Bluebirds of Hope – Sandy Hook's Guardian Angels

Eastern Blue Bird

In the days following the tragedy on December 14th, I received many emails from people all around the world. I am the webmaster for St. Rose Church and my email address is listed there. Most people sent prayers and messages of love, hope and caring. It’s was both inspiring and heart-wrenching to read the stories people shared.

One message I received was from the head of a prayer shawl ministry in Pennsylvania asking where they could send prayer shawls for the families of the victims. Dona also was particularly interested in sending a Prayer Blanket to Gene Rosen, the neighbor of Sandy Hook School who found 6 children in his driveway that morning and sheltered them until their parents could come. She was so moved by his care and compassion she felt a special need to reach out to him.

After several months, I heard from Dona again. She had been experiencing her own life-altering experiences; mother’s illness, lost job and then her father passed away. But she persevered in  love, hope and caring and was finally able to send a prayer blanket to Mr. Rosen. They spoke on the phone the other day…

At one point in our conversation, he asked me for my email address because he wanted to do something for me.  I gave him my email, and he started talking about bluebirds.  I just stopped cold.  You see, I asked my Dad for a sign that all was well — the sign was bluebirds.  I never told Mr. Rosen this, and yet here he was telling me he wanted to send me photos he took of bluebirds!

Bluebirds ordinarily migrate to avoid the New England winters, but this year, Mr. Rosen told Dona, they stayed surrounding the school like little guardian angels.

I am so deeply grateful to people who take the extra step, go the extra mile to extend love and compassion. It inspires me.

In the midst of so much pain and fear, the light continues to shine. The Power of Love will Prevail.

 

 

 

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Newtown Action Alliance – Take Action Now on Gun Control

I’m pulling this directly from the Facebook Post of the Newtown Action Alliance. One of the things I find hardest to do when there are political challenges and changes I would like to see made is knowing exactly WHAT to do and WHEN and HOW to do it. This post, this link and these instructions spell it all out.

A message from David Wheeler, father of Ben Wheeler, in Washington this week with other families from Newtown:

Please help us move forward.

Please help Francine and I and other families in the work we will be doing this coming week in our nation’s capitol.

Using the link below you can download an information sheet and templates for letters, emails and phone calls to your representatives.

Please read these, beginning with the instructions. If you do not wish to help us, then simply don’t, and I sincerely ask that you please not share your ideological rebuttals here; save that for another conversation.

Because it is so very important that this communication to our elected representatives not end with you, I ask that you feel free to share this post and link as you see fit – we need you to connect with your friends and family to help us make a difference.

In the folder, I’ve also included Ben’s last school photo, taken in the early Spring of 2012. Feel free to include it in any communications you wish, should you so choose.

Link https://www.dropbox.com/s/su01axcidmf96gu/InstructionsAndTemplates.zip

Ben_Wheeler_Sept_2012
Thank you again for your support — we are so very grateful.

We must never let him go.

With love and thanks.

Here’s What You Can Do:

  1. Download the Zip File, Unzip it
  2. Edit the letter or phone script as needed
    1. If you need to know who your Senators are, go to: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm and type in your State.
    2. If you need to know who your Representatives are, go to:http://www.house.gov/htbin/findrep?ZIP=06482&Submit=FIND+YOUR+REP+BY+ZIP and type in your Zip Code.
  3. Take Action, NOW is the time to stop the Gun Violence in our Nation.

Key States to Engage:

Alaska
Colorado
Illinois
Iowa
Maine
New Mexico
Oklahoma
West Virginia
Arizona
Georgia
Indiana
Louisiana
Maine
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Mexico
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Pennsylvania
Tennessee
Utah
Arkansas
Montana
South Carolina

Here are the Addresses for the Senators and Representatives in Connecticut. Let’s make this as easy as possible for people, if you have the addresses for your Representative handy, paste them in the comments below.

The Honorable Christopher Murphy
United States Senate
Washington, DC  20510

The Honorable Richard Blumenthal
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable James Himes
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Elizabeth Esty
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

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Approaching God, Trusting Love

Early in March there was a Women’s Retreat at St. Rose of Lima in Newtown. The organizers began planning the retreat in the Fall of 2012. There would be speakers giving witness talks, table leaders to facilitate small group discussions, quiet time of reflection and of course good food. They expected 20-30 attendees (a fairly large group compared to other retreats.)

St. Rose Women's Retreat
St. Rose Women’s Retreat 2013

But after the tragedy on December 14, 2012. Things changed. Not only did the number of women more than double (there were 72 attendees), but also two new speakers stepped up. Mothers of children who were lost in the unspeakable violence on 12/14.

It was an amazing day of sharing, caring and love. To hear each of the speakers share their stories opened my eyes and my heart to the power of God, the power of Love, in all of our lives. After the Moms spoke, one woman said “I have been praying so hard for all of you to find strength and grace in this terrible circumstance. And the fact that you are here, sharing your stories with us shows me that my prayers have been answered.”

Let us all keep praying for an end to violence in the world, for a renewal of a culture of life instead of the culture of death we are currently wallowing in. Let us open our hearts and our minds to those in our community who need the peace of God’s Love. Let’s allow this tragedy to change us all for the better and make this a safer, more loving world for the generations to come. We can do it. God is with us.

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Where’s the Money for Sandy Hook Families?

Millions of dollars poured into Newtown after December 14th, 2012. It is my belief that people who donated expected that the money they donated would go to the Sandy Hook families most in need.Main Street NewtownI too, have had faith that the families who need financial support are getting it. And getting it NOW, when they need it most. When they can’t go back to work because they are too shattered by grief, or need to be at home for their surviving children; children who still have nightmares, children who can’t go back to school, children who have hysterics when they hear static on the school public address system.

But I’ve been doing some reading and I’m getting worried. This is from the Stamford Advocate:

Three months after Brian Rohrbough‘s only son was shot to death at Columbine High School, his family, like others whose children were slain, received a check for $50,000. For each family, it was a little more than 1 percent of the $4.4 million Healing Fund established after the high school shooting.

Rohrbough and many others were outraged.

“It’s not about how much money I received,” he said. “The truth is, when people donated this money, they expected it to go to the families.”

Read more: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/local/article/Newtown-wrestles-with-decisions-about-where-4360640.php#ixzz2Tf6EOs81

Over $20 million dollars have poured into Newtown via one fund or another. Did any of us imagine, with that kind of money around, that there could be a single Sandy Hook parent financially suffering just so that he or she can be home to greet their surviving children as they come home from school? It’s obscene to think of these families facing any kind of financial struggle when the whole world has flooded our town with donations.

It appears that contrary to what seems logical to me, funds unless otherwise specified should be directly distributed to the families, the opposite is true. That monies, unless donated with a specific purpose specified by the donor, are just sitting in the fund waiting for the determination of a task force or others. The largest fund, setup via Western Union and Newtown Savings Bank now has a Foundation with a task force for decisions about distribution of the funds.

The creation of the Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation, and the five board members who will oversee the organization, was announced late last month.

Those members are: Monsignor Robert Weiss, of St. Rose of Lima Church; Dr. Charles Herrick, chairman of psychiatry at Danbury Hospital; local attorney Anne Ragusa; former Newtown Finance Director Ben Spragg; and Joseph DeCandido, president of Nutek Aerospace Corp., in New Milford.

Read more: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/local/article/Newtown-wrestles-with-decisions-about-where-4360640.php#ixzz2TezWWgEn

I know several of the members of this task force, I trust them. So, do we trust that the task force (and others) will make the right decisions to support all the Sandy Hook families in need? I hope so.

But things like this quote discourage me:

“I feel as though the United Way has been kind of stringing us along while they send the money to where they want it to go,” she said. “At first I thought maybe I was a little crazy thinking this, but everything I’ve learned about other tragedies has confirmed that this is a pattern where large nonprofits step up after a tragedy and then take the money and do with it what they please.”

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/25/nyregion/views-diverge-on-dispersal-of-newtown-aid.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

So, what can be done? I don’t yet know… For now, I will put my faith in the task force and pray that they are listening to the people who are closest to those most in need.

References:

We all have a connection to Newtown now.

Last weekend, at my daughter’s gymnastics meet, I sat next to a very friendly woman and we began to chat. When she asked where our team was from and I answered “Newtown,” I braced myself for the sympathy, pity or whatever else might come up at the mention of our town. Instead of the pained expression so many people get when I say where we are from, she said “We moved to Connecticut from Newtown, Pennsylvania. So we have a connection to Newtown.”

Then she paused and said “I guess we all have a connection to Newtown now.” I haven’t been able to stop thinking about that. We all have a connection to Newtown now. Yes, we do: we must.

Sandy Hook Promise

This weekend is Mother’s day and once again, even for those of us who are a few degrees of separation from those who experienced the worst on December 14th, the pain is real and fresh and alive again and the tears are once again flowing.

I know there are many who say “It’s time to move on, it’s time to get back to ‘normal’ life.” And there is a part of me that understands that sentiment, but I also believe that if we try to forget and bury the shock and upset we will be not only dishonoring the memory of those children and educators, but also paving the way for more senseless violence.

The time to make a change is Now. And every one of us, everyone is capable of making a difference. Please don’t try to forget. Please don’t pretend that ‘normal’ is better. Find ways, big and small, where you can make a difference, where you can cultivate a culture of life. Please do all you can to prevent tragedies like December 14th from ever happening again. We owe it to ourselves. We owe it to the Moms. We owe it to our children.