To the Editor:
A pretty wonderful thing happened on September 7th here in Newtown. It was one of those events that builds slowly and quietly and ends up being totally memorable. Not everyone in town knows about Cullens Youth Association, but maybe it’s time. Cullens is a not for profit organization that owns 20 pristine acres in the heart of Newtown. It contains a small and lovely pond, a big grassy field, woods that hold secret campsites and a big blue lodge for meetings. The mission? To give the youth of Newtown a place to learn about nature, cooperation, leadership and kindness. Any organized youth group in Newtown can use Cullens for meetings and campouts free of charge.
The Board manages Cullens on a shoestring budget and sometimes it can be overwhelming. The lodge suffered a large fire two winters ago and sadly the damage is significant. The grounds are kept up as best we can, but with a lawn mower and plow from the previous century and only a handful of volunteers, it is a challenge.
As we have seen, even unthinkable tragedy can catalyze positive actions. Webster Bank and the United Way wanted to do something special for the youth of Newtown and their focus came to rest on Cullens. With quite of bit of organizing and donations from a variety of businesses, 85 smiling volunteers, most of them Webster Bank employees, descended on Cullens on September 7th and worked some magic. Two buildings were given a fresh coat of “Cullens Blue,” our beautiful outdoor amphitheater overlooking the pond was weeded and raked, a few small construction projects were completed and overgrowth around the field was reclaimed. The weather was as sunny as the attitude of the volunteers.
2014 is going to be a watershed year for Cullens. A new lodge will be built, the electrical service will be upgraded, and our mission will expand to include on site programs to help Newtown’s youngsters get even more in touch with the greatest teacher of all: nature. Stay tuned!
Tracy Van Buskirk
Cullens Youth Association
18 Poverty Hollow Road, Newtown September 17, 2013