Last summer, Allyson Maida took a shot in the dark.
The longtime Westport psychotherapist — in her role as president of Business Networking International — organized a “Chill Out, Grill Out & Give” event at Greens Farms Elementary School.
Attendees brought their own balls, frisbees, food and drinks (grills were provided). A per person entry fee helped raise over $7,200.
Every penny went to children living in transitional housing, served through Homes with Hope. Funds covered day-to-day expenses like birthday parties and transportation not covered by traditional sources.
There was more too. Businesses like Calise’s Deli, Aux Delices and Garelick & Herbs gave gift cards, so families in need could enjoy great food. Folks offered tutoring services and clothes.
It was a wonderful day, filled with surprises.
Weston Police commissioner Susan Moch spontaneously and pridefully sang the national anthem. Everyone stopped, and joined in.
Nick Santasiero and Jimi Italiano pulled out guitars and jammed. Others banged bongos.
Kids and adults played softball together. Strangers tossed frisbees.
Ernie Addario, Bill Hall and Amy Guyette Hall cooked vegan, vegetarian and meat meals. Fleisher’s Craft Butchery brought a large tent (and lots of sausage). Spotted Horse sent steak tips and salad, while Garelick & Herbs provided desserts. (The few leftovers went straight to the Gillespie Center.)
Everything came together, Allyson says.
Now she’s organized an encore.
The 2nd annual “Chill Out, Grill Out & Give” is set for this Sunday (July 15), at Greens Farms El. It starts at 2 p.m., and continues until the last person leaves.
This year, some of the children benefiting from the event will be there too. You won’t know who they are.
They’ll be just like everyone else: Westporters having fun in their town.
(The entry is $20 per person, payable at the event; children under 12 go free. Food and drinks are provided, though you can bring your own. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Tax-deductible donations can be made payable to “Westport BNI,” and sent to Allyson Maida, 840 Post Road East, Westport, CT 06880; write “Homes with Hope” on the memo line.)