After the Vigils, Helping Newtown Begin to Heal

DERBY, CT - From left, sisters Sara, 12, Jessica, 6, and Kaitlyn Gerckens, 10, of Derby (a town about 15 miles from Newtown), gather at the Derby Green during a vigil to remember the lives lost during the tragic shooting at Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary School. The event was organized by the communities of Ansonia, Derby, Seymour and Shelton. Photo by Josalee Thrift of the Valley Independent Sentinel

Editor’s note: As individuals, as parents, as people who live in quiet suburban communities, we identify with the families of Newtown, Connecticut, as well as all the other places visited by unspeakable tragedy. We ache for these folks, and we wonder what we can do to ease their pain. We say prayers, hold vigils, send tons of flowers and teddy bears, and we give whatever we can, oft times frustrated by our inability to take away that pain, to turn back time, and even to prevent this from happening again somewhere. Today, Doug Sarant, who grew up in Connecticut, tells us about some of these efforts.

In going back and forth with my long time friend, Mark Feltch, in Newtown since the tragedy, it was nice to hear him tell of a positive experience he encountered today.

“It was a humbling experience today at the NYA (Newtown Youth Academy) in terms of the support that my hometown is receiving from people far and wide, Mark said. Eleven MLL (Major League Lacrosse) stars gave Newtown three hours of their time. Meanwhile, UCONN basketball was in the other gym running a clinic and there was a constant stream of buses taking any Newtown kid and family down to the new Chelsea Piers Sports Complex in Stamford (Ct) to play anything and everything down there – for free – everything was free.”

One of the MLL stars that traveled to Newtown was Scotty Rodgers, who played his college lacrosse at Notre Dame. Rodgers came to The Woodlands the summer after his NCAA Division 1 lacrosse tournament MVP selection to be a part of the Woodlands High School lacrosse camp by taking charge of all the goalies. Mark was able to take in Rodgers’ Newtown goalie clinic and commented that Scotty could not have been better with the kids.

Today was a good day for Newtown, Connecticut and it was comforting to see Mark so upbeat. Mark lived in the Houston area up until the mid 90’s and was a strong presence in the area’s lacrosse growth. Since he and his beautiful wife, Ann landed in Newtown, he has been instrumental in the sport’s growth in Connecticut as well.

Mark and Ann have two kids: Libby is 22 and a graduate of Vassar College where she played field hockey and lacrosse. Charlie is 18 and a freshman at Curry College. Libby and Charlie as well as others with deep roots in Newtown worked on a tribute film as part of their ongoing healing process. Libby was the location coordinator and Charlie did voice-overs, along with various other Newtown graduates. [Editor’s note: Watch the video]

For the vast majority of us, we can not possibly relate to what the people of Newtown endured on December 14 and will live with for the rest of their lives. What went on today in regards to the activities for the kids of Newtown can only offer a temporary, positive distraction to a heinous, cowardly act.

With good examples like Scotty Rodgers, his MLL brethren, UCONN basketball,  the town of Stamford and law enforcement from all over Connecticut having the people of Newtown’s back, we can follow their lead by keeping the people of Newtown in our prayers when we hit our knees EVERY NIGHT.

Godspeed to the Feltch family and the people of Newtown.

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Doug Sarant, Oak Ridge Now

Born and raised in New England, Doug promises he got to Texas as fast as he could. He earned the much needed "piece of paper" from Sam Houston State, proving to himself he could start and finish something. Doug's interests include coaching and playing any sport and still plays lacrosse competitively. He also enjoys going to dinner theaters, though he complains there just aren't enough of them in the area. Doug was brought up in a cultured environment, having suffered through dozens of symphonies and operas with his way too over-educated mother. At the end of the day, Doug is just a dad and husband and claims to be good at both.

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