help you make decisions."
Town officials assembled the coalition earlier this year. Members include parents Joann Bacon, Scarlett Lewis and Tricia Pinto, who lost children in the shooting, as well as former Board of Education member Alan Martin, architects and designers, and other Newtown residents.
They mostly settled into their new role Wednesday, learning the rules and requirements of sitting on a town commission, but began voicing their visions for a future permanent memorial.
"In our statement, we should say that this memorial is to honor, respect and heal, but at the same time celebrate the lives of those who were lost," said member Agni Pavlidou Kyprianou, an interior designer. "We are honoring these people, not the event. We should focus on who those people were, rather than focusing on 12/14."
Members also reviewed the mission statements crafted following the Columbine shooting and 9/11 for guidance.
To make their decision, they will review some of the thousands of ideas and suggestions sent to Newtown from around the country. The letters are currently being held by the Newtown Cultural Arts Commission.
"There are a lot of things that are out there," said Alzapieidi. "And whether or not they're used, I think a lot of people are just waiting to see what this group decides."