“In this season of giving,” an alert “06880” reader wrote, “you should highlight Dolores Bacharach.”
Dolores — known to her many friends and fans as “Do” — is indeed a perfect exemplar of a Westporter who gives. And gives. And gives some more.
And has done so ever since she moved to Westport, half a century ago.
So, in terms of a column on Do: done.
Now in her mid-80s, Do has not stopped serving the town.
“Her energy is awesome,” the reader who suggested a profile — Nick Thiemann — wrote. “It would be impressive in a 20-year-old. And she has a grand sense of humor.”
As a member of the original Commission for the Elderly — now called the Commission for Senior Services — Do started the “We Do Walkways” program, through which middle and high school students provide raking and shoveling services to older citizens.
“She has a generous spirit,” praises human services director Barbara Butler. “There’s always a smile on her face. And she’s a lot of fun to work with.”
Rev. Tom Thorne has been Assumption Church‘s pastor for nearly 13 years. That’s a quarter of the time Do has spent in Westport, but he knows she and her family have been “genuine pillars of the parish.”
Through the Social Concerns Ministry she ministers to people in need — those who are poor, hungry, without transportation or clothing, cold, lonely or homebound. Through events, opportunities and awareness, she helps the entire parish participate in supporting, helping and loving the marginalized.
A daily communicant, she is present at the 7:30 a.m. mass every Monday through Saturday. She also serves as a eucharistic minister.
Do is the parish representative on the Westport-Weston Interfaith Council. “She has left a loving mark within the parish, and the Westport and wider community,” Father Tom says.
“She is truly a woman of faith who is open, inclusive, in possession of great dignity and authenticity.”
Nearing her 9th decade, Do cooks each week at the Gillespie Center. Homelessness has long been a concern of Do and her family. The Bacharach Community — 3 houses on Wassell Lane run by Homes With Hope that serve as emergency housing for women and children — is named for them.
I have known the Bacharachs ever since my own high school days. I served with her late husband Jim on the original Youth-Adult Council. I was there when the Bacharachs were driving forces behind the Intercommunity Camp — an innovative summer program drawing children from Westport, Weston, Norwalk and Bridgeport together for summers of fun and self-discovery.
I was privileged to join Jim, Do and their 5 children — all of whom carry on their parents’ legacy of service to others — in annual Christmas carol sings at their Stony Brook Road home. Each one was filled with the joy of being together with others who value community and action — along with plenty of laughter and love.
“Do makes Assumption and Westport holy,” Father Tom says of Dolores Bacharach.
And, I’d add, she is an unsung hero who makes Westport “Westport.”