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Amsterdam works to move past tragedy

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Albany/HV: Amsterdam works to move past tragedy
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After the deaths of two city teens, residents in the city of Amsterdam are working together to make sure history doesn't repeat itself. Our Maria Valvanis has more on the public discussion about moving forward in a positive way.

AMSTERDAM, N.Y. -- Calvin Martin said, "My family is devastated, we've never felt like this before, but if we keep putting energy into not getting Paul back, we get no where."

Instead, family members of the late Paul Damphier are putting their energy into something positive. They came to Amsterdam's Community Crisis public forum, armed with suggestions on how to get kids off the street and into a safe environment.

"Sports, art, even as far as lifting, just everything," said Casey Martin, another one of Damphier's cousins.

"We have to brainstorm, we have to think big in order to be big, whether it's recreation centers, or doing basketball and football leagues," said Calvin Martin.

Martin tells us if his cousin Paul belonged to some sort of city activity, things may have turned out differently.

Damphier and his 13-year-old friend, Jonathan DeJesus, were killed July 9th, former classmates, Anthony Brasmiester, 16, and Matthew Phelps, 15, have been charged with the murders.

Thursday night's forum offered the community the opportunity to hear from counselors on how to move forward from this tragedy.

"Some of this is about helping normalize it, help a child relax, and say this is okay, we're gonna be okay, and were gonna get through this together," said Program Director at St. Mary's Children's Health Care, Steve Siegard.

From tragedy, comes love. Fundraisers, vigils, and walks, have all been planned by the community, to show their support for the victims and their families.

"I didn't expect any of this, I think this was a wake up call for everybody," said Casey Martin.

"Amsterdam has a big heart their always ready to help," said Amsterdam school district Superintendent, Tom Perillo.

And the support keeps coming. Friends of the victims are hoping everyone will join them Monday night at a memorial benefit for the here at Parillos in Amsterdam.

"It's important for us to come together as a community and show them we are here to help," said benefit organizer, John Supmter.

"It's going to be a big step but we have those two boys in our heart and their going to help us through it every step of the way," said Calvin Martin.

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