LymanAID Lifts Westport’s Sister City

The final tally is not yet in.

But yesterday’s LymanAID townwide event raised deep into five figures for Westport’s sister city in Ukraine.

It was a chance to honor all who donated last winter, helping supply Lyman with building materials, communication equipment, home generators, bulletproof vests, police and trash vehicles, meals and Christmas gifts.

It came at a crucial time. Just 24 hours before crowds arrived at Southport’s Ukrainian-American Club, Russian artillery killed 8 civilians and injured 11 others, on the streets of Lyman.

First Selectwoman Jen Tooker and Police Chief Foti Koskinas — who walked those same streets 7 weeks ago — were shaken by the news, and the photos their counterparts sent after the attack.

Tooker, and speakers including Senator Richard Blumenthal and Congressman  Jim Himes, congratulated the large crowd for their concern (and donations). Blumenthal spoke particularly strongly, denouncing Russian President Vladimir Putin as a “murderous war criminal thug.”

He also noted the importance of bipartisan support for Ukraine, adding that he spoke with Senator Lindsay Graham about that subject, in the parking lot while walking to LymanAID.

Several young Ukrainian children sang their national anthem. Blumenthal compared them to youngsters “climbing through the rubble, or in makeshift hospitals.”

Senator Richard Blumenthal (far left), with Ukrainian children and national anthem singer Olichka.

In a video recorded just hours after yesterday’s attack, Lyman Mayor Aleksander Zhuravlov described the scene in his town. He thanked Westport for its efforts to help.

The mayor’s words inspired one attended to offer — on the spot — to match all donations up to $15,000. A stream of people headed to the donors’ tent.

Lyman Mayor Aleksander Zhuravlov sent a video message, just hours after 8 residents of his town were killed by Russian artillery.

There was plenty to do, for all ages. The Mike McGovern Band played, and a Ukrainian singer from Hartford sang her country’s songs.

Booths offered free chili, chicken, burgers, hot dogs and pizza. Children had their own entertainment center.

Writing messages for Ukraine, at the kids’ center.

Organizers estimated that 500 people attended the afternoon-long event.

Meanwhile — thanks to the herculean organizational efforts of Connie Belta (who underwrote most of the event herself), and dozens of volunteers — there were many opportunities to give to Ukraine Aid International, the non-profit started by Westporters Brian and Marshall Mayer.

Connie Belta. A force of nature, she organized the entire LymanAID.

For $10, attendees could buy a pair of handmade socks, then write a personal message that would be delivered along with the socks.

For $20, anyone could buy a wrapped (surprise!) coffee table book.

Mark Yurkiw organized an art sale, including postcards with special Ukrainian stamps.

On Saturday Night, Aztec Two-Step (aka Dodie Pettit and Rex Fowler) played a sold-out show at the Levitt Pavilion. Yesterday afternoon, they headed to LymanAID.

There were planters of wheatgrass (Ukraine is one of the world’s leading wheat growers), quilts in a variety of designs, dozens of raffles (including donations from Westport’s other sister city of Marigny, France), and hundreds of “treasures,” all for sale.

And, of course, $10 bought a bottomless amount of “LymanADE.”

(LymanAID is over. But donations through Ukrainian Aid International are still welcome. Click here to help. Under “Designation,” click the dropdown menu and select “Westport — Lyman Sister City.”)

Enjoying LymanAID (from left): Fairfield 1st Selectwoman Brenda Kupchick; Weston 1st Selectwoman Sam Nestor; Easton 1st Selectman David Bindelglass; Senator Richard Blumenthal; Ukraine Aid International co-founders Marshall and Brian Mayer; Westport 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker; USA4UKR founder and president Olga Litvinenko; Westport Police Chief Foti Koskinas; Ridgefield Responds chair Annetta Hewko. (Photo/Dick Kalt)

Marshall and Brian Mayer, co-founders of Ukraine Aid International.

From left: Senator Richard Blumenthal, Reverend Aleksander of Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Bridgeport, Fairfield 1st Selectwoman Brenda Kupchick. (All photos/Dan Woog unless otherwise noted)

48 responses to “LymanAID Lifts Westport’s Sister City

  1. I’ve know Connie Belta since 1952 and it does not surprise me that she was an organizing force behind LymanAID. She is a very giving person. I’ve witnessed first hand her compassionate giving down in Florida.

  2. Now more than ever, it’s now or never!
    Sen. Blumenthal called out Putin for what he is.
    The good people of Ukraine only want what we want…
    “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”
    With Gratitude & Appreciation- Thank you Westport
    Slava Ukraini!

  3. The ‘sold out” ATS show at the Levitt was actually free. But hey….

  4. Glad it went well.

  5. The goal of the event was to support human beings who are suffering.

  6. Eric Buchroeder

    I wonder if there’s enough free beer/wine left over to throw a “LymanAde The Crumbs” event for Bridgeport? The goal of the event could be to support human beings who are suffering.

    • Hundreds of Westporters volunteer time and energy, and donate funds, for a variety of efforts in Bridgeport – and they’ve done it since long before the Intercommunity Camp days when we were teenagers, Eric.

      Mercy Learning Center, Neighborhood Studios, Cesar Batalla School, Waltersville School, Bridgeport Pivot Ministries, and many other foundations, organizations and groups have been helped by the efforts of generous Westporters, who in turn have been enriched by the friendships formed. “06880” reports on these efforts often.

      There are many ways to help people. Westporters are free to choose whichever method they wish. Many, of course, support more than one.

      Eric, what are your favorite organizations and charities? Where do you spend your time and energy helping others. Let us know. I’m sure there are Westporters who want to support your efforts too.

      • Eric Buchroeder

        I don’t know. So many to list. Expanding drag show outreach to every child, rescuing defunct summer stock venues and turning ostentatious private gardens into public sinkholes seem to be where the need is most urgent.

      • Carl Addison Swanson, Wrecker, '66.

        What do you do Dan? I counsel post-911 VETS on legal issues pro bono. I applaud Ms.Belta on her aid agenda but there are 635K homeless in this country, many VETS, and that is where my check goes. Semper Fi!

        • Thanks for your efforts on behalf of homeless vets, Carl. It is a HUGE problem, and I know you have helped countless ones with your pro bono help.

          Every person makes personal decisions about how to help. We all have causes that are important to us. Some give a lot of money to a few; some give a bit to a lot. Every little bit helps.

          As for me, I have a list of about 20 organizations. The ones I give the most to (in terms of helping people who need it) are Homes With Hope, A Better Chance of Westport, and Staples Tuition Grants. And, yes, Ukraine Aid International.

          I also try to do as much as I can to publicize the efforts of organizations like Mercy Learning Center, AWARE, and many others that — in different and unique ways — focus on various aspects of education, empowerment, providing resources, etc.

          I am also a major donor to, and am vice chair of, PROUD Academy. It is a private school for LGBTQ youth who — because of bullying, administrative indifference or other reasons — cannot make it in their own schools. We plan to open this fall in Ansonia; it will be the 5th school for LGBTQ kids in the country. It’s very exciting. Some parents have told us it will be life-saving for their children.

          I am not posting this to pat myself on the back. Many Westporters do far more than I do. Whatever your concerns — veterans, women, abused kids, abused animals, immigrants, incarcerated people, victims of gun violence, victims of domestic violence, the elderly, homeless people — I tip my hat to all who help.

          None of us can do everything. All of us can do something. Thanks, Carl, for giving me a chance to encourage everyone to help others.

          • Carl Addison Swanson, Wrecker, '66.

            No, you deserve a pat on the back. I wish I had more time to do more but still working to being able to live here. That is becoming an issue for many of us old farts.

            • Carl, first, kudos on your pro bono efforts with vets. That is obviously important work.

              Re Dan: putting aside his donations to various groups, I had assumed you knew about his important work in terms of the time and energy devoted to 1) addressing homophobia in the world of sports and 2) creating greater understanding/acceptance in high school communities through the creation of groups such as gay-straight alliances.

              One person years ago described Dan as sort of a gay Jackie Robinson for all he has done in the world of sports through books he has written, panel discussions he has led, speaking engagements, etc along with the fact that he was one of the first openly gay coaches in the country when he came out in 1994.

              Obviously there are a lot of people in Westport who have contributed in a variety of ways to a number of good causes. But, of the charitable work done by the people I knew growing up and in college, I think Dan’s efforts have been probably the most significant in helping make the world a better place.

  7. I think Fred should concentrate on how Westport is reaching out to help those who are suffering. Also, let me remind Fred that Trump’s father paid off a podiatrist to lie and claim Trump had bone spurs, so he could escape military service! Daddy made sure little Donny didn’t have to go to war. The podiatrist’s daughter confirmed this event!

  8. I wonder if the attack on Lyman on basically the same day as the Lymanaid party was a coincidence? Perhaps the public appearances, lectures,q and a’s etc. should be toned down. I don’t really believe in coincidences..

  9. Andrew Colabella

    It was an amazing event with so many stakeholders who put a lot of time and effort to generate funds for those being terrorized, literally, terrorized by a sadistic dictator with the goal to wipe out any and all individuals that are Ukrainian.

    The amazing food from Belta’s Farm to food trucks that donated their time and energy and the massive donations from those who attended to anonymous massive donors was overwhelming and nice.

  10. Spot on Andrew Colabella! Congratulations to everyone involved and a special shout-out to Connie Belta! Putin is the Adolf Hitler of our time, and we need to do everything possible to help the Ukrainians.

    • Dermot Meuchner

      Putin is Hitler you say? Well ol’ Vlad will need years to come close to George Bush and company in needless deaths. And once again Godwins Law is in effect Jack.

    • Eric Buchroeder

      The Dude Abides and The Ironies Abound (especially in Westport)

  11. Carl Addison Swanson, Wrecker, '66.

    To compare Adolf Hitler with an American President is unconscionable and that comment should be deleted. I know W, my daughter went to Prep School with his twins in Dallas. W is a moron but one of the nicest guys to be around. But to see such filth in print makes me ill.

    • Carl, If you’re labeling W a moran, what adjective would you use to define Lauren Boebert? W went to Yale; Boebert was a high school dropout.

      • Carl Addison Swanson, Wrecker, '66.

        I have not met Ms. Boebert but my son dropped out of high school and is now a surgeon. And in W’s day, if your Papa went to Yale, you were in and even ’41 couldn’t get W into UT law school and thus, the Harvard MBA. ’43 is a super family man, fun guy and I would imagine a very fun drunk in his day but he is not Presidential material. Big Dick had him wrapped around his finger until Condi stepped in. But did you mean “moran?” No, W is not a moran.

        • Eric Buchroeder

          CAS, I have a buddy in Austin (SHS ‘70) who used to go to the same dentist as W. Now his teeth are falling out.

          • Carl Addison Swanson, Wrecker, '66.

            W was a very good Governor because he let the Lt. Governor, a Democrat, run the state. But with Ann Richards farewell, the state went Red, big time. Rather sad for many of us Yankees who went down to Texas in the 70’s to work the oil patch. Houston remains very liberal, thankfully. Dell ruining Austin.

        • Not only did she drop out of high school, but collected welfare and is a grandmother at age 36 and married a flasher who spent time in jail and was on probation!

          • Allie Clemmons

            Not every 49 y.o. Prez has the benefit of being serviced by a 22 y.o. intern. Right Jack? Or do you just hate Republicans, women, or Republican women?. Either way there’s a word thrown around that describes men like you, misogynistic or something like that?

            • Allie, I have no idea what you’re talking about. I criticized Lauren Boebert and you came to the conclusion that I hate Republican women? Or I hate all women? Really.. I hate ALL women because I criticized Boebert? Google what MTG said to her the other day.

        • Check out Bill Kristol’s tweet about Lauren Boebert!

        • Some times I misspell words. It’s an old habit from my 1959-1961 Long Lots days!

  12. Eric Buchroeder

    Let’s scale back the use of the term “moron.” It’s considered by some in the special needs community to be right up there with the N-Word. If you want to attack W, call him what he is: A spoiled son with an Oedipus complex. Same goes for Hunter. Only difference is W laid off the drugs while he was on active duty. Personally, I think the cocaine they turned up was probably left there by the Clintons and they’re just getting around to fumigating the WH.

  13. Eric Buchroeder

    I think what this country needs is a few more drag shows. Kind of a drag when your baby don’t love you kind of a drag when you know she’s been untrue. Listen to what I’ve gotta say girl I love you I’ll always love you any waaaaay any waaaay!!! Quick!!! what song did those lyrics come from and did they or did they not play at Staples?

  14. Connie, I apologize for distracting from your story about helping the Ukrainians. I got way off the topic!

    • Eric “Me2” Buchroeder GFS ‘57-‘62

      At least you admitted it Jack!!!! Thanks for setting an example for all the other lost Westporters. Keep up with the 12 Step Program.

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