Category Archives: Organizations

100+ Women Who Care

Like many women, Tracy Yost’s volunteerism revolved around her children’s activities. Community service was a resume builder. Life was busy; time was tight.

Then, in 2013 — having just moved from Fairfield County to Santa Cruz, California — she discovered “100+ Women Who Care.”

Founded in 2006 in Michigan, it’s an organization so clever I barely know where to begin.

100 Women who CareEvery 3 months, there’s a 1-hour meeting. Each member brings a check for $100. Any member can nominate  local charities, non-profits or worthy causes. All names are put in a hat.

Three names are drawn, randomly. The 3 members who nominated them make 5-minute presentations, “selling” their causes.

Everyone then votes on which cause to support. The winner gets all the checks — made out to them, on the spot.

100 women = $10,000. Amazing!

Within a year, Tracy’s nominee — Coastal Watershed Council — was drawn. She spoke passionately — and won.

“It was an amazing, powerful experience,” she recalls. “I felt so empowered, and so connected to the community.”

Tracy Yost

Tracy Yost

A few months later, her husband was transferred back to this area. Tracy knew she wanted to start a “100+ Women Who Care” chapter here.

A woman in Wilton had the same idea.  Beth Kisielius contacted — out of all 150 or so chapters in the US and Canada — the Santa Cruz one for help. The 2 women connected quickly, and fortuitously.

Tracy arrived in Westport on January 16 (her birthday — go figure). Within a week, she and Beth had planned a working dinner.

Since then they’ve set up Facebook pages, a website and newsletters. Neither woman had ever done something like this, but clearly they are on a mission.

Now they’ve set a date for the 1st Fairfield County meeting. It’s Tuesday, March 10 (DoubleTree by Hilton, Norwalk). A social hour (5:30-6:30 p.m.) precedes the “business” meeting (6:30-7:30).

“We’re looking for women who are too busy to volunteer, or who like to know all the little things going on in the community, who like to get involved outside of their children’s schedules,” Tracy says.

100 women who care santa cruzShe is passionate about the impact 100+ Women Who Care made on her life, in a little over a year in Santa Cruz.

“I felt connected to the community,” she says. “I felt empathy, because I heard very personal stories about people who struggle. I felt part of a group who strives to make a difference locally.

“The group not  only donates 4 times a year. They connect people. They seek out ways to help. They raise the bar. They empowered me.”

Your charity doesn’t even have to win, for you to feel good. “It’s great just to tell 100 women about a really terrific cause,” Tracy notes. “And sometimes you spark an interest, and end up with new volunteers for your organization.”

(For more information on 100+ Women Who Care — including the March 10 meeting at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Norwalk, click here.)

Honoring John Dodig: The Best Way Possible

The other day, John Dodig bought a lottery ticket. If he won, he thought to himself, his first act would be donating $20 million to Staples Tuition Grants.

Odds are, he won’t win. But I bet he’s thrilled at this news: The organization is naming an award in his honor.

Now it’s up to the Dodig’s many fans to get the scholarship as close to $20 million as we can.

John Dodig -- a Superfan of Staples -- has many fans throughout the community.

John Dodig — a Superfan of Staples — has many fans throughout the community. (Photo/Susan Woog Wagner)

When the Staples High School principal announced he will retire in June, Lee Saveliff and Kate Andrews had the same reaction as many Westporters: great sadness.

But as former PTA presidents, now Tuition Grants donor co-chairs, they knew of Dodig’s great fondness for, and support of, the organization.

They asked if he’d be comfortable with a new award, named in his honor. The criteria: 1 boy and 1 girl each year, who are outstanding citizens, active in Staples activities and volunteerism, known to be caring, open-minded and willing to accept others.

Dodig was honored to be honored.

“There is no better investment than in education,” Dodig says.

“But not everyone — even in Westport — can afford it. Staples Tuition Grants does a fantastic job. Every June, at the awards ceremony, we hear from a speaker whose life was changed by a grant.

“Now, every year when this award is announced, it will be a way for people to remember that education is so important to me.”

Each year, Staples Tuition Grants helps dozens of Staples seniors and graduates attend college.

Each year, Staples Tuition Grants helps dozens of Staples seniors and graduates attend college.

Saveliff and Andrews agree. “This grant will represent John for years to come. It reflects the kind of person he is, and the legacy he leaves behind. It’s one way to recognize him for his years of service, and thank him for all he has done for our Staples students, families, faculty and staff.”

Funding the John M. Dodig Award is harder than simply buying a lottery ticket. Fortunately, it’s easier than actually winning the lottery.

It takes donations. You have to click on the website, or mail a check to Staples Tuition Grants, PO Box 5159, Westport, CT 06881-5159.

But that’s all it takes — a minute or two, max.

Staples Tuition Grants new logoThink how much John Dodig has given this community — and us, individually. Think how important Staples Tuition Grants is to him. To the awardees. To all of us.

So let’s do what we can to make the John M. Dodig Award the biggest of all 100-plus grants each year.

We may not be able to hit a Powerball-winning figure. But what about setting a goal for 2 full scholarships each year?

That’s very ambitious. Then again, John Dodig has always encouraged all of us to aim high, and reach our potential. This is the least we can do, to honor him.

(To contribute to the John M. Dodig Award, click here or mail a check to Staples Tuition Grants, Box 5159, Westport, CT 06881-5159.)

Maxine Bleiweis: A Library Winner, In Every Way

When Maxine Bleiweis was young, she says, “I was not a very successful library user.” She learned through hands-on experiences, not books. And she liked to talk.

If she were a kid today, she’d thrive at the Westport Library — an institution run by the now-grown Maxine Bleiweis. It’s a place filled with noise — of chatter, programs, and the hands-on learning, exploration and invention being done in the innovative MakerSpace, smack dab in the center of the place.

When Maxine was younger too — just starting out as a library director — she was influenced by Charlie Robinson. As head of the Baltimore County system, he believed that libraries did not have to follow a “business as usual” model. Rather than assuming libraries were arbiters of community taste — deciding unilaterally which books to purchase; decreeing that users must be silent everywhere — he said, essentially, “give ‘em what they want.” Even if “they” had no idea what it was.

PLAIn June, Bleiweis receives the Charlie Robinson Award. The Public Library Association honor goes to one innovative leader, risk taker or change agent each year.

“Having my name under his on that award is pretty amazing,” Bleiweis says.

It’s also fitting. For the past 17 years, she’s been a pretty amazing director of the Westport Library.

As she prepares to leave her post — she’s “retooling” (not “retiring”) as of July 1 — she spent time recently looking back on a career she’s embraced with a gusto that may once have seen out of place, back when librarians’ main job was to tell patrons “ssshhh…”

Her innovations — the basis of that Charlie Robinson Award — stem from her philosophy that a library should know what people need from it, even before those people know it themselves.

Everyone, she says, “has a need and a right to succeed at, and be validated by, this miraculous institution: the public library.”

Maxine Bleiweis

Maxine Bleiweis

To do that, she’s “taken herself out of” the building. That’s allowed her to reimagine what it could look like, unencumbered by preconceptions and conventions. It’s enabled her to advocate for, and introduce, not only the MakerSpace but advanced technology, TED Talks, wide-ranging programs and events that draw the community together. A true joy, she says, is “watching 8-year-olds and 80-year-olds exchange ideas and information.”

A library, according to Bleiweis, is no longer just a place to get reading material. Anyone can do that anywhere. It’s a place to “debate, discuss, discover.”

Among those most memorable debates: the night Westporter Phil Donahue showed a documentary he produced on the Iraq war. A fight nearly erupted, in the SRO crowd. Bleiweis — wedged against a wall — grew worried. Finally — “in his best talk show host voice” — Donahue defused tensions by saying, “I think this is the part of the program where we all hold songs and sing ‘Kumbaya.'”

An important discussion came soon after a disastrous, alcohol-fueled Staples Homecoming. The library provided a place — “outside of school,” Bleiweis notes — to share community concerns.

Teenagers feel welcome at the Westport Public Library.

Teenagers feel welcome at the Westport Library.

As for discovery, Bleiweis recalls a panel of pioneering feminists. “They were wonderful, but at the end they looked at the audience and said, ‘We’ve done our job. What about you?'”

On the spot, a group formed. Out of that meeting came a grant proposal for a program in which college women would mentor high school girls. In turn, they would mentor middle school girls.

What ideas did not work? Bleiweis can’t think of any — because that’s not the way she measures success.

“We’re always in beta test mode, always in tryouts,” she explains. “The library doesn’t really lead. It just provides fertile ground for people to grow things. Inviting in people is more important than making sure all our i’s are dotted and our t’s are crossed.”

One of the Westport library's new robots. (Photo/Danny Ghitis for the Wall Street Journal)

One of the Westport Library’s new robots. (Photo/Danny Ghitis for the Wall Street Journal)

But, the director notes, “the more this community realizes what a library can be, the more we’re struggling with a building that was not built to facilitate that.” She is proud of the innovative role the Westport Library has played, but knows it will be increasingly difficult to continue, given the constraints of the present building.

In every institution’s life, Bleiweis says, there are junctures where decisions will be made by the person who will be there to see them through. The Westport Library, she believes, is at one of those points.

She’s put forth her vision of what the facility should look like, and how it should function. But many more decisions must be made. And — based on the demographics of her staff — many hiring decisions lie ahead.

Those are part of the reasons behind her decision to step down now. Her personal life plays a role too. Bleiweis’ mother is 98; at the same time, Bleiweis is a new grandmother. “I need a bit of flexibility in my life,” she says.

As handsome as the Westport Library is, it was not built for 21st-century technology -- or the needs of 21st-century users.

As handsome as the Westport Library is, it was not built for 21st-century technology — or the needs of 21st-century users.

Asked what she would say to her successor, Bleiweis offers: “You’re absolutely blessed with the most vibrant, thinking community anywhere. Listen hard; the answers are within the conversations you’ll hear.”

In the 4 months before she leaves, there is still plenty of work to do — and energy to harness.

Plus, of course, there’s that Charlie Robinson Award to pick up. It’s presented at the American Library Association’s annual conference, in San Francisco. That’s the last week in June — which happens to be Maxine Bleiweis’ final week as director of the Westport Library.

Talk about a storybook ending!

Hey, Girlfriend!

Girls enjoy getting together to share stories, food and fun. That’s true whether the girls are 15 or 90 years old.

Or — in Westport — whether they’re 15 and 90.

Carolyn Malkin is midway between those ages. As a volunteer meal-deliverer for the Senior Center, she realized a lot of women live alone. They’re interesting, chatty and filled with amazing histories — but they didn’t always have a chance for social interaction.

Carolyn had a great relationship with her own grandmother, who lived to 99. But — as the mother of 2 girls — she knew a lot of teenagers in  Westport don’t have grandmas nearby.

Rita Adams (left) with Melony Malkin. (Photo/Carolyn Malkin)

Rita Adams (left) with Melony Malkin. (Photo/Grace Kosner)

Working with the Senior Center’s Sue Pfister; Human Services’ Barbara Butler and Sue Lebrija; Staples High School administrators John Dodig and Rich Franzis, and “younger seniors” Mary Maynard and Mildred Bunche, Carolyn created the Girlfriends Club. Pairs of high school girls spend an hour or so a week with a “girlfriend”: an older Westporter.

Last year, Carolyn’s senior daughter Melony and a few friends formed the first relationships.

This year, Carolyn’s sophomore daughter Sydney recruited her own friends. A couple of dozen more teenagers signed up. It’s unclear who has more fun: they, or their 80- and 9o-something girlfriends.

“This is not about teenagers visiting women who are helpless and lonely,” Carolyn emphasizes. “It’s a 2-way relationship. These are very lively, very lovely women. The girls adore them, and the feeling is mutual.”

Jo Woog -- my mother -- with girlfriends Lauren Stack and Sophie Epstein. (Photo/Susan Woog Wagner)

Jo Woog — my mother — with girlfriends Lauren Stack and Sophie Epstein. (Photo/Susan Woog Wagner)

Carolyn goes to the 1st meeting, introducing everyone and helping the conversation along. Very quickly, though, she’s not needed.

“Their relationship develops better without me,” she says.

Joyce Clarke is the oldest girlfriend. At 103, she didn’t know what she’d talk about. She hadn’t been around young people for a while. Quickly, Carolyn says, she learned they’re interested in the same things she was, years ago.

Sculptor Lucia White shows Grace Kosner around her studio. (Photo/Carolyn Malkin)

Photographer Lucia White shows Grace Kosner around her studio. (Photo/Carolyn Malkin)

Joyce is just one of the older girlfriends with remarkable lives. The women were business owners, artists and photographers. Rita Adams was a dancer and circus performer. “These are fun, vibrant people,” Carolyn emphasizes. “The girls fall in love with them. Having young blood is great, and the women have so much to give.”

The weekly meetings are fun. So too are get-togethers with the entire club.

At a Valentine’s party earlier this month, the group gathered at the Senior Center. Nothing was planned, beyond food and decorations. Soon, everyone was talking, laughing — even dancing. One woman and her girlfriends made up a dance. Once Rita joined in, everyone else did too.

“It was great to see so many smiles,” Carolyn says. “For the next party, we’ll get a DJ!”

Rita Adams (left) dances with Leah Fuld, at the Valentine's party. (Photo/Susan Woog Wagner)

Rita Adams (left) dances with Leah Fuld. (Photo/Susan Woog Wagner)

Grace Wynne, Rita Adams, Sydney Malkin and Shirley Mellor enjoy the Valentine's party. (Photo/Susan Woog Wagner)

Grace Wynne, Rita Adams, Sydney Malkin and Shirley Mellor enjoy the Valentine’s party. (Photo/Susan Woog Wagner)

Girlfriends of all ages get together at the Senior Center. (Photo/Susan Woog Wagner)

Girlfriends of all ages get together at the Senior Center. (Photo/Susan Woog Wagner)

Neighbors Help Neighborhood Studios

For a long time, Neighborhood Studios needed a good documentary film, to show to prospective donors and sponsors.

The weekend and summer music and arts program serves 1600 Bridgeport youngsters each year. It’s very effective — but low-key, and chronically underfunded. There was no way to find the thousands of dollars a film production would charge.

Harold Levine

Harold Levine

A few months ago, Westporter Harold Levine — the organization’s 93-year-old chairman emeritus, still very active after a long career as a storied ad agency owner — approached a former colleague.

Tony Degregorio is a noted adman himself — and a Westporter. He agreed to be creative supervisor of the film.

Levine then asked Jim Honeycutt, director of Staples High School’s Media Lab, for help finding students to collaborate. Senior Arin Meyer volunteered to shoot the film. Levine calls her “extraordinarily talented.”

Junior Daniel Pauker joined as production assistant.

Levine’s next call was to longtime friend Doris Jacoby. For decades, her Jacoby Storm company has produced documentaries for major corporations and non-profit clients. She too eagerly signed on.

Neighborhood Studios logoThe result — a volunteer effort by talented Westporters, to help boys and girls in nearby Bridgeport — premieres on Sunday, March 15 (7 p.m.) at the Westport Country Playhouse. The Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company will perform.

They’re not from Westport. But like Harold Levine, Tony Degregorio, Arin Meyer, Daniel Pauker and Doris Jacoby, they’re eager to help Neighborhood Schools — our Bridgeport neighbors just a few miles away.

(Tickets to the Neighborhood Studios gala are available here.)

Fairfield County Aid, From Near & Far

Connecticut leads the nation in income inequality. The top 1 percent of our residents earn average incomes more than 48 times those of the bottom 99 percent. In Fairfield County, the figures are undoubtedly even more skewed.

Quietly — but very effectively — Near & Far Aid helps those on the lowest rungs.

NearFar_logoSince 2000, the unassumingly named, all-volunteer organization has donated more than $14 million to men, women and children living in poverty right in our midst.

Grants go to services providing emergency food, shelter and clothing; economy security programs like job training, financial literacy and affordable housing, and of course education.

The funds come from neighbors who contribute generously — very generously. But raising money is never easy. With tremendous competition from many worthy groups for donations, Near & Far Aid works hard to solicit funds.

They’re helped greatly by the generosity of the Mitchells. The  family — who offer up their store for nearly every charity that asks — holds a special place in their hearts for Near & Far Aid. For 20 years, they’ve hosted an amazing Spring Gala.

Sara BareillesThis year’s event is Friday, March 6. The highlight: an intimate concert with 5-time Grammy nominee Sara Bareilles. There are also live, silent and fine wine auctions; a spring fashion show, plus cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and supper.

As usual, Bob Mitchell — co-CEO of Mitchells and Richards — will be a “silent” event chair. He lends support, ideas and resources, but takes no credit.

“We truly cherish our 20-year partnership with Near & Far Aid,” Mitchell says. “Our family shares the same mission to give back to the less fortunate, particularly here in our community. We are so excited for this year’s 20th anniversary. We’re confident it will raise a record amount of funds, bringing relief, assistance and hope to those living in poverty.”

The “wealth gap” in this area is enormous. The consequences are real.

But the opportunity to help is priceless.

(For information on Spring Gala tickets, or to volunteer or make a donation, click here.)

The Mitchell family

The Mitchell family


Public Works: Take A Bow!

Alert — and grateful — “06880” reader Hannah DeQuadros writes:

I’ve been thinking about all the snow we received this year, and what a great job the Public Works Department does plowing the streets in Westport. Two recent experiences brought home how fantastic they are.

Westport's Public Works guys, in action a few years ago. (Photo/Luke Hammerman for Inklings)

Westport’s Public Works guys, in action a few years ago. (Photo/Luke Hammerman for Inklings)

I was in Norwalk twice after snowfalls. I thought, “these roads are terrible!” Fairly main roads were not as well cleaned as my small one. I wondered if it was my imagination. But both times, once I crossed back into Westport, the roads were in much better condition.

I live at the end of a cul-de-sac. The plows do an excellent job clearing the circle. There isn’t much space though, so a huge pile accumulates on our curb.

It doesn’t bother me. But we received a note from our mail carrier last week that he can’t get to the mailbox without getting out of his vehicle. He asked us to clear the way.

A shovel was useless on the massive, compacted pile of snow and ice. I called Public Works Monday morning, wondering about a solution. I reiterated that the guys do an outstanding job plowing; I just had to contend with the letter carrier.

On Tuesday morning, a plow and backhoe loader came to clear the pile. Problem solved!

While we wait for warmer weather, we should all give big thanks to the guys who work long shifts, in dreadful conditions, keeping our roads clear. They do an outstanding job!

The snow AFTER it was removed by a Public Works crew. The pile once stood 8 feet tall.

The snow AFTER a Public Works crew came through. The pile once stood 8 feet tall.

Tony Banbury: Report From UN’s Ebola Emergency Mission

On September 8, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon gave Tony Banbury his new assignment: heading up the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency  Response.

The deadly disease was ravaging 3 countries in Africa — and sowing terror as far away as the US.

Tony Banbury

Tony Banbury (Photo/Simon Ruf for the UN)

Banbury never hesitated. The Westport resident — whose day job is assistant secretary-general for field support — had been dispatched to hot spots before. He dealt with the Haiti earthquake, conflict in the Central African Republic, and the prohibition of chemical weapons in Syria.

But this crisis was different. He had to convince a staff to follow him to a continent where a deadly epidemic raged — with no end in sight.

Over the weekend in Westport, he wrote up an action plan. More than 130 countries sponsored the resolution — a record.

“We went from mission conception to mission establishment in 6 days,” Banbury says proudly. “The UN never works that quickly.”

He flew to Africa. With a staff of “young hard-chargers,” he set up headquarters in Accra, Ghana. He worked up to 16 hours every day — literally, with no day off — for the next 4 months.

Tony Banbury, with government and military officials in Guinea.

Tony Banbury, with government and military officials in Guinea. (Photo/Ari Gaitanis for the UN)

“The UN had never had an emergency health commission,” Banbury says. His group worked on multiple levels. The epidemic involved medical, political, social and humanitarian dimensions.

Usually, a UN group would gather information, assess and analyze it, create a plan, deploy personnel and equipment, then become operational. The process takes months.

Banbury’s group did all that simultaneously. The Secretary-General wanted action. They acted.

In Accra, Banbury created a command-and-control structure. He tackled tough issues, made hard decisions, negotiated with high-level diplomats.

Tony Banbury with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. She is the president of Liberia, and a Nobel Peace Prize winner.

Tony Banbury with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. She is the president of Liberia, and a Nobel Peace Prize winner. (Photo/Ari Gaitanis for the UN)

He spent plenty of time in planes and helicopters, too. During 6 tours of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone he met with presidents; representatives of organizations like Doctors Without Borders, UNICEF, WHO and USAID; and ordinary citizens. Taxi drivers, for example, drive sick people around — and have an enormous impact on the ground.

Banbury also toured treatment centers and command posts.

All international crises share  certain elements — an urgency to achieve results, and unexpected complications.

But, Banbury says, this experience was much different from all others. Though Haiti’s death toll of 230,000 far surpassed that of Ebola, conditions following the earthquake “got better every day. The damage was already done.”

In Africa, Banbury explains, “it was so hard to understand where the disease was, or figure out infection rates. For a couple of months, each day was worse than the one before. And we knew that would continue for a while.”

A 10-year-old survivor, and Tony Banbury.

A 10-year-old survivor, and Tony Banbury. (Photo/Martine Perret for the UN)

In addition to isolating patients and finding the proper people, equipment and sites to bury the dead, Banbury’s group had to halt, then turn around numbers that rose exponentially.

“That was very hard to do,” he conceded. “But we set ambitions targets.” Thanks to his work, and a global response — including support from NGOs, governments, the US military and the UN — they succeeded.

Banbury’s assignment was supposed to end in December. But he remained in Africa over the holidays, because he wanted to set a good example for all those he had encouraged to join him.

Tony Banbury calls this the toughest moment of his 4 months in Africa. The Sierre Leone graveyard included the names of ages of Ebola victims -- and one freshly dug plot, awaiting the disease's latest casualty. (Photo/Ari Gaitanis for the UN)

Tony Banbury calls this the toughest moment of his 4 months in Africa. The Sierra Leone graveyard was filled with Ebola victims — and one freshly dug plot, awaiting the disease’s latest casualty. (Photo/Ari Gaitanis for the UN)

He knew — based on news reports from Texas and New York — that some people would fear him when he returned. He called the Connecticut Department of Public Health, Westport Weston Health District and Westport Board of Education (3 of his 4 children are still in local schools).

All provided excellent support. He took his temperature twice a day, for 21 days, and reported the results. He was symptom-free.

“It’s nice to be back,” Banbury says. It was tough missing Christmas with his family, but he’s had time to sleep, read and decompress. There was praise from his UN colleagues.

Still, Banbury confesses to mixed emotions. Eradication of Ebola is unfinished. But numbers of infections and deaths continue to fall. Today, they’re at their lowest rate since last June.

Now, Banbury is back at his regular job. He spends his days worrying about Mali, South Sudan, Iraq and Boko Haram.

Unfortunately, the work of the UN assistant secretary-general for field support never ends.

Fortunately, Tony Banbury is that man.

Click below for an interview with Tony Banbury, from the Center for Strategic & International Studies.





Chamber Seeks That “Special Shot”

After I posted a slew of gorgeous weather-related photos recently on “06880,” several readers floated the idea of producing a book filled with Westport scenes.

I will add that to my to-do list, because I definitely need another project*. But until I get to it**, here’s an idea for everyone who has ever taken a Westport photo:

The current Chamber of Commerce guide is 5 years old.

The current Chamber of Commerce guide is 5 years old.

The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce is looking for a cover photo for its new Membership/Visitor’s Guide.

Inside will be an upgraded pull-out map, a focus on our ever-changing restaurant scene, and a section highlighting the arts.

The cover — well, that’s up to you.

The Chamber wants “that special shot that represents the best of our town.” The winner — selected by the Chamber’s board of directors — will also grace the front of the map, to be distributed both with and without the guide.

Runner-up photos will be used throughout the guide. Submissions can be emailed to: (subject line: “Photo contest”). The deadline is February 15.

I know “06880” readers have plenty of fantastic photos to submit. Though I’m not sure the Chamber is looking for any of this type, which also define our town:

Stop and Shop parking

* Like President Obama needs another Republican in Congress.
** In 2027

Living Proof: CPR Saves Lives

The life-saving rescue happened last spring. The Red Cross honored the life-savers last week. But good news never gets old.

On May 31, Joey Bairaktaris and David Ellis were working the main gate at Compo Beach. Walking across the basketball court, Joey saw security guard Doc Kashka. They chatted briefly. (If you know Doc — a popular figure from his work at many local restaurants — it’s no surprise that he stopped to talk.)

Joey headed to the marina. A woman ran by, to the basketball court. He followed, and found Doc lying on the ground.

Ian Chasnow — another town employee — was already giving Doc chest compressions. Joey — who had recently completed EMT training — helped. David called 911, and also assisted with CPR. When emergency responders arrived with an AED, they took over.

Doc spent 6 nights in intensive care. Today, he’s alive and well.

Joey Bairaktaris (left) and David Ellis (center) with Doc Kashka, at the recent Red Cross awards ceremony. Joey holds a certificate from Governor Malloy. (Photo/Jaime Bairaktaris, via Instagram)

Joey Bairaktaris (left) and David Ellis (center) with Doc Kashka, at the recent Red Cross awards ceremony. Joey holds a certificate from Governor Malloy. (Photo/Jaime Bairaktaris, via Instagram)

Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe cited the group’s “extraordinary composure,” along with their swift, professional actions. He said that their “high level of excellence” made Westport “forever grateful.”

The Red Cross added their own thanks. At the 16th annual county-wide Community Heroes Breakfast, Ian, David and Joey were honored as “Life Saving Heroes.”

In the right place at the right time, they were just what the “Doc”-tor ordered.