This weekend heralds some spectacular festivities in Newtown, starting at dusk on Friday evening when candle-lit luminarias lining Main Street and encircling Hawley Pond at Ram Pasture turn winter’s darkness to light. Residents are invited to welcome the holiday season with the traditional lighting of the tree, music, and a visit from Santa. Saturday provides events eagerly anticipated every year — a breakfast visit from Santa Claus at Newtown Middle School; day one of the weekend-long C.H. Booth Friends’ Holiday Book Sale; the Greens Sale at the Meeting House, hosted by the Garden Club of Newtown; and the Rotary Club Pancake Breakfast at Edmond Town Hall. Hurry down to Sandy Hook Center for afternoon activities and another tree lighting, or mark your calendar for the evening tree lighting, Sunday, in Hawleyville.
On Sunday, though, we are invited to take part in the Holiday Festival, sponsored by Newtown Savings Bank to benefit Newtown Youth & Family Services. It is a means of giving and receiving. Gracious hosts open the doors to their historic homes; at Edmond Town Hall, a Victorian Tea, the Festival of Trees, and ballet performances from The Nutcracker draw crowds. Main Street buzzes with pedestrians — and a trolley and a train. Laughter, chatter, and song swirl through the air.
It’s all very exciting, and we get a boost from the festive atmosphere. Best of all, Newtown Youth & Family Services, an organization that provides resources to help all residents facing mental health and social challenges, gets a boost from the Holiday Festival.
This past year, NYFS scheduled more than 12,000 mental health appointments at its Berkshire Road office, with 94 percent of those receiving services reporting improvement, post-counseling. Clinicians provided nearly 2,500 hours of service to our teachers and staff, and 470 case management sessions were scheduled, to assist with housing, health insurance, and employment issues.
While more than half of the funding for NYFS comes from town, state, and federal grants and patient revenue, the remainder provided by income from programs, special events, and contributions adds greatly to its ability to provide services that are needed year around. Donations mean that NYFS can add new programs to meet evolving needs in town. This past year, social recreation groups for people of all ages on the autism spectrum and additional senior citizen and youth programs were added.
Your purchase of the tickets ($25 for a family of four; $12 for individuals; $5 for each additional child) at www.newtownyouthandfamilyservices.org means that NYFS programs like Independent Living Day, Safety Town, the job bank, the Homework Club, senior programs, and recreational programs, as well counseling and therapy groups, can continue to offer relief to the many people who otherwise would not find affordable, quality assistance.
Know that with every step you take, with every doorway through which you duck this Sunday that you are moving forward not only your own joy for the holidays, but joy that will be recaptured by the many who reach out to NYFS.
‘Tis truly the season to be jolly.