The mission of The S.H.A.C.K. is to provide a safe haven for children and families to come to heal, create and explore various art forms while expressing themselves artistically in a nurturing, safe environment. We offer free art, music and pet therapy and low cost, high quality classes in art, music and theatre. Our educational and therapeutic programs are taught by board certified and licensed professional therapists.
After the horrific events of 12/14 unfolded our immediate thoughts turned to our family, friends and students. I have two family members who work in the Newtown public schools and of course was horrified as I watched the new broadcasters report from my old school, Sandy Hook Elementary. Our hearts broke for all of the families who lost loved ones that day and we continue to grieve with them. It was, and still is, unreal and unimaginable that this tragic event occurred in our little town, my hometown, Sandy Hook. This was a town where we never locked to the doors to our houses or cars growing up. We walked downtown, we rode bikes 10 miles across town and ran through the tall grass- innocent childhoods.
On 12/14/12, 20 innocent children and 6 of their dedicated educators were taken and hundreds of innocent childhoods were robbed. Children, families, and our community will never be the same and our hearts ache for them. After attending the painfully sad funerals for friends’ children in Newtown, our classmates joined together to think of what we could do to help the community for the long-term and the idea for the SHACK was born.
I had been trying to open an arts center in Bethel for two years but kept hitting obstacles and roadblocks. I began searching for a location in Sandy Hook in November of 2012 and during the first week of December of 2012 had secured a location in downtown Sandy Hook. And then 12/14 happened. It is so awful that our arts center had to be created in this way but we love that we can help the community heal through the power of the arts. I feel I was being prepared during those weeks before the tragedy so that we could get it up and running quickly so we could open our doors and help quickly. When that dark day came we knew we had to be in Sandy Hook center, no other place, to bring light and love.
After speaking with our Bethel donors, it was decided that the small amount of funds we had raised for the Bethel arts center were to be donated to the S.H.A.C.K. and we appreciate the help we have received to get us started. We will continue to do everything in our power to fulfill our mission to bring healing through the arts to the community and to honor the memories of those who were lost that day.
~Wendy Leahy Mitchell, Founder/Director
Newtown Strong Therapy Dogs
Matt D’Arrigo, Founder/Director, Oscar WInner, A Reason to Survive, San Diego, CA.
Cathy Malchiodi, PhD, Founder/Director, Trauma Informed Practices
OUR OFFICERS & BOARD:
President & Founder- Wendy (Leahy) Mitchell, Newtown High School Class of 1987 alum, Head Teacher Certification through the State of CT in Early Childhood in 2008, volunteer youth mentor 2000-present, owner/operator Ultra Violet Productions, 2010-2013.
Vice President ~ John Parille, Pastor of New Life Community Church, New Fairfield, Owner of New Fairfield Press
Secretary ~ Kris Heyel, Owner of Everyday Moments Photography
Treasurer ~ Deb McGrath, Newtown mom & former treasurer of the Sandy Hook PTO
Kirsten Kellogg Tuz ~ Newtown High School Class of 1987 Alum, Sandy Hook mom, 21 Years Product/Brand Marketing and Media Management, BS in Marketing from Western Connecticut State University and MBA in Finance from Sacred Heart University.
501(c)3 NON-PROFIT INFO:
FEDERAL EIN # 46-2044109
State of Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection Public Charities
Registration Exemption Verification effective 2/26/2013
Exemption Type: Public Charity
Exemption # 0057002