This Is our Village

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Century Village residents gather to remember those lost in school shooting

By Toni-Ann Miller
Sniffles and quiet tears filled the cool air tonight at Century Village as residents and supporters gathered to pay their respects to the victims, survivors and families affected by Friday’s Sandy Hook, Conn., tragedy.
A woman passed out white balloons to the mourners who sat on poolside chairs. They all released them, and the balloons floated off in a group.
“They left together,” said Sydelle Banks, a resident at Century Village and the organizer of tonight’s vigil. “That’s how those children died,” she said, “Together.”
About 200 people gathered at 7 p.m. by the pool at the Century Village clubhouse off Haverhill Road, just north of Okeechobee Boulevard in suburban West Palm Beach. A rabbi and a bishop shared prayers and words of encouragement with those who attended the 30-minute memorial.
The bishop read the names of those who lost their lives, and Banks rang a bell after each name. Ryan Engelbrecht, a singer and pianist, then sang his rendition of “You Raise Me Up,” made popular by Josh Groban, and followed it with “The Lord’s Prayer.”
For Banks, the emotion of the night had hit home.
Banks’ grandson Josh works as a deli manager in Sandy Hook. One of his regular customers came in Saturday, and he greeted the man and told him to tell his wife hello. Banks said the customer broke down in tears and asked Josh, “Didn’t you know my wife was one of the teachers that was killed?”
Josh was so affected by that exchange that he had trouble working the rest of the shift.
“On Saturday, after he called me and told me that he had to leave work,” Banks said, “I decided that we have to show them solidarity and that we have compassion for them and understanding.”
So she organized the vigil and used word of mouth to inform residents.
Her message to the people in Connecticut:
“There’s a lot of compassion in the world, and people throughout the country share the grief and the sorrow of the survivors,” Banks said, unable to restrain from crying. “There’s nothing we can really do; we can only offer our support and our prayers.”
Myron Solomon, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., had red watery eyes during the entire vigil. He said he didn’t have any family members in the immediate area, but “we all feel the pain of everybody.”
Eva Rachesky is the vice president of the West Palm Recreation Facility, which runs the daily events at Century Village. She said this was the first vigil the village has hosted, and it was much needed.
“It’s a healing for people to share the same emotion, this terrible grief that they feel and (frustration) because they have nowhere to put it,” she said. “I had tears in my eyes, but to see grown men wiping away tears tells you how deep this goes for people.”
Rachesky, a mother of two, said she hopes people who are affected by the tragedy will take away from the vigil that there are people all around the country whose hearts are breaking along with theirs.
“I can’t imagine what it’s like to have Christmas presents under the tree for children that are never gonna come home to open them,” Rachesky said.

1 comment:

  1. Many Thanks to Sydelle, who with
    little notice, organized one of
    the most "Touching" tributes to
    the victims of "Sandy Hook"
    May they all RIP.


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