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Police Investigating Deaths In Home

The Westport Police Department says:

At approximately 4 p.m. today (Thursday, June 17), the Westport Police Department, Westport Emergency Medical Services and Westport Fire Department responded to a home in Westport on a report of an unresponsive female.

Upon arrival, an adult female was located inside the home, and it was determined that she was deceased. After finding the female, the officers went through the interior of the residence to determine if anyone else was inside.  It was at that time that officers located a 7-year-old child who was also deceased.

The Westport Police is in the beginning stages of this investigation, assisted by the State Police Major Crimes Unit.

This appears to be an isolated incident. We do not believe that there is any active threat to the community.

Paul Lane: “We Give You A Uniform To Look Uniform”

In 2005 I published a 400-page history of Staples High School. “120 Years of A+ Education” included interviews with many influential educators. 

One of the most interesting was Paul Lane. The legendary football, track and golf coach died Tuesday, at 93. Here’s my 2004 interview with him, conducted at his Soundview Drive home.

In 1954 I was working in my family’s leather tanning business. But as the business declined, I decided to go into coaching. It’s what I always wanted to do.

I took Bob Carmody’s place at Coleytown Elementary School. I met my wife Pat there.

In those days interscholastic athletics was hit or miss. In football you made up your own schedule. We’d play Darien and New Canaan twice in one year. We’d play Stonington – we went all over the state. And we hired our own officials – that did affect the game! We fired our officials too.

You didn’t get paid to coach in the ’50s. It was considered an honor, and we fought to coach. And Doc Beinfield, our team doctor from the ‘50s through the ‘80s – he did it for love, not money.

Paul Lane, 1957.

As a phys. ed. teacher, I took all the sophomores. I tested them in the quarter-mile one day, and the softball throw the next. Our program was geared to the philosophy that athletes should be discovered in gym class, so we trained in the fundamentals there – football, soccer, track, basketball, volleyball.

Albie Loeffler and I ran the intramural program at night. We refereed it too. Kids worked their way from gym to intramurals to interscholastic sports.

The girls had 6-person, half-court basketball, but it was definitely a boys’ world – a football and basketball world. Football had the edge, because it started off the year. We had pep rallies before games, and dances afterward. It really brought the kids together.

Cheerleading was a big deal too. The bleachers at Doubleday only held 200, so fans stood all around the field. We only had 18 or 22 kids in football, sometimes hardly enough to scrimmage. The kids went both ways.

The athletes were also in the choir and student government. A kid like Tommy Dublin – football, basketball, track, head of student government. No one told him he couldn’t do one thing because he was in the other. And the school was big then, too.

That was after we moved to North Avenue. We felt people cared about us; we were no longer in a dungeon. But that first year (1958-59), we still did sports at the old school on Riverside Avenue (now Saugatuck Elementary School). The football field on North Avenue had a huge drain in it – it was a mess – and the track was a big bucket that held water. It took 20 years to get it right.

At the same time, we changed from a single-wing football team to a T-Formation. The FCIAC (Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference) was being formed. Our schedules and officials were handed to us. And at that time, the school was growing by leaps and bounds.

At that time, I helped build the weightlifting program. Parents made the weight racks. They also built the press box, and donated the scoreboard and filming equipment. We formed a Gridiron Club, which met every Thursday night to look at film.

We had a great team in 1963. The number of transfers was phenomenal. It hit its peak in 1964. John Bolger went on to West Point, Buzz Leavitt to Wake Forest, and Bill During to Syracuse.

Steve Doig carries the football.

In the 1970s the phys. ed. department grew from Albie, me and Jinny Parker to 11 teachers. But in the ’60s gym was still a foundation for our sports program. We had boxing, wrestling, tumbling – to teach athletes how to fall – track and field, including high jump and pole vault, weightlifting – with demonstrations at halftime of basketball games, to “sell” it to parents – and a great touch football program.

But the high school just didn’t work. The environment was so disruptive. Still, we were always rated in the top 3 schools in the country. But from day one, the facility was horrible.

Stan (Lorenzen, the principal) had asked us about smoking. We had coaches smoking on the sideline. But we told Stan to start the new school clean. He said he’d try an experiment for a month. He created a smoking plaza, with a custodian to clean up after the kids. It took 30 years to get rid of that.

Paul Lane’s 1967 team won the FCIAC championship, in a memorable game. Stamford Catholic was riding high — and lost 8-0.

Before Staples was built on North Avenue, we put in for a fieldhouse. The only other one at the time was in Florida. But that one had a clay floor, and people were worried it would get tracked through the school, so they didn’t include it in the plans. The gym, the cafeteria and auditorium were all built for 1,200 kids. We blew past that number quickly, and it was not enlarged for years.

That was the era when we started recruiting coaches: George Wigton for basketball, Chuck Smith as a line coach from Ohio State – he started the wrestling program too – and Frank Henrick for baseball. They were good coaches, who could also teach.

During the drug era – the ’60s and ’70s – kids were told not to buy into “the system.” Well, to have a good team you have to buy into the Paul Lane, Albie Loeffler or Brian Kelley system. The kids with long hair were thumbing their noses at us. That was a horrible time to try to coach.

Some coaches just let them run wild. Some tried to oversell “values.” I said they could have their hair as long as they wanted, but it had to be in their helmet. It’s a team. We give you a uniform so you can look uniform. Some believed it, some didn’t.

We had kids pass out doing their physical fitness tests, from drugs. There were 2,000 kids in the school, and hundreds were on drugs. A certain number of adults liked that freedom of expression. We weren’t all on the same page at all times. The ability of teams went down, especially in the suburbs. City teams started beating us then. Bright suburban kids were reaching out for another world, but the city kids kept playing sports.

Paul Lane in 1969, with assistant coaches Saul Pollack and Dick Agness, and co-captains Dana Williams and Jono Walker.

Title IX – it was evident that girls were not being treated fairly in terms of the number of teams, things like that. By then Westport had come up with a complicated 10-point system for coaching pay. The girls’ coaches got less than the men – that was a time when all the athletic directors were men, many of them former football coaches.

Westport jumped on Title IX. They decided to equalize the numbers in gym classes, even though the law didn’t say they had to. We forced girls to play with boys, who didn’t want them and thought they weren’t capable. We cut out not only wrestling and boxing, but also Ann Rabesa’s, Judy Punshon’s and Jinny Parker’s fabulous tap dancing program. Boys’ and girls’ basketballs are different sizes, and the volleyball nets are different heights. So we started doing things in gym that had nothing to do with the sports we play. Boys used to run to phys. ed. class, because it was an outlet. Now they were going to play things like street hockey, but they couldn’t have physical contact.

The girls gained in basketball, but the boys stopped playing. It was a total waste of a gym period. We built big shower rooms, but no one sweated enough to use them.

But the good things – the FCIAC is a great league. It’s definitely improved the coaching. There’s been the introduction of soccer, hockey, skiing, lacrosse, wrestling, and about 10 girls sports. And there’s been the addition of junior varsity and freshman teams. And the facilities now – artificial turf, lights….

Paul Lane and assistant coach Earl Smith on the sidelines in 1977.

But the athletes haven’t changed. Sure, they know more now, because they see it on TV. The kids I coached in the ’50s, most of them hadn’t seen football. We had to teach them how to tackle and throw.

The best teams always stay together. They have reunions, and stay in touch. Success bonds them. That doesn’t change. There was no difference between my 1963 and ’75 teams. In the ’80s kids could throw and catch a little better, because of all the advantages they had, but a lot of success is the luck of who moves into town together.

One thing that was a real big blow for all sports was losing junior high interscholastics (when the 9th grade moved to Staples in 1983). That had been a real feeder program for us.

Let’s see – what else – well, uniforms in phys. ed. went out with the drug era. Gym classes became a lot less structured. They did away with mandatory showering. That was probably a bad policy; the lack of privacy was overdone.

The fieldhouse made a huge difference.

And I remember taking track teams to the Penn Relays and the New York Armory. That was tremendous for our kids. It’s probably the reason Laddie Lawrence is still involved in track!

Paul Lane, 1984.

Merchants Of Pride Promo Kicks Off

June is LGBTQ Pride Month.

And more than 2 dozen local stores, restaurants and services have signed on to a first-ever Pride promotion. Some offer discounts to customers; others are donating a portion of sales to Westport Pride, the new community LGBTQ group 

“Merchants of Pride” is available to everyone, of every conceivable sexuality. The only requirement is to have fun.

Amis TrattoriaPride dinner featuring 3 queer chefs (Jes Bengston, Amis; Emily Mingrone, Tavern on State; Ashley Flagg, Millwright’s); limited seating, reservations required.

AthletaShow Westport Pride promo on Instagram and get $15 off your purchase, through June.

Bespoke DesignsDonate 10% of sales from all stationery, through June.

CrossFit Westport$175 for 3 private on-ramp sessions, and 3 weeks of unlimited sessions, through June.

Don MemoDonate 5% of sales of Azalea cocktail, through August 31.

Finding Westport: Donate 10% of all Pride merchandise products; changes weekly, through June.

Fourth & Pride VodkaDonate 5% of sales; free shipping on orders of 2 bottles; use promo code WESTPORT2021.

Grammie’sLimited edition “Pride” donut for $3; can be included in a 6-pack or dozen, through June.

Granola Bar: Donating 10% for items with a Pride sticker, through June.

JL Rocks: 3 rainbow diamond bracelets will be given away via IG Sweepstakes, through June.

Joyride10% off a 10-pack of classes (use code JOYPRIDE10); donate 10% of sales of JoyPride tank tops; through June.

Kawa Ni: Donate 5% of sales of Pride fizz cocktail, through August 31.

Kerry Long Photography: Donate $50 from mini-sessions (15 minutes) of Westport Pride families, through July 31.

Aarti Khosla gives a lot of love to many local causes.

Le Rouge By AartiDonate 10% of sales from “Give a Little Love” 4-pack of chocolate, through June.

Mancini SalonA service of your choice for contest winner. To oenter: follow@mancinisalon and @westportpride; “like” the “giveaway” photo; tag 2 friends. Contest ends June 4.

Melani Lust PhotographyDiscount on engagement photos, or 15% off one fine art print. through August 31.

Pam’s James: Contribute 10% of the sales of Pride Trio jams, through June.

Pure Barre Westport: Donate 20% of proceeds from new membership and retail sales, through June.

Purpose2PurchaseDonate portion of proceeds of Westport Pride baseball caps, and Westport and “Any Town” melamine trays, through June.

Rosebud Slumber Parties: Donate 10% of every booking of a “Unicorn & Rainbows” picnic or slumber party theme, through August 31.

Savvy + GraceDonate 10% of sales of Westport tees and sweatshirts, through August 31 .

Sweet P’s Bakery/The Porch @ Christie’s: donate 20% of proceeds from Pride cookies, trays and packages, through June.

Tap Strength Lab: donate 10% of first month of membership for new members when sign up June-August.  Mention code: “Summer of Love.”

The Row House Westport: Donate 20% of proceeds from new membership and retail sales, through June.

The WhelkDonate 5% of sales of Pride martini, through August 31.

WestDonate 10% of sales of One Love candle, through August 31.

Remembering George Keane

George F. Keane — longtime Westporter, founder of the Common Fund, and a noted philanthropic investment strategist — died  peacefully on Thursday in Trumbull, where he had spent time convalescing from a long illness.

His son, Staples High School Class of 1971 graduate Brian Keane, writes:

My father was my north star. A young boy’s hero. A protector, the one who knew what to do. My Little League coach. My advisor (and my staunchest critic).

Though we had our battles from time to time, and we each had success in very different worlds, we never lost touch, nor did we ever lose the deep bond of love that we had for each other. In the end I served as his caretaker, along with other very able and loving people.

George F. Keane

He had a long, and remarkable life. He touched many other’s lives along the way. He gave people their starts, helped people in their time of need, and made his mark on the world. You couldn’t ask for much more out of life.

He came from modest means, a child of the Great Depression, growing up in Danbury. He would be the first in his family ever to graduate college. He would later serve on the college’s board.

Though we grew up in Westport, our family was middle class at best. However, my father would rise throughout his life to become a successful philanthropic investment strategist, founder of the Common Fund, now in its 50th year, employing hundreds of people, advising over 1,500 institutions, with $40 billion under management.

He was awarded 2 honorary doctorates, and the Fredrick D. Patterson Award for his 12 years of service as a director of the United Negro College Fund. He served on many prestigious boards, and worked with Research Affiliates of California to form a new index fund.

He battled the affliction of alcoholism as a younger man to attain 41 years of sobriety, and was an example to others.

He loved life too, and had lots of fun. He was a gifted singer, a well traveled tourist, a patron of the arts, a sports enthusiast. He lived well, ate well, loved well. He didn’t golf real well, but had fun at that too, as the world’s most generous scorekeeper.

A loving husband, father, grandfather and extended family man, he was a kind, intelligent, generous and very successful man, who helped out many people in his life, and leaves a long list of bereaved admirers.

For me though, he was simply Dad. I will always love him dearly for who he was, and always deeply appreciate what he did for me, and for the example that he set.

On May 20 my father passed peacefully, at 91, sitting in a chair in his assisted living apartment where he had been convalescing from a long illness. It was as though he were merely taking a nap.

Brian Keane

The night before we had dinner together, just the 2 of us. We went out on the patio, spent a few hours together, and he took the long walk back to his apartment in unwavering stride. After a lifetime of pursuing life with such tenacity and persistence, I never expected the Irish goodbye.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Wednesday (May 26, 10:30 a.m., St. Peter Church, 104 Main Street, Danbury). George F. Keane will be laid to rest alongside his older brother, James R. Keane, and his parents Alexander Keane and Anna Krebs Keane in St Peter’s Cemetery in Danbury immediately following the service.

There will be a celebration of life event at some point later in the year.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in George F. Keane’s name to the American Cancer Society or The United Negro College Fund.

Child Advocates Quietly Change Lives

Many Westport non-profits have big public profiles. We know about their great work, and we know which of our neighbors work so hard for them.

Plenty of other organizations are lower-key. We don’t hear about them, and we don’t know who’s involved.

Child Advocates of SW Connecticut is in that second category. Most of us have no clue about their work as volunteer advocates for vulnerable children in schools, communities and courtrooms.

Advocates get to know a child one-on-one. They speak with people who touch his or her life: families, foster families, teachers, doctors, social workers, therapists and attorneys.

Quietly ad effectively, they impact countless lives.

CAC operates throughout the area — with a heavy Westport presence. Recently, they honored 20 local residents for outstanding advocacy:

  • Nancy Anderson
  • April Book
  • Tanya Clemmons
  • Catherine Davis
  • Lindsay DelCampo
  • Amanda Doyle
  • Allison Feuer
  • Lisa Friedland
  • Laura Hallet
  • Heidi Hammer
  • Elliott Landon
  • Amy Levantin
  • Lauri Levitt
  • Wendy Melnick
  • Suzan Murphy
  • Donna Steinberg
  • Ricki Stern
  • Michelle Titlebaum
  • Sheri Warshaw
  • Cindy Zuckerbrod

What the volunteers do is astonishing. The video below — featuring Allison Feuer and Garth, who she has advocated for over the past 6 years — provides a look at their deep relationship. If you watch nothing else this week, click below!

The 20 honorees are grateful. But they say they get as much as they give.

April Book became a volunteer because she wanted to make a difference in the life of a child. She worked with a teenage girl for the past 3 years, during the youngster’s many ups and downs.

April Book

“She came from a turbulent home, and experienced trauma and neglect,” Book says.

“She has been in several foster and group homes during the time I have worked with her. She reaches out to me for support, assistance or advice, and we enjoy spending time together. I have been a consistent presence, and she knows I will always be there for her.”

Amanda Doyle advocates for a teen, “to ensure her educational needs are being met, and help her navigate some of the social challenges that have been difficult for all children during the pandemic. We are working on developing a trusting relationship, which has been challenging given all the trauma she has been through. My goal is to provide a stable, positive influence on her life.”

Lisa Friedland’s cases involve families needing legal help to address family issues.  “I try to be a resource for the court,” she says. “I gather information and insights that will help a judge make a fair and fully informed decision in the best interest of the child.”

Sheri Warshaw notes, “My role as a CAC volunteer afforded me the most meaningful way to make a difference in a child’s life. I’m so proud to be a part of this phenomenal organization.”

Cindy Zuckerbrod

Cindy Zuckerbrod has spent nearly 2 years with a 17-year-old, who is still just a freshman in high school. She says, “through my advocacy, her hard work and her trust in me, she will be promoted to the next grade.

“She recently got an 87 on a test, something she thought would never happen. She was reunified with her biological parents 3 months ago.” The girl and her parents asked Zuckerbrod to continue working with her even after the case is closed by the court.

Executive director Stacey Sobel — another Westporter — says, “CAC is thrilled to honor our incredible volunteers. Vulnerable children have suffered disproportionately during the COVID pandemic. Our volunteers have done a tremendous job ensuring needs are being met.”

(Child Advocates’ annual fundraising luncheon was canceled, due to COVID. Click here to contribute to their “The Gift That Gives” online campaign, and to learn how to volunteer.)

 

Hook’d: Now Open

Earlier today, “06880” reported that Hook’d on the Sound — the new Compo Beach concessionaire — had not yet opened, as previously announced.

Later this afternoon, they unlocked their doors.

A woman named Nadine — the general manager — posted this comment:

I’m so sorry for your experience. We have been in gear working hard to open and be of service to the Westport community. We are now open with a fantastic menu. I’m inviting you to come and visit with us, our wonderful staff is ready to serve.

I personally have been on the boardwalk since opening and inviting passersby to have a look and enjoy a bite. I hope to see you soon. Hook’d is most definitely worth the wait we are very proud of what we have achieved.

Hook’d is now open. Photo/Dinkin Fotografix)

GFS Gives The Gift Of Reading

Years ago, Leigh Cataudo taught at a Greenwich middle school. She and a colleague ran a read-a-thon, with students raising funds to buy books for an underserved school.

She calls the project — which included her students helping elementary school children choose books, and read with them — “the most rewarding thing I have ever been part of.”

Leigh is now a realtor with William Pitt Sotheby’s. She’s also a Greens Farms Elementary School parent. She’s just brought the “Read for Change” program to her school — and the Luis Muñoz Marin K-8 School in Bridgeport.

(“Change” refers to becoming better readers, earning “change” by reading, and changing the lives of others.)

The project began last fall, as the pandemic raged. Her 3 children started the school year with many challenges — but, Leigh knew, they had the laptops, internet access, paper, markers and (most importantly) books they needed to do okay.

She was wary of putting too much on teachers’ already overloaded plates. But principal Kevin Cazzetta loved the idea, and invited her to help make it happen. Leigh reached out to her friend and football team co-manager Liz Leary. “Read for Change” was underway.

Greens Farms Elementary School got into the “Read for Change” project in a big way. (Photo/Seth Schachter)

Students requested pledges from parents and relatives. To make it fun, non-intimidating and all-inclusive, Leigh and Liz let students decide how to ask. For example, newer readers could get pledges for the number of books they read, while more advanced readers could earn money for time spent reading.

Classes already kept daily reading records, so there was no additional work for teachers. There was a small prize each week for the class with the most participation, and a bingo board with another prize. Students were engaged and excited.

The excitement grew when the month was over. Leigh and Liz were speechless.

Their goal was to buy 1 book for each of the 800 Luiz Muñoz Marin students. Starting this past Friday, and through Tuesday, GFS is sponsoring a Scholastic book fair. Each child can choose 2 books.

Friends checking out books at the Luis Munoz Marin School …

“Friday was incredible,” Leigh reports. “The students and staff of Marin were amazed, and so very appreciative.

“We are so proud to be part of such an incredible school community, and to have the ability to offer the gift of books to so many students in our neighboring community.”

… and a girl gets engrossed in one of them.

Marpe: COVID Restrictions Easing; PURA Slams Eversource

1st Selcctman Jim Marpe says:

The Centers for Disease Control has published public health recommendations for fully vaccinated individuals. Included in the guidance is that fully vaccinated individuals may forgo the use of a mask when outdoors, or in the company of other fully vaccinated individuals. Among other provisions, the use of a mask, and social distancing is still required when in a crowded outdoor setting indoors with others who are not vaccinated. The full guidance can be found here.

Per Governor Lamont, effective tomorrow (May 1), all restaurants will be allowed to remain open until midnight.  Beverage-only service outdoors is permitted, and the 8-person limit on outdoor dining will be lifted.

As of May 1, vehicle parking emblems will be required on all vehicles to enter Compo, Soundview and Old Mill beach parking lots, and May 29 for Burying Hill Beach. All vehicle parking emblem purchases must be made online at www.westportrecreation.com. Daily parking for non-residents will be allowed this summer at Compo Beach and Burying Hill Beach. Visit www.westportrecreation.com for daily parking rates.

Compo Beach  will be more crowded soon. (Drone photo/Brandon Malin)

Effective Wednesday, May 19, all remaining state gathering restrictions will be lifted, except that masks will continue to be required in all indoor public settings where social distancing is not possible. We encourage those who are fully vaccinated to follow the CDC guidance for mask wearing and social distancing in crowded outdoor settings.

Plans continue for holding the Memorial Day parade on Monday, May 31. Organizers will ask parade participants and observers to create a socially distanced and safe parade by taking into consideration the current conditions and advice from the CDC. We look forward to this wonderful Westport tradition that honors veterans and service members. We encourage all who attend to wear a mask in crowded areas and to social distance.

We continue to urge everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated as soon as possible. For the latest updates on COVID-19, visit the Westport Weston Health District website.

PURA Final Decision

On Wednesday, the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority released its final decision on its investigation into electric distribution companies’ preparation for, and response to, Tropical Storm Isaias. PURA concluded that:

Eversource did not satisfy the performance standards for managing its municipal liaison program, executing its Make Safe responsibilities, communicating critical information to its customers, or meeting its obligation to secure adequate resources in a timely manner.

As a result, PURA will consider fines and penalties against Eversource, and will require a reduction in ratemaking return on equity for Eversource.

I provided lengthy testimony related to PURA’s investigation on behalf of the many residents who reached out to Town Hall for support and assistance after Isaias. I am pleased that PURA heard the evidence, and is taking significant action to ensure customers receive better service from utility providers during emergency situations. For more information on the Town of Westport’s response and follow up on Storm Isaias, click here.

Stand Up (At Home) For Homes With Hope

Homes with Hope has had quite a year.

When COVID struck, Westport’s supportive housing organization moved all their residents from the Gillespie Center and Hoskins Place to a hotel. Now they’re back “home.”

Last week, they launched a new website.

Now they’re gearing up for their biggest annual fundraiser, “Stand Up (at Home) for Homes With Hope.”

“it’s time to start laughing again,” HwH says. And they’ll make sure you do. The virtual comedy show streams on June 12 (8 p.m.).

It’s tough to top last year’s event. But they will. The headliner is American Comedy Award winner Kathleen Madigan. She’s joined by Pat McGann (creator and host of The Chicago Stand-Up Project), Ali Siddiq (finalist on NBC’s “Bring the Funny”) and Westport’s own Courtney Davis (“Courting with Courtney”).

Local personalities will make guest appearances. Click here for tickets and sponsorship information. (Limited seats are available for the Westport Library that night. There’s a pre-show cocktail event, with live music by Staples High School and Netflix “Country Comfort” star Jamie Mann.)

Funds raised will support emergency shelters and meals, supportive housing, a food pantry, programs for teenage girls and younger children — and unexpected expenses.

For example, when residents were moved to a hotel during COVID, restaurants provided meals. That was a big — and surprise — cost.

HwH CEO Helen McAlinden says, “We could not have gotten through the past year, and kept all our guests safe, without our supporters. Now that guests are back at the Gillespie Center and Hoskins Place (across from the police station), we are glad to see our volunteers back, bringing wonderful food.”

Homes with Hope volunteers, before the pandemic. They’ll soon be back, cooking and serving food.

The new website, meanwhile, was created by Randy Herbertson and Westport’s The Visual Brand. It features recent stories of residents’ successes, and updated information on Homes with Hopes’ housing, food, mentoring and youth programs.

(To donate individually packed lunches or dinners, or for more volunteer opportunities, email mliebergall@hwhct.org.)

Hey, Gardeners! Grow Your Own — And Share

The Westport Community Gardens is a wonderful place. Dozens of gardeners — from  families with little children to folks in their 80s — grow fruit, vegetables, flowers, herbs and grasses, in all kinds of designs and configurations.

They joyfully share their bounty with others. The Grow-A-Row fresh food  initiative encourages gardeners to grow an extra row — or more — to donate.

Last year the program donated nearly 100 grocery bags loaded with fresh, organically grown produce to the The Center for Food Equity and Economic Development (FEED) in Bridgeport. Their culinary training program team prepares the donated food, distributes meals to soup kitchens throughout Bridgeport, and runs a food truck to reach neighborhoods that lack access to fresh food.

Some of the food donations grown and collected at the Westport Community Garden through the Grow-A-Row initiative last  summer.

This year, Grow-A-Row — with partners Sustainable Westport and the Zero Food Waste Initiative — invites all Westport home gardeners, everywhere in town, to participate.

They’ll even get you started, with seeds.

The Grow-A-Row Project received a generous donation of vegetable seeds from the University of Connecticut Extension Master Gardeners Program. They include radishes, beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, okra and squashes. Seeds are available for pickup at Branson Hall, at Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church.

Seeds are limited to first come, first served. But all home gardeners in Westport are welcome to donate whatever they grow.

Once harvested, all fresh produce and herb donations can be dropped off at Branson Hall.

Questions? Email amyunikewicz@gmail.com.