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Submitted by Lynn Holforty on March 27, 2013

A few days after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Bob Schmidt a member of the Newtown Lions Club and an Adjunct Instructor for the Counselor Education Department contacted the Connecticut Counseling Association (CCA) to see if they would partner with the Newtown Lions Club to help the people of Newtown. CCA President, Karla Troesser (a graduate of the Counselor Education Program) and CCA Executive Director, Deb Delvecchio Scully developed a plan with the Newtown Lions that would pay for counseling costs of first responders, staff as well as children and families from Sandy Hook Elementary. They created the Newtown Lions Foundation Sandy Hook Elementary Fund. It has already distributed over $14,000 to individuals and families. The intention is to keep the fund going for ten years.

It is difficult to predict the cost over a ten year period, but estimates are over one million dollars will be needed to keep the fund going for ten years. So far counselors and Lions Club members in Connecticut have donated thousands of dollars to the Fund. Both the Lions Club International Foundation and the North Atlantic Region of the American Counseling Association (ACA) have made generous donations. Anyone who wishes to help can go to the Newtown Lions website and make donations to keep the fund going. The fund is a 501 (c)(3) and all donations are tax deductable.

Several families who were severely impacted by the December 14th tragedy are now represented by a group called the “Sandy Hook Family Healing Fund”. The organization contacted Bob Schmidt, and with the help of the CCA found Advocates who volunteered their time to help these traumatized families. Fairfield instructors and interns stepped up to the plate and are serving as Family Advocates. They are Pam Anderson (Clinical Coordinator for the Counselor Education Program), JoAnn O’Connell (Adjunct), and counseling interns, Emily Adams, Danielle Monroe and Sandy Duemmler. Another Fairfield graduate, Shane Miller from the MFT program, also joined the group of Family Advocates.

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