Sandy Hook Moms Start New Foundation

Alissa Parker and Michele Gay didn't know each other before December 14. That changed on the day their lives were turned upside down.
Parker's daughter Emilie and Gay's daughter Josephine or 'Joey', as she was known, never made it out of Sandy Hook Elementary School.
The girls were friends in school. The parents were looking forward to meeting.
"We were set to meet each other on December 15th for my daughter's birthday party and we were all excited," Gay said.
"When this happened I had no phone numbers of any of the other parents but I did have a birthday invitation on my fridge with Michele's number," Parker recounted. "When I saw that Joey was one of the victims, I immediately grabbed it and called her and she immediately became that ally for me."
Since then the mothers have leaned on each other in the early days of unbearable grief to the present day as they work to honor their daughters' legacy.
"Because of what happened to our children, I want to protect them," Parker said. "I want to do whatever I can to use my voice to help that."
In that spirit the women have started a new foundation to make schools safer places for students.
"Security is not something that has been talked been talked about or has really been addressed," Gay said. "It's been neglected in schools."
Districts in Connecticut have been facing the financial realities of making security upgrades. Safe and Sound was set up to help raise private funds for schools around the country to help pay for security improvements. These moms say it's not about creating fortresses but it's about making it more difficult for intruders to get in.
"We can look at things like gates, we can look at things like vestibules, double door vestibules," Gay said.
Parker and Gay said they've wanted to stay out of the gun control debate which is why they've turned their focus to school security.
In Newtown, the healing continues.
The recent recommendation by a special committee to tear down Sandy Hook Elementary and build a new school in its place is a decision these moms respect. Parker and Gay both believe the school should be torn down but they would rather see a memorial build on the site.
"I felt personally that I did want the school torn down," Parker said. "I would like to see it be built in a different location but my opinion is not the only one that matters and I accept that."
Meanwhile prosecutors are wrapping up their investigation into the shooting and details on their findings could be released as soon as next month. These parents are hoping whatever is released is sensitive to their children.
"We understand the need to understand what happened," Gay said.
But they said they don't necessarily need to hear anything more about the case.
"We feel the information that is going to come out, is what's gonna come out," Gay said. "It's already happened. It's done."
Both have been able to stay positive because of the outpouring of support from the community. They believe their daughters' have brought them together to stay on this mission.
"I like to think they left us each other to take care of one another and take care of the community," Gay said.

If you'd like to find out about the Safe and Sound initiative you can visit their website.

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