Category Archives: Children

Academy Camps Competes In Youth Sports Niche

Once upon a time, summer sleepaway camps were the only thing. Boys and girls played a variety of sports, did arts and crafts, had campfires and color wars — all for 8 weeks in the woods.

Then came sports camps. They offered specialization in one thing — basketball say, or soccer — led by noted college coaches, and their athletes.

It’s hard to find a “sports camp” anymore. They’ve morphed into “ID camps,” marketing themselves as the best way to get onto a college program’s radar — early.

They’re all about competing for coaches’ attention. There’s little instruction. But there is plenty of down time, away from the court or field. Sometimes, athletes are not even on campus. They’re holed up in a hotel, playing video games during down time.

“ID camps” and their cousin, “college showcases,” are now so prevalent that many youngsters feel the need to attend several each summer. Even those who enjoyed a traditional summer camp decide, reluctantly, that they can’t go back. They “have to” travel the country, hoping to shine for at least one college coach.

Jem Sollinger, Jon Deren and Josh Hahn know that landscape well. Owners and directors of 3 highly regarded traditional summer camps — Laurel, Manitou and Somerset respectively, all in Maine (the first 2 with winter offices in the same Brooks Corner building in Westport) — they have seen first hand the demise of “all-sports” camps, and their replacement by “ID” camps.

Academy Camps founders.

Laurel, Manitou and Somerset continue to thrive, with long wait lists. But as Sollinger, Deren and Hahn — longtime colleagues and friends, all of whom grew up playing multiple sports — talked, they wondered if they could create something that combined a traditional summer camp experience with a specialized emphasis on one sport.

They could — and they did.

Academy Camps opens this summer. With an emphasis on 4 sports — soccer, basketball, lacrosse and tennis — at Suffield Academy, using state-of-the-art athletic facilities on a 368-acre campus (but far from the Maine woods), it promises short sessions, excellent coaching, innovative leadership and more.

In other words: “a modern approach to the summer sports camp.”

Besides Sollinger and Deren, Academy Camps has a heavy Westport imprint. This is fertile territory for young athletes who have gone to summer camps, yet felt pressured to travel the “ID camp” circuit.

Mike Maurillo

The executive director is well known here too. Mike Maurillo — a former Fairfield University lacrosse captain, with more than 2 decades experience in advertising, and health and wellness — has spent 12 years in Westport as a volunteer coach in lacrosse, soccer, flag football and rec basketball.

When Academy Camps opens in June, much will be familiar to traditional summer campers. But much will be much different.

There are 3 sessions, for boys and girls ages 10 to 15. Each is 1 or 2 weeks — that’s up to the camper. The first begins June 25; the last ends on August 4.

There are morning and afternoon blocks for the sport of specialization. (With plenty of room: Suffield boasts 2 turf and 7 grass fields, 10 tennis courts and a 30,000-square foot fieldhouse).

Some of the facilities at Suffield Academy.

But athletes need more than just skills training. Academy Camps emphasizes leadership training and wellness too.

The schedule also includes an outdoor ropes course and balance bar, and work on mindfulness, breathwork, visualization, flexibility and mobility.

Former pro athletes and current college coaches will be invited to speak to campers too.

“We’re teaching the ‘character’ skills we as coaches don’t always have time for, or believe happen by osmosis,” Maurillo says. That includes goal-setting, communication, conflict resolution and appropriate reactions to pressure.

Many youth sports experts — and high-level athletes — decry the increasing emphasis on early specialization. Academy Camps provides opportunities for everyone to play flag football, pickup basketball, frisbee golf, floor hockey — the types of games kids enjoy at traditional camps (and whenever they get the chance to be kids at home too).

Another summer camp ritual that Academy Camps continues: color war. Contested each night, in everything from floor hockey to trivia contests, a scavenger hunt and a rope burning game, it’s a way to bring campers of all ages and both genders together.

Academy Camps will incorporate many elements of a traditional summer camp.

Like many summer camps — yet unlike most ID sports camps — this one is “tech-free.” Electronic devices are prohibited — the better to enhance teamwork, teach interpersonal skills, and reduce social pressures (and dependence on parents).

Maurillo ticks off other reasons he’s excited about Academy Camps’ launch: Much of the staff (including nurses, dining hall, maintenance and security) comes from Suffield Academy, so they know the facilities and have a vested interest in its success.

(One non-Suffield name: basketball director Mike Evans. Well known in this area, the former Weston High star founded Full Court Peace, a non-profit that brings diverse teens together to repair courts in low-income neighborhoods from Norwalk and New York to Havana.)

The Suffield academy location is another plus. Two hours from JFK and Logan airports — and just 10 minutes from Bradley — it’s more accessible than most summer camps.

And Academy has the whole school to themselves. There will be no other program during the summer.

Academy Camps will offer a higher level of the sports instruction already offered at many traditional summer camps.

Is there a concern Academy Camps will cannibalize the directors’ existing traditional camps?

No, Maurillo says.

Some youngsters who have enrolled in the sports program will also do a half-session at Laurel, Manitou or Somerset. Others were already ready to move on.

The involvement of Sollinger, Deren and Hahn gives Academy Camps legitimacy and prestige. “This is an ‘and,’ not an ‘or,'” Maurillo says.

And — most emphatically — not an “ID.”

(“06880” covers youth — and youth issues — all over town. Please click here to support your hyper-local blog. Thank you!)


Roundup: Snow Day (!), Energy Rates, Real Estate …

No snow this winter means no snow days.

Unless you’re at private school.

Heads there have far greater leeway than public school principals to make unilateral decisions like hey, in the middle of a snowless winter, their students (and staffs) still need an unexpected break.

Greens Farms Academy head Bob Whelan has set the gold standard with his snow day videos.

This year he prepared another classic. But with no snow — and none in the forecast — it looked like he’d never get to post it.

Boarding schools have a tradition of “head of school day.” GFA is a day school, but the idea sounded great.


Click below to see how GFA students and parents got the news that this coming Monday is a “Snowless Snow Day.”

Public school students: See you in class.


Monday’s “Energy Rates Town Hall” at the Westport Library included State Senator Ceci Maher, and State Representatives Jonathan Steinberg and Anne Hughes. The meeting covered price hikes from Eversource and United Illuminating.

Missed the meeting? Click below to see:


Every few months since 2017, alert “06880” reader Bob Weingarten counts the number of “For rent/lease” or “For sale” properties on Post Road East and West.  He does not survey Main Street, Riverside Avenue or other commercial parts of town.

His most recent count includes 2 bank buildings, another former bank that was rented last year as a health facility, an entire office complex, rentals within other office buildings, small retail stores, a gas station and more.

The count usually varies between 50 and 72 properties. The current count: 56.

(Photos/Bob Weingarten)

(Graph courtesy of Bob Weingarten)


The Westport Police Department reports 3 custodial arrests for the February 2-8 period.

One person was charged with larceny, credit card theft and identity theft, after a purse was stolen.

The other two people were charged with failure to appeaar.

Due to a change in the department’s reporting system, citations were not available for this reporting period.


Justin Paul is heading back to Broadway.

The 2003 Staples High School graduate — who, with his songwriting partner Benj Pasek won a Tony Award in 2017 for “Dear Evan Hansen,” and another last year as producers for “A Strange Love” — will see their Oscar-winning film “La La Land” adapted for the stage. An opening date has not been announced.

The 2016 movie starred Emma Sone and Ryan Gosling, as they pursued their dreams in Los Angeles. Click here for the full story.

Justin Paul (left) and Benj Pasek, moments after learning they’d won a Golden Globe for writing the lyrics to “La La Land.”


A reminder: Materials are being collected for Ukraine at today’s Farmers’ Market (Thursday, February 9, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Gilbertie’s Herbs & Garden Center, 7 Sylvan Lane).

Items needed include gently used winter coats, mittens, hats, gloves and rain gear. Cash contributions to help with shipping costs are welcome too.



Aspetuck Land Trust’s next “Lunch and Learn” webinar is called “Advancing the Habitat Gardening Movement, One Yard at a Time.”

It’s Friday, February 17 (noon to 1 p.m.). Missy Fabel and Dave Baker of Plan it Wild, a sustainable landscaping and design company specializing in ecological design, will share new trends in native landscaping that can transform a yard into a beautiful native habitat that increases biodiversity, captures carbon and absorbs storm water.

Click here to register.


Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities’ Parent Conference this Saturday (February 11, Winston Preparatory School, 57 West Rocks Road, Norwalk, 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.)  goes to the heart of that great organization’s work: providing resources parents need to help their children succeed in school and beyond. 

Eleven presentations cover a variety of topics, plus a special webinar: “Making Math Accessible for Students with Learning Disabilities” by Randy Ewart, The “CT SPED Math Dude.”

The day ends with a youth panel. “LD and ADHD from the Student’s Perspective” features 6 students, from 7th grade to post-college. They’ll describe how they learned to cope with their challenges. It’s inspiring — and meaningful to parents who have trouble imagining futures for their kids. 

Catering will be done by The Porch at Christie’s and Sweet P Bakery. Both offer training and employment to adults with disabilities.

Click here for more information, and registration. Financial assistance is available; email


The Representative Town Meeting seeks candidates for a District 8 representative, to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Lisa Newman.

It must be filled by a registered voter residing in RTM District 8. No party affiliation is required, as Westport’s RTM is non-partisan. The term expires November 21, 2023.

Residents of RTM District 8 interested in being considered should send a resume by February 22 to town Clerk Jeffrey Dunkerton:


50-year YMCA veteran, avid Y’s Men member and former popular Staples High School substitute teacher Marvin Goldstein died Tuesday, from complications after open heart surgery in September. He was 88 years old.

Born on New York’s Lower East Side, he grew up in Brooklyn. He was a lifelong member of the Brownsville Boys Club, where he created friendships lasting more than 7 decades.

Marvin was a dedicated runner, with Pequot Running Club. His joys were his family and friends, music, theater, and traveling the world. He felt blessed in having a life filled with love and connection.

He lost his wife Chic Goldstein of 43 years, but lived with his daughter and family in Westport for the past 10 years.

Marvin is survived by his daughters Lee Goldstein (Charlie Dockter) and Beth Muller (Kurt), 3 granddaughters and 3 great-grandchildren.

The family will receive friends and family at Lee’s house (31 Greenlea Lane) this Saturday and Sunday (February 11-12, noon to 4 p.m.). A celebration of Marv’s life will be held this spring. In lieu of flowers, people consider a contribution to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.

Marvin Goldstein


Peter McCann — leader of the popular 1960’s local band Repairs, who went on to become a successful singer, songwriter and activist for songwriters’ rights — died on January 26.

Former Staples High School media instructor Mike Zito offers a radio tribute to Peter today (Thursday, February 9) on WPKN (89.5 FM, 2 p.m.). It includes interviews with former band members, including longtime Staples media instructor Jim Honeycutt.

A Bridgeport native, Peter and Repairs recorded 3 records on Motown with Rolling Stones producer Andrew Loog Oldham. Peter went on to write songs like “Right Time of the Night” and “Do You Want To Make Love.” Whitney Houston, Isaac Hayes, KT Oslin, Buck Owens, Mickey Gilley, Michael McDonald and Jennifer Warnes were some of the performers who covered Peter’s songs.

Peter McCann


Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo brings a bit of optimism to anyone tired (okay, exhausted) of winter.

Rick Benson spotted these sprouts at Winslow Park.

(Photo/Rick Benson)


And finally … if you’re an old fan of the band Repairs (see Peter McCann’s obituary above), click below for a great trip down memory lane.

If you never heard of them, click below to see what you missed.

(If you enjoy the “06880” daily Roundup — an ever-changing smorgasbord of stuff — please consider a donation. Click here to help — and thank you!)

Roundup: Parks & Rec Programs, Real Estate Sales, Lost Keys ….

Spring must be close. Summer too!

Registration for Westport’s Parks & Recreation Department’s spring and summer program offerings begins online on March 10 (9 a.m.). Offerings will be viewable soon, at

Department officials urge residents to log into their online account now, to verify family information. Once logged in, click “Manage Family Member” on the bottom right. Check that contact information is accurate. (In the personal information box, it is important to make sure that children’s grades reflect the current school year). Cell phone information will be used for class cancellations or location changes.

Address changes should be emailed to Additional proof of Westport residency may be required.

Problems? Do not create another profile. Email or call 203-341-5152.


Single-family real estate figures for January 2023 are down, compared to January ’22:

  • Unit sales: 19 (down 34.5%)
  • Median sales price: $1.65 million (down 25%)
  • Inventory: 82 (down 7.9%)
  • Days on market: 54 (down 33.3%)

(Hat tip: Meredith Cohen)

This home at 2 Owenoke Park is on the market for $8,950,000.


Think your lost keys are gone for good?

Think again.

Residents who find keys often bring them to Westport Police Department headquarters. A plastic bin near the front desk currently holds several dozen keys.

And — this being Westport — plenty of them are for some very nice vehicles.

(Photo and hat tip/Seth Schachter)


The health of the Compo Acres Shopping Center sycamore, at Post Road East and Compo Road South, is a constant concern to Westporters.

This morning, Bartlett Tree Experts provided some maintenance and love.

(Photo/Frank Rosen)


Carl Addison Swanson continues his crusade for traffic safety. He writes:

“Due to a 53% increase in pedestrian deaths from 2009 to 2018 with 6,283 total nationally, Connecticut passed a new ‘crosswalk law’ which went into effect on October 1, 2021.

“Now, unless there is a traffic signal directing otherwise, a pedestrian always has the right of way at a crosswalk throughout the state. A pedestrian may merely raise their hand to signal any oncoming traffic that he or she is intending to cross the street. Drivers must yield.

“Thanks to the recent passage of SS4A Infrastructure bill and Representative Jim Himes, our Congressional 4th District will receive $450,000 to implement safety measures to insure, among other things, pedestrian safety.  We are the only district in the state to receive such funds.

“That said, a tour of the town shows little implementation of any safety measures. While yellow pedestrian warning signs are in place, they are often concealed by untrimmed tree branches.

“Recently a female driver yelled at a runner crossing North Avenue at Bedford Middle School, ‘There is no crossing guard at the crosswalk, so get out of my way!” She sped away, nearly hitting the runner.

“Westport has chosen to spend $200,000 on a study of 2 Cross Highway intersections, at North Avenue and Bayberry Lane. Where and when is our taxpayer money going to be utilized to insure our safety before someone is killed?

“We know stop signs and worthless solar speed limit monitors do not work, at least on North Avenue. So what is next? Little green men? We might start by educating the public, strict law enforcement and some real traffic lights.”

Slow down!


Brien Buckman is the newest member of Westport’s Representative Town Meeting. The 33-year-old fills a vacancy in District 6, caused by the death of Cathy Talmadge.

He has lived in Westport since 2020. (Hat tip: Dick Lowenstein)

Brien Buckman


If you’re an X Games fan, you know that Mac Forehand — a member of the 2022 Olympic US ski team — just won gold in big air at the competition in Aspen.

He did it in a big way:  with a perfect 50 score, landing a 2160 Cuban that wowed the crowd. He also won silver for slopestyle.

But you may not know that Mac is the son of 1976 Staples High School graduate Ray Forehand.

Mac also made history in 2019, winning the overall World Cup title in slopestyle at just 17 years old. It was his first full season on the World Cup circuit.

Mac grew up in Fairfield, and attended the Stratton Mountain Ski School.

If you knew Ray Forehand, you’ll notice the great resemblance in the video below. (Hat tip: Sam Febbraio)


11-year-old Kathryn is paralyzed by social anxiety. She spends all her time in her basement with her 2 passions: Alfred Hitchcock and stop-motion animation. When a new neighbor moves in, will she be able to share her dream and make a new friend?

That’s the first offering of Westport Country Playhouse’s mobile unit — though this one will be the main stage. “Scaredy Kat Presents” runs for 1 performance only: Sunday, March 5, at 2 p.m. All tickets are $25. Click here to purchase, and for more information.


It may be February, but the defending state champion Staples High School rugby team is heading outdoors.

They host their 3rd annual College Showcase & Combine this Saturday (February 11, noon to 4 p.m.). They expect 150 high school players — boys and girls — from the tri-state area, and representatives from over 50 college.

The 2-hour combine will be run by the 2 Major League Rugby teams in the area: the New England Free Jacks and reigning champs Rugby United New York.

The “showcase” portion takes place in the school cafeteria. Each college has a table; players and their parents can learn more about their academics and rugby programs.

Meanwhile, the Staples Rugby Club announces Little Barn as their “preferred restaurant partner.” They’ll hold several events there, beginning the weekend of March 11 (a viewing party for the Six Nations matches).

Little Barn will also be the site of post-match celebration, after Staples hosts a top-ranked club from Texas (March 11) and their first international friendly (vs. St. Andrews College of South Africa, April 15).

The state champion 2022 Staples High School rugby team. (Photo/Chloe DeAngelis)


Westport Pride joins with the Department of Justice, FBI and Connecticut US Attorney’s office to explore hate crimes at the federal, state and local levels.

“United Against Hate” — a free training to inform LGBTQ+ community members and allies about those crimes, and how to respond, is set for March 28 (6 p.m., Westport Library; in-person and virtual).

The interactive program also involves the Westport and Norwalk police chiefs, and the Connecticut State Police’s Hate Crimes Unit.

The meeting is part of a national initiative, by all 94 US Attorneys offices. Click here for details on that program. Click here for details of the March 28 event.


Native Westporter Scott Brodie sends along this striking image of his mother’s back yard on Burr Farms Road, for our “Westport … Naturally” feature:

(Photo/Scott Brodie)

He writes:

“My father built his house on a wooded lot at the north end of Burr Farms Road in 1954. The lots on the southern end of the road had been a working apple orchard and were mostly cleared, but the northern end had been allowed to return to woodlands, interspersed with the remains of low stone walls.

“My parents loved the idea of living ‘in the woods,’ and cut down as few trees as possible. Many decades later, the aerial images of the site on Google Maps and Google Earth show the house and garage nearly obscured by the foliage.

“But looking up at the sky through the treetops in winter, it is striking how the trees seem to ‘respect’ each other, with their elaborate branching patterns carefully avoiding contact with each other.

“This phenomenon, known as ‘crown shyness,’ is frequently observed in hardwood forests, but is not well understood. The trees seem to skillfully avoid encroaching on their neighbors’ space, but the mechanisms which mediate this avoidance remain unclear.”


And finally … Charlie Thomas, a longtime member of the Drifters (and the Rock & Roll Hall Fame), died January 31 in Maryland. He was 85, and suffered from liver cancer.

Thomas was part of the group for over 60 years, from its hit-making time in the late 1950s to the version that toured until COVID struck.

Thomas mainly sang backup. But he took the lead on “Sweets for My Sweet” and “When My Little Girl Is Smiling.” Click here for a full obituary.

(Whatever your musical tastes, if you enjoy our daily musical offering, please click here to contribute to “06880.” Thank you!)

Weston Girl Speaks Loudly For Disability Rights

Sabrina Guerra is a non-speaking autistic 10-year-old Weston girl.

But — like everyone — her life is far fuller and richer than a few dry facts.

Just over a year and a half ago, Sabrina began communicating by typing with one finger. She became a passionate advocate for disability rights.

Now she is one of 15 winners statewide, in Senator Chris Murphy’s 7th annual MLK Day essay challenge. 

Sabrina Guerra

Nearly 2,000 elementary, middle and high school students from across Connecticut reflected on King’s dream, and their own aspirations.

Sabrina has channeled all of her experiences into her writing. It is insightful, powerful and sophisticated.

In just 200 words — the essay limit — she teaches all of us about life, and our common humanity.

Sabrina wrote:

Martin Luther King Jr. aspired to bring peace and equality to an oppressed people. I share this dream. I am of a marginalized group fighting for our right to be heard, the right to define ourselves, and the right to belong. I am an autistic non-speaker and I’ve been subjected to mistreatment and segregation because of prejudice and ignorance. Like MLK Jr., I have an inextinguishable flame for justice.

Ableism is a damaging force in society, destroying souls and sowing division. Ableism looms over America’s education system, saturates our medical institutions, and shrouds our media. In my lived experience ableism usurped my right to an equal education. MLK Jr. made history by a tireless campaign toward progress. He refused his challengers’ insistence he and his people patiently wait for justice. As was right and bold then, our revolution is now. Disabled voices must be amplified over those who have no authority to speak for us, define us, nor deny us access.

On countless occasions my mind has sailed to feats of unyielding courage of Martin Luther King Jr. and his peers. Many stinging, similar offenses and parallel dreams tie my aspirations to their journeys and leadership. My advocacy is a fire that burns within my damaged yet proud and beautiful soul.

Sabrina Guerra, in the fall.

Sabrina and her fellow essay winners will be honored at a reception this Saturday.

Senator Murphy has agreed to chat with her. She looks forward to advocating for the disabled community, while she has his ear.

And her finger on the keyboard.

(Sabrina Guerra has a Facebook page, with 3,500 followers worldwide. Click here to see.)

(Senator Murphy says: “The best way to honor Dr. King is to continue his fight for equality and justice. Every year, I’m blown away and inspired by the thoughtful reflections on Dr. King’s legacy from students all across Connecticut. Their hope and determination should remind us all that young people are changing the world.” Click here for more information on his essay contest.)

(“06880” is proud to honor the accomplishments of youngsters in Westport, and our 06883 friends in Weston. Please click here to help us continue our work. Thank you!)


“06880” Podcast: Julie Mombello And Patty Lewis

Out of the ashes of 9/11, a lifeline arose.

Julie Mombello and Patty Lewis met at Greens Farms Academy, where they worked.

When Patty’s husband Adam — who grew up poor but, helped by scholarships and access to education, became a successful Wall Street executive — was killed in the Twin Towers, the women vowed to pass his legacy on to others.

They founded Adam J. Lewis Academy in Bridgeport. Begun as a pre-school — now including kindergarten through grade 4, with plans to increase through 8th grade — it offers a high-quality experience so that curious youngsters can explore, discover and develop their full potential.

It is a remarkable place, full of compassion, passion and energy — and plenty of opportunities. It is nurtured by many caring Westporters.

The other day, I chatted with Patty (now head of school) and Julie (a longtime Westporter who is now the director). We talked about Adam J. Lewis — the school, and its namesake — as well as education in Bridgeport and Westport, wealth inequality, American culture and much more.

It was an eye-opening half hour. Click below, to see and hear our conversation.

Bus Stop

School bus safety is high on the list of every Westporter’s concerns.

Well, almost everyone.

As aggravating as it is to be behind a bus that stops at what seems like every driveway, most drivers grit their teeth and ride their brakes. It’s kids we’re talking about, after all, and this is the way buses operate in today’s society.

Some drivers can’t wait. They blow past the outstretched “Stop” arms that drivers extend. Often they come from the opposite direction. Sometimes they just race past a row of cars trailing the bus.

Trailing a school bus is seldom fun.(Photo/Christie Stanger)

An “06880” reader recently chatted with a man who drives a Dattco elementary bus in Westport.

He enjoys his job very much. But when the reader noted that the job demands plenty of responsibility and patience, he said that drivers routinely ignore bus stop signs.

He said that just a few weeks ago, a speeding driver nearly hit a young girl. Her father yanked her back, as the car came near.

And, the driver continued, following up on incidents is a process. Video is reviewed by police. Then the driver must take half a day off to testify in court — losing pay, and other incentive compensation given for consecutive days on the job.

(Photo/Amy Schneider)

The driver’s perception is that even when the process works, if it’s a first offense there are seldom significant consequences for offending drivers.

That sounds pretty bad for Dattco, Westport’s school bus company.

But it’s not true.

I contacted Bryony Chamberlain, the company’s vice president. She said that any employee asked to go to court gets paid by the company.

She added that there are forms for drivers to fill out whenever their bus is passed by a vehicle. Dattco then sends the forms to local police departments, who mail a ticket for a $475 fine to offenders.

“I don’t know what happens after that,” Chamberlain said. “We don’t have a way to follow up.”

My next call was to Westport Police Chief Foti Koskinas. He confirmed what Chamberlain said.

There are 3 types of complaints about motorists passing school buses: from the bus drivers themselves; from other witnesses, and from police officers who sometimes follow school buses for just that reason.

The police contact the driver to hear their side. In almost every case, Koskinas said, a ticket follows.

The reader who contacted “06880” about school bus safety recalled a tragedy from the 1990s, which led to changes in policies.

It seems that Dattco, and Westport Police, are doing their part to ensure that every child gets on and off the bus safely.

Now it’s up to every driver to do the same.

We stop for deer. Let’s stop for school buses too. (Photo/Paul Delano)



Roundup: Traffic, Microgreens, Bagels …

Today’s “Westport … What’s Happening” podcast features 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker talking traffic.

In the bi-weekly series — produced by the Y’s Men of Westport and Weston — she talks about Post Road intersection improvements, from Bulkley Avenue to Fresh Market; the Easton Road/Weston Road/Exit 42 clusterf***, and a study of Cross Highway, from North Avenue to Bayberry Lane.

Click below for the full podcast.


How bad are conditions in Lyman, Ukraine?

“06880” has reported on life Westport’s sister city. Now the BBC has taken note.

A long report on the British news service website reads like a horror story. Click here — and think about our new friends overseas.

Apartment building in Lyman, after missile strikes. (Photo courtesy of BBC)


Westport’s weekly volunteer trash pick-up continued on Saturday.

A dozen or so residents, members of Assumption Church and St. Francis Church of Weston joined in clearing litter on Greens Farms Road, near I-95 (and the Assumption Cemetery).

Interested in joining? Email Andrew Colabella:

Trash pick-up on Greens Farms Road.


Everyone is talking about (and eating) microgreens.

On March 13 (7 p.m.), Wakeman Town Farm offers “Microgreens 101: Grow Your Own!”

The evening covers urban farming, sustainable food systems, minimizing waste, rethinking food production and distribution, nutrition, and (of course) how to get started.

If you sign up by February 6, you can get a starter kit in time.

For more information and to register, click here.



Westport Country Playhouse’s Family Festivities presents “Woof Woof the Shadow Pup.” The February 12 (1 and 4 p.m.) shadow theater musical is one hour, and appropriate for grades pre-K and up and runs approximately one-hour in length.

“Woof Woof” illuminates the importance of understanding and acknowledging the emotional life of young children. This inspiring story is an invitation for families to experience the magical world of shadow theater.

Click here for details and tickets.

“Woof Woof the Shadow Pup,” at the Westport Country Playhouse.


Besides breaking national age group (85-89 years old) records on the track, Westporter Norma Minkowitz is also a prestigious artist.

“Body to Soul” — her solo exhibition at Fairfield University’s Bellarmine Galleries opens January 27. There’s an opening talk and reception January 26 (5 p.m.). Click here for more information. Click below for a video about Norma’s work.(Hat tip: Jeff Mitchell)


Did you lose your bagels?

If so, Chris Grimm spotted them yesterday, near High Gate Road off South Maple:

(Photo/Chris Grimm)


Mark Shufro died peacefully at home in Brooklyn on October 16. He was 66, and had lived for more than a decade with spinocerebellar ataxia-13 and multiple-system atrophy.

Born in New York City, he soon moved with his family to Westport, and graduated from Staples High School. He discovered Ultimate Frisbee there, which was in its infancy at the time but became a lifelong passion.

In his teens Mark established his first business — Marco Sales — distributing swimming pool chemicals to neighbors and family friends. .

At Brown University Mark majored in math and French, studied abroad in France and Colombia, and continued to play Ultimate Frisbee. He was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa in 1979.

Mark worked as an actuary for a year before being accepted into General Electric’s Financial Management Program. Mark earned an MBA from New York University while working at GE Credit and at several other firms. He started his own company, Greyrock Capital Group, in 2001.

Mark married Lisa Kerpen in 1985. After living in Manhattan and Irvington, New York, they settled back in Westport in 1992. There Mark pursued his hobbies of woodworking and tinkering, reading, traveling, skiing and Ultimate Frisbee while raising his family of 4 children

In 2017, as empty nesters, Mark and Lisa moved to Carroll Gardens. Mark continued to be involved with his company, advising and supporting younger members. He also took an active role in research into his illness, funding several important studies at Yale University. He was overjoyed to celebrate the wedding of his daughter Hannah to Roberto Ferdman, a few weeks before his death.

Besides his wife Lisa, daughter Hannah and son-in-law Roberto, Mark is survived by his mother, Edith Evans; sisters Cathy Shufro and Carol Shufro; son Paul; daughter-in-law Lydia Melamed Johnson; son Jacob, and his daughter Sophie. Mark’s father, Arnold Shufro, predeceased him in 2000.

Donations in Mark’s memory can be made to Common Cause. Lisa can be reached at

Mark Shufro


Cape Cod or the Hamptons?

No. Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo is from our own Sherwood Island State Park.

The amount of natural beauty here continues to astonish Connecticut residents.

And the few Westporters who appreciate this great resource, smack in the middle of our shoreline.

(Photo/Neal Radding)


And finally … on this day in 1986, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inducted its first  members: Little Richard, Chuck Berry, James Brown, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Fats Domino, The Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley.

Not a bad class!

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School Mentors Get High Marks

Back in the (pre-pandemic) day, 26 mentors met weekly with Westport public school student mentees. They shared lunch, played games, developed friendships, and impacted each other’s lives.

But 2 years in which schools were closed to visitors diminished the ranks. Today, there are just 5 mentor/mentee pairs.

Annette D’Augelli wants to raise those numbers.

As mentor program coordinator for Westport’s Department of Human Services, she’s seen the power of mentorship.

Since its start more than a dozen years ago by Patty Haberstroh, the program has grown to encompass grades kindergarten through 12, at all Westport schools.

Potential mentors are interviewed and vetted. D’Augelli then works with counselors and teachers to match adults and students, by gender and interests like sports or movies.

Meetings take place during the day, at mutually convenient times. For elementary schoolers that’s usually during lunch, in the library, a classroom or on the playground.

Middle schoolers don’t like missing lunch with friends, so meetings take place at other times. Staples students’ schedules change daily, so that’s another challenge.

Mentor meetings are about 45 minutes long, and friendship-based. The pair play games or talk; it’s not a time for homework or tutoring.

Mentees often come from single-parent homes, or for some other reason need another adult in their lives.

Matches may last long past graduation (which mentors proudly attend). Several mentors have been invited to weddings of mentees.

It may take a while for the relationship to develop. One boy spent 4 years never saying “thank you” or “I’m glad you’re here.” But the mentor kept modeling that behavior.

Recently, the youngster shook his mentor’s hand, and said “thanks.” That’s not why mentors sign up — yet it was an important moment nonetheless.

Annette D’Augelli

Every year, Human Services hosts a party for volunteers in all departmental programs. Last year, a mentor asked her very shy mentee if she wanted to meet 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker.

The next day, the girl excitedly told all her friends that she’d met “the mayor of Westport.”

D’Augelli says that many teachers report the mentor program leads to increased participation in class — and greater student confidence too.

“This is so important — especially now, as we’re coming out of COVID,” the coordinator says.

“Everyone needs someone to bounce things off of who is not a parent. They need to have conversations with adults who are their number one fans.”

Though some mentors are retired, adults of any age can apply. The time commitment is small — 30 to 45 minutes once a week (or even once every 2 weeks).

The impact is enormous.

And it lasts a lifetime.

Interested in becoming a mentor? Email, or call 203-341-1183.

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Bowling For Parker’s Cure

As half of the well-known multi-platform WestportMoms duo, Megan Rutstein is used to publicizing important causes.

This one is personal. She encouraged her sister Kimberly Greenberg — also a Westporter — to reach out to “06880” readers. I’m honored to pass Kimberly’s message along:

When our daughter Parker was born on January 2, 2016 we instantly knew something was not right. She was born with a very rare genetic condition, HIST1H1E Syndrome that leaves her with severe special needs.

She was the 8th case diagnosed worldwide, a week before her second birthday.

Parker has taught us so much about ourselves and life since day one. We have learned not to take anything for granted. The coveted milestones become “inchstones” as we look to move forward every day, even if it’s just a little progress.

Parker Greenberg and her mom,, Kimberly.

Parker continues to impress us daily. She is the hardest working little girl we know. Since 2 months old she has been in every therapy imaginable: PT, OT, speech, special education, aqua and equine.

She conquers everything with such a positive attitude, and it pays off. Parker started walking right after her 4th birthday. She has limited words and language, but she continues to grow in this area. She is starting to put 4-word sentences together, and even read.

Daily life for Parker and our family can be challenging. She is seen by a large team of medical specialists. She has faced multiple surgeries and procedures, while putting us through some scary medical emergencies. Our determined little girl has never given up. She continues to teach us new things daily, including how to stay positive.

We are beyond fortune to live in Westport and Fairfield County. From early intervention through Star Rubino Family Center to Stepping Stones preschool and now kindergarten at Coleytown Elementary, these programs and schools have been instrumental to her continued success.

Most importantly are the people and this community. They stand behind Parker and our family, while continuing to be our biggest cheerleaders and supporters.

Since Parker’s syndrome is very rare, there is limited information and research. It is considered an orphan disease, which rarely get funding from the government or National Institutes of Health.

Most research funding comes from private foundations. This is the main reason our family set up a 501 (c)(3) foundation for families who have loved ones with HIST1H1E Syndrome.

The foundation raises money for clinicians who study this syndrome. In 2019 we connected with the chief of medical genetics at Yale, Dr. Yong-Hui Jiang. He  taken an interest in Parker’s syndrome, and focused much of his time researching a cure.

Between our family setting up the foundation and working very closely with Dr. Jiang, Parker’s Cure was born. It has raised over $200,000 in the past 5 years, thanks to our friends, family and the local community.

The Greenberg family.

Next Friday (January 27, 8 p.m.) we are hosting the first Parker’s Cure Bowling and Booze Bash at Bowlero Lanes in Norwalk, to fund the Parker’s Cure and HIST1H1E Syndrome Foundation. We have already sold over 170 tickets, and raised over $25,000.

Click here for tickets. They include 2 1/2 hours of bowling, a premium open bar and heavy appetizers.

In addition to bowling, there will be an auction with sports tickets, autographed memorabilia, once-in-a-lifetime experiences, JL Rocks jewelry, Jessie Rubin artwork and many more local goodies.

Bidding begins on Thursday, January 26 (10 a.m.), and ends at 11 p.m. Friday, January 27. Click here to see all items.

Roundup: Saugatuck, RTM, Health …

Over 100 people hoped to join Thursday’s Westport Representative Town Meeting’s Planning & Zoning Committee session on the text and map amendments that may lead to the redevelopment of Saugatuck.

The RTM Zoom link could handle only 100 guests. The meeting was canceled — and a new Zoom maximum set, of 500 attendees.

Meetings have been rescheduled for Tuesday and Thursday, January 10 and 12, at 6:30 p.m. Click here for the link.

The RTM’s Transit Committee will also meet on those dates and times, to discuss Saugatuck. Click here for the link.

In related news, members of the RTM Planning & Zoning Committee joined principals for the proposed Hamlet at Saugatuck project and other Westporters on a field trip to the site yesterday.

RTM members and others tour Saugatuck. They’re at the Morton’s parking lot, behnd Tarantino. (Photo/Andrew Colabella)


In other RTM news: the non-partisan legislative body seeks candidates to fill the District 6 vacancy created by the death of Cathy Talmadge.

Residents of RTM District 6 interested in filling the vacancy should send a resume by January 20 to Town Clerk Jeffrey Dunkerton:


No parent ever wants to hear: “Your child has cancer.”

Liz Vega and Tracy Cramer described their journeys yesterday, to members of Westport’s Sunrise Rotary Club.

Both women are from Circle of Care, a local non-profit helping families whose children battle cancer. Since 2003, the group has provided nearly $5 million in direct support.

The women offered sobering statistics — and inspiring stories — from their own lives, and those that Circle of Care has helped.

At yesterday’s Sunrise Rotary Club meeting (from left): Steven Chin (Rotary), Tracey Cramer and Liz Vega (Circle of Care), Bruce Paul (Rotary). (Photo/Mark Mathias)



Speaking of health: The Westport-based Shmaruk family non-profit PCT4PC recently presented a $50,000 check to the Norwalk Hospital Foundation. The donation supports pancreatic cancer early detection research conducted by Dr. Richard Frank, oncologist/hematologist and director of clinical cancer research at Norwalk Hospital.

The Shmaruk family formed PCT4PC in 2021 when Ben Shmaruk, now 23, set out to hike the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail to raise money for pancreatic cancer research.

He honored his father Alan, who was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer in 2019. Ben’s sister Julianna, 21, managed social media accounts detailed the hike.  To learn more about PCT4PC,  please visit

Alan Shmaruk died last, after living for nearly 3 years with the deadly disease.  He is remembered at Norwalk Hospital for his unrelenting and inspirational positive. An exam room will be named in his honor at the Norwalk Hospital Whittingham Cancer Center.

(From left): Ben, Julianna and Dawn Shmaruk, and Dr. Richard Frank.


The photographer of this handsome red-tailed hawk asked to remain anonymous.

But, he said of his “Westport … Naturally” photo: The magnificent bird let him get within 10 feet, without flinching.


And finally … on this day in 1894,  Thomas Edison made a kinetoscopic film of someone sneezing. Also today his employee, William Kennedy Dickson, received a patent for motion picture film.


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