Friday was a big night for Staples High School football.
After an address by 3 active servicemembers, quarterback Caleb Smith led the Wreckers to a 42-13 rout of Conard-West Hartford. It was the season opener for both teams, at Paul Lane Field.
And the Gridiron Club presented Catch-a-Lift founder Lynn Coffland with a check for $23,000. Funds were raised this summer by the club and players, who participated in the “Murph Challenge.” The money helps post-9/11 combat wounded veterans, with gym memberships and fitness rehabilitation.
The Wreckers travel to St. Joseph next Saturday, for a 1:30 p.m. contest.
Gridiron Club and Catch-a-Lift representatives are all smiles Friday night.
Master Sergeant Clayton Jensen planned to speak in Westport long before the announcement that American troops would leave Afghanistan.
But his appearance Friday (September 10, 5 p.m., Compo Beach), as part of Catch a Lift’s annual (and inspirational) fundraiser is now especially timely.
During his 15-year military career, Jensen was deployed numerous times to Afghanistan and Iran. He suffered several serious injuries
He holds graduate degrees in international relations and organizational leadership, and is working toward his third master’s in international public policy.
Jensen will talk about his work in the military, what he’s learned about Afghanistan, and how to find hope amid devastation.
Catch-A-Lift is a national organization supporting combat-wounded veterans through physical fitness, nutrition, mental support and community.
It has strong roots in Westport. This weekend — the 20th anniversary of 9/11 — will be special. Over a dozen vets will be hosted here, in our town’s 7th annual gathering of camaraderie and hope.
Click here for tickets to Friday’s ceremony, including a sunset celebration.
The Catch a Lift weekend also includes a community workout (Saturday, September 11, 3 p.m., Westport Police station, Jesup Road; click here to register), and a family bike tour (Sunday, September 12, 9 a.m., beginning and ending in Ridgefield; click here to register).
Speaking of Afghanistan: The Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants is preparing to welcome and resettle up to 150 men, women and children from that war-torn land.
That’s an unexpected addition to the 180 refugees CIRI had already planned to help, from countries across the globe.
Individual Westporters have long supported the non-profit. In addition, Christ & Holy Trinity and the Unitarian Church are part of a larger group of faith-based organizations that help set up apartments when refugees arrive in Bridgeport.
They create fully furnished homes, with beds, linens, bath needs, kitchen items and culturally appropriate food. Children receive school items, toys and diapers.
Some of the refugees have lived in camps for 15 years. Many of the children have never had a home. CIRI provides ongoing services for all families.
CIRI hosts a crucial fundraising gala this Sunday (September 12, 4:30 p.m., 80 Grovers Avenue, Bridgeport). For more information on the cocktails, live auction and more, click here. To learn more about CIRI, and donate, click here.
Yesterday was the last day for lifeguards at Compo Beach. Of course, Westporters will continue to visit their favorite spot.
Reflecting on the end of the “season,” though, Eve Potts realized something was missing this year: trash.
She writes: “As a daily Compo Beach walker, I rarely see traces of garbage. Everyone is very careful to deposit trash in the conveniently placed cans. And the Parks & Rec Department does an incredible job of hauling it away regularly. You rarely see overflowing trash cans.Hooray for the public, and Parks & Rec!”
Wheels2U Westport, the on-demand, group ride, door-to-train shuttle service, is extending its service hours.
Effective today, Wheels2U Westport will operate an hour and half longer each weekday afternoon: 4 to 9:30 p.m.
The 5:45 to 9:45 a.m. morning service is unchanged.
The longer hours should help commuters and others who work late, or want to meet friends for a drink or dinner after work.
The service area covers nearly all of Westport. Residents use the “Wheels2U Westport” app to request a pickup for trains leaving Grand Central as late as 8:07 p.m. Riders are taken from the Saugatuck or Greens Farms station to their front door.
Pickup areas at Saugatuck are on the westbound side of the platform (corner of Franklin Street) or Railroad Place (near the elevator). Pickup at Greens Farms is in the large commuter parking lot just west of New Creek Road.
The fare is $2 when paid with the Wheels2U app. A Metro-North Uniticket rail/bus pass can also be used.
For more information, click here. For more information about the Westport Transit District’s services for the elderly and people with disabilities, click here.
More than 20 men from the Bridgeport faith-based residential recovery program for drug and alcohol addictions added their spirit and inspiration, offering renewal and strength amid life’s challenges.
Two Sunday services remain: August 22 and 29 (8:30 a.m.). All are invited. Bring your own chair or towel, or sit on the stone wall, benches and tables. Beach stickers are not required; tell the gate attendant you’re there for worship. You can stay until 10 a.m.
Pivot Ministries at this morning’s Compo Beach Sunday service. (Photo/Gloria Smithson)
“06880” is not a real estate agency. But from time to time, a property deserves a shout-out.
This is one.
Designed by theatrical stage set designer Ralph Alswang, it’s set between towering great oaks. The gardens — by advertising executive Barry Blau — were created in response to the house. They incorporate native plants interspersed with a blend of exotics.
A group — Friends of Blau House and Gardens — hopes to retain the property, so it can become a community asset and resource for small non-profit organizations. They’re looking for ideas, interested people and organizations that can benefit and/or help.
If interested, click here or email R@RobertCohenArchitect.com. (Hat tip: Peter Gold)
One of Westport’s top community events — the annual Catch a Lift fundraiser — has just announced a new date and location.
Originally scheduled for September 13, the special ceremony honoring the 20th anniversary of 9/11 — will now be held at Compo Beach on Friday, September 10.
Starting at 5 p.m., there’s 3 hours of food and drink trucks, music, and words from Catch a Lift veterans. The national nonprofit organization helps post-9/11 combat-wounded servicemen and women recover and rehabilitate, physically and mentally, through physical fitness, motivation and support. So that 9/11 Eve date is both appropriate and poignant.
Beach stickers are not needed to attend.
The Compo event will kick off an action-packed weekend. There’s a Saturday workout (September 11, Westport police station, 1 p.m.) and Sunday family bike ride (September 12, Ridgefield).
Click here for details and information, including how to help with auction items, and more.
If you found a card with $500 on the ground, what would you do?
Most Westporters (I hope) would try to find the owner. Some would look to see if anyone was watching, and slip it into their pocket.
Few would probably go as far as Gabrielle Perry to return it to whoever lost it.
As reported by News12 Connecticut, the 2016 Staples High School graduate spotted the card in the Maritime Aquarium parking lot last month.
The envelope read “Reverend Dennis … thank you for marrying us.” Inside was a “really sweet, heartfelt note” to the minister. It was signed “Christina and Dave” — no last names.
Gabrielle enlisted a friend’s mother, who is good at Google searches. She found a registry for Christina Ulreich and David Kean. That led to Ulreich on LinkedIn.
The weeding was marred only by the fact that the gift to the reverend was lost the night before, at the rehearsal dinner. She and her new husband were stunned — and thrilled — at Gabrielle’s perseverance.
Congratulations to the new couple — and to Gabrielle, of course. Click here for the full News12 report.
But Jesse Terry had an opening act Friday. Clueless — a local band that’s been together for several years — warmed up the crowd with a powerful performance.
The band includes 20-year-old Westport guitarists Jake Greenwald and Zach Rogers, drummer Witt Landau (a rising Staples High School junior), and keyboardist/vocalist Ethan Walmark (a rising Staples sophomore).
Ethan Walmark (Photo/JC Martin)
Witt Landau (Photo/JC Martin)
Looking for entertainment this week?
The Levitt schedule includes:
Tonight (Sunday, August 15): Dan Levinson’s Palomar Jazz Band
Tuesday, August 17: Treehouse comedy
Wednesday, August 18: The Pop-Ups (Children’s Series; special needs celebration)
Thursday, August 19: Buffalo Rose (modern folk)
Friday, August 20: Lizzie No (singer/harpist/guitarist)
Sunday, August 22: Nellie McKay (American songbook)
Click here for (free!) tickets, times and more information.
Around the corner, the Remarkable Theater shows the animated classic “Coco” tomorrow (Monday, August 16, 7:45 p.m.) and “Get Out” on Wednesday (August 18, 9:15 p.m.). Click here for tickets and more information.
All 36 Representative Town Meeting seats will be contested in November’s election. Four members from each of Westport’s 9 districts vote on town appropriations, and give final approval to the budget; approve town ordinances; make recommendations regarding ordinances, and review certain decisions of town boards and commissions.
So far, all members in districts 2 (Jay Keenan, Lou Mall, Christine Meiers Schataz, Harris Falk), 3 (Mark Friedman, Arline Gertzoff, Jimmy Izzo, Ross Burkahrdt) and 6 (Jessica Bram, Seth Braunstein, Cathy Talmadge and Candace Banks) have submitted letters of intent to run again.
So have 3 members in districts 1 (Chris Tait, Matthew Mandell, Kristin Mott Purcell), 4 (Andrew Colabella, Noah Hammond, Jeffrey Weiser), 5 (Peter Gold, Dick Lowenstein, Karen Kramer), 7 (Brandi Briggs, Lauren Karpf, Jack Klinge) and 8 (Wendy Batteau, Lisa Newman, Stephen Shackelford). In District 9,Sal Liccione and Kristin Schneeman are running again.
Six candidates have requested petitions, and are collecting signatures. They are in districts 1 (Richard Jaffe, Abby Tolan, Carolanne Curry), 5 (Claudia Shaum) and 9 (Nancy Kail, Marla Cowden).
Westport has a special relationship with Catch-a-Lift. Our town has gone all in, supporting the national non-profit that helps post-9/11 combat-wounded veterans recover and rehabilitate, physically and mentally, through physical fitness, motivation and support.
COVID canceled last year’s event. It returns this year, stronger (naturally) than ever.
Appropriately, it begins on Saturday, September 11 with a community workout, with Catch-a-Lift veterans (Westport Police Station, 1 p.m.). Sunday, September 12 features a family bike ride, in Ridgefield.
The action shifts to Birchwood Country Club on Monday, September 13. There’s a 9-hole golf tournament (2 p.m.); a tennis point play event (3 p.m.), and the highlight: from 5 to 7:30 p.m., a chance to meet amazing veterans; enjoy music, food and drinks, and hear inspiring stories.
Click here for details and information, including how to help with auction items, sponsor a golf hole and more.
Catch a Lift veterans — shown at Birchwood Country Club in 2018 — are inspirational role models.
Wakeman Town Farm calls raising milkweeds and monarchs “the hobby that gives back.”
Next Monday (August 9, 7 p.m., in person), they’re offering a back-by-popular-demand lecture on the subject.
According to WTF, “monarchs, the once plentiful beauties of yard and field, have suffered habitat loss so great that their numbers have dwindled to 10% of their peak population. They are called the ‘poster child’ for pollinator habitat protection, owing to their beauty and the remarkable feat of their annual migration to Mexico and back.
“Protecting monarchs leads to a wider awareness of the fragility of insect populations, the steady assault on their numbers through the indiscriminate use of pesticides, and the vital role that diverse native species play in keeping our planet healthy.”
Alice Ely — “mother of monarchs, University of Connecticut advanced master gardener, master composter, garden coach and Pollinator Pathway member and creator of public and private monarch way stations in Fairfield County (including Wakeman Town Farm) — is the speaker.
Congratulations to Westport Little League’s 10U team: Connecticut’s new state champions!
They won the crown last night in Stamford, 11-0 against East Lyme. The game ended after 4 innings, thanks to the “mercy” (aka “murder”) rule that ends lopsided contests.
Here’s wishing the squad good luck 2 years from now, when as 12Us they hope to emulate the 2013 team’s run to the Little League World Series finals.
Bottom row (from left): Luke Moneyhon, Chris Lambert, Wes Walters, Chase Landgraf. Middle row: Brody Chlupsa, Nolan Walters, Dylan Burdeshaw, Miles Delorier, Noah Smith, Grant Theisinger, Justin Goldshore, Jack McGrath. Top Row, coach Marc Theisinger, coach Dave Smith, manager Justin Walters. Missing: Henry Ellis.
Speaking of sports: This Saturday, Westport becomes the center of the American rugby world.
Players get a chance to showcase their talents in front of Major League Rugby scouts, coaches and star players like Ben Foden. The event at Staples High School’s Paul Lane Field (August 7) takes place 2 weeks before the MLR draft.
It begins at 9 a.m. with physical testing, and continues with professional positional coaching, laser timing technology and live scrimmaging. “Scouts from multiple national rugby teams” will be in attendance, organizers promise.
The event is free, and open to the public. It will also be broadcast on The Rugby Network. For more information, click here.
English rugby star Ben Foden will be at Staples High School on Saturday.
Speaking still of sports: Congratulations to Shira Parower!
She was on the winning North side, which beat the South 16-8 in the All-America Lacrosse Game at Johns Hopkins University.
Shira — a June graduate of Staples High School, who will play at James Madison University next season — had 2 goals and 3 assists.
She told the Baltimore Sun: “I just felt like since the first whistle we came out with a lot of fire and we just wanted to win this game. We were finishing our shots and kept them going through the whole game.”
(Click here for the full story. Hat tip: Don Kubie)
Recent “Westport … Naturally” photos have featured deer, butterflies and flowers.
But Westport is nothing without dogs. Here are Noah — the 3-legged wonder dog who has way outlived his osteosarcoma diagnosis and amputation from January 2020) and Logan, on an early morning walk at Wakeman Field
Nearly 250 years ago Westport patriots battled British soldiers, on their way to and from burning an arsenal in Danbury.
On Friday, more than a dozen military veterans — wounded in wars since 9/11 — came to Westport. They were honored at a Birchwood Country Club fundraiser for Catch a Lift, the foundation that helps them rebuild their lives through physical fitness.
Yesterday they returned the favor. Many of the vets headed to Compo Beach. They served as “angels” — helping children, teens and adults with disabilities in a fun run/walk, through another great organization called myTeamTriumph.
It was a win-win-win weekend: for the veterans, the myTeamTriumph runners and walkers, and the rest of Westport. We are inspired by them all.
When yesterday’s event was over, the Catch a Lift gathered for a “team” photo.
Yet the attendees — wounded post-9/11 service members, who heal physically and mentally thanks to the gym memberships and home fitness equipment the organization provides — give at least as much to Westport, in terms of inspiration and motivation, as they get.
Now they’re going to give even more.
Tonight (Friday, November 8, 7 p.m., Birchwood Country Club) is the CAL gala. There’s great food, beverages, a DJ, video, and more than a dozen Catch a Lift guests of honor.
Catch a Lift veterans, at a Birchwood Country Club event.
Tomorrow (Saturday, November 9, 8:30 a.m.), those same men and women head to Compo Beach.
The combat veterans — all suffering from serious PTSD, some who are double amputees — along with their friends and family members, will push disabled athletes in myTeamTriumph. The event is a fun run, of about 2 miles.
MTT is a program for children, teens and adults with disabilities who otherwise could not participate in endurance events like triathlons and road races. Volunteers “ride along,” helping them compete in — and enjoy — those endeavors.
Over the years, Catch a Lift and myTeamTriumph have formed a special bond.
Adam Vengrow — a Westporter, and vice president of the CAL board of directors — has worked closely with mTT board member Andy Berman. Combining their efforts, Vengrow says, demonstrates the power of volunteerism and collaboration.
Andy Berman (left) and Austin enjoy a myTeamTriumph event.
Curt Lueker — another Westporter, who is founder and president of myTeamTriumph — calls the partnership “a unique match.”
Tomorrow’s event is open to anyone who wants to or walk. Click here to sign up.
We welcome our Catch a Lift guests to Westport. And we are awed by what they give us when they’re here.
PS: Last weekend, Berman finished the New York City marathon. For him, this run will be a walk in the park.
James Hazelip does not live in Westport. But the US Army combat veteran — who deployed twice to Iraq — considers this his adopted home town.
He’s seen the kindness, care and generosity of Westporters personally, on visits with 2 non-profits: Sticks for Soldiers and Catch a Lift.
“Sticks” uses lacrosse to raise funds to support wounded vets and their families. Catch a Lift provides gym memberships and home equipment, fitness programs and motivational peer support to post-9/11 combat-wounded military personnel.
Staples lacrosse players wear special pinneys for the “Sticks for Soldiers” game. (Photo/Shelley Burger Sports)
In the past year, Hazelip has been to Westport twice. Both times, he says, “I met amazing people. They really care about and take action for the welfare of our service members and veterans.”
This Saturday (April 21), Hazelip returns the love. He’s the keynote speaker at Staples High School’s 7th annual Sticks for Soldiers event. After the girls’ 4 p.m. game, and before the boys’ 6 p.m. contest, Hazelip will deliver inspiring remarks to the football stadium crowd.
He’s got quite a story. PTSD nearly cost Hazelip his life. He struggled with substance abuse, gained 100 pounds, and spent more than a month in a coma. Speaking to Westporters is part of his journey to rebuild his life.
That’s not all he’ll do. The Army vet will also address the Wrecker boys team in the locker room before and after their game.
A Navy lieutenant who served on 4 destroyers during her 15-year military career will speak to the Staples girls team too.
Staples lacrosse coaches, and their PAL counterparts, have planned an important afternoon. The ceremony between the boys and girls games includes presentation of the colors, and remarks by Sticks for Soldiers president Jeff Casucci.
The 2016 Sticks for Soldiers lacrosse game at Staples included a speaker and color guard — and this intriguing double image. (Photo/ Shelley Burger Sports)
During halftime of both games, PAL youth teams will play scrimmages.
A suggested minimum donation of $5 raises funds for Sticks for Soldiers. Proceeds from food and drink sales will also benefit the organization.
Whether you’re an avid lax fan or have never seen a game, te sure to “stick” Saturday on your calendar. You’ll welcome James Hazelip back to Westport — and help many other soldiers too.
(To donate to Sticks for Soldiers, click here. For more information on Saturday’s event, email firstname.lastname@example.org)
Last fall, “06880” gave a shout-out to Catch a Lift. The organization — which provides gym memberships and home gym equipment to help wounded post-9/11 service members heal mentally and physically, through physical fitness — was planning a Veterans Day fundraiser.
Westporters responded generously. Just before Christmas, I posted some feel-good thanks from a Marine who benefited big-time.
Catch a Lift continues to do great things.
Andy Berman is a personal trainer. He’s worked in area gyms (and owned one). He’s been to private homes (including Catch a Lift supporter Adam Vengrow’s). He’s trained Westport police.
Berman donated his services for the Veterans Day fundraiser. That’s where he learned about Sergeant Ricky Davis, a highly decorated Marine who deployed 5 times to Iraq and Afghanistan. He’s been through tough times, but has found fitness to be a life-saver.
Sgt. Ricky Davis (ret.).
Catch a Lift is flying Davis up from Florida. Could Andy help?
He sure could.
Berman wanted to put Davis through a “fitness and knowledge boot camp.” He’d show him strength and conditioning, yoga, spinning — everything.
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