It takes a village.
And two villages — Westport and Lyman, Ukraine — are indebted to an amazing villager, Connie Belta.
These days, Connie splits her time between Fairfield and Florida. But she was a longtime Westporter. For decades, she and her family ran the legendary Belta’s Farm (and farm stand) on Bayberry Lane.
Though not Ukrainian, she’s also a longtime member of Southport’s Ukrainian-American Club.
She was away last winter, when Westport adopted Lyman as a sister city, and raised over $250,000 to help pay for building materials, generators, communications equipment, police and garbage trucks, bulletproof vests, meals and more.
So this spring, she offered to organize a thank-you party for all those who helped.
And to raise even more money.
Connie Belta, at LymanAID. (Photo/Dan Woog)
“LymanAID” — last Sunday’s town-wide event — was special. There were free drinks, food, music and kids’ activities. Senator Richard Blumenthal, Congressman Jim Himes and area selectmen offered heartfelt speeches.
And there was an array of creative ways to donate to Lyman. The money is more important than ever. Just 24 hours earlier, a Russian attack left 8 residents killed, and 11 injured. All were civilians.
It took a ton of volunteers to make LymanAID a reality. Connie recruited and inspired them all. Then, she put them to work.
The day included a giant raffle, a book pull, treasure hunt, sales of art and wheatgrass, and much, much more.
Oh, yeah: Connie underwrote it all.
Her brothers and their families, the Ukrainian-American Club, Ukraine Aide International, Mark Yurkiw, Steve Taranko, Sam Rossoni and so many others contributed to LymanAID’s remarkable success.
But Connie Belta was the heart and soul of it all. Everyone else followed her vision, and stood on her shoulders.
Congratulations, Connie, for being this week’s Unsung Hero. The entire villages of Westport and Lyman thank you!
(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.”)
(Do you know an Unsung Hero? Email nominations: email@example.com.)