Tag Archives: AWARE CT

Roundup: Cell Tower, Walking Tours, Wafu …

Tarpon Towers II and AT&T are proceeding with plans for a 124-foot cell tower in the back yard of a private home, at 92 Greens Farms Road.

Neighbors, meanwhile, are proceeding with their fight against it.

A petition cites environmental and aesthetic concerns with the proposal. It’s already garnered over 200 signatures.

Verizon is an “intervenor” in the case. They’ll join AT&T in leasing space on the tower.

Stephen Goldstein says: “Verizon admits that only ~1.5% of its calls in the area get dropped (vs their “target performance” of less than 1% – pretty darned close…) – and they say the reason for this tower is ‘primarily’ to increase coverage on I-95.  That’s a tough pill for the neighborhood to swallow, for sure.”

The Connecticut Siting Council will hold a Zoom meeting about the application on August 9. It begins at 2 p.m. with an evidentiary session. Public comment follows at 6:30 p.m. Click here for the link.

To participate in the 6:30 p.m. public comment session, email siting.council@ct.gov with your name, email address and mailing address, by August 8. Public comments may also be submitted to the Council by email (see address above).

A cell tower has been proposed for the property on the left: 92 Greens Farms Road.

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Baseball and ’70s/’80s music are the stars of this week’s Remarkable Theater offerings.

Today (Monday, August 1, 8 p.m.; gates open at 7 p.m.), the Imperial Avenue drive-in screens “The Sandlot.” Besides baseball, the film includes treehouse sleep-ins, a desirous lifeguard, snooty rivals, a travelling fair and a ball-eating dog..

“Mamma Mia!” needs no introduction, beyond one word: ABBA. It’s set for Wednesday (August 3, 8:15 p.m.; gates open at 7:15). Glittery costumes are optional.

Click here for tickets, and more information.

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Like many Westporters, Nancy Wilson is intrigued by the “Destination Westport Walking Tours” signs popping up all over town.

(Photo/Nancy Wilson)

Like most people, she drives — not walks — past them.

She’d love to know more. However, the QR code does not work on a photo like the one she took (above).

And there’s no other info on the signs, as to a sponsor, date, or anything else.

So although these signs are posted on major roads, they all lead to dead ends.

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Wakeman Town Farm’s bee team harvested a big batch of home-grown local honey yesterday. Overseen by beekeeper Jaime Smith, WTF worker bees 🐝 spun 11 boxes, which they then turned into golden nectar.

The process begins with opening up the capped comb by scraping off the wax, then putting the frame into the extractor. Once the extractor is filled with frames, the spinning begins.

Erika Smith, hard at work. (Photo/Jerri Graham Photography)

Honey drips to the bottom of the tank. It is then poured into storage to be siphoned into glass jars.

It’s a sticky process. But the result is delicious — and it’s sold at WTF’s farm stand every Saturday (9 a.m. to 1 p.m.). Sweeeeet!

Honey-making at Wakeman Town Farm. (Photo/Jerri Graham Photography)

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If you’re not aware: AWARE is a wonderful Fairfield County-wide organization.

The acronym stands for Assisting Women with Actions, Resources and Education. Each year, members partner with a local non-profit. They volunteer with that group, organize an educational event and host a fundraiser.

Among AWARE’s past partners: the Cancer Couch Foundation (health), International Institute of Connecticut (human trafficking), Mercy Learning Center (education), Female Soldiers: Forgotten Heroes (veterans) and Malta House (pregnant and new mothers).

The other day, AWARE volunteers gathered at Compo Beach. They celebrated the work they do, their commitment to helping other women — and the beautiful sunset they felt lucky to enjoy.

AWARE, at the beach.

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As Old Mill Grocery celebrates its first week in operation, Westporters continue to give thanks for the revival of the neighborhood deli/market.

And by “Westporters,” we mean humans of all ages.

And man’s best friend.

(Photo/John McGrath)

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In June there was a shooting at Wafu — the Asian fusion restaurant just over the town line, in Southport.

Then the state suspended its liquor license.

That was just Wafu’s latest problem. In the months before, Fairfield police had been called there numerous times, for public urination, underage drinking, and a bouncer allegedly pepper spraying a crowd.

Now it’s permanently closed. Chris Grimm snapped this photo, noting that the sign with its name is removed.

(Photo/Chris Grimm)

The Westport location in Bedford Square — which calls itself a “Korean BBQ” restaurant — is still open.

There have been no reports there of shootings. Or public urination, underage drinking or a bouncer using pepper spray.

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“06880” readers are sharp.

When I posted a “Roundup” item about Jillian Elder’s Westport-themed t-shirts, hoodies and tumblers, a number of you quickly spotted a misspelling: “Patrick Wetlands,” not “Partrick.”

Clicking on the link provided, several also noticed that “Greens Farms” was rendered as “Green Farms.” There’s plenty of debate about an apostrophe — both Greens Farms and Green’s Farms are used — but there’s no doubt there’s an “s” at the end.

Jillian quickly apologized — and printed new shirts. She thanks all who pointed out the errors.

To order a correctly spelled item, click here.

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Speaking of eagle eyes:

“06880” reader Jill Haymes was watching yesterday’s Yankees-Royals game.

This “Veteran of the Game” came on:

(Photo/Jill Haymes)

Thanks, Seaman First Class Wall, for your service.

And thanks, Jill, for helping us honor him today.

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Wendy Levy spotted this bee on hydrangea at Little Barn. We’ve run some “Westport … Naturally” plant and insect photos before.

But never from a restaurant.

(Photo/Wendy Levy)

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And finally, on this date in 1876, Colorado was admitted as the 38th US state.

 

Roundup: Fire, Beach Stickers, Cannabis …

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Just before midnight, Westport firefighters responded to a fire alarm at the Townhouse for Dogs building on the Post Road, between Little Barn and Maserati.

There was heavy fire on the 2nd floor apartment of the building, Fairfield and Norwalk Fire Departments provided mutual aid.

Westport firefighters and police officers rescued and removed approximately 50 dogs and cats from the pet boarding facility.

The 3 occupants of the 2-floor apartment were awakened by smoke detectors.  With their  exit blocked by fire, they jumped from a window. They were treated by Westport EMS, and did not require hospitalization.

The fire is under investigation by the Westport fire marshal’s office. The WFD reminds residents that working smoke detectors save lives.

Norwalk and Wilton Fire Departments provided station coverage during the incident.

Last night’s fire at the Townhouse for Dogs. (Photo courtesy of Westport Fire Department)

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Beachgoers, take note: On May 1, parking emblems (aka “stickers”) will be required to drive into town beaches.

Click here to begin the purchase process online. If you bought an emblem or registered for Parks & Recreation programs previously, choose “Memberships”; in the search box, type “vehicle,” and follow the prompts. It may take 7-10 days to receive your sticker in the mail.

Walk-in purchases are available weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Questions? Email recreation@westportct.gov, or call 203-341-5152.

(Photo/Mark Marcus)

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A towering, powerful band kicks off Levitt Pavilion’s “Stars on Tour” series.

Tower of Power comes to town Saturday, June 4 (7:30 p.m.).

The soul/funk/R&B horn-driven band has been rocking audiences for over 50 years.

Levitt Pavilion members can access the pre-sale now. Click here for information on membership.

General admission tickets go on sale tomorrow (Friday, April 22, noon). Click here to purchase.

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Lynsey Addario is back in Ukraine.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist — and 1991 Staples High School graduate — is once again documenting important front-line stories.

Yesterday, her photos from Avdiivka illustrated the brutal lives of those who live in the Donbas, the eastern territory in Russian forces’ crosshairs, as they begin a new and violent assault.

“God bless her, Tyler” — Hicks, her fellow Times award-winning photographer and Staples grad — “and everyone reaching out providing  aid to Ukraine,” Lynsey’s mother Camille says.

“Please let it end.”

Like other residents of Avdiivka, Ukraine, Matviy, 12, sought shelter in a basement. The village has come under increasing artillery fire as Russia shifts its offensive to Ukraine’s east. (Photo/Lynsey Addario for the New York Times)

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A reminder about Arbor Day (April 29), and related events:

This Saturday (April 23, 10:30 a.m. to noon, Jesup Green, free): The Tree Board and Westport Book Shop celebrate Earth Day with a fun event to promote reading for all ages, with attention also on the value of trees. Interactive family-friendly activities involving reading and early learning; educational materials and a native tree sapling giveaway, courtesy of Bartlett Tree Company.

Friday April 29 (Arbor Day, 3 to 4 p.m., Town Hall, free):  The Tree Board hosts their annual native sapling giveaway, plus brochures and advice from professional associations on tree-related topics, from site selection to proper maintenance.  Native saplings for giveaway are donated by Bartlett Tree.

Saturday, April 30 (3 to 4 p.m., Earthplace): The Tree Board hosts a live discussion and free information session with a tree professional on the basics of tree planting and maintenance, including selection, mulching, pruning, pest management and more. Native tree saplings, courtesy of Bartlett, will be available while they last.

As part of Arbor Day, Earthplace also hosts a “Toast To The Trees” family event 4 to 6 p.m.), with kids’ activities and s’mores, handmade pizza, beverages for adults and kids, plus a “tree walk” tour.  Click here to purchase tickets.

Also, the Tree Board and Westport Library have created a “StoryWalk” at the Lillian Wadsworth Arboretum (2 Woodside Lane).  The featured book is “Be a Tree!” For more information, click here.

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The District 8 “traffic meeting” — arranged by 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker, with Public Works, Planning & Zoning and Public Safety Department representatives — is set for tonight (April 21, 7 p.m., Town Hall). This is also the middle of our public schools’ spring break.

Residents who can’t attend tonight are invited to an alternate session on Tuesday (same location and time).

RTM District 8 includes Coleytown. Traffic issues include cars waiting on North Avenue, near Coleytown Elementary and Middle Schools. (Photo/David Gottlieb)

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Speaking of traffic:

Replacement of the Bayberry Lane bridge over the Aspetuck River began yesterday. It’s scheduled to be closed from April 28 through November 30.

The detour route is Easton Road to Coleytown Road to North Avenue to Lyons Plain Road to White Birch Road, or the reverse as necessary.

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If you’re not aware of AWARE: You should be.

For a decade, the non-profit (the acronym stands for Assisting Women through Action, Resources and Education) has partnered with non-profits like Mercy Learning Center, Female Soldiers: Forgotten Heroes, Malta House, Caroline House and Cancer Couch.

For a year, AWARE members learn about that particular organization, and its clients. Through hands-on activities and dinners, they offer support and guidance. Through fundraising, they offer financial help.

This year’s partner is the Women’s Mentoring Network. The Stamford-based group offers education and job training, and assistance in areas like financial literacy and computers.

This year’s fundraiser is May 14 (6 to 8 p.m.). “Tapas @ Twilight” includes food, beverages and an auction. Click here or email info@awarect.org for more information.

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Unfortunately, we got this too late to post yesterday (4/20). Still, here goes:

The American Marketing Association Southern Connecticut chapter’s first hybrid event — “CannaCurious? Marketing, Regulations and Social Equity” (May 19, networking at 6 p.m., program at 7, Earthplace and Zoom) — focuses on the booming cannabis sector.

Industry leaders from state and federal regulatory, marketing, social equity and investment advisory groups will share best practices, tips and guidelines for the quickly changing landscape.

To register and for more information, click here.

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Who would put a port-a-potty in the marsh, at the extreme end of Sherwood Island State Park?

(Photo/Art Schoeller)

No one. Well, no one except Mother Nature.

Greens Farms Association president Art Schoeller sent this photo, and an explanation: Monday’s storm floated the portable toilet from the Burying Hill parking lot — where it’s being used for the jetty reconstruction project — across the channel to Sherwood Island.

No s—.

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Westport Country Playhouse has branched out into podcasting.

“Stories from the Playhouse” — a new series — launched this week on Spotify and Libsyn classic feed, and on the Playhouse website.

Hosted by Playhouse assistant artistic director Liam Lonegan, the podcast hopes to inspire artists, audiences and community members. The monthly series will feature guests from throughout the theater world, sharing their stories.

The first episode is “Redefining Normal,” with guest Marcos Santana, director and choreographer of “Next to Normal.” The show runs through Sunday, April 24. Santana tells his story, from growing up in Puerto Rico to performing on Broadway, and sheds light on bringing the pop/rock musical to the Playhouse stage.

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Linda Colletta is launching a new “Westport Studio Concept Space,” open through September.

Her goal with the 33 Elm Street spot is to “make the art studio experience more accessible to the public, enhance education about abstract art, and invite artists and art enthusiasts to connect with the artist in person.”

An opening reception is set for April 29 (6 to 9 p.m.).

Linda Colletta, and her art.

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Westport college admissions counselor Amy Chatterjee offers a free webinar on the admissions process, and the importance – or not – of the SATs and ACTs.

It’s set for Thursday, April 28 (7 p.m.). Click here to register.

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“Westport … Naturally” appreciates our town at all hours of the day. Here was the view at 6:30 yesterday morning, on Riverside Avenue.

(Photo/Tom Cook)

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And finally … tonight on this date in 1977, “Annie” opened on Broadway. The next morning … well, you know.

Roundup: Alcohol In Westport, Album Cover Design, Cell Tower Balloon Test …

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“Can I drink if my parents are with me?” “How old were you when you started drinking?” “If pot is legal, how can it be bad?”

If you’re a Westport parent, your child may ask you those or similar questions. How would you respond?

To help frame your answers, the Westport Prevention Coalition offers “Don’t Wait.” The 52-minute short film helps parents start conversations about substance use.

It’s available free to Westporters throughout March, thanks to a grant. You can watch at home whenever it’s convenient, or join other parents for a virtual group showing. There are follow-up discussions online too.

To watch, click here, then enter promo code PD2022. To register for a group showing and/or follow-up discussion, click here.

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In related news, on Thursday Positive Directions hosted a virtual discussion on “Mindful Drinking: Reimagining Our Alcohol Habits, and How They Impact Our Relationships.”

A panel — including professionals, parents, a recovering alcoholic and a Staples High School student — gave clear, honest accounts of their own experiences with drinking in Westport.

The discussion is online, and available at any time. Click here; then scroll down underneath “How Are You Coping in 2022?” to view.

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Interested in seeing how high the proposed cell tower at 92 Greens Farms Road — 124 feet — really is?

A “balloon display” is scheduled for Monday (February 21) at 7 a.m. It should last around 4 hours.

The tower would be built on a private residence, adjacent to I-95 near Hillspoint Road. (Hat tip: Don Bergmann)

A cell tower been proposed for the property on the left: 92 Greens Farms Road. (Photo courtesy of Google Maps)

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Interested in designing an album cover?

The Westport Library invites artists to submit work to be featured on upcoming vinyl. It will also be sued for digital and print promotions.

Fairfield County painters, illustrators, designers, photographers, collage makers — and all other visual artists — can apply.

The competition is part of the Library’s first-of-its-kind “Verso Records Compilation, Volume 1.” The independent record will feature emerging tri-state musicians in genres from jazz and rock to folk and indie. All tracks are recorded live at the Library’s state-of-the-art Verso Studios.

The Artists Collective of Westport will oversee an independent jury committee. Among them: Neal Smith, a founding member of Alice Cooper.

Along with the honor of designing the cover, the artist chosen will receive $1,000.

12” x 12” artwork should be in TIF, JPEG, PNG or PDF format, with a minimum of 300 dpi. The Library’s art department will add text and crop materials at their discretion.

For more information, click here. The submission deadline is March 25.

Part of the Westport Library’s Verso Studios.

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Sarah Bernhard is coming to the Westport Country Playhouse.

The actress/singer author presents “Sandra Bernhard: An Evening of Comedy and Music” on Sunday, March 12 (8 p.m.). Running time is one hour; no intermission. Explicit language.

Her film credits include “The King of Comedy” with Robert De Niro and Jerry Lewis, directed by Martin Scorsese. Television credits include “The Sopranos” and “The Larry Sanders Show.”

Broadway World says, “Sandra Bernhard takes no prisoners and pulls no punches. She will set the place afire with her white-hot intelligence. She is authentic, unapologetically pissed, heartbroken, and of course, hilarious.

For more information and tickets click here; email boxoffice@westportplayhouse.org, or call the box office: 203-227-4177.

Sandra Bernhard (Photo/Brian Zeigler)

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AWARE is one of my favorite organizations.

The acronym stands for Assisting Women with Actions, Resources and Education. Each year, members partner with a local non-profit. They volunteer with that group, organize an educational event and host a fundraiser.

Their next event is March 1 (WEST, 117 Post Road East, 7 p.m.). WEST owner Kitt Shapiro will talk about her new book, “Eartha & Me: A Daughter’s Love Story in Black and White.” It’s a memoir of growing up with her mother, Eartha Kitt.

AWARE members have been reading the book this week.

This is not a fundraiser — just a fun event with AWARE member Kitt. Plus, she’s offered 20% off merchandise to anyone that night.

PS: I’ll be introducing Kitt. I’m “aware” of what an honor that is!

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Once again, Tyler Hicks has the lead photo on the front page of the New York Times.

The 1988 Staples High School graduate/Pulitzer Prize winner’s shot today shows a

(Photo/Tyler Hicks for the New York Times)

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Last year, COVID forced Suzuki Music Schools’ Connecticut Guitar Festival into cyberspace.

It’s back for a 5th year March 11-13 — both live at the Westport Library, and online (free!).

The event opens with a Kickoff Concert, starring classical and jazz greatsPaul Galbraith, Adam Levin, Adam Del Monte and Leandro Pellegrino.

It continues all weekend with a guitar expo, “GuitART,” and performances and events with Similar Kind, Matt Rae, Rami Vamos, Benjamin Verdery, CGF artistic director and Grammy-nominee Mak Grgic, and many more!

For a full list of events, click here. For an overview of the festival and artists, click here.

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To celebrate its 1-year anniversary, Westport-based FLB Law donated 1,200 cans of soup to the Filling in the Blanks SOUPer Bowl Food Drive. The Norwalk nonprofit provides weekend meals to needy children in Fairfield and Westchester Counties.

Other recent FLB initiatives include packing backpacks with holiday treats, toys and a dental kitfor Filling in the Blanks, and making birthday boxes for the Domestic Violence Crisis Center.

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Amy Schneider knows the kinds of photos I like for our “Westport … Naturally” feature.

So, she asks with a smile, “Did this get to Compo Beach naturally?”

(Photo/Amy Schneider)

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And finally … Beverly Ross died recently in Nashville. She was 87.

You may not know her name. For a while, she was one of the most successful pop and rock songwriters in America — and one of its few females.

Her short career ended when a work relationship with Phil Spector turned sour. She said that he stole a riff they were working on, then turned it into “Spanish Harlem” — which he credited to himself and Jerry Leiber. Click here for a full obituary.

Among her credits:

Powerful Photos Raise Breast Cancer AWAREness

Through the efforts of many people and organizations, breast cancer awareness is high. It affects 1 in 8 women, and kills more than 40,000 Americans each year.

But there’s less awareness that less than 10% of all money raised for breast cancer goes to research. And just pennies of that goes to Stage IV.

AWARE is raising awareness of the lack of funding allocated to metastatic breast cancer research. There is no better local organization to take on the task.

The acronym stands for Assisting Women with Actions, Resources and Education. Each year, members partner with a local non-profit. They volunteer with that group, organize an educational event and host a fundraiser.

In past years, AWARE CT has aided the International Institute of Connecticut (human trafficking), Mercy Learning Center (education), Female Soldiers: Forgotten Heroes (veterans) and Malta House (pregnant and new mothers).

Their current partner is the Cancer Couch Foundation. Since 2016, the group has raised over $3 million for Stage 4 breast cancer research.

AWARE’s commitment is total, and strong. The centerpiece is a series of portraits of Westporters, by talented photographer Jerri Graham. Each image includes text, with the subject describing how she or he has been affected by the disease.

The original idea was for each subject to also make a donation to the Cancer Couch, through AWARE. The portraits would be posted on social media, then shown at a fundraiser; afterward, each subject could take her or his photo home.

But AWARE did not stop there. For greater visibility — and awareness — they’ve gone door to door. Over 80 stores, restaurants, salons and medical offices agreed, quickly and enthusiastically, to show one or two portraits inside, or in their windows.

AWARE co-directors Amy Saperstein and Nicole Gerber, with a photo at Aux Delices’ Post Road East location.

AWARE then took photos of the merchants, chefs and doctors, and posted those online. It’s one more special way to raise awareness, of both Cancer Couch and the lack of metastatic breast cancer funding.

Winged Monkey — the first store to join the project, even before there was an image to display — offered to host a fundraiser there.

Joyride joined quickly too. Owners Amy Hochhauser and Rhodie Lorenz are all in. Instructor Mackenzie Pretty led a “Spinraiser” at the studio. She wove breast cancer statistics and information about Cancer Couch between songs — and gave shout-outs to AWARE members who were in the room, on bikes.

All 4 women posed for photos. Pretty’s mother — herself a breast cancer survivor — had her portrait taken too.

Mackenzie Pretty

Other avid supporters: 2nd Selectwoman Jen Tooker, and Westport Farmers’ Market director Lori Cochran-Dougall.

2nd Selectwoman Jen Tooker

When they began, AWARE co-directors Amy Saperstein and Nicole Gerber hoped 25 people would want their portraits taken. Well over 80 responded.

The photos are stunning. Jerri Graham — a very talented Westport portrait artist — captures subjects’ faces and feelings beautifully.

Coupled with each person’s words — about breast cancer’s impact on themselves, loved ones and/or friends — the effect is powerful and immediate.

It’s also, Gerber says, “a call to action.”

Just before Christmas, AWARE’s project took on a life — and death — of its own.

Four years ago, Rebecca Timlin-Scalera of Fairfield was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer. It was re-diagnosed later to Stage IIIc, but she did not want to leave Stage IV women behind.

Timlin-Scalera started Cancer Couch, dedicated to Stage IV research. She was looking forward to having her photo taken, for AWARE.

It never happened. Just before Christmas, she died.

The Cancer Couch founder’s death stunned AWARE. In her honor, they’ve set a fundraising goal of $50,000. An anonymous donor pledged to match it.

Timlin-Scalera was not the only person unable to be photographed. A woman planned to pose with her husband. Cancer treatment interfered. Her 8- and 6-year-old daughters will take her place.

That’s one of many inspiring stories. Wilson Herrera — the Staples High School custodian/ college student who was profiled on “06880” last fall — and his brother William, a Bedford Middle School custodian — wanted to be photographed. Their mother battled breast cancer twice (and now has ovarian cancer).

Wilson and William Herrera

The sons gave her their photo in December, as a Christmas gift.

But the photo displays in stores, restaurants and medical offices are not the end of AWARE’s involvement with Cancer Couch. They’ll be displayed in another important venue: a fundraiser on Saturday, March 7 (6 to 8 p.m., POPT’ART Gallery, 1 Main Street).

As with everything AWARE does, this is a team effort. Lori Winthrop Dockser — who lost her mother to breast cancer at a young age, and has also been diagnosed with the disease — is donating all the catering staff.

Jesup Hall owner Bill Taibe — another portrait subject — offers free cocktails on the day of the fundraiser, at his restaurant.

Bill Taibe

The fundraiser will include light bites and wine.

And — most importantly — an AWAREness that the fight against Stage IV breast cancer needs all of us.

(For tickets and more information, click here.)  

I am proud to help support this cause.

Unsung Heroes #98

Unsung Heroes come from every corner of Westport. They’re in every walk of life — and of every age.

Today, “06880” honors 3 Westport students.

Brett Malizia is a 4th grader at Long Lots Elementary School. His friend and classmate Eden Kopreski was recently diagnosed with leukemia.

As soon as Brett heard, he told his mother — Westport native Ursula Richards Malizia — he wanted to help.

He says:

Before I learned Eden had leukemia, I cared about cancer, but not as much as now. When you learn a friend has cancer, it changes everything. I want to do this because I want every child to be healthy, especially Eden.

Eden has always always been very nice, kind, and funny. She’s such a good friend.

I also know how awful it is to experience being hospitalized and having needles because this happened to me when I was younger with stomach problems. This made me feel so bad for her, so I wanted to figure out how to help.

The 2 families met. Brett decided to run in the Faxon Law 5K Road Race at Jennings Beach on Saturday, June 1. Eden will join him. So will Eden’s twin brother Gavin, her older brother Lucas, and Brett’s mom.

The next day, Brett and his mother will be back — for the Faxon Law half marathon.

Brett Malizia trained for the Faxon races by running in last month’s Minute Man Race. He was joined at the Compo Beach finish line by Eden Kopreski.

They would love having fans cheer them on — or, even better, joining them as they run and walk. (Click here for more information.)

Eden’s family started a GoFundMe page. Part of the money raised will go toward her medical care. Some will also be donated to a leukemia survivor organization.  (Click here to help.)

“I want Eden to be healthy and have a great life,” Brett says. I hope a lot of people contribute to this fight against leukemia and mostly to help Eden.

Brett Malizia and Eden Kopreski: You are true heroes!

Eden’s supporters will wear t-shirts with this on the front, at the Faxon road races next month.

So is Julia Davis.

Though the Staples High School sophomore is busy with dance, Best Buddies, homework, family obligations and friends, she always finds time for AWARE.

That’s the great local organization (the acronym stands for Assisting Women Through Action, Resources and Education) that each year partners with a different non-profit, for a variety of events.

Julia joined AWARE KIDS — the youth arm — as a Kings Highway 5th grader. Her volunteer efforts included preparing diaper bags for new mothers at Malta House, and cooking international recipes with women at Caroline House.

Julia Davis

Julia also works at the annual AWARE fundraiser, and recruits friends to help. She began as a greeter. This year (June 1, Burr Mansion in Fairfield) she has a key role.

The event will help the Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants. For over 100 years, CIRI has served newcomers to America, and helped them thrive.

Julia has played an active role in Staples’ CIRI Girls’ Club. Each month, CIRI girls ages 10 to 20 join high schoolers to practice English, and enjoy activities like yoga and arts and crafts. The Staples girls also provide homework help and dinner.

Strong bonds have formed. Julia texts her new friends between meetings. She sends them inspiring message. They in turn inspire her.

Combining two of her passions — dance and volunteering — Julia recently led a Girls’ Club dance session. She got even the shyest girls to participate — and 25 AWARE women, who had planned only to watch. Julia created a specially choreographed number just for them.

Right now, Julia is focused on making AWARE’s “Hope Starts Here” June 1 fundraiser a success. She tells everyone she knows about the food, dancing, raffle — and hearing the immigrant and refugee girls talk about their experiences.

Julia is a true Unsung Hero too. To support her efforts and help the AWARE fundraiser, click here.

(Hat tips: Lindsay Shurman and Amy Saperstein)

Be AWARE: Unique Photographer Honors Special Women

International Day of the Woman was last Friday.

But you can celebrate it this coming Friday.

And you’ll not only honor some outstanding women — you’ll help young refugee girls.

Rebecca Rose is a photographer. She specializes in “classical painterly portraits” — photographs that look almost like paintings. In fact, she provides dresses, gowns, hair and makeup for her subjects.

On Friday (March 15) she’ll open an exhibit at Suzuki Music School. She’ll show some of our state’s most remarkable women: senior journalists, presidents of non-profits, Mrs. Connecticut — you name it, Rebecca has photographed her.

Two Westporters are among those honored.

Amy Saperstein and her daughter. (Photo/Rebecca Rose)

Amy Saperstein is a founder and co-director of AWARE, both in New York and Fairfield County. The acronym stands for Assisting Women with Actions, Resources and Education. Each year, members partner with a local non-profit. They volunteer with that group, organize an educational event and host a fundraiser.

AWARE CT has already aided the International Institute of Connecticut (human trafficking), Mercy Learning Center (education), Female Soldiers: Forgotten Heroes (veterans) and Malta House (pregnant and new mothers).

Previously, Amy — who earned an MBA at Columbia — was executive director of Project Sunshine. She grew the nonprofit, which serves children in hospitals, from a small community group to an international organization, with programs in the US, Mexico, Israel, Africa and China.

Nicole Gerber (Photo/Rebecca Rose)

Nicole Gerber will also have her Rebecca Ross portrait hung at Suzuki. With over 20 years experience in project management and event planning, she’s currently director of operations for AWARE CT.

Nicole also sits on the board of advisors for Unite the World with Africa, a foundation that provides opportunities for marginalized women and youth in Tanzania. She has raised over $25,000 a year for Unite, for the past 3 years.

Amy and Nicole’s connections with AWARE are not coincidences.

Soon, Rebecca will take photos of immigrant girls. They come from Eritrea, Congo, Tanzania and Sudan, and live in Fairfield and New Haven Counties. They’re sponsored by the Connecticut institute for Refugees and Immigrants — the organization that AWARE is partnering with this year.

Portraits are something tangible, Rebecca says, that they are their families and cherish for generations.

Portraits are dear to Rebecca’s heart. Her great-grandfather lived in Czechoslovakia, when World War II broke out. He prepared his family as best he could — including having a family portrait taken just before Germany seized the country.

That family portrait is all Rebecca’s mother knew of her grandparents. They were killed by the Nazis.

Rebecca’s mission is to ensure that all generations can admire their families, remembering them through portraits that bring out their true beauty and personalities.

(The portrait show opening is this Friday, March 15, 6 to 7 p.m. at Suzuki Music School, 246 Post Road East — the lower level of Colonial Green.)

Unsung Hero #47

Everyone in Westport should be “aware” of Nicole Gerber.

A resident since 2009 and mother of 2, Nicole got involved with AWARE CT at its inception 5 years ago. In 2015, she became director of operations.

AWARE stands for Assisting Women with Action, Resources and Education. Every year, they partner with a local women’s-oriented non-profit by organizing an educational event and hosting a fundraiser.

Nicole brings creativity and passion to her volunteer efforts. Last year, she single-handedly developed a video project, to raise awareness of AWARE. She runs AWARE’s day-to-day operations, while providing vision and drive.

Nicole Gerber

She’s taking this year’s partnership with Caroline House — the  Bridgeport organization that provides English lessons and life skills to immigrant women — to a new level.

Nicole is making a cookbook, featuring family recipes contributed by Caroline House students from around the world, and AWARE members from across Fairfield County.

She’s gotten many Westporters involved. International best-selling author Jane Green is writing the foreward. Noted photographer Jerri Graham is taking pictures. The Westport Library’s MakerSpace team is doing the layout.

Nicole also plays a huge role on the board of advisors of Unite the World with Africa. She traveled to Tanzania last year, and will return next year. She hosts events in her home to raise awareness about the issues facing families in that nation.

Nicole Gerber, at a Tanzanian orphanage.

Nicole is passionate about everything she does. She is tremendously organized. And extremely thorough.

How thorough?

She’s personally testing every recipe in the cookbook she’s assembling, to make sure they are 100% accurate.

Well-run organizations and great fundraisers don’t just happen.

They need the help of people who are very aware.

People like this week’s Unsung Hero, Nicole Gerber.

(AWARE’s fundraiser on behalf of Caroline House is Saturday, June 9 in Westport. For tickets and more information, click here. To nominate an Unsung Hero, email dwoog@optonline.net. Hat tip: Amy Saperstein)

Westport Women AWARE Of Malta House

Westporters pride ourselves on being aware. We’re aware of world events and local issues. We’re aware we need to reach out to others in need, whether far away or right in our own little bubble.

Some Westport women, though, are really AWARE.

That’s the acronym of a group started in New York, to support women’s causes. Each year they partner with a local non-profit, by volunteering, organizing an educational event and hosting a fundraiser.

AWARE — the acronym stands for Assisting Women with Action, Resources and Education — came to Fairfield  County in 2013 via transplants from the city. Amy Saperstein, a founding member in New York, was instrumental in opening a local chapter in her new home here.

AWARE CT has already aided the International Institute of Connecticut (human trafficking), Mercy Learning Center (education) and Female Soldiers: Forgotten Heroes (veterans).

AWARE members at a recent event.

This year’s partnership is particularly powerful.

Malta House is a Norwalk-based organization offering a nurturing home environment, support services and independent living skills to pregnant and new mothers. It’s low-key — and life-changing.

AWARE members are all in. Nicole Gerber — a mother of 2 young children, who last year became AWARE CT’s chief operating officer, then returned to school for a degree in non-profit fundraising — is also a professional caterer. She’ll teach healthy cooking techniques at Malta House next month.

Galia Gichon Clements — another mother of 2, with a background in finance — volunteers in the nursery, and teaches the young moms about money management.

Dr. Nikki Gorman is a mother of 3, and a pediatrician. She attended AWARE dinners at Malta House in the fall, and quickly took on several newborns as patients.

Other AWARE members host events, including small monthly dinners and larger panel discussions on topics like homelessness in Fairfield County (with representatives from Project Return and Homes With Hope).

AWARE members also serve monthly dinners at Malta House. They include get-to-know-each other activities, great dishes, and activities like decorating t-shirts for the residents’ children.

One of the AWARE activities was helping Malta House residents make dreamcatchers for their rooms.

It’s important for AWARE to be aware of what their partner organizations truly need. Malta’s program director Claudia Nixon says that many residents never experienced female friendships. So AWARE members model support for each other.

They also involve their own children, through a special AWARE KIDS program. Youngsters have organized bake and book sales, and made blankets for the Malta House moms.

Next up: a fundraiser.

Next Saturday (June 3, 6 p.m., Wells Hill Farm, Weston), there’s a “Party in the Pasture.” The sustainable farm is the home of AWARE member Michelle Fracasso.

A DJ is donating his time; local chefs are contributing food, and vendors are offering prizes.

Proceeds help women like Autumn Corley. Five months ago the 20-year-old and her ill mother were evicted from their Stamford apartment. She had never heard of Malta House. But it was a godsend.

Autumn Corley and Ameerah.

Autumn ticks off what she’s learned: “Self-respect. Budgeting — I’m saving money now! And how to be a better woman, for myself and my daughter.”

She appreciates Malta House’s many resources, like speakers on child development, cooking and gardening.

And, she says, “the AWARE ladies are awesome. They all have different backgrounds, but they all motivate me. They love talking with us. There’s never a dull moment.”

“Dr. Nikki” is her infant Ameerah’s pediatrician. But she’s more than just a doctor.

She made 5-week-old Ameerah a onesie, with her name on it. Earlier — before the baby was born — Gorman helped Autumn write a note for Ameerah to read when she’s older.

In September Autumn will go to school, to become a dental assistant. Until then, she’ll stay at Malta House — “breastfeeding, and saving money.”

(For tickets and more information on AWARE’s June 3 “Party in the Pasture” fundraiser, click here.)