Westport supports 2 Rotary Clubs, and 1 Kiwanis Club. Scores of volunteers dedicate countless hours to projects that help people locally, in the US and abroad.
Yet they’re not the only national service organizations in town.
The Exchange Club is less well known. Right now, there are only a few members. But they’re making a mark in Westport too.
Nationwide, Exchange boasts nearly 800 clubs, with 25,000 members. The first club dates back to 1911.
John Solder — a 20-year resident of Westporter who commutes to New York for a tech company, coaches youth lacrosse and works with Staples High School’s robotics team — started the local Exchange branch last summer. His grandfather, father and brother were all involved with clubs elsewhere.
He likes the apolitical, non-denominational club’s 3 tenets: country, community and family. He sees the opportunity to raise funds and help Westport institutions like the Gillespie Center and Senior Center.
Exchange Club is different from Rotary and Kiwanis, he says, because those other organizations are international. Exchange focuses only on the US.
Meetings are held on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of every month (7 p.m., 323 restaurant). The group spent time looking for a signature event — an Exchange version of Rotary’s Great Duck Race or Lobsterfest.
Now they’ve got one.
“Everyone dresses up for Halloween,” Solder says. “But who dresses up their dog?”
The result is Woofoween. The Halloween pet costume party is set for Sunday, October 28 (9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Compo Beach; parade starts at 11).
Families can dress up too, of course. The Fire Department will be there with a rescue vehicle. Police may have a K9 exhibit. Pet groomers and mobile veterinarians will also be on hand.
“Be creative!” Solder urges for dog costumes. Celebrity judges will award prizes.
Happy Woofoween. And remember: It’s October. Dogs are welcome at Compo!
(Humans go free. Register your pet: $20 in advance, through Westport Exchange Club on Facebook; $25 at the gate. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org)