Tag Archives: Charter Oak Challenge Foundation

Targeting A Triathlon

Rick Spear once thought he’d be a doctor or lawyer.  But the lure of Wall Street was strong.  So in 1984, immediately after graduating from Stanford — where his thesis advisor was Condoleezza Rice — he started making serious money.

Eight years with Morgan Stanley was followed by a decade as a management consultant, advising financial services firms.

In 2003 — age 40 — Spear retired.

He’d always been a bicycle racer.  Now — with time on his hands — he vowed to improve.

Rick Spear

Out of that desire came Target Training.  Spear opened the Westport triathlon and cycling training center and retail store in 2005 as a way to “leverage knowledge of endurance sports to help people like me have healthier bodies.”

A 2nd site opened recently in Greenwich.

“Endurance for Life” is Target Training’s motto.  “You can’t fake being fit — running 5 miles, or biking 50 miles,” Spear says.

Target’s target audience is hard-working (and well-off) men and women.  They train hard.  And typically, as soon as they meet one goal, they look for a new challenge.

Here’s a big one.  This Sunday (June 19), Target Training sponsors its 1st-ever Sprint Triathlon.  The half-mile swim, 13-mile bike ride and 3.1-mile run begins and ends at Sherwood Island.  The middle portions takes racers through the Green’s Farms  and Compo neighborhoods.

A portion of the proceeds goes to Memorial Sloan-Kettering’s Cancer Care pediatrics department.  It is a cause dear to Spear’s heart.

In its half-decade in Westport, Target Training has been closely involved with community activities.  They sponsor, or work with, the Young Woman’s League Minute Man race, Andy Boas’s Charter Oak Challenge Foundation bike tour, Sound Cyclists and  ABC House.

This month’s triathlon builds on the training Target is known for.  It’s not only cyclists and runners who flock to the center next to Great Cakes — swimmers also work out under the Target banner at the Staples and Longshore and Norwalk Y pools, as well as Compo and Sherwood Island.

On Sunday, Spear will help out — not compete.  “I’m a bike racer, not a triathlete,” he says.   But, he adds — like the competitor he was on Wall Street, and remains today — “I win my share.”

(For more information on Target Training’s Sprint Triathlon, click here.)

Westport Mourns Bea Milwe

Bea Milwe — who died Saturday at 97 — was a Westport icon.

A civil rights, women’s rights and international peace activist who became a documentary filmmaker after graduating from Sarah Lawrence at the age of 57, she also made her mark on her longtime hometown.

Bea Milwe

Trained as a social worker, she later became a non-governmental representative to the UN through the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom — and headed the Westport chapter.

One of the 1st women to visit China after relations thawed in 1974, she made a ground-breaking film about the country:  “The China Tape.”  Later, she produced the first document film about the Women’s Conference in Beijing.

Other films — focusing on issues like women’s poverty in Connecticut, and the Sioux tribe in South Dakota — were shown on PBS and ABC, and distributed internationally.

Bea and her husband, Sidney, were union activists in the 1940s.  They continued to support liberal political and non-political civic causes, often hosting fundraisers at their Saugatuck Shores homes.  He died in 1992, at 80.

Bea is survived by her companion, Buddy Kushner; 3 children (Jeff of Westport; RTM member Liz of Westport, and Marjorie Lieberman of Fairfield); 7 grandchildren, and 8 great-grandchildren.

Contributions in Bea Milwe’s memory may be sent to Green Village Initiative, c/o Main Street Resources, 120 Post Road West, Westport CT 06880, or Charter Oak Challenge Foundation, 575 Riverside Ave., Suite 202A, Westport, CT 06880.

A memorial service honoring her long and wonderful life will be held in June.

Three Honorees

Last week, “06880” highlighted 3 Westporters — long-time, willing workers committed to making our town, and neighboring Bridgeport, better places for everyone.

TEAM Westport — the first selectman’s committee on multiculturalism — honored Al Beasley, Andy Boas and Claire Gold yesterday.  The original blog post hinted at their contributions — but not in great depth.

Andy Boas, Claire Gold and Dr. Al Beasley -- TEAM Westport honorees. (Photo by Lynn U. Miller)

If you weren’t at the ceremony — and over 100 Westporters, from all walks of life, were — here’s what you should know about these remarkable honorees.

Al Beasley is a long-time Westporter.  He watched the town grow from a small artists’ colony, through the baby boom, into a suburb filled with businessmen and Wall Street executives.  But he has seen it all through a unique perspective, and with a background different from most people who live here.

Al’s grandfather, a Harvard-educated Boston attorney, helped found the NAACP.  Al’s father also went to Harvard – and became a doctor.  His mother graduated from Radcliffe.  Those were proud accomplishments, in an era when educational opportunities for black men and women were limited.

Al’s parents wanted him to have a well-rounded education.  He got one, at the Walden School and Columbia  College.  He married a high school friend, Jean.  Both earned medical degrees – Al from New York University.  Both became pediatricians.

As a captain in the Air Force during the Korean War – based in Houston — Al first experienced overt prejudice.  But he persevered, and in 1953 the Beasleys moved to Westport.  He wanted his children to experience the same freedom he’d found at the Walden School.  The Beasleys rented a home on 11 acres, for $90 a month.  The Beasleys were one of only 5 or so black families in town.

They bought land from a fellow physician, Mal Beinfield.  The Beasleys had trouble getting a mortgage – the banks’ excuse was “they did not like contemporary dwellings.”  But Westport Bank & Trust Company president Einar Anderson said to the Beasleys’ request for $20,000:  “There’s no problem.  Let us know when you want it.”

In addition to his professional accomplishments – private practice as a pediatrician; co-founder of Willows Pediatrics; associate clinical professor of pediatrics at Yale School of Medicine, and an emeritus staff member at Norwalk Hospital – Al immersed himself in community work.

He was a pediatrician for the Intercommunity Camp; a member of the Selectman’s Committee for Youth and Human Services; a board of directors member for the United Way; member of the scholar selection committee of A Better Chance of Westport; trustee of Earthplace, where he organized the Green Earth series on  health and the environment.

Al’s wife, Jean, died in 1973.  Six years later he married Janet, a native of Berlin and a survivor of a concentration camp in Czechoslovakia.

Al says:  “When Jean and I moved to Westport in 1953, it was a magical town. It opened its arms to us, welcomed us, and made us feel special.”

Al adds:  “My birth certificate said ‘colored.’  Then the preferred term changed to ‘Negro.’  Later it was ‘black,’ then ‘African American.’  I am a man of color, but I like to be accepted for what I have to offer.  The town has done exactly that.”

Looking back on his career, Al says,“I’m an activist.  I tried to give my utmost to the community, and I think the community appreciates that.  This is a wonderful town.  I thank everyone who entrusted their most precious commodities – their infants, their children and their young people – to me.”

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Andy Boas’s resume is impressive enough.  A general partner of Carl Marks Management, he has directed various public and private companies in which his firm has an interest.

But the Cornell University and Hofstra University School of Law graduate is much more than a money man.  He has – quite literally – put his money where his mouth is.

In 2000 Andy founded the Charter Oak Challenge Foundation.  Its mission is simple, yet agonizingly difficult:  help build better futures for underserved children in the Bridgeport area.

The foundation wasted no time.  In less than a decade it has created the largest college scholarship program in the area.  It provides support – both strategic and monetary – to numerous non-profit organizations in and around the city.

The first major initiative — a scholarship program — has sent more than 100 deserving Bridgeport high school students to college, with a scholarship and a laptop.

In 2006 Charter Oak helped open Achievement First Bridgeport Academy – in one of that city’s poorest and toughest neighborhoods.  The public charter middle school now serves over 450 students a year.  This fall Achievement First Birdgeport opened its second school, for children in kindergarten through 5th grade.  Its first class of kindergartners includes 90 youngsters.  Andy calls them “scholars” – and they are.

Andy helps raise millions of dollars a year for his schools.  He says, “I don’t take no for an answer.  We do whatever it takes to get the work done.”

Andy’s work on behalf of others is his passion.  “I’m lucky I live in the United States, and in a beautiful community like Westport,” he says.

“My kids went to Staples.  They have everything they want. But just a couple of miles away, it’s a completely different world.”  Andy calls Bridgeport “a disastrous, intolerable situation.  The fact that where you live determines the education you get is outrageous.  These kids are getting neutered.

“I got involved because this was right in front of me.  It was a no-brainer.  A better Bridgeport means a better America.  I’m not going to rest until these kids a few miles away get an equal chance.”

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School superintendents are often maligned.  Sometimes they’re respected.  School superintendents are seldom admired, let alone loved.  But those are exactly the words used to describe Claire Gold.

A graduate of Penn, Yale and Fairfield University, she started out as reading teacher working with special needs children.  She arrived in Westport in 1965, working as a psychologist at Coleytown Junior High.  She later became townwide director of special education; assistant superintendent, and — from 1980 through 1988 — superintendent of schools.

She moved to Weston, serving as superintendent there, then made her mark as an educator in an even broader way.  After consulting as a desegregation specialist for interdistrict programs, Claire was an originator and developer of the  Six to Six Interdistrict Magnet School in Bridgeport.  Her focus has been on the arts, and bringing together urban and suburban children.

She was selected as one of the top 100 administrators in North America; cited by Governor Ella Grasso as an “Outstanding Woman in Connecticut,” and was named “Connecticut Educator of the Year” for her work on behalf of minority students and the cause of school integration.

Claire’s work is epitomized by her efforts for Project Concern, during her tenure as Westport’s superintendent of schools.  She nurtured it, creating opportunities for scores of boys and girls from Bridgeport to attend Westport elementary school, junior high and Staples.  It was a life-changing experience for many – not just the Bridgeport youngsters, but the Westport students, teachers and families who knew them, befriended them, and to this day in some cases, still call them “best friends.”

For the last 6 years,  Claire has been the driving force behind the new Discovery Magnet School in Bridgeport.  Focusing on science and technology for grades pre-K through 8, its cross-district scope helps ease racial isolation between Connecticut’s urban and suburban schools.

“I always felt fortunate to have had the career I did in Westport,” Claire says.

“My parents were immigrants.  I was the daughter of 2 Polish peasants from the shtetl.  Growing up in Hoboken, I knew what it was like to make your way in a new country.

“I have a deep feeling that somehow, we all have to live together.  And there is no better place to start than with very young children.”