Tag Archives: Bridgeport Rescue Mission

Roundup: Bingo; Bridgeport Rescue Mission; Flowers; More


Stan Witkow reports that the weekly virtual bingo game just crossed the $5,000 mark.

Anyone can play. The winner chooses a non-profit to receive his or her winnings.

Homes With Hope has been a major recipient of the weekly winnings, receiving $1,235. Other include Bridgeport Hospital’s COVID-19 Response Fund, Connecticut Food Bank and Harvest Island food pantry on Long Island.

Players come from across the country. Some are Westport ex-pats living in Florida, and stranded in California.

Games are every Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. Newcomers are welcome. Email stan@witkow.com for details.

A scene from the Virtual Bingo game.


Ariana Napier reports that during the pandemic, Bridgeport Rescue Mission is providing twice as many meals and 3 times as many grocery bags as before.

Requests for donations have not stopped. She’s not stopping either.

She and generous Westporters have donated 1,395 pounds of food and other items so far. Just 605 pounds more are needed to make 1 ton.

Items most in need:

  • Peanut butter and jelly (plastic)
  • Canned vegetables
  • Canned tuna
  • Cereal (family size)
  • Macaroni & cheese (box)
  • Canned soup, stew, beans .

Items can be dropped off in bins at Ariana’s driveway (14 Jennings Court). Questions?  Email ariana.napier@gmail.com.


Yesterday’s Westport Garden Club #FridayFlowers arrangement celebrated the reopening of the Westport Library. The beautiful flowers were created by Beverly Stanley and Laurie Holst, left and right respectively in the photo below.

(Photo/Kelle Ruden)


And finally … sure, no one likes wearing masks. But it’s an order. It’s an important way to stop the spread of COVID-19. It’s no big deal. Just put on your mask, and then …

Roundup: Library Book Sale Begins; Comedy Show Saturday; More


The Westport Book Sale’s silent auction opened for bidding this morning.

Items include a virtual visit with Lauren Tarshis, Westport Country Playhouse tickets, a golf outing, photo sessions, artworks, counseling services, fine wine, items for home and garden, and of course rare and interesting books (and more).

Silent auction bidding ends this Friday (June 19, 6 p.m.). There’s also “book bundles” — surprises in a variety of genre (available through Friday, June 26).

Click here for more information, and to bid.


Another important fundraiser that’s moved online is Homes with Hope’s “Stand Up At Home” special event. Set for this Saturday (June 20, 8 p.m.), it showcases 4 great stand-up comedians. There’s also a special performance by Staples High School graduate Justin Paul, and guest appearances by Westport’s own Dr. Scott Gottlieb and 1st Selectman Jim Marpe.

It’s a great way to laugh together — in the comfort of home — despite being apart.

It’s also much-needed benefit for Homes with Hope, which since 1984 has helped homeless families and individuals through emergency shelter, supportive housing, case management, mentoring, education, and daily meals and groceries.

A suggested $25 donation for “Stand Up at Home” covers your entire family. Click here to register for Saturday’s show. For more information on Homes with Hope, click here.


Ariana Napier continues to make weekly runs to the Bridgeport Rescue Mission. And Westporters continue to help.

Her next donation is this Friday (June 19). Items most in need: peanut butter and jelly (no glass), cereal and canned vegetables.

Drop-offs can be made at a bin in her driveway (14 Jennings Court, off Bayberry Lane). She’s also happy to pick up at your house. Email ariana.napier@gmail.com for details.


1st Selectman Jim Marpe spoke with Staples High School graduate/Persona Interviews intern Becca Rawiszer about the town’s reopening plans, and his thoughts on how Westport has handled the COVID crisis. 

Click here to download the Persona app, to watch it all.

1st Selectman Jim Marpe.


And finally … Tori Amos caught a lite sneeze. But she’s fine!

COVID Roundup: No Camp? WTF!; Barbers; Playhouse Match; Senior Photos; More

How you gonna keep ’em down on the farm?

This summer at least, you can’t. Wakeman Town Farm announced that its popular Farm Camps will not run this summer. Officials cited the many restrictions put on camps by the state; the challenges of social distancing; the limited number of children who could be served, and “the unknowns related to pediatric reactions to the virus.”

WTF hopes to offer small tours and experiences, private family and corporate visits, outdoor curbside pizza pickups, volunteer opportunities and small-group apprentice programs. Details will be announced soon.


Barber shops can reopen on Monday (June 1). There are sure to be changes, in routine and personnel.

Three of Westport’s favorites — Chau Damico, Tony Esposito and Tina Cao — will be back at work. They’ve moved, though — but not far at all.

After decades at Compo Barber Shop, the trio can be found now at Westport Hair & Co. That’s the salon next to now-closed Olympia Sports, a few yards east in the same Compo Shopping Center.

They look forward to seeing the customers they’ve missed, and welcome their texts: Chau (203-278-0467), Tony (203-222-0303) and Tina (203-909-8781).


This morning, “06880” profiled the Saugatuck Rowing Club’s efforts to help front line workers, local restaurants, and club employees and members.

Now they’ve tweaked their logo. The goal of any crew team is to “pull together.” Saugatuck’s rowers may not be racing now. But every day since the pandemic began, that’s exactly what they’ve done.


The Westport Country Playhouse was hit hard by the coronavirus. All 2020 programs have been moved to 2021 (though a wide range of online content keeps audiences engaged). Financially, they’ve taken a huge hit.

Their “Survival Fund” goal is ambitious: $1.6 million. But it got a big boost this week, with a pledge from Edwin and Maureen Schloss. They’ll match every dollar raised — up to $250,000 — between now and July 4.

This would have been the Playhouse’s 90th season. Ed has been around for more than half of them. In 1969, he and his parents attended the world premiere of “Butterflies Are Free,” starring Blythe Danner and Keir Dullea. The show moved to Broadway, and Danner won a Tony there.

Tax deductible contributions may be made by clicking here, or texting WCPMATCH to 71777.


Staples High School’s seniors won’t get a traditional graduation next month. But they’ll be celebrated by Westport Lifestyle Magazine, in the August issue.

Hi-res photos — serious or fun — should be sent by June 5 to robin.chung@lifestylepubs.com. Include names, and a quote about summer plans or other positive thoughts.


Ariana Napier’s Bridgeport Rescue Mission food drive continues. Her goal is to collect 1,000 pounds of good each week.

Items most in need now: cereal; mac and cheese (box); jelly (no glass), and canned vegetables.

Fod and/or personal care items (diapers, wipes, sanitary pads, etc.) can be dropped in bins in Arianas driveway (14 Jennings Court, off Bayberry Lane). She will also pick up from your driveway. Email ariana.napier@gmail.com.


And finally … what has former Beach Boy Mike Love been up to these days?

God only knows. Well, YouTube does too:

 

COVID Roundup: State Reopens; Wrestlers Run; Food Collected; More

The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce passes along this information for businesses, about the reopening of the state.

The first phase — including restaurants, offices, hair salons, barber shops, retail stores, outdoor museums and zoos — should take effect May 20.

Governor Lamont stresses that the decision to reopen during this phase rests with each individual business owner. They are not required to open. However,  those that do must follow all rules.

Those rules are available at ct.gov/coronavirus, and can be downloaded directly through the links below:

All businesses subject to these rules will be required to self-certify before opening on May 20. The certification system will be online beginning next week.

For more information, click here.


When Sal and Melissa Augeri found a few boxes of school supplies in their attic, they knew just who to call: Alex Kappel.

An assistant coach for the Staples High School wrestling team on which the Augeris’ son Nick is a star sophomore, Kappel is also an elementary school teacher in Bridgeport. Many families there have limited access to food and other resources.

The Augeris called several team members. Soon they had more supplies and food for “Coach Kap.”

But the wrestlers wanted to do more. On May 23, they’ll be “Running Across Westport.” One athlete starts; he’ll run to the next wrestler’s house and “tag” him (from 6 feet away, of course). The second wrestler will continue on. The high-powered Staples team has dozens of athletes, so it should be quite a run.

In return, the team asks for cash donations. They’ll use the funds to buy even more supplies and food. Any amount is welcome; just Venmo @Staples-Matmen.

Questions? Email salaugeri@me.com.

Team spirit is a hallmark of the Staples wrestling program. They support each other very enthusiastically. (Photo/Jose Villaluz)


Ariana Napier’s food drive bears fruit. On Friday she delivered 396 pounds of items — much of it donated by Westporters to the Bridgeport Rescue Mission.

She’ll continue to collect food, and deliver it every Friday. Her address is 14 Jennings Court (off Bayberry Lane). Items most needed this week: cereal; mac and cheese (box), jelly (no glass).


Another food drive — Homes With Hope‘s — was a great success yesterday. Volunteers — including Staples students — helped out. But the need continues, and another collection is set for tomorrow (Monday, May 11, 2 to 4 p.m.). Non-perishable goods can be brought to the Gillespie Center, behind Restoration Hardware. Stay in your car; pop your trunk; someone will take your donation.


Meanwhile, Kathie Motes Bennewitz spotted these great messages on a bench at Grace Salmon Park:


And finally … many Westporters love The Sweet Remains. The longtime folk/rock band was co-founded by Greg Naughton. He grew up in Weston, and now lives here with his wife, Kelli O’Hara.

A few days ago they released this “love song in the age of ‘shelter in place.'” It truly is lovely — and sweet.

COVID-19 Roundup: Beach Grills; Granola Bar; Tuition Grants; More


The Parks & Recreation Department announced last week that Compo Beach parking lots may open May 15 — but grills and picnic tables will not be available.

They weren’t kidding.

Here’s South Beach, this weekend. Who knew those concrete barbecue grills were portable?

(Photo/Dan Woog)


Three weeks ago, Staples Tuition Grants sent out a special request. With COVID-19 making college less affordable for more seniors and graduates, they hoped to raise another $50,000. A small group of generous donors had already pledged a similar amount.

Westporters rose to the challenge. The $100,000 goal was met — and surpassed. Funds will be distributed to students who applied before the March deadline, qualified for grants, and have demonstrated additional hardship attributable to the pandemic.

“For many of our students, this may make the difference between finishing college and dropping out. For others, it will enable them to start college on time instead of waiting till a year or more after graduating from Staples,” STG says.

“We are extremely grateful to our friends and neighbors in Westport and beyond, who generously came through in this time of stress. This is another sign that we really do live in a strong, supportive community, and that people really do care about those who need their help.

“Donations ranged from small to large, and came from old friends and new ones. These contributions went a long way to make up for the slowdown in donations and the damage to our small endowment resulting from the present crisis. As a result we will give more assistance to our eligible applicants than we have ever been able to do before, certainly a much-needed piece of good news in these difficult times.”

STG raises funds all year long. If you missed the initial appeal, or would like to contribute again, click here.


The Granola Bar is back — bit by bit.

They’re now open every day, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Orders can be placed online, via the app (“The Granola Bar”) or phone (203-349-5202).

They’ve launched dinners that can be ordered via the app or Instagram, as well as TGB@Home: $65 kits for fire chicken/veggies, tacos or shawarma, as well as vegan lasagna.


Ariana Napier is organizing a food drive for the Bridgeport Rescue Mission.

You can drop food and/or personal care items (diapers, wipes, sanitary pads, etc.) in bins in her driveway (14 Jennings Court, off Bayberry Lane).

Items most needed include cereal (all types, any kind), peanut butter and jelly (no glass), mac and cheese (box), canned meals and soups, and boxed meals (any kind).

She plans on weekly trips, and hopes Westporters can donate regularly. Even one or two items helps.

She will also pick up from your driveway. Email ariana.napier@gmail.com.


In her 70s, Stephanie Bass embarked on a new career: stand-up comedy.

She’s good! And although her regular haunts like Gotham Comedy Club are closed, she’s staying sharp. Every day, she posts a new sign outside her home off Compo Hill.

Here’s yesterday’s. Check out the beer. Preach!

(Photo/Dan Woog)

And finally … let’s end the weekend, and kick off the new week, with this spot-on ditty:

Woman’s Club Grants Go To Groups With COVID Need

Since 1907 — 10 years before the Spanish flu pandemic – the Westport Woman’s Club has served Westport.

They’ve done too many good things for the town to list (click here for the “History” page).

Just one example: Westport’s Visiting Nurse Service was started and funded by the club. Free dental, vaccination and well-child clinics;tuberculosis campaigns; free milk distribution; polio tests; a lending service of sickroom equipment – all were begun by the WWC.

Each year the club evaluates applications for Community Service Grants from nonprofit organizations in Fairfield County. Members volunteer many hours from October through spring, finding the right balance between needs and the WWC’s mission to support nearby charitable, educational, cultural and public health services.

At the end of this year’s cycle, COVID-19 roared through town. Club members wondered how they could now make the biggest impact for the most people in Fairfield County. They realized that the public health, and physical and mental well-being of residents, should take precedence in the spring grants.

Today they announce 5 non-profits, to share $50,000 in WWC Community Service Grants.

Bridgeport Rescue Mission provides 3 meals a day in containers; a mobile kitchen that distributes meals in South Norwalk and Bridgeport, and a food pantry, among many other services. All food programs are free to anyone who is hungry, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, religion or socioeconomic group.

 

Filling in the Blanks. Schools offer weekday lunches for children in need. This organization provides them on weekends for vulnerable children in Norwalk, Stamford, Greenwich and Westport.

Westport Families in Need (coordinated by Westport’s Department of Human Services). Funds are needed for food and requests for help, like rent money, which are increasing rapidly. Some families need gas cards to pick up school meals. A town COVID fund addresses those issues, as well as the mental health needs of people affected by the crisis.

Domestic Violence Crisis Center (Stamford and Norwalk). In stressful times, domestic violence increases. DVCC offers 24/7 crisis intervention, counseling and advocacy, safe housing, and a 24-hour hotline (888-774-2900).

Homes with Hope. The demands of this Westport nonprofit — which provides safe emergency shelter, as well as food assistance — have greatly increased during the coronavirus.

Project Return’s “Susie’s House,” on North Compo Road. All residents — and those at other supportive housing facilities, like the Gillespie Center — have been moved into local hotels, during the coronavirus. That’s another financial burden for Homes with Hope

The Westport Woman’s Club has not been immune to the pandemic’s effects. They’ve suspended all fundraisers (like the Art Show, originally scheduled for this weekend), closed their Curio Cottage Gift Shop, and lost rental income through the closing of their Bedford Hall meeting space.

Anyone wishing to support the 113-year-old club’s good works can do so through the newly designed website (click here).

One good thing from all this time at home: Members had a chance to create an Instagram account. You can follow the club: @westportwomansclub.

Westport Woman’s Club, 44 Imperial Avenue.

Unsung Hero #60

Andrew Colabella is a big fan of Lizzy Feeley.

No — make that a HUGE fan.

He writes:

Lizzy demonstrates the qualities of a true leader, and an ability to make others smile while positively affecting their lives.

She started her tireless efforts on holidays and weekends with St. Luke’s Youth Group and Grace Community Church in 8th grade.

She volunteered to clean up the yard of a family who recently lost their father. She felt fulfilled, and vowed to continue.

When Lizzy entered Staples she spent weekends, holidays and nights through St. Luke’s and Grace Community Church working on many different projects.

Lizzy Feeley

But Lizzy wanted to do more — to break the bubble, go beyond Westport into the  real world and help those not as fortunate. She lights up those in a dark and low place, stuck and in need of help.

Lizzy started at the Bridgeport Rescue Mission, serving hot meals to the homeless and helping put together a plan to serve people in its rehabilitation program. She also volunteered with “Kid Power,” tutoring 1st graders.

Lizzy has made a strong impact on over 100 youths and adults — those in need of help, who felt lonely and not special. Lizzy paid it forward, and then some.

Lizzy also joined the Tim Tebow Foundation, focused mostly on people with special needs. For the past 2 years Lizzy volunteered at the “Night To Shine” prom, doing teenagers’ hair and makeup, allowing them to enjoy a special event.

Lizzy graduated early, to get a head start on her degree in comprehensive special education at Norwalk Community College. She is ahead of schedule to enter the University of Connecticut, where she will earn her bachelors degree before turning 21.

As an RTM member, I had the pleasure of meeting Lizzy at a Board of Education meeting on a cold Monday night. She had midterms the the next day, but spoke on behalf of 5 girls. She was protecting the vulnerable, and advocating for those who could not defend themselves after being ostracized by peers.

I have never met a young teenager like Lizzy, who turned into a young adult with such dedication, perseverance, passion, creativity and integrity,

Lizzy has given back since 8th grade. Now let’s give her the push to do more — and give recognition of her many hundred hours of community service to her town and the entire county.

Done! Congratulations, Lizzy Feeley — you’re this week’s Unsung Hero!

A Farmers’ Market Tale

Today, the Westport Farmers’ Market begins its 12th season.

Its growth — from tentative beginnings in the Westport Country Playhouse parking lot, to a vibrant, beloved and very popular Imperial Avenue Thursday tradition — is remarkable.

A typical scene at the Westport Farmers’ Market.

Every shopper, farmer and vendor has their own story about what the Market means to them.

But none is more remarkable than this.

Each week, the Bridgeport Rescue Mission selects men to pick up extra food. They bring the produce, bread and more back to the center, where chefs make meals. They also offer recipes to folks who pick up the food that’s not cooked.

The honor to be selected to gather the goods is reserved for men who are winning their battles against alcohol or drug addiction.

Two helpers from the Bridgeport Rescue Mission pick up produce at the Westport Farmers’ Market. (Photo courtesy of CTBites.com)

“These guys are great,” says WFM director Lori Cochran-Dougall. “We get to know them well. They’re so supportive of our staff and the vendors. They stay, they help us break down the tents, they do so much for us.”

Last year, one man came every Thursday. He was excited about graduating from the Rescue Mission. But he worried he might not find a job.

At the end of the market season last November, he still did not have one. Cochran contacted a few area restaurants.

One hired him. But she didn’t know it …

… until a couple of weeks ago, when she and her husband went out for dinner at a Barcelona group restaurant.

The man approached her. He told her he was working there.

He added that he goes to church every Sunday. He has his own apartment.

And he got married.

Joyfully, he showed her pictures of his new life.

As Cochran left, the restaurant manager pulled her aside.

“All he keeps saying,” the manager said, “is that the Farmers’ Market gave him hope things would work out.”

A Very Humane Story

The Westport Humane Society has taken some hits lately — right here on “06880.”

So it’s nice to hear this story from alert reader Lori Cochran, director of the Westport Farmers’ Market.

Lori also volunteers at the Humane Society.  Staff members there know the Market collects food for the Bridgeport Rescue Mission and Westport Gillespie Center.

Last week, a Humane Society staffer named Mindy pointed out the Humane Society’s 2 raised beds, used to grow vegetables and herbs to feed rabbits.

Mindy wondered if the Humane Society could harvest them for donation to the Bridgeport Rescue Mission at the Thursday Farmers’ Market.

Could they?  Of course!

“How cool, right?” Lori writes.

“At a time when every non-profit is looking inward at how they will survive, the Humane Society thought about how it can help others.  To me, that is the definition of community.”

And, Lori notes, there are no rabbits at the shelter now.  So no bunnies were harmed in the making of this donation.

Farmers’ Market Comes In From The Cold

If the term “farmers’ market” conjures up images of outdoor tables laden with fresh tomatoes and corn, you haven’t paid attention to the local sustainable food movement.

It’s year-round now.  And even that summertime staple, the Westport Farmers’ Market, is going 24/7/365.  Or at least 3/1/365.

They’ve teamed up with Gilbertie’s Herb Garden to provide “the hottest winter farmers’ market around” (ho ho ho).  Starting this Thursday (Dec. 9), and continuing every week through March 31, the Farmers’ Market will be open at 7 Sylvan Lane.  Hours are 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

It wouldn’t be a farmers’ market — at least not in Westport — without organic vegetables, greenhouse greens, eggs, milk, indoor plants, tamales (of course), wood-fired pizza (ditto), cheese, baked goods, pork, chicken, lamb, beef, gluten-free options, raw food choices, and more.

More than 25 vendors have signed on — and so have “this area’s hottest chefs.”  Boxcar Cantina, the Dressing Room, Fat Cat Pie, Le Farm, Schoolhouse and Skinny Pines will provide lunch items, and prepared food to bring home.

Those chefs were not chosen randomly.  All provide local, healthy, environmental and sustainable food in their restaurants.

The Farmers’ Market will also feature a lecture, short class or tour.  Topics range from making a holiday wreath to determining the best soil for your plant.

As it does during the summer, the Westport Farmers’ Market will donate food to the Bridgeport Rescue Mission.  “Chef Paul” will prepare weekly meals, and offer a shopping day for those in need with donated goods.  Anyone attending the Market can donate too.

So, the weather outside may be frightful.  But let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.  You can still get your organic veggies, greenhouse greens and Farmers’ Market tamales right here in Westport, all winter long.