Category Archives: Westport life

Moms’ Moms Meet

It’s a familiar story.

Merri Mueller and her friend Antonia Landgraf both encouraged their mothers — one widowed, one divorced — to move out of their longtime homes, and to Connecticut.

Merri’s mom Joan

The women would be closer to their daughters and grandchildren. But they left behind many friends, and decades of familiarity.

In many ways, the moves worked out well. But Merri and Antonia realized that their mothers were a bit lonely.

“When you’re retired and live in a new place, it can be hard to make friends,” Merri says.

“If you’re super-outgoing you can join a club or play bridge. But if you’re on the shy side, it can be tough.”

So she and Antonia created a “Moms’ Moms” club.

One Facebook page and one get-together later, the feedback has been amazing.

Anotnia’s mom Maryan

The group first met for coffee. Another is planned for this Friday (December 7, 10 a.m.). After New Year’s, they’ll organize a book club, walking club, movies, dinners and more.

Women are thrilled to meet other women their age — their 60s and 70s — at the same stage of their lives.

“What a blessing!” one said after the first gathering. “Thanks for the gift of new friends that you young ladies offered these moms’ moms. And a lovely feast you provided! I look forward to another one — only next time let us help with the treats.”

One woman who brought her mother said they both enjoyed making new friends.

Now they’re looking for other “moms’ moms” new to town, ready to join them.

(Click here for the Moms’ Mom Facebook page. For more information — including the location of Friday’s meeting, email merrim3y@gmail.com)

Moms — and their moms — at the first Moms’ Moms meeting.

Westporters Enable Car Thieves

The Westport Police Department wants to make life hard for car thieves.

Unfortunately, too many residents make it too easy. 

The WPD says:

Early this morning, 2 vehicles were stolen from the Hillspoint Road area. Two others were broken into. Credit cards stolen from one vehicle were later used in Stratford.

All vehicles were believed to have been unlocked, with keys left inside the vehicles.

Another vehicle was stolen over the weekend. It was also unsecured, with the keys left inside. All incidents are being investigated by the detective bureau.

Please steal my car!

Despite multiple warnings over the last few years, residents continue to leave valuables and keys in their unlocked vehicles. As long as residents do not heed these warnings, thieves will continue to target our area.

We ask everyone to remove valuables from their vehicles, take their keys with them, and lock their car doors every time — whether holiday shopping downtown, parked at the gym, at the dog park or in their own driveways.

Residents are urged to participate in the “9 PM Routine.” This national public service campaign is a simple, effective way to prevent theft. It includes removing valuables from vehicles, locking car doors and bringing keys inside.

Take a few extra moments during your nightly routine to make sure the doors to your home are locked, your garage doors are secure, and exterior lights are turned on.

Help us prevent burglaries and theft in our community, and protect your home and property. For more information on the 9 PM Routine, follow us on Instagram and Facebook.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am thankful I live in a beautiful town. I am also thankful I’m not a turkey.

Need A Ride To The Community Thanksgiving Feast?

Turkeys and trimmings? Decorations? Volunteers?

Check. Check. Check.

Everything is set for this Thursday’s Community Thanksgiving Feast (Christ & Holy  Trinity Church, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.).

But organizers want to make sure no one misses out. So they’re reminding anyone who would like to attend, but needs a ride: Please call!

The number is 203-227-1261. That’s Saugatuck Congregational Church — where the feast was held for many years. They’re happy to help match those needing rides with folks offering them.

You can call until noon Wednesday. Volunteers are standing by!

Teen’s VFW Project Propels Community Effort

A year ago, “06880”‘s Veterans Day story highlighted Dylan Mace.

The Staples High School junior was raising funds for Westport’s VFW Post 399.  The Riverside Avenue building lacked a handicap-accessible bathroom. Dylan was appalled — “brave men and women who serve could lose limbs!” he said — and vowed to help.

Dylan Mace

Dylan — whose grandfather was a Korean War vet — went to work. Singlehandedly, he raised almost $8,000.

And then he got more help from the community.

Early in his fundraising, architect Lou Lefort and electrician Barry O’Reilly offered their services.

General contractor Scott Rochlin contacted Dylan too. Scott’s son Charley was a decorated Marine.

After Charley died in an automobile accident, Scott’s family set up a foundation to help veterans and their families. Scott volunteered to oversee the project — and said his organization would cover any extra costs.

Scott also brought in Dino Meloni, from Nicolia Marble and Tile. He installed the bathroom tile, gratis.

Bender donated a handicap sink and toilet. Lowe’s and The Tile Shop in Norwalk gave Dylan contractor discounts on supplies. Westport Glass chipped in too.

One of the specially created VFW tiles.

But Dylan wanted this to be extra-special for veterans. He found Custom-Tiles.com online, and asked if they could make special tiles with the emblems of the 5 US military branches. The owner worked with Dylan, creating amazing ones for the walls.

Dylan was so moved by the project, and the people he met through it, that when it came time to plan his service project for the National Honor Society, he asked to paint the inside of the VFW — and spruce up the outside.

Congratulations, Dylan, for all you do.

I’m sorry I couldn’t post this a few days ago, on Veterans Day.

But thanks to you — and all who helped — every great day at the VFW will now be even better.

Happy November 12!

Yesterday was Veterans Day. We’re still a week and a half from Thanksgiving.

But CVS already rolled out its first Santa Claus of the season.

Many others — and Christmas music, holiday advertising and every other marketing tool known to man — can’t be far behind.

I want to get into the spirit.

Really, I do.

But I gotta say: That’s one of the saddest looking Santas I’ve ever seen.

Thanksgiving Hosts Sought For International Students

The United Nations Association helps Americans understand the vital role that organization plays around the globe.

There are chapters all over the country. We’re close to UN headquarters, so the Southwest Connecticut affiliate is particularly active and important.

But they do a lot more than organize and promote jUNe Day. And their work extends beyond UN delegates and staffers.

For more than 50 Thanksgivings, the UNA-SWCT has hosted international students living in New York City. The aim is for them to celebrate a traditional American holiday — one they may be unfamiliar with, and unable to enjoy because everyone they know in this country is off with their own families and friends.

Westport families have volunteered. But there are tons of international young people in New York, so there is plenty of room for more.

Students take the train to Westport. Hosts pick them up at the station, and return them there after lunch or dinner.

If you’re interested in hosting — or have questions — call Joan Haas: 203-454-7685.

Special Veterans Day Ceremony Set

Many American holidays that should be celebrated on the same day every year — Martin Luther King Day, Columbus Day, Presidents Day (formerly George Washington’s birthday) — have been shifted to Mondays. Who can resist a 3-day weekend?

But Veterans Day is sacrosanct. The brutal World War I ended at 11 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month. That’s why, every November 11, we honor all our veterans.

This year is extra special. The armistice was signed in 1918 — exactly 100 years ago.

Because Veterans Day often falls on a weekday — and it’s business as usual for most businesses — Westport’s annual Town Hall ceremony seldom draws a crowd.

The dougbhoy statue in Veterans Green honors World War I service members. It’s directly opposite Town Hall, where Veterans Day services take place. (Photo/Ted Horowitz)

But 2018 is different. November 11 is next Sunday. Between that and the centennial of The Great War’s end, there’s no reason the auditorium can’t be filled.

The Westport Community Band starts things off at 1:30 p.m., playing World War I songs. Brief remarks begin at 2 p.m. Jon Nealon — a Staples High School senior who enters an ROTC program next year — will deliver the always-insightful student address.

The American Legion — which is revitalizing its Westport post — will be there, enlisting members.

Veterans Day is an often overlooked American holiday. Sunday, November 11 is a chance to give it — and our veterans — the honor they deserve.

 

Where We Live

Earlier this month, the Sunday New York Times included a fascinating special section.

“Where We Live” was a 4-page feast. Drawn from an enormous Microsoft database, it showed every building in the United States.

Including Westport.

The Times explains:

We found fascinating patterns in the arrangements of buildings. Traditional road maps highlight streets and highways; here they show up as a linear absence. Where buildings are clustered together, in downtown, the image is darker, dense. As suburbs stretch out with their larger lawns and malls, the map grows lighter.

Your eye can follow the ways that development conforms to landscape features like water and slopes….You can detect signals of wealth and poverty, sometimes almost next door to each other….

These images don’t just reveal cityscapes; they reveal ourselves.

I find the size of our downtown especially intriguing. It looms so large in our mind. On the Times map, it looks so small. Meanwhile, the Staples High School/Bedford Middle School complex looks so big. (Click each image to enlarge it.)

Here’s a tighter view. That’s the Post Road near the bottom, with the two condo complexes (Harvest Farms and Regents Park) at the far right.

Now check out Compo Beach. Pretty dense — no wonder it’s prime trick-or-treating territory!

What catches your eye? What did you learn about Westport? How has your perception of this place we call home changed?

Click “Comments” below.

And — to see the Times map of the entire United States — click here.

(Hat tip: Jeff Mitchell)

Be Inspired: Catch A Lift!

It’s easy to ignore Veterans Day.

Sure, banks and the post office are closed. But many offices — and the stock market — are open. School is on.

Westport is not exactly a military town. The veterans who live here served mostly in long-ago wars. We’re almost entirely untouched by the endless battles in Iraq and Afghanistan. That conflict — and the men and women who fight there — is out of sight, out of mind.

But it certainly isn’t for those who were wounded there.

The Catch a Lift Fund is a lifeline for those “other people.” Created by a woman whose brother volunteered after 9/11 and was killed in Afghanistan, it provides gym memberships and home gym equipment to help wounded post-9/11 service members heal physically and mentally, through physical fitness.

Working hard, thanks to Catch a Lift.

Thanks to one Westporter, however — and his dedicated crew of friends and supporters — Catch a Lift has become a prized, and very special, “local” organization.

In just 4 years, Catch a Lift’s Veterans Day event has become one of the year’s most important fundraisers.

I went to my first one last year. It was among the most moving nights of my life.

Adam Vengrow is the inspiration behind this inspiring evening. The next one is Friday, November 9 (7 p.m.), at Birchwood Country Club.

There’s great food and beverages. There’s a DJ, and a video.

But all that pales in comparison to the guests of honor. Up to 20 veterans will be there, mixing and mingling. Two will speak. The room will fall silent. It’s a life-changing experience.

Marine veteran Sarah Rudder lost her foot in an accident. Her story of fortitude inspired last year’s packed crowd at Birchwood Country Club.

The men — and women — include double and triple amputees. Some are in wheelchairs; others use canes. But this is no pity party. The spirit, energy, life and joy in the group is astonishing.

These veterans are not your typical Westporters. They enlisted just after — or during — high school. They’ve seen things you and I can’t imagine (and, because the war is so distant, never read about).

They have suffered unfathomably — for their country, and us. Thanks to Catch a Lift, they’ve rebuilt their lives. Next month, they’ll tell us their stories.

Melissa Leuck was at Birchwood last year. She did not speak. This year she will.

In addition to massive injuries, she suffered sexual trauma.

Recently, Leuck competed in the Strong Woman competition. She is indeed stronger than ever.

Melissa Leuck

This year, Vengrow and his fellow organizers will spotlight Catch a Lift’s Women’s Fitness Initiative. The support system gives combat women their identity and “tribe” after they return home.

The Birchwood fundraiser is part of 4 days of Westport activities. Catch a Lift vets will do a series of workouts, sponsored by local gyms and clubs.

They’ll meet as many of us as they can. Those who have been here before will renew friendships.

Vengrow is central to the Veterans Day weekend. But he has plenty of help. He gratefully acknowledges the many Westporters who have joined the cause.

“It’s our job to protect the people who make duty, honor, courage, commitment, integrity, country and service their lives,” he says.

“We live in the best country in the world, and one of the best parts of this country as well. We all have many wonderful things to be thankful for.”

Catch a Lift is thankful for its rock-solid Westport connection. If you’ve been to the Veterans Day event, you’ll know how important that connection is.

If you haven’t, here’s the link for tickets. But there’s an October 31 deadline. No tickets will be sold at the door!