Lindsay Krodel was glad to see the large gathering at on Sunday, but cognizant of a painful anniversary at the same time.
“I feel like hell,” she said. “I want it to be over. But this is nice, that everyone came out.”
Friends and family of Matthew Chew gathered at the coffeehouse to remember the 25-year-old man, who died early on the morning of Oct. 30, 2010. Chew was stabbed the evening before while walking home from his job as a chef at 2 Wives Pizza. Six teenagers have been charged with involvement in the murder, with police saying it was a seemingly random act of violence.
Krodel was Chew’s girlfriend. She remembers his laugh as well as his devotion to his dog, Ellie. She said Chew had dreams of moving on from his job to other things.
“He always had his eyes set on something bigger,” she said. “He wanted to really do something.”
Friends of Chew said he was a friendly, easygoing person interested in music and art. His paintings are on display at the Bean and Leaf, and prints of them and other items were on sale to benefit the Matthew Chew Memorial Scholarship for the Arts. The scholarship goes to one person each year who is pursuing higher education in the arts.
Amanda Bachand, who organized the scholarship, said she would often visit Chew and watch him paint for hours. She said Chew talked about going to art school, but found the prospect difficult once he began working full-time.
“I just wanted to give someone the opportunity that he wanted but didn’t have,” she said.
Sunday’s event was originally to include a candlelight march, but stayed indoors due to the cold temperatures. Jade Huguenot, the organizer of the memorial, said she was discussing the one-year anniversary of Chew’s death with friends and decided that people should not be alone for it.
“He was the kind of person who was friends with everyone,” she said.
The sentiment was shared by Justin Giorlando, who grew up with Chew and remembered his devotion to music and Halloween parties.
“He could bring so many random people together,” he said. “He didn’t understand why people didn’t like other people.”
Jess Bachand, Amanda’s sister, remembered when Amanda asked her to pick Chew up from work. Jess didn’t know Chew at the time, but said he was an easy person to become friends with.
“I probably wasn’t as close to him as a lot of people here, but it didn’t take long to realize what a wonderful guy he was,” she said.
John Pescatello, who organized New London Anti-Violence (now New London Active Volunteers) in response to Chew’s death, said the support among Chew's friends and family has helped him to get through the year.
“A lot of people have done a lot of great things,” he said. “Matt’s family has been such a source of inspiration in all they’ve done.”
Mindy Fowler, Chew’s sister, thanked Chew’s friends for being part of his life as well as people who did not know Chew but offered support after his death. She encouraged people to “be the change” in the way they live their lives.
“I miss him every day,” she said. “There are some things in life we can’t make sense of.”