The group of neighbors that originally formed to fight commercial wind turbines in town plans to change course now that its mission is fulfilled.
“What we’d like to do, when our bill is paid, is actually help people in need in Prospect,” Save Prospect member Ken Aubertin said.
Aubertin said the group is looking to do philanthropic work, such as helping out a child with cancer, an older lady who needs a new roof, but can’t afford it, or just keeping the Prospect food bank stocked.
He said the group’s efforts would focus on helping Prospect residents.
“Everybody seems to think that everyone in Prospect has money. The reality is there’s needy people everywhere,” Aubertin said.
With many people loosing their jobs and struggling to make ends meet, Aubertin said there will be plenty of opportunities to help.
Aubertin said he didn’t see wind issues as part of the group’s future, unless the town or state asks it to help form policy.
The group has been busy raising funds since it won its fight in May when the Connecticut Siting Council denied BNE Energy’s petition to build two turbines in Prospect.
Save Prospect President Tim Reilly said the group plans to pay off the bill for its legal advice and expert witnesses, totaling over $125,000, by next June.
Once the debt is paid, Reilly said the group wants to give back to the community.
“Save Prospect wants to give back,” Reilly said. “We appreciate how people have rallied in town to help up do what was right.”
Reilly said the group will re-file as a new corporation and elect new directors. It will also set up a committee to review requests for assistance and make plans for fundraising goals.
Reilly said the group wants to work with the town government, local churches, and other neighborhoods to reach those in need.
“We think that the people in Prospect have big hearts,” Reilly said.
Reilly said the group wants to put its organizational and fundraising skills to good use.
Aubertin and Reilly both said the group was never about one small neighborhood.
“What I could see occurring is more people in town getting involved once they realize that it’s not about a small area of Prospect, it’s about the needy throughout Prospect,” Aubertin said.
In some ways, the new direction for Save Prospect is a way for new friends to continue to socialize.
Over the last nine months, Reilly said his neighbors have grown close by facing adversity together.
“People don’t want to see that end,” Reilly said.
Aubertin echoed Reilly’s sentiments.
“We met a lot of people in town and we became close to them. …We’ve made a lot of new friends,” Aubertin said.
Although the group includes hundreds on its mailing list, Reilly said there is an active core group of about 75 people, with six directors.
Although fundraising is hard work, it can also be fun, Reilly said.
“We’re out here under the stars, the music’s great, and we’re all together,” he said of recent fundraising efforts during summer concerts.
Aubertin said that when he proposed the idea to turn Save Prospect into a charitable organization, all the members were excited.
“Not one person called it quits. Everybody said, ‘Great idea. I’m on board count me in,’” Aubertin said.