If you want to donate money to good causes, Westport is not exactly a wasteland.
Organizations like the Y, ABC House, Staples Tuition Grants, Project Return and Al’s Angels — to name a very, very few — are all in the midst of raising funds.
Add to that the many smaller drives, with more specific goals. At a time of tighter public funding, for instance, sports groups solicit for projects that back in the day might have been covered by tax dollars.
The golf halfway house at Longshore is one example. Lights and a new concession stand at the Staples football field is another.
With so many worthy hands out, it might be daunting for a newcomer to enter the fray.
A group of softball parents thought long and hard about the odds they faced — and how they’d go about it. But the need for a new varsity diamond, closer to Staples than the current home at Green’s Farms Elementary School, overrode their concerns about asking the public for funds.
The plan is to renovate a softball field at Wakeman, making it “varsity worthy,” and spiff up the existing JV field in a corner of Staples too. The cost is $75,000 — far less than the lights or halfway house, but hardly chump change.
The softball folks did their due diligence. Their campaign offers a lesson in proceeding with foresight, insight and creativity.
They enlisted not only current softball parents, but those of younger players who will one day benefit from improved facilities.
They sought input from groups that recently raised funds — for example, the soccer and baseball boosters who put in new seating at Staples.
They picked a clever name: “Got Field?”
They planned a wine-tasting fundraiser and auction at the Beach Gallery & Café wine bar in Norwalk — not a unique event, but one they pulled off with class.
They wanted to convey a sense of civility and community. They hoped to engage parents, neighbors and other athletic groups, and they worked hard to do it.
Though softball is a well-known sport, its Westport profile is low. The “Got Field?” folks figured that an intense campaign would not serve them well. They believed that once they convinced the town and approval boards that the project was worth their time and support, fundraising would follow.
After the Beach Gallery event, they’re halfway to their goal. They’re betting their low-key, hard-work, engage-the-community approach will help raise the rest.
Staples softball is heading into the “home” stretch.