I’ve been writing a lot of “Remembering…” posts lately.
In just 3 months, Westport has lost many memorable residents. Doris Jacoby, Lee Greenberg, Shirley Mellor, Jack Shiller, Joan McCarthy, Gloria Cole Sugarman, Matt Johnson … they and several other notable men and women died.
They left lasting imprints on our town. The arts, recreation, religion, medicine, human rights, youth activities — no part of Westport life was untouched by their efforts and energy.
Some of their contributions were professional. Much of it was volunteer work. All of it made our town a better place.
Many of those men and women were longtime Westporters. They were active into their 80s, 90s, even (Lee Greenberg) their 100s.
But they began when they were in their 30s and 40s,
Now it’s time for a new generation to take their place.
Specifically, all you newcomers.
The past year has seen an influx of arrivals unrivaled since the 1950s. The impetus then was the post-war baby boom. Today, it’s a global pandemic.
But the opportunity is the same: a chance to make a mark on your community.
You chose this place over others for reasons — the schools perhaps, or the beaches, Longshore, the Library, the arts, the restaurants, the sense you got that people here really care about the environment, social justice and neighbors in need.
Whatever those reasons, they are part of something bigger: community. You got the sense that Westport is more than just a collection of nice homes in a beautiful setting.
You understood, perhaps without realizing it, that Westport is a place where people get involved.
None of the many parts that make up Westport happened because they were destined to. They exist because people made them happen.
And they will continue to exist because — and only if — other people take up the cause.
We have Longshore because a group of officials — elected and volunteer — had the foresight to buy a failing country club moments before a developer snatched the land to build 180 homes.
We have an outstanding school system because we support it. With our tax dollars, sure — but also with countless volunteers, who give untold hours to every aspect of it.
We have music and arts and civic organizations and sustainable agriculture and sports teams and a remarkable Remarkable Theater and a ride-on-demand program for the same reason.
People had a vision. People cared. People acted.
Now it’s the newcomers’ turn. Every group in town needs help.
We need you because you are smart. You are energetic. You are motivated. You are young.
First, we need you to step up. Then we need you to take over.
Whatever your interest, there is a spot for you.
The Westport Young Woman’s League. The Westport Woman’s Club. AWARE.
Earthplace. Wakeman Town Farm. Friends of Sherwood Island. Aspetuck Land Trust.
Boy Scouts. Girl Scouts.
The Westport Arts Advisory Committee. Westport Permanent Art Collections. MoCA Westport. The Westport Country Playhouse.
Westport PAL. Westport Soccer Association. Westport Baseball and Softball. Any other sport you can think of.
The Westport Weston Family YMCA. The Senior Center.
PTAs. The Westport Library. The Maker Faire.
The Democratic Party. The Republican Party. The League of Women Voters. The Representative Town Meeting. Every board and commission in town.
You can’t do it all. You can’t do it alone.
But if you pick one or two areas of interest — and every other newcomer does the same — then we’ll have enough volunteer man and womanpower to propel this place to unfathomable heights.
And 40 years from now, whoever is writing the 2061 version of “06880” will remember your legacy too.