As Westport celebrates Valentine’s Day, “06880” reader Allyson Maida writes:
On that recent 6-degree day, 3 of us met to discuss business over an iced tea. After a while, our talk turned to living in Westport.
One person has lived here for over 30 years. She reflected on her post-corporate home-based entrepreneurial efforts. It led to meeting wonderful people, many of whom became friends. She spoke about community-based activities. We smiled, nodding as we thought of all the good that has been done within this 22.4-square mile town.
A defining moment to move our young family to Westport happened one summer night. In Westport visiting my cousin, we decided to drive to Main Street. As we turned from the Post Road, we saw a teenager on his skateboard zigzagging down the center of the straightaway.
Music filled the air, as a band played on Onion Alley’s roof. The skateboarder stopped to speak with a man who stood by his parked car. This was a Rockwell moment.
The newer resident spoke of moving here a few years ago, to join her daughter’s family and continue her healthcare practice. She talked about her transition into town, how her career has continued to thrive as she interacts with community members who are considerate and kind. She smiled, sharing stories of the good people she has encountered and her volunteerism within her house of worship, of which she is extremely proud.
Our discussion was not unique. However, I realized that these types of talks often lead to the same place. Speaking about experiences in Westport often includes a sense of connectedness.
This is not to suggest that Westport is perfect, or the lone holder of this characteristic. But these thoughtful conversations frequently veer toward sharing information about people helping people, people doing good for others, community-minded businesses, nonprofit efforts, local business with engaging owners/employees, community changes over time, and how Westport’s history is the underpinning of that which makes this little town profoundly great.
The root of amorous, chocolate-covered Valentine’s Day is actually the commemoration of those who had done good works.
It is no different than any other commemorative holiday, except that in the evolution of this annual celebration, we may have missed the point. According to historians, up to 3 priests named Valentine (Valentinus) offended nobility and Roman penal codes as they acted on behalf of others who were vulnerable. All were in ministry (also referred to as community service). In helping others, they were executed, in different years — but all on February 14, now known as Valentine’s Day.
Overall, this town has maintained its sense of goodwill and community concern. There are diverse interests, and activities that reach out to every social issue. We have a bridge that hosts world peace and international understanding efforts. Civil rights chants are heard there, while nearby knitted scarf-bombed trees extend anonymous gifts of warmth to those who are cold.
We have concerts and dancing, dog parades, art shows, rubber ducky races and individual initiatives designed to make someone else feel good. We raise awareness and funds to help support those at home and abroad. We sew and donate heart-shaped pillows for patients who suffer. We pack resident-donated trailers with supplies when another state falls victim to a storm, and we celebrate one child who insists on giving the contents of their piggy bank to another who needs school supplies.
All of this barely scrapes Westport’s surface.
Take a moment to think about all that happens within our small community. Opportunity is not arbitrary. It is deliberate. There is an expectation that this town will bring the best to its residents and visitors.
That comes from somewhere. From those who settled here in the 1600s to those who live and work here now, each person has added to this community in a way that has affected someone else.
So, to each of you, near and far, who are a part of the heart of Westport: Happy Valentine’s Day!
(This post is adapted from a story Allyson originally wrote for her blog. Click here for that version.)