We can all make a difference with the "Power of Together"
Published October 08. 2014 4:46PM
By Mike DiMauro
The voice on the other end of the line belonged to Doug Henton, the
young man from New London - first-rate student, basketball player-
who used the help of strangers and their power of together to amass
enough finanical means to attend Connecticut College last year.
This was Henton talking now about the literal meaning of the words
"Power of Together" and the group of 65 people in the region who form the
Niantic-based benevolent group, "Power of Together" who ultimately wrote the check
that turned Henton's college education into his Connecticut College education. (He earned a 3.0 grade point average in his first semester, by the way).
"I can't tell you the ways they've inspired me," Henton said earlier this week about the group of everyday people he'd never met. "First, I can't thank them enough. But they showed me what I want to do when I graduate from Conn: help people. There's always people from less fortunate. That's what I want ro do. Spend my life helping."
This is the Power of Together: A group of 65 that meets quarterly at the Niantic Community Church. And at the end of a 45-minute meeting, some unwitting group, charity or person is chosed as the recipient of a check for $6,500. Each member bears a quarterly commitment of $100. Following three brief presentations at each meeting the memebership votes on the evening's winner. And then lives change.
Full Disclosure: I became a member last year after learning how they helped Henton. I attended my first meeting in January. Let me say this: If you have growing negativity in your life, Power Of Together will purge it.
Power Of Together is the brainchild of local realtor Deb Fountain, who recalls reading a book one night, "Be the Miracle," about a group of women in Michigan who meet quarterly- and quickly- with no frills, just thrills. Of changing lives.
"It's such a simple concept," Fountain was saying recently. "But, you know, life happens and I put it to the side. I got nudged again and I started talking to people about doing this locally. I couldn't sleep sleep on night. I thought, "How can we make this work?"
Answer: Through simplicity. Henton's story remains among the best examples. Henton had the academic acumen but not the finacial means to attend Conn. Power Of Together member Nina Taglianetti Beebe read Henton's story in The Day and attended the final meeting of 2014. She dropped Henton's name into the hat that gets passed around containing all potential candidates for the big check.
Beebe's name was drawn. She stood before the membership and told Henton's story as she knew it. The membership chose Henton and wrote the check to High Edge, a local program founded by Chris Soto that guides low-income and first generation students through enrolllment, retention and graduation from college by providing the support and resources needed for sucess.
"It's kind of hard to believe that many peope I'd never met were willing to help," Henton said.
It's that simple. The Church- and foundation reiterates it's not a church event- offers parking, space and a sound sytem. Members are asked for 45 minutes of their time and
$100 four times per year. The Power Of Together, whose membership is growin, meets this Wednesday night (October.14) at 7 p.m. at the church for the final time in 2015.
"My goal is 100 members," Fountain said. "How incredible to be part of a group that can truly make an impact. Imagine a charity getting a phone call saying "you're getting $10,000' when they had no idea it was coming."
"I remember thinking about the distinct difference I felt after I joined," local mortgage broker Jay Johnston said. "It's the difference between giving to a charity and being truly part of the giving process. This struck me as having such a personal impact on the community. There's a difference between giving to Habitat For Humanity and spending a day hammering nails in an actual house. This is hammering nails. And it's great.
"People want to give," Johnston said. "Sometimes, they just don't know how or they don't have the money. But together, we do."
Thus far, Power Of Together has given $37,000 to the following: The New London Homeless Hospitality; A Sacred Place; Warriors for Warriors; Higher Edge (Henton)' the Reginonal Multi-Cultural Magnet School Foundation; Safe Futures and the Salvation Army's Summer Camp CONNRI.
The Next winner is Wednesday.
You've heard it takes a village? This program allow us to be the village. Stop in.
This is the opinion of Day sports colummnist Mike DiMauro.