Tag Archives: CLASP Homes

Roundup: Joey’s By The Shore, Private Ryan, Grateful Dead …

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Joey’s by the Shore opened its new location — the former Elvira’s, across from Old Mill Beach, last spring.

The pandemic was in full swing. So for the past year, customers ordered through the app only. They waited outside for orders.

In one more sign that COVID is easing, Joey’s’ doors are now open. Neighbor Don Bergmann (below) was thrilled to finally go inside.

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1st Selectman Jim Marpe says:

“On behalf of the Town of Westport, I want to reiterate that acts of discrimination, racism and anti-Semitism will not be tolerated in our community. Over the past year, as a country, we witnessed the murder of George Floyd, terrifying attacks against the Asian and Pacific Islander communities, and countless other acts of hatred and discrimination. And in recent days, we have seen acts of anti-Semitism strikingly close to us in New York City.

Let there be no doubt, anti-Semitism has no place in our community. We respect our Jewish neighbors and visitors. Westport is an inclusive community that embraces diversity and has always celebrated all cultures and religious beliefs. We must continue to respect everyone regardless of their race, creed or ethnic origin. I encourage all in the community to reaffirm these values during this challenging period.

I stand with our friends and neighbors who feel threatened by these terrible activities. Make no mistake, Westport is focused on protecting all residents and visitors. We have stepped up security in and around our synagogues and temples and will do everything necessary to keep our community safe and free from discrimination and hate.

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Just in time for Memorial Day, the Remarkable Theater has added a very appropriate new movie to its schedule.

“Saving Private Ryan” screens on Sunday (May 30, 8 p.m.). There’s a special holiday price of $25 per car. But of course the classic World War II film is priceless.

Click here for tickets, and the rest of this week’s slate.

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Congratulations to the Staples High School girls track team. They won the FCIAC championship yesterday.

Individual winners for coach Jesse McCray’s team include Ava Harvey (long jump, 16′ 9.5″; triple jump, 34′ 3/4″) and Tatum Havemann (800 meters, 2:17.56, personal record), and Isabelle Blend (pole vault, 8′).

The 4×400 meter relay team of Francine Stevens, Olivia Bollo, Hannah Murphy and Samantha Dewitt blazed to a school record 4:01.52, winning gold.

The 4×100 meter relay squad (Molly Liles, Bollo, Murphy, Laura Spheeris) also set a school record, placing 2nd in 50.13.

The 4×800 meter team (Leigh Foran, Josie Dolan, Nicole Holmes, Lyah Muktavaram) took silver in 9:48.98. Also second: Francine Stevens (100, 12.41; 200, 25.05) and Dewitt (400, 59.68, personal record).

Francine Stevens won her 100 meter heat. (Photo/Barry Guiduli)

FCIAC champions! (Photo/Cari Moore)

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Beechwood Arts’ 2nd of 3 “Classical Smackdown Concerts is set for Thursday (May 27, 7 p.m.). Pianist Frederic Chiu will perform Bach vs. Glass — and an international audience will vote for their favorite.

Frederic’s first of 3 Classical Smackdown Concerts “Heart & Soul” was very exciting with interesting results from the first ever Global Smackdown Vote! The audience was truly global with people from Australia, China, Europe and all over the US!

Click here for details, and tickets.

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Westport Business Networking International (BNI) will sponsor a “Discover Your Well Being Expo” on June 16 (6 to 9 p.m., Salon Paul Michael, Westport).

The free event includes informational booths from a chiropractor, personal trainer, functional medicine specialist, organizer, clean crafted wine distributor, counseling service, plus beverages, hors d’oeuvres and interactive demonstrations.

BNI is a networking group of business professionals. They seek one new members in each of these categories: interior designer, home inspector, developer, heating and air conditioning contractor, chef, and attorneys who practice estate and elder law.

Email salonpaulmichael@gmail.com to register. Walk-ins are welcome too. For more information on BNI, click here.

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Terrapin is an aptly named Grateful Dead cover band. They’ve built a devoted area following.

And next month they’ll play a special, private, 100-person outdoor show, at Wakeman Town Farm. Fine food and themed beverages by Marcia Selden Catering are available for pre-purchase.

The June 26 event is a benefit for CLASP Homes, the great non-profit that helps people with disabilities. Click here for tickets.

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo comes from Grayson Braun. She writes:

“This little guy has been hanging around our yard — probably because we are one of the few houses in our immediate area without a dog. He has enjoyed our grass, and the occasional hosta leaf.”

(Photo/Grayson Braun)

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And finally … I can’t believe I missed Bob Dylan’s 80th birthday yesterday. (I also can’t believe he is 80.)

I could link to dozens of his songs that have impacted my life. I could make an entire list of those with I’m-still-discovering-more-there lyrics (“Memphis Blues Again,” “Queen Jane Approximately,” “Desolation Row”), those with political power (“The Times They Are A-Changin’,” “Hurricane”), and those whose studio musicians are vastly underrated (“Like a Rolling Stone,” “Jokerman,” “Changing of the Guards”).

But I’ll narrow today’s selection down to 4 that, to me, define Bob Dylan. What are yours?

 

Townies Scavenge The Town

The Townies know Westport.

The Townies — specifically Marcy Sansolo, Darcy Hicks, Jaime Bairaktaris, Melissa Kane and Julie Buoy Whamond — took first place in the Adult Division at CLASP Homes’ Un-Scavenger Hunt last weekend.

With creativity, humor, and an uncanny knowledge of Westport history and culture, a few dozen teams deciphered clues. They then took photos and videos of themselves at some of the town’s iconic locations: the Compo Beach cannons, Toquet Hall, Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge and more.

Townies and friends, at the original YMCA.

The Townies had a great time doing it. They also won a boat cruise on Leigh Overland’s 42-foot yacht.

Marcy  Sansoloi (left) and her fellow Townies kick it up after solving the Toquet Hall clue.

They were followed by Team G (Wendy Griffiths; Dragone Motors private tour); Connect Westport (Debbie O’Keefe, Deborah Casey, Kim Sherman; dinner for 4 at Bartaco); Sill Scavengers (Neil Markman; Eric, Nicholas and Noelle Stine-Markman; Lillian’s boat cruise); The Merry Marys (Mary Lou and Chuck Roels, Mary Surette; Bruce Katz Family prize of $250), and ARGenovese (Ariel Genovese, Tim Proctor).

Displaying horse sense at the Compo Beach cannons.

First place in the Student Division went to Team Guiduli. Led by Bruno Guiduli, and fellow Staples High School soccer players Matthew Jordan and Aidan Mermagen, they earned the Leader Family $500 first prize.

1st place in the Student Division (from left): Aidan Mermagen, Matthew Jordan, Bruno Guiduli.

Two other Staples soccer teams snagged the other 2 top spots. La Tortuga (Lucas Carpi, Chase Watkins, Jeremy and Eli Rosenkrantz, James Corridon) won Burt’s Trees’ $300 prize; Santi Alfageme, Avery Mueller and Nate Fridland captured Burt’s Trees’ $200 prize.

Lucas Carpi (lower left) and his team.

Darcy Hicks — a Townie team member — said, “This scavenger hunt was more than just that. It was what we needed after this year — all of us. You have no idea what a gift it was.”

One of the clues was about all the famous bands like the Doors and Cream that played at Staples.

The event was a fundraiser for CLASP Homes. The organization helps people with autism and intellectual disabilities lead full, meaningful lives. The lead sponsor was Keller Williams Luxury.

Several teams made touching videos, for CLASP clients. Others held up signs ofo support.

Organizers hope to make the Un-Scavenger Hunt — there was no time limit, just a premium on fun — an annual event.

Lettin’ loose at the Levitt.

Missed the event, and want to donate? Click here.

Roundup: Domestic Violence, Anti-Semitism …

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Victims of domestic violence have so much to deal with. Getting basic supplies for their young children should not be one of them.

Now through Sunday (April 25), Westport’s Domestic Violence Task Force is collecting supplies. Needed items include car seats in new or like-new condition (tags attached, to check expiration date), strollers, diapers, wipes, lotions and baby wash, and new bottles.

To arrange contactless pickup, email co-chair Jillian Cabana: wdvtf06880@gmail.com.

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Saturday is the big day: CLASP Homes’ “Un-Scavenger Hunt.” (“Un?” It runs all day, at your convenience. It’s not a race.

There are tons of clues, covering Westport trivia, history, art, pop culture and more. You answer by posting photos, videos, texts and GPS check-ins on the app. Bonus points are given for creativity, ingenuity and humor (costumes, props, songs, pets … you get the idea).

Prizes include sunset cruises; a private tour and wine-and-cheese reception at Dragone Classic Motorcars with George Dragone; Broadway tickets and more.

There are separate prizes for students in grade 12 and below (including cash). And a special prize for the organization that registers the most teams.

The Un-Scavenger Hunt raises funds for CLASP. For nearly 40 years they’ve  provided care, support and inspiration to adults with autism and developmental disabilities.

Click here for tickets. Click here for the Goosechase app, which will be used. You can practice on it too, until the event goes live.

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We may pretend it’s not happening. But people — even in Westport — make Holocaust “jokes,” and talk insensitively about Jewish traditions and lives. I’d guess teenager in Westport has heard something.

In response, ADL Connecticut is organizing a virtual “Fairfield County Teen Leadership Summit on Anti-Semitism.” It’s Tuesday, April 27 (7 to 8:15 p.m., Zoom).

A teen panel will share personal stories. Attendees will learn skills to stand up to anti-Semitism, be resilient and become empowered as school leaders. Click here to register. For more information, email swalden@adl.org.

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A couple of nature shots. First, a swan stepping into the Saugatuck River …

(Photo/Paul Delano)

… and a hungry gull at Sherwood Island State Park.

(Photo/Gene Borio)

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And finally …  today in 1775, the Revolutionary War began. The patriots beat back the British at the Battles of Lexington and Concord. The rest is history.

“Un-Scavenger Hunt” Promises Fun For All

Westport’s 1st-ever “Un-Scavenger Hunt” may be the coolest, most fun fundraiser ever.

And I’m not just saying that because I helped write the clues.

Here’s the deal: On Saturday, April 24, you and your team will click on the free “Goosechase” app.

You’ll see tons of clues, covering Westport trivia, history, art, pop culture and more.

You answer by posting photos, videos, texts and GPS check-ins on the app. Bonus points are given for creativity, ingenuity and humor (costumes, props, songs, pets … you get the idea).

For example, if one of the clues directs you to the Compo Beach cannons, how cleverly can you pose there? It’s a great way to get to know Westport.

One of the clues may be about the Compo Beach cannons. Can you top this photo? (Photo/Stephen Axthelm)

Are there prizes? Of course! Among the best: a pair of sunset cruises; a private tour and wine-and-cheese reception at Dragone Classic Motorcars with George Dragone; Broadway tickets and more.

There are separate prizes for students in grade 12 and below (including cash). And a special prize for the organization that registers the most teams.

The Un-Scavenger Hunt raises funds for CLASP. For nearly 40 years they’ve  provided care, support and inspiration to adults with autism and developmental disabilities.

You can join the hunt any time, all day on Saturday, April 24. It’s not a race!

Click here for tickets. Click here for the Goosechase app. You can practice on it too, until the event goes live.

 

Roundup: Flu Shots, Voters Guide, CLASP Concert, More


There is no COVID vaccine yet. But — uh oh — flu season is near. And the Westport Weston Health District is offering flu shots.

Clinics are set for Wednesday, October 21 (9:30 to 11:30 a.m.); Wednesday, October 28 (2 to 3 p.m.), and Monday November 16 (1 to 4 p.m.).

There are no walk-ins. All appointments must be scheduled in advanced. Click here for details.

The WWHD accepts Medicare, ConnectiCare, Cigna, Aetna and HUSKY insurance, as well as credit cards, checks and cash.

Questions? Call 203-227-9571, ext. 231.


For decades, voters have relied on the League of Women Voters’ Westport Voters’ Guide. It was delivered with the local newspaper.

It’s here now, and more available than ever: The Guide is online.

It’s packed with answers to policy questions by candidates for president, Congress and the state legislature.

There is also a map of polling places, sample ballots, and absentee ballot information.

Click here for this great resource. Questions for the LWV? Call 203-293-7687.


The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce has sponsored a great — and welcome — series of outdoor concerts this year.

The last of the season is next Thursday (October 15, Imperial Avenue parking lot). Part of the Chamber’s support for people with special needs, it’s a safe, fun, family-friendly evening called “Flashback to the ’80s and ’90s.” Band Central will play — and the very entertaining group is donating their time.

The event is a benefit for CLASP Homes. For half a century they’ve created and supported family environments for people with autism and intellectual disabilities.

Tailgating begins at 4:30 p.m. The show kicks off at 6. Click here for tickets ($150 per car; 70 car limit in the lot).


And finally … it’s a weekend in mid-October. Time to go pumpkin picking!

 

Roundup: Jim Belushi, Trader Joe’s, Joe Biden, More


Everyone knew that yesterday’s Saugatuck Survive-OARS “River of Roses” breast cancer benefit would be great.

But Jim Belushi made it even greater.

The actor/comedian/musician played a 30-minute set with the Fake ID band, at the Saugatuck Rowing Club.

Jim Belushi, in action yesterday.


Jim Belushi was not the only big name in town this weekend.

On Friday night, MoCA Westport hosted Wynton Marsalis, and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra Septet. It was a wonderful evening of music and community — under the stars.

Wynton Marsalis at MoCA. (Photo/John Brody)

Younger artists were highlighted too. The audience was wowed by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra High School Academy warmup band, featuring Staples High School senior Dylan Goodman on drums.

(Photo/Leslie LaSala)


An “06880” reader writes:

I was out yesterday doing errands. I wore my mask at Stop & Shop and the post office, but forgot to put it on when I entered Trader Joe’s.

I shopped for 10 minutes, then went through checkout. As I exited the store, I saw another customer walk in and realized, “I forgot to wear my mask!”

No one said a word to me in the store. In fact, I chatted with a nice woman for a few minutes while we waited for the register.

I wish someone had said something to me. I would have dashed outside immediately to get my mask. I felt terrible about it.


Two Old Hill neighborhood residents report Biden/Harris signs being stolen from their property.

Vicki Volper is ” very frustrated and disappointed.” She says a friend elsewhere in Westport had her yard sign taken too.

Nancy Diamond says she will simply purchase a new one — giving even more money to the campaign the thief presumably opposes.


For nearly 50 years, CLASP Homes has created and supported family environments for people with autism and intellectual disabilities.

COVID forced the cancelation of the great Taste of Westport fundraiser. A second big event is usually held indoors, at FTC. That’s no longer possible either.

But the show goes on — outdoors. “Flashback to the ’80s & ’90s” is safe, fun, family-friendly entertainment — and it’s live.

Band Central musicians is partnering with the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce for the October 15 show at the Imperial Avenue parking lot.

Tailgating begins at 4:30 p.m. The show kicks off at 6. Click here for tickets ($150 per car; 70 car limit in the lot).


Today should have been Mercy Learning Center’s big fundraising gala. Instead, it’s postponed a year. The new date is October 3, 2021 at Shorehaven Golf Club.

But the Bridgeport agency — which educates underserved women — has huge needs, now and in the coming months.

  • $50+ purchases school supplies, such as notebooks, pencils, and a calculator for 1 woman.
  • $100+ provides emergency social-service needs for 1 woman.
  • $250+ provides instructional materials for 1 tutored student.
  • $500+ provides instructional materials for 1 Intensive Study Program student.
  • $1,500+ provides for 1 student in the National External Diploma Program.
  • $2,500+ provides a full year of holistic literacy and life skills education for a child in the MLC Early Childhood Education Program.
  • $5,000+ provides a full year of holistic literacy and life skills education for 1 full-time Intensive Study Program student.
  • $7,500+ provides a full year of holistic literacy and life skills education for 1 full-time Intensive Study Program student and her child in the Early Childhood Education Program.
  • $10,000+ provides a full year of holistic literacy and life skills education for 10 tutored students.

Checks can be sent to Mercy Learning Center, 637 Park Avenue, Bridgeport, CT 06604. Click here to donate online.


And finally … in case you missed Jim Belushi yesterday at the Saugatuck Rowing Club:

Art For All This Month

For over a century, Westport has been known as an arts community.

While our focus is often on noted artists, art comes in many forms. So does “community.”

Two upcoming events honor art of different types — and the concept of community.

A free “HeARTS Open Wide” gala on Thursday, May 17 (5 p.m., Westport Woman’s Club) celebrates the work of budding artists from CLASP Homes, Project Return and Homes With Hope.

Those local organizations support adults with disabilities, teenage girls and young women in crisis, and homeless families — populations that may not seem to have time for art, but for whom it can be a life-changing form of expression.

The Westport Arts Center and Westport Historical Society will also be represented at the gala.

The event is the first-ever art show for the Drew Friedman Community Arts Center.

Senator Richard Blumenthal is scheduled to present 3 DFCAC scholarships at the gala, in partnership with the WAC and Westport Woman’s Club. Staples High School seniors Lilianna Giaume, Katelyn Loucas and Zoe Molina each earned a $5,000 award.

The evening also includes the introduction of the $1 million DFCAC Fund. Over the next 10 years, it will support art programs and scholarships for underserved artists of all ages.

Miggs Burroughs — a noted artist DFCAC board member — has matched local organizations with art instructors from the Westport Arts Collective. That jump-started the foundation’s mission: reaching budding artists who may otherwise not have access to supplies and education.

There will be music too, from the incomparable Suzanne Tanner — and of course food. Friedman and Nick Visconti — chair of the DFCAC, and Friedman’s longtime business partner — owned local restaurants.

Nick Visconti (front row, middle) and Miggs Burroughs (back row, middle) with some of the art students helped by the Drew Friedman Community Arts Center.

CLASP Homes and Project Return are also beneficiaries of a portion of sales at 2 pop-up gallery shows. They’re set for 153 Post Road East — the building opposite Design Within Reach (old post office), between Westport Pizzeria and Finalmente/Jeera Thai.

Over 30 artists will be featured from May 10 to June 3. There are 2 receptions, with food and music: Saturday, May 12 (4 to 6 p.m.), and Sunday, May 27 (6 to 8 p.m.).

The pop-up shows are directed by artists Amy Kaplan and Trace Burroughs. Their goal is to “connect the community, and energize downtown Westport through art.”

The 1st (May 10-22) includes Kaplan and Burroughs, plus Kat Evans, Miggs Burroughs, Irene Penny, Nina Bentley and others.

Amy Kaplan’s “Dreamweave.”

The 2nd show (May 24-June 3) includes Noah Steinman, Dan Long, Katherine Ross, Charles Douthalt, Melissa Newman, Diane Pollack and more.

There’s plenty of art for Westport this month. After all these years, we are still very much an arts community.

CLASP Serves Up A Tasteful Event

Many Westporters know Chris.

He arrived at CLASP 30 years ago. At 20 years old, with a developmental disability, he was shy and lacked confidence.

CLASP — the Westport-based organization that provides life skills training, homes and employment, so adults with autism and other developmental challenges become contributing, respected community members — helped Chris gain social skills, overcome shyness, and become one of the first residents of the Kings Highway group home. (There are now a dozen more — and an apartment program.)

Chris got a job at Food Emporium, collecting carts. When Whole Foods replaced that store, he made the transition. He’s been promoted several times. Today, he helps in all departments.

Shoppers know him. They look for him, and stop to chat.

Chris enjoys himself at a CLASP event.

In 1995 Chris moved into his own apartment. He learned to swim. Competing in Special Olympics, he won many medals.

Today he lives a very independent life. He works, swims, eats out, and stays current on political issues.

Being on his own was always his dream. With hard work, determination — and the support of CLASP — he made it come true.

CLASP is a low-key — and highly effective — organization. Though their work costs plenty of money, they seldom ask area residents for funds.

Once a year though, they do. In a very “tasteful” manner.

CLASP Homes’ A Taste of Westport brings 2 dozen restaurants to the Westport Inn. Westport’s own Amis, Garelick & Herbs, Harvest, Matsu Sushi, Pane e Bene, Pearl, Rive Bistro, Romanacci and Tarantino offer tastings. There’s dessert from Le Rouge, beverages from Black Bear Wine & Spirits and Greens Farms Spirit Shop, plus music by the great cover band Green Eyed Lady.

A silent auction includes tickets to the Jimmy Fallon Show, the Daily Show with Trevor Noah, Yankees tickets, and a night at the Met opera.

Westport is filled with worthy fundraisers. If you’ve never been to this one, take a taste. You’ll clasp it to your heart forever.

(A Taste of Westport is this Thursday, May 3, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Westport Inn. Tickets are $75 by clicking here, $85 at the door. For more information, call Robin Hammond: 203-226-7895, ext. 144. Hat tip: Roy Fuchs)

 

What A Difference A Day Makes

Every day, Westporters make a difference.

Once a year, we draw attention to what we do, and how we do it.

The idea behind “Make a Difference Day” is not to pat ourselves on the back. It’s to encourage everyone to do something — anything — to make a difference.

That “day” is actually a week: October 17-25. So far, 42 projects have been submitted to organizers. Many were quickly filled. A few still need volunteers:

  • Fall clean-ups for Homes With Hope, CLASP and Caroline House.
  • 3 food drives at Super Stop & Shop: help man tables at the store.
  • The Gillespie Center needs rooms painted.
  • The Senior Center has drop-in projects (Saturday, October 24, 9:30-11:30 a.m.): assemble toiletry bags for homeless men, comfort bags for abused women, and arts and crafts kits for children in need.

Other projects can be found at www.westport-makeadifday.org. You can submit projects there too. For more information, email makeadif@aol.com.

Make a Difference Day

CLASP Offers A True Taste Of Westport

The 10th annual “Taste of Westport” is Thursday, May 1 (6-9 p.m., Westport Inn).

Taste of WestportMost of us have seen the signs and publicity. We’ve heard of the fantastic samplings and tastings from over 2 dozen restaurants and distributors, including Blue Lemon, Bobby Q’s, DaPietro’s, Green’s Farms Spirit Shop, Little Barn, Matsu Sushi, Pane e Bene, Post 154, Rizzuto’s, Spotted Horse and Tarantino.

We realize it’s one of our town’s most popular fundraisers. But most of us know very little about the organization Taste of Westport supports: CLASP Homes.

A true hidden gem, CLASP provides group homes for local residents with autism and other intellectual disabilities. Since 1982, the non-profit has housed hundreds of people — our neighbors — who need a bit of extra help to get along.

This year’s Taste of Westport honors Tracy Flood. The native Westporter joined CLASP just 2 years after it began. Her many fans will celebrate her 3 decades of service on Thursday.

Martha is a resident of one of the CLASP Homes. (Photo/Pam Einarsen)

Martha is a resident of one of the CLASP Homes. (Photo/Pam Einarsen)

But CLASP — and Taste of Westport — is not really about its incredible staff and volunteers. It’s about people like Neal.

Neal — who has an intellectual disability — was born in Westport, into a large and loving family. Tracy is a few years older than Neal, but  throughout the 1960s and ’70s they walked  the same streets around town.

Neal — the youngest of 6 kids — was always out with his siblings or his dad, who made sure to include Neal in everything everyone else did. He and Tracy both played in the Compo Beach sand, ran through the Staples halls and hung out at the Ice Cream Parlor.

By the mid-1980’s Tracy was a CLASP house manager, and Neal’s family took the big step moving him into a group home. It was not the one Tracy led, but she got to know Neal’s dad. Whenever anyone needed a volunteer, a worker or friend, he was there.

Years passed. Neal’s siblings moved away. His mom died. But Neal and his dad still went out for bagels every Sunday morning. Neal insisted on paying. It made them both very proud.

CLASP logoThen his father was diagnosed with cancer. It spread rapidly. Neal did what he could for his dad. When asked what CLASP could do, the father said, “Pray, and take care of Neal.” He wanted to know that his son would be taken care of. He wanted to die in peace.

That was years ago. But Neal is still with CLASP. The organization has given peace to Neal’s family — the same thing they’ve done for over 3o years, for countless local families.

Yet CLASP can’t do it alone. The Taste of Westport is one way they raise awareness — and funds.

There are plenty of places to have dinner this Thursday. But only one will give you a true — and wonderful — taste of Westport.

(For tickets to the Taste of Westport — and more information about CLASP — click here.)

Matt is also a CLASP Homes resident. (Photo/Pam Einarsen)

Matt is also a CLASP Homes resident. (Photo/Pam Einarsen)