‘Because of 26’ is well received by the community

By Rob Glidden
Staff Writer

A plan devised by two Southington women for a June event to honor the victims of the Newtown shooting has already been enthusiastically received by the community.
Lisa Wrubleski and Erin Furniss, who both have young children at Plantsville Elementary School, were among many people in the state and nation who were deeply impacted by the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. An event planner, Wrubleski wanted some sort of ceremony that would help bring the community together and send a positive message to Southington’s children.
“I had a bunch of ideas but my thoughts kept coming back to butterflies,” she said. “They are such a beautiful symbol of life. They fly away, but you know they are somewhere else making the world a more beautiful place.”
This concept became “Because of 26,” an idea to plant a butterfly bush on the Rails to Trails corridor in memory of each person who died on December 14 of last year. This event would be held on Saturday, June 15, shortly after the shooting’s six-month anniversary.
The Parks Department will be involved in deciding where exactly the bushes are planted along the trail. Butterfly bushes have a reputation for durability and are expected to attract the colorful insects for many years once planted. Wrubleski said Ali’s Nursery is planning to donate gardening supplies.
The June 15 gathering, which is currently scheduled to start at 10 am, will include other activities in addition to the planting of the bushes. A painted mural featuring butterflies is also planned, although many specifics and a location are still being worked out.
“If it all comes together, I would love to have 26 different artists doing the butterflies as a tribute to those who were lost,” said Mary DeCroce, chairperson of Southington Community Cultural Arts.
Wrubleski and Furniss have brought the details of their idea to the various municipal boards and have been met with admiration. The Town Council unanimously approved their request to use the trail after very little discussion.
“I find your efforts extraordinary and we wish you the best,” said Councilor Louis Martocchio.
The group has started a fund at Wells Fargo to raise money for a memorial statue that would also be part of the display on the trail. Those who want to contribute can donate to the “Because of 26” fund at a branch of Wells Fargo.
However, the organizers said the overarching goal of the event, aside from pretty bushes and murals, was to create a lasting reminder to Southington’s kids of the importance of kindness.
“A lot of the things we give our children are material, but the most valuable thing we could give them is lessons about compassion,” Wrubleski said.

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