Child therapist Cathy Canfield casually mentioned on Facebook Saturday morning that she just wanted to pick up and drive to Newtown, Conn., to put her skill set to good use for the town reeling from a terrible tragedy.
A few of her friends encouraged her to go, open an online fundraiser to help her secure funds for the trip and even said they would donate money to her cause.
So she set up a page on online fundraising site YouCaring.com and suddenly found that she was about $2,100 richer.
Canfield, whose Children’s Counseling of Alexandria practice is based in Old Town, had been calling the Sandy Hook Elementary School Board members, a local Connecticut chapter of the American Red Cross and private-practice therapists to try and establish any connection there.
The Del Ray resident told Patch she has no particular ties to Connecticut, but just wanted so much to be able to help the children there by offering her services for free.
"The whole community is experiencing a tragedy, and I know it must be hard for the parents to be totally there for their kids," she said.
Incoming Councilman Justin Wilson was listed among the donors on the fundraising page.
When contacted by Patch, Wilson said he felt inspired by Cathy's plan for service.
"I think everyone has been watching the horrific situation in Connecticut with a sorrow, but also a desire to translate that sorrow into actions that might make a difference," he said. "For me, I felt inspired by Cathy's plan for service, and I wanted to show my support."
She packed her bags, fueled up her car and reserved a hotel room.
After dozens of phone calls, a few were returned and Canfield was told that there had been such an outpouring of support that no one could guarantee that she could get an opening.
“I was told they were just overwhelmed with volunteers and support,” she said.
Ultimately she decided not to go.
“I thought I’m going to have these donations that people have given me and I’m not sure that [Newtown] will need me. …How will I push my way in?,” she said.
She notified the trip donors of her decision to stay home in Alexandria and while some people asked for their money back, she plans on donating the remaining more than $1,000 to the Sandy Hook Elementary Parent Teachers Association.
“I’m disappointed, but happy that people were so ready to act and to help. It was so inspiring. …Some people gave $10 and some people gave $300,” she recalls. “That inspires me to think how powerful we can become when we become a community.”