The spirit of community remains strong at
Various organizations and teams on campus have
joined together in paying respect and offering service to those
affected by the Newtown tragedy in December, proving that
community togetherness can prevail even in these times of sorrow.
Ana Marquez-Greene Music Scholarship Fund
Our own music professor Jimmy Greene and his wife
Nelba Marquez-Greene lost their daughter Ana Marquez-Greene in the
massacre. Within days, at the Marquez-Greene family’s
request, Dean of the School of Visual and Performing Arts Dr. Dan Goble
arranged with the WCSU Foundation Office to create a music
scholarship for incoming students. To date, the
Marquez-Greene Music Scholarship Fund at Western has raised more
than $55,000. Donations have been sent in from 32 states and one
province in Canada. With more than 475 gifts received, the
scholarship fund grows each day.
scholarship and continued donor contribution, the memory of Ana
Marquez-Greene as well as all the other victims will never fade.
Songs for 26 Souls
“Divinely Inspired” is what Western student
Rachel Armour '14 would call her plan to help
people heal from this tragedy. Armour, a music student, took
immediate action in trying to help people heal from this tragedy.
“One morning when I was conducting my beautiful
children’s choir, I had the revelation that nothing could be more
healing then the sound of innocent and wonderful voices of children,"
she said. "That’s when I started planning the concert featuring area children
choirs, and from there, everything kind of fell into place. I knew I
wanted to have a song dedicated to each of the victims, and that’s
where “26 Songs for 26 Souls” came from.”
The concert was held at Our Lady
of Mount Carmel Church in Waterbury. With the help of sophomore student Timothy Nott
'15, the concert was able to include musical
performances as well as a commemoration for recognizing first
responders. “Rachel wanted
to expose the powerful healing qualities that music has," Nott said.
appreciate her mission and uncanny ability to relate to those going
Exceeding both students’ expectations, “26
Songs” was a testimony to how resilient people can be. “What moved me was how all of the groups came together to sing
for one cause," Rachel Armour stated. "It was like the children were ignited by a fire or
sparks of joy that day, and to see that innocence is still alive and
vibrant in the hearts of our young, was very moving for everybody
Looking back, Armour said, “Music can heal where words
fail, and I am so honored to have been able to organize the beauty
of what transpired at this benefit concert.” All monetary funds collected will be donated to the
Marquez-Greene Music Scholarship Fund.
Student Nursing Association
What began as a small collection for flowers,
turned into a generous tribute to Autism Speaks Foundation, in honor
of Anne Marie Murphy, by the Student Nursing Association. Fellow
nursing students Britany Barrow '16 and Christine Russo '15
received word on Sunday, December 16, that one of their fellow
classmates had lost his mother in the Newtown shootings.
“We were only going to collect
a few dollars to send flowers to the family but when it was
requested that money be donated to Autism Speaks Foundation because
the student’s mother worked so closely with special needs children,
we immediately turned to sending out a mass e-mail to the entire
student body the following Monday morning,”
Along with collecting from the WCSU community,
the students asked family, co-workers and neighbors for donations as
well. By January 21st the
organization had collected a total of $1,185 to be mailed to
Autism Speaks. The young women were amazed by the amount of
generosity for the cause.
“Even though all of us have the simple connection
of being just classmates, it was incredible to be able to do this,"
Barrow said. "And for all the donations, it was and still is heartwarming to see
how selfless people can be during a time of so much hurt.”
The university’s Education Club has been
collecting General Mills box-tops for years to help a
needy school. In the past, box-tops have been used to buy new books,
computers and other resources the school lacked. This year, the club
has decided to donate all proceeds from its August to April
collection season to Sandy Hook Elementary. The club hopes that
students and faculty will take advantage of the various collection
boxes throughout campus so that the elementary school can receive
aid for the fall 2013 school year.
University Resident Assistants
Awareness has been another great outcome brought
to campus by resident assistants of Pinney Hall on the university’s
Westside campus. RA’s Christine Mitchell-Robinson and Megan Kellogg
organized a program to promote the “Sandy Hook Promise.” The SHP
website explains," “Sandy Hook Promise” is committed to making
Newtown remembered as the place where we came together both as a
community and as a nation, and decided that we must do everything we
can to prevent tragedies like this from happening again.”
The Promise focuses on providing financial
assistance and services support for as long as it takes each
affected individual to heal. The site encourages all who visit to
make the pledge by signing up online.
Mitchell-Robinson and Kellogg have campaigned in
their residence hall and on campus since the beginning of the
semester, encouraging each student to take the
online pledge, research the corporation or donate. Mitchell-
Robinson stated, “We wanted to do something that benefited the town
as a whole. The Promise also has such a beautiful message of
promoting love in a time of grief and initiating conversation on
ending violence in schools.”
The two students will continue their program of
promoting SHP and collecting donations until the end of February.
For more information visit
Sandy Hook Promise.
The Women’s Softball Team
The WCSU softball team came together during the
university’s winter break to play in a tournament where all proceeds
went to the Sandy Hook Support Fund.
“20 Angels in the Outfield Tournament,” was held
at Fast Pitch Nation in Bloomfield on December 26. The tournament
consisted of 58 teams of all ages and skill levels. Western was one
of the few college teams invited to play in the tournament and
although their eight person team won, each player understood the
tournament was about much more than a victory.
Freshman pitcher Jessie Rocha spoke highly of the
team’s dedication to participate. “Our team is built
around helping others, so this was perfect for us, Rocha said. "Being able to do
something so special for a town in need by playing a sport we all
love, is something that will stick with us for a lifetime.”
Rocha’s father, owner of Fast Pitch Nation, came
up with the idea for the tournament. “20 Angels in the Outfield” raised nearly $21,000.
Softball Coach Heather Stone and her team are
committed to continual efforts that incorporate softball and service
for those affected by the tragedy. “We are hoping
things really take off," Stone said. "Our team will also be selling support
bracelets for the student survivors and wearing embroidered patches
in honor of Sandy Hook.”
The Women’s Basketball Team
The Women’s Basketball team has dedicated is
2012-2013 season to honoring those lost in the tragedy as well as
providing service to youth survivors.
Coach Kimberley Rybczyk and her team have reached
out in a number of ways to show Newtown that their team and Western
Connecticut will always be there to lend a helping hand. “Each home game, we collect donations so that we will be
able to make a donation to the Ana Marquez-Greene Music Scholarship
Fund," Rybczyk stated. "We also wear black t-shirts with the number
26 on the back to
represent the 26 lives lost on that horrific day.”
Perhaps the most significant act of generosity,
the team also had the opportunity to spend time with Newtown Youth
Academy during the days following the tragedy. The team worked and
played with the children of Newtown. As long as they are needed, the
Women’s Basketball Team will continue to volunteer.
Sigma Chi Fraternity
Sigma Chi Fraternity has been working endlessly
to give back to Newtown and make a positive impact within the
Specifically, the organization bought 5,000 wristbands and establish an order website
within 24 hours of the tragedy. “We wanted to create an international campaign by reaching
out to not only our local community, but the Sigma Chi Fraternity
at-large throughout the United States and Canada,”
Sigma Chi President James Heffner '13 said.
To date, the organization has raised more than
$4,000 for the Newtown Youth Academy and is still receiving orders.
Additionally, Sigma Chi has also been working with the Department of
Music to host a semi-formal benefit dance. The event will
feature live entertainment from the WCSU Jazz Ensemble and free
food. The proceeds will go toward a charitable organization that
supports the Sandy Hook community.
Heffner and his brothers are strong
advocates of community service. “It is incredibly
important to recognize that we are part of a larger community and
that no matter how small the contribution, you make a positive
difference in the lives of others.”
The benefit dance will take place on February 9th.
Community members interested in the dance should visit the
university’s Calendar of Events for more information. Those
interested in learning more about the wristband fundraiser should
We know other efforts have
been initiated as well. Though we cannot change or explain the
tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary, it is important to
understand that positive things are being done not only at Western
but across the nation. This university takes pride in its devotion
to community togetherness and will continue to give back in whatever