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Helplessly Helping

I want to help.

As with some of the more horrific events that have plagued our last decade, we will all, unfortunately, remember where we were and what we were doing as the reality of the unthinkable acts at Sandy Hook Elementary were unfolding this past Friday the 14th. We can add it to the list, along with Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora, the Gabby Giffords’ shooting, etc. etc.

I was at a Starbucks 1/8 of a mile from Newtown meeting with a client. 

Emphasizing the gravity of the event, as the next 24 hours unfolded, was the proximity and the people we knew, friends, and friends of friends whose kids attended Sandy Hook Elementary. 

Sitting there at Starbucks, frozen to my chair, and as the next few hours unfurled, I watched, and absorbed, and tried to ascertain fact from rumor as person after person entered the coffee shop either looking for or revealing small tidbits they’d been gathering from the news, their friends, the school calls to their respective phones. All that was really known I’d learned earlier through the robo call sent out to all of the parents; that a violent act had occurred in neighboring Newtown, that our schools were all going into “lockdown” mode and that all after school activities were being cancelled.

 By 2PM ish, many of the facts had been laid out, much of the full scope of the tragedy was ghoulishly seeping its way into our heads and the following 24 hours were spent dreamlike, along with a tandem family crises, with our family, like so many others, desperately transfixed and unable to tear ourselves from the TV and internet news reports.

 Fast forward a few days later and with a bit more perspective I’m drawn, as are most people, to come up with SOME sort of SOMETHING that makes sense, that will help my kids, help this broken community, help these families, help…in some small way.  We all feel very helpless. To punctuate that, just take a look at the blog The Patch’s Jaimie Cura posted on Friday giving people an outlet to post “I want to help"” in the comments section. At last glance the “I want to help” posts are at 1,223. People want to help.

Not accidentally, helping and helplessness share a word.  In order to help my daughter not feel helpless she lovingly set out 20 luminary vigil candles in paper bags with heart cut outs along our walkway in honor of the 20 children killed (she would have set out 26 but we ran out of bags) on Saurday evening , along with many other Brookfield families. Being there for our friends in pain was both a help for us as well as for them. Drawing us together to mourn and count our own blessings and luck was a help. Realizing that on a relative scale many of our problems are very, very small was a help.

On a much broader scale, there is a huge sense of helplessness we as a nation are feeling right now as access to these (semi?) automatic weapons are so easily attainable and incidents such as what happened right here in our own little community increase at a startling rate, proving to us that neither we nor our children are safe, anywhere.

I will not turn this into a political discussion except to say this: when President Obama gave his talk Sunday evening at Newtown High School citing that this was the 4th memorial service of this nature that he has attended in his 4 years of office, ears perked up. That was a statement no president wants to be making, and it was very clear that President Obama was no exception.   He added:

“Can we honestly say that we are doing enough to keep our children, all of them, safe from harm?....I’ve been reflecting on this the last few days and if we’re honest with ourselves, the answer’s no we’re not doing enough. And we will have to change.”

Help can be carried out in very personal and varied ways.  It certainly raises us up out of ourselves. It sure as heck makes us better people. And change, as scary as it may be at times, takes bravery and strength. Lets be brave, and strong for our kids. Lets help, lets be the change, finally, this time, for our kids.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Ashley Alcott December 19, 2012 at 05:29 PM
Anyone looking for a way to help the families that were affected by the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary should consider attending the benefit dinner I am hosting along with some of my fellow Quinnipiac students. It will be on January 3, 2013 at 7:00pm at Woodwinds in Branford. All proceeds will go to Newtown Youth and Family Services to help the affected families cover the cost of grief counselling. More information and tickets can be found at www.hopeforsandyhook.com
Suzen Pettit December 20, 2012 at 02:20 AM
that's great Ashley! Thanks for posting. Make sure you submit it to the Patch "events" as well
Suzen Pettit December 20, 2012 at 12:37 PM
Can the Sandy Hook Spirit Wear coordinator please post ways the public can order your spirit wear here on the Patch? Thanks in advance
Suzen Pettit December 20, 2012 at 12:44 PM
Jeff, here is the website for Sandy Hook Spirit wear where you can order directly through the site: http://fhstore.com/Shopping/FHSHop1.aspx?PON=6092&CON=6730&AC=15 Also, here are other ways to help: http://brookfield.patch.com/articles/ways-to-help-sandy-hook Thank you for your love and concern
Suzen Pettit December 21, 2012 at 12:21 PM
we all need a little solace, Jeff. I hope that wearing your Sandy Hook "spirit wear" raises your spirits! It's a great show of support, and this wonderful outpouring from supporters throughout the country really illustrates the goodness of the majority of humankind. Thanks for being a big part of that. Phil: as well thought out and well meaning your poem is I'm not sure we have all the facts about Peter Lanza's involvement and I'd hesitate being so quick to jump to these conclusions. The last reports in were that of an extremely distraught and frustrated father who did not abandon his son, but rather tried in vain to be a part of his life, and offer much more than just money. I am sure he is in more pain than we can imagine.
Suzen Pettit December 21, 2012 at 06:00 PM
great idea! so creative. hopefully they'll pick it up!
veronica marr December 30, 2012 at 10:09 PM
HI SUZEN - Newtown resident here :) ... I would love to talk with you personally about an idea that I believe has the potential to profoundly shift Newtown's focus from deep saddness and fear, to one of amazing healing and positive action. This "action", if presented and developed properly with tender heart resonance, offers the possibility to BIRTH A WAVE of intense transformation for Newtown and the entire world. Time is of the essence .... people forget. Please email or call me Veronica Marr 203-809-4409 veronicamarr4@gmail.com

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