Category Archives: Environment

Staples Tuition Grants Announces Covid-19 Community Challenge

One month ago, Staples Tuition Grants was wrapping up its 2020 efforts.

For 77 years they’ve helped high school seniors — and graduates — close the gap between the cost of higher education, and what they could afford.

Applications were in. Interviews were scheduled. In June there would be a ceremony at which over 100 students would receive over $300,000 in grants.

Then the coronavirus pandemic struck. Suddenly, life got much tougher for Westporters. Loss of income was compounded by plunging portfolios — many of which included college funds.

In response to this urgent need, STG has partnered with a small group of generous donors. Together, they have pledged $50,000 to establish the STG COVID-19 Community Challenge.

Now they’re challenging Westporters — and Staples grads around the country — to meet (or exceed) an additional $50,000 in donations.  The goal is $100,000.

All funds raised in this campaign will go to this year’s STG student grant recipients. They’ll supplement whatever other grants will be awarded in June, for the upcoming 2020-21 school year.

STG says:

You know our grant recipients. They are your neighbors, babysitters, camp counselors, lifeguards, baristas, and local restaurant and retail store staff.

Many lost those jobs — this summer and beyond — and live with a parent or grandparent who also lost income or college savings through this crisis. For most of our grant recipients, their ability to pursue or continue higher education this fall will be determined by the amount of financial aid they receive in the next few weeks.

The STG COVID-19 Community Challenge is your opportunity to help! If you have a current college student receiving a refund on tuition, room and board, please consider donating a portion to this effort. If you planned to attend a fundraiser or charity event this spring that was canceled, please consider directing part of what you had planned to give to this challenge.

This is our opportunity as a strong and united community to show Staples graduates attending college next year that Westport supports them.

Click here to donate to the STG Covid-19 Community Challenge. STG also accepts checks, made out to “Staples Tuition Grants” and sent to PO Box 5159 , Westport, CT 06881-5159. Include your name as you’d like it to appear, your address and email, and write “Community Challenge” in the memo field.

A highlight of the annual Staples Tuition Grants ceremony is when recipients meet people with a fund named after a loved one. Several years ago Dr. Al Beasley posed with Megumi Asada, who received the Dr. Jean Beasley Award. Megumi has gone on to a career in medicine.

Marpe: Masks, Mutts, Rentals And More

First Selectman Jim Marpe says:

This weekend, I witnessed most people maintaining the recommended distance between neighbors and friends when out and about in Westport neighborhoods and public facilities. Thank you to all who heeded the clear message that we need to self-isolate and, when we do go out, we maintain social distancing at all times. We are still a long way from the end of this battle, so please continue to practice appropriate social distancing and avoid gathering even on private property.

A new directive from the CDC states that when going out, all individuals, whether infected or not, should wear a mask or cover their face.

This directive does not eliminate the need for 6-foot virus distancing. Self-isolation and distancing ensures your own health and safety, as well as the health and safety of your family, friends, neighbors and community. It is very important that we continue on this path, and do everything we can to insure that others follow our positive examples. Remember that if you walk your dog anywhere, it must be on a leash.

Social distancing at the beach. The photo was taken before the CDC’s new mask directive. (Photo/Bob Weingarten)

To our new neighbors who are moving into Westport: You must quarantine for 14 days. Realtors and homeowners must cease short-term (31 days or fewer) rental transactions.

Compliance with these directives and managing quarantining in this manner is an effective way to reduce the risk of community spread. Thank you for considering your new neighbors and fellow-Westporters when you move to town.

Thank you also to the many Westporters who leave messages and send e-mails about incidents, data, reports or concerns specific to COVID-19. We appreciate your intentions, and are trying to review and respond as quickly as possible. Many of your questions are addressed in regular updates and media posts. If you have not done so already, please follow or check updates:

The current crisis is both active and ever-changing. While we are looking ahead to the social and economic impacts this crisis may impose in the future, we must balance that with immediate public safety needs and day-to-day government functions. Your patience and understanding is appreciated.

Please continue to self-isolate, quarantine if necessary, socially distance yourself and, as much as possible, stay at home. Remember, you’re not stuck at home; you’re safe at home.


As of today, there are 146 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in  Westport. That’s 11 more than yesterday.

Statewide, Connecticut has recorded 6,906 cases. That’s an increase of 1,231 from yesterday. There have been 206 deaths.

Fairfield County continued to lead the state in cases with 3,719. There have been 101 deaths.

COVID Strikes Nearby Nursing Home

“06880” reader Michèle Kellner Perkins says:

I am devastated to write that COVID-19 has entered my mother’s nursing home.

Jewish Senior Services in Bridgeport — which serves the elderly of all faiths — is bracing for a rise in the number of cases.

Four residents have already contracted it. Two have died. JSS needs to buy more masks, gowns and other protective gear and equipment, which are in woefully short supply. Plans are underway to hire additional staff and pay overtime hours to existing staff, if necessary.

At the same time, the home has been hit with declining revenues.

Most people don’t realize that approximately 80% of nursing home residents are on Medicaid. JSS is no different.

A total of 330 residents live in individual “houses,” with 14 people in each. Each house has 2 certified nursing assistants. Two nurses generally cover 3 houses. No volunteers are allowed in the building so the staff is on its own, working tirelessly to care for their vulnerable residents.

Anyone with access to personal protective equipment of any kind should email mkperkins@optonline.net or dhayden@jseniors.org, or call 203-365-6409.

All financial donations are deeply appreciated. Click here to contribute. Please help spread the word to friends, family, churches, synagogues, and anyone else you can think of.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart. — Michèle

COVID-19 Roundup: Family Fun; What If?; Podcast Answers; Beechwood Arts; Holiday Meals, And More

Marley Brown is a clever — and now homebound — Staples High School freshman.

Last week she challenged her family to a week of “theme nights.” Everyone had 30 minutes to create their own costume. Then they took a photo together, and ate dinner dressed up.

Themes included Disney, Marvel, Star Wars, Gala, Movies and Broadway. “Gala night” ended up with a dance party. On Sunday her brother, Pierce, picked the winner. (It was his 13th birthday.)

“It was a great idea to break up the monotony of our days, and give us a way to jump start our creativity each evening,” says her mom, Shandley McMurray.

What’s your family doing to break up routine? Email dwoog@optonline.net!

A typical night in the Brown house.


Years ago, Miggs Burroughs wrote a book. The What If? Book of Questions is a quick and simple read — but it’s hardly quick and simple. The thought-provoking, inspirational work gets you thinking in random, odd ways. You think about things you’ve thought of often, and things you never imagined would enter your brain. For example:

What if the most important moment in your life is this one? Can you handle the power it gives you to choose how you will spend the next one?

Westport knows Miggs as a brilliant graphic artist and photographer. He is the go-to guy for designing company and non-profit logos, t-shirts, even the town flag. He is very generous with his pro bono work.

Once again, Miggs’ generosity knows no bounds. Though What If? is still available on Amazon he’s now providing a free digital version. It’s “a way to offer a small distraction and meditation on our current situation.”

Click here to download, at no cost. Then, What If you have your own questions about the crisis? Just click “Comments” below!


Like many of us, Peter Saverine knows the importance of wearing a mask.

His day job is director of development at STAR Lighting the Way. But he may have a second career as a designer.

He created his own (very) inexpensive mask using a cheap coffee filter, 2 rubber bands and scotch tape. Then he let his imagination run wild.

The result is below. Enjoy — and to show off your own creations, email dwoog@optonline.net.


Staples High School 2004 graduate Brittney Levine hosts a podcast: “Be My Neighbor.”

Yesterday, her guest was Rebecca Boas — a neighbor, and a Staples 2005 grad.

What makes this particularly COVID Roundup-worthy is that Rebecca is now Dr. Boas. She’s an assistant professor of medicine at NYU.

These days, she’s very busy. But she took time out of her Sunday to answer all kinds of listeners’ questions about treatment, masks, etc., etc., etc. Click below for the fascinating segment.


Beechwood Arts’ next immersive, interactive event is this Wednesday, April 8 (6 to 7 p.m.). The theme is “Homebodies,” which should resonate with every Westporter. There’s live music, art and special guests. For more information — including how to log in — click the video below.


Still wondering where to order a Passover or Easter meal? Click on the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce’s 2 great lists of restaurants, grocery stores and markets that may offer them (scroll down on the home page). OneWestport is another site with similar information.

Statewide, CTBites has its own lists too (including a few caterers).

The crowd may be smaller this year. But the food can be as good as ever.


They should call it “Face the Nation Featuring Scott Gottlieb.” For the 2nd straight week — and 3rd time in 4 — the former FDA commissioner was on the CBS Sunday morning show.

Once again, he appeared live from his Westport home. Click below; jump to 5:58 to see our neighbor. (Hat tip: Dennis Jackson)


And finally, an opera singer serenaded residents of a retirement community in Santa Cruz, California. But he wasn’t the only one there who could sing!

 

Kids’ Art Contest Honors Earth Day

With all the excitement over Easter and Passover, we may forget that Earth Day is coming.

And not just any ol’ Earth Day. This is the 50th anniversary! It could not have come at a more appropriate time.

To celebrate, the United Nations Association’s local chapter invites students throughout the area to submit art work — all kinds, in any media. There are 3 prizes — $300, $150 and $75 — and the first 50 submissions will be posted on Instagram.

Winners will also be invited to the UN.

Winners can choose to have part or all of their prize money donated to UN agency working with at-risk populations. Donations will be matched by an anonymous donor.

Unsure of what to do, or how to do it? Beloved Westport artist Miggs Burroughs will tell you everything you need to know — and offer suggestions.

Just click here this Thursday (April 9, 3 p.m.).

Entries are due April 16. Include name, age, school and grade, and make the submission via a parent or guardian’s email address. For submissions and questions, email UNASWCTIG@gmail.com.

[UPDATE] Remembering Joe Hawley

The coronavirus has claimed the life of a well-known local volunteer.

Joe Hawley lived in Norwalk. But he was very active in both Sunrise Rotary and the Y’s Men. He died on Wednesday, at 67.

An entrepreneur and sales and marketing executive, he worked with global beauty and fashion accessories firms like Healthtex, Liz Claiborne and Avon. He served as a mentor and coach to many in the industry.

Joe Hawley

In retirement, Joe devoted himself to serving his community, as a volunteer with Westport Sunrise Rotary and Y’s Men.

Roy Fuchs — who know Joe through both organizations — says, “Joe’s abilities, judgment and willingness to get involved, to help wherever he could, were respected.

“In Sunrise Rotary he held no office, but was a leader. He took over our already successful annual wine tasting fundraiser. He led, he organized, he managed — he joked, he cajoled. He made it successful beyond our wildest imagination.

“At our meetings Joe was quick to speak, but always with a purpose. Always with a message. He got most of us to think just a bit harder about what’s important, in our lives and in the spirit of Rotary, as we follow the motto of ‘Service Above Self.'”

“We will miss his joy, his laughter and his willingness to help others.”

Joe was an avid kayaker and bike rider, and a wonderful neighbor. In fact, he said being president of his Norwalk neighborhood association was his “best job ever.”

Joe loved to travel, and loved his family. He was happiest when they intersected. His 2 grandchildren were the lights of his life.

He is also survived by his wife Susan; daughters Ashley and Signe; son Trevor; 2 brothers, a sister and 21 nieces and nephews.

A celebration of his life will be organized by his family at a later time. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Westport Sunrise Rotary or Norwalk Hospital Community Care Team.

#WestportConnected: Week 2 Video

How are you coping with the coronavirus?

That’s the question a group of Westporters asks. Then they share the answers in a great informative, entertaining video.

The 2nd installment of #WestportConnected builds on last week’s debut. There are messages of encouragement, photos of folks doing neighborly things, and businesses letting everyone know they’re still open.

Therapists, restaurants, retail outlets — all are represented in the 3-minute montage.

Just click below. And if you’d like to be part of next week’s video, just send a photo or video (10 seconds or less) to westportconnected@gmail.com

Thanks again to these very connected Westporters: Marcy Sansolo, Darcy Hicks, Lisa Newman, Jaime Bairaktaris and Melissa Kane.

Tommy Greenwald: A Pandemic Diary

Broadway advertising executive/children’s book author Tommy Greenwald has lived in Westport on and off since 1967. This morning — as we all adapt to our new normal — he shares his.

Tommy also sends this message to “06880” readers: “Stay safe, stay healthy, stay calm, stays sane. And remember: Only 2 rolls of toilet paper per customer!”

DAY ONE

6:57: Wake up. Enjoy 3 seconds of ignorant bliss before remembering what’s happening in the world. Groan in abject dread, roll over, try to go back to sleep. Fail.

7:13: Go downstairs to the elliptical machine. Tell myself that one good thing that can come out of this crisis is getting in shape and losing weight. Spend the entire time on the elliptical thinking about the chocolate chip cookies I’ll have for breakfast.

8:04: Shower. Use a lot of soap. A lot of soap.

8:28: Get dressed. Have trouble deciding which pair of sweatpants to wear. My socks don’t match. Who cares?

A pandemic problem.

8:32: Say good morning to the first adult child who has moved back in. He answers with a grunt. The other 2 adult children who have moved back in aren’t up yet, though their work days start at 9. Our oldest son’s girlfriend is also with us. She’s great. Still, that’s a lot of 20-somethings for one bathroom.

8:39: Take the dogs for the first of their 19 daily walks.

9:25: Go down to the basement to my workspace. Exiled myself there for privacy, and also because the background decor has a cool funky vibe, which will come in handy for all my Zoom videoconferences.

10:00: The first Zoom videoconference of the day. “Hey, that’s a cool funky vibe you got there, Tom,” says a colleague, which makes me feel good, since she, like almost everyone I work with, is approximately the same age as my kids.

10:42: Scroll the news online, just long enough to be frightened by the state of the world, dismayed by the state of our country, depressed about the stock market, embarrassed I’m dismayed about the stock market when there are far more important things to worry about, and awed by the courage and dedication of health care workers.

11:24: Time for a snack! Go upstairs, past the room where one kid is on the phone trying to sell something to someone who really isn’t in the mood to buy anything right now, through another room, where another kid is on the phone trying to sell something to someone who really isn’t in the mood to buy anything right now, and into the kitchen, where my third kid is on the phone, telling his boss that people really aren’t in the mood to buy anything right now.  Peer longingly into my office, where my son’s girlfriend is working away. She waves cheerfully. Why wouldn’t she be cheerful? She has the sweetest spot in the house.

11:26: Can’t find a snack. The kids ate everything.

Charlie, Joe and Jack Greenwald reading their dad’s books. Well, at least Charlie and Jack are.

12:30: Another dog walk, this time at Sherwood Island. It’s not crowded, but it’s not empty. It’s gorgeous. I thank the gods it’s still open, and keep reminding my wife, who is too damn friendly to other people, to make sure to respect the 6-foot rule.

2:15: Another Zoom call. I start getting used to seeing people in little square boxes, and find myself fascinated with other people’s decors. Never would have suspected that quiet, unassuming Brad from accounts would have a giant photograph of a nude bowler in his living room, but there it is.

3:05: Road trip. work up the strength to go to the grocery store. Take a deep breath and put my gloves on. Walk in, saying to myself, Youcandothisyoucandothisyoucandothisyoucandothis. Store is moderately crowded with people, but extremely empty of toilet paper.

3:45: Wash my hands, using a lot of soap. A lot of soap.

3:55: Time to visit Mom. She’s 80, but looks 60. Ask her if she needs anything. She says no. She goes to the market every day. Tell her that’s probably not wise at this point. She says, “I enjoy it. I’m very careful. I wear gloves. I bring Purell. I’m fine.” Decide the same thing I’ve decided since I was 10 years old: arguing with my mother is pointless.

4:45: Last Zoom conference of the day. More accolades for my cool, funky vibe. I work in the theater business, so we discuss the perilous state of our industry. Everything is locked down, and will be for the foreseeable future. No shows. No ticket sales. No income. Everyone is hurting, badly. Feels slightly uncouth to complain when so many people in the world are suffering way worse than we are. We do it anyway.

Tommy Greenwald, at the White House piano. Those days are gone for a while.

5:22: Ninth dog walk of the day. Dogs look up at me like, Are you serious? Streets are filled with walkers, joggers, bikers. We all wave and smile. People are much friendlier to each other during a pandemic.

8:15: Dinner. Everyone in the house will take a turn cooking. Tonight is my middle son’s turn. He makes one thing, but makes it very well. He also cranks the music to 11 while he cooks. We plan on taking our dinners very seriously during this crisis. It’s the one time of day when we all come together, try to stop worrying for an hour, and remember how truly lucky we are that we have what we have: a roof over our heads, enough food to eat, a family that enjoys each other’s company. We even laugh a little.

9:10: We spend 20 minutes scrolling Netflix to find something we all want to watch. We fail.

10:15: My wife and I call my wife’s sister, a nurse at Norwalk Hospital. She’s been working almost every day, and is exhausted. We tell her she’s our hero. We tell her all her colleagues are our heroes too. We tell her we love her and to stay safe. She promises she will. We hang up. We worry.

11:30 – Time for bed. I take a very mild sleeping aid. So sue me.

DAY TWO

Pretty much exactly the same thing as Day One. And until further notice.

Weekend In Westport: Pandemic Edition

Spring is here. And here’s what Westporters saw this weekend:

As always, the Minute Man saves Westport. (Photo/Bruce Becker)

The Senior Center is closed — but open for beauty. (Photo/Molly Alger)

As he did in life, Cameron Bruce provides a ray of sunshine. His garden is at the corner of Old Hill Farms and Winding Lane. (Photo/AnneMarie Breschard)

Walking — carefully apart — on Canal Road. (Photo/Gene Borio)

Park Lane (Photo/Molly Alger)

Baron’s South (Photo/Molly Alger)

Sue Terrace (Photo/Molly Alger)

Saugatuck Shores (Photo/Gene Borio)

Waiting to meet, properly socially distanced at Winslow Park. (Photo/Dan Woog)

COVID-19 Roundup: Peter’s Market; Easter Provisions; Dental Help, And More

For over 40 years, Peter’s Market has served Weston. For more than 30 of those years, owner Jim Magee has been there for 06883: supporting every community event, opening in all kinds of weather, anchoring the entire town.

He’s still open. But while online orders have increased, he’s been slammed by a sharp drop in foot traffic. Lunches and deli orders; last-minute buys from the Great Cakes bakery; revenue from the hot food, salad and soup self-serve lines — all have almost vanished.

He’s losing employees too. Some are caring for loved ones; others have chosen to stay home, fearful of becoming sick. He respects those choices. But now his staff is working longer hours.

So — very reluctantly — Jim set up a GoFundMe page.

Besides staying open, he’ll use the capital to pay vendors (many require payments up front or COD); install self-checkout lanes; hire additional healthy shoppers to help service orders; upgrade the online ordering system, and pay down debt.

He understands these are tough times for everyone. “If you can’t help financially, we welcome your ideas,” Jim says. “For instance, do we have any volunteer programmers or developers out there?” Call 203-227-2066, or email petersmarketweston@gmail.com.

The GoFundMe page proves Weston’s love for Peter’s Market. It’s already raised more than $61,000 of the $200,000 goal.

“Any help you can offer is greatly appreciated, ” Peter says. “Please stay safe and well.” (Hat tip: Jem Sollinger)


Jennifer Welch reports that BD Provisions — the great Fairfield bulk food store owned by Westporters Tony and Tara DiPippa — is creating Easter baskets for anyone who cannot shop for next Sunday’s holiday. “What a relief!” she says. “One less thing to do while homeschooling.”


Doctors have been inundated with COVID patients. But what happens when a patient has another medical emergency? Will the fear of infection impact care?

The other night, “06880” reader Dwain Schenck broke a tooth. In intense pain, he called his Westport friend Dr. Mark Samuels. Like many dentists, he keeps only emergency hours at his Stratford practice. But this was an emergency.

Early the next morning, he took care of Dwain. The grateful patient says, “Dr. Samuels treats dental emergencies to help keep local medical facilities open for other types of treatment. He’s helping hospitals and medical centers keep these type of emergencies out of the ER.”

Dwain was impressed by the many precautions taken at the dental office. Staff wore 2 masks and double gloves. They used a special mouth rinse, and took his temperature.

Dr. Samuels is not on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic. But he — and all his colleagues — are heroic doctors nonetheless.

Dr. Mark Samuels


And finally, the late, great Marvin Gaye has an important question — and answer: