Tag Archives: CLASP

Drew Friedman: One In Half A Million

Drew Friedman was a pillar of downtown Westport. A major landowner, a founder of the Westport Downtown Merchants Association and landlord of restaurants like Onion Alley, Bobby Q’s and Acqua, he influenced much of Main Street.

His holdings once included the original Westport Public Library building on the Post Road between Main Street and Parker Harding Plaza (now Starbucks and Freshii). He also owned Post Road property beyond downtown. And was a presence in Weston too, as the owner of Cobb’s Mill Inn.

He died in February 2016, at 86.

Drew Friedman and his wife Laura Papallo Friedman, at Cobb’s Mill Inn. (Photo/Patricia Gay)

Now Friedman is back in the news.

In his will, he left $500,000 to set up a “Drew Friedman Community Arts Center.”

But it’s not a place.

It’s a foundation.

Friedman’s former business partner Nick Visconti asked artist/photographer Miggs Burroughs — whose “Tunnel Vision” project is installed next to and across from some of Friedman’s former properties — and Visconti’s sister Louise Fusco to join him on the foundation board.

Their mission is to give $50,000 a year to one or more worthy artists and/or arts organizations and activities in Westport or Weston.

Nick Visconti, MIggs Burroughs and Louise Fusco announce the fulfillment of Drew Friedman’s dream.

So far, money has gone to Homes With Hope, CLASP Homes, the Westport Arts Center and Westport Historical Society. It will help fund art classes and activities for under-served students and young adults. This spring, an art exhibit will showcase all their work.

In addition, the foundation will award 2 scholarships, of $7,500 each, so high school students with need can attend an arts college, or art classes at a community college.

A special gala at the Westport Woman’s Club on May 17 will celebrate the arts program — and artists’ — great accomplishments.

Though not an artist himself, Friedman married one. His wife Bobbie created memorable works of art on canvas, and in clay and bronze, in a beautiful studio he built at their Westport home.

Now Bobby Q’s, Acqua and Cobb’s Mill are all gone.

So are Drew and Bobbie Friedman.

But thanks to his generosity and foresight, the arts — and artists — in Westport and Weston will live on for years.

(Candidates for Drew Friedman Community Arts Center scholarships should click here for more information.)

“A Taste Of Westport”: A Testament To CLASP

Tracy Flood grew up on South Compo Road — just down the street from CLASP’s Pine Drive house.

The raised ranch is home to 6 women — members of the long-time, low key organization that provides family environments for people with autism and intellectual disabilities.

CLASP’s Pine Drive home.

As a grad student in 1984, Tracy began working weekends at Pine Street. What started as a short-term job turned into a passion — and her calling.

Like many CLASP folks, she found an extended family among colleagues and residents.

Shortly after Tracy began her Pine Street job, her mother died. The residents swarmed her with hugs, and told her how beautiful she was. Their support helped her through a very tough time.

Tracy realized that being part of the CLASP family meant not only giving love, but receiving it back in volumes.

CLASP residents on a baseball outing.

More than 30 years later, Tracy is president of CLASP. The organization has grown to include 13 group homes. Four are in Westport: Pine Drive, Weston Road, Kings Highway and Sturges Highway. Residents — some of whom have lived there for decades — are deeply rooted in the community. They work, shop and play here, leading full, productive lives.

CLASP is one of those local organizations most Westporters are only vaguely aware of. Many don’t even know that the big spring event they always see signs for — A Taste of Westport — is CLASP’s major fundraiser.

It’s one you can really dig your teeth into.

Many of Westport’s finest restaurants offer specialty dishes. You can sample wine, beer and specialty cocktails — and end with dessert from Le Rouge Chocolates.

There’s music too, plus a silent auction.

All money raised goes directly to the residents. So they can continue to thrive — and give back the love they receive, to CLASP staffers and the entire community.

(A Taste of Westport is set for Thursday, May 4, 6 to 9:30 p.m. at the Westport Inn. Participating restaurants and vendors include Amis, Black Bear Wines & Spirits, Bobby Q’s Cue & Co., Da Pietro’s, Dough & Co., El Segundo, Garelick & Herbs, Geronimo, Greens Farms Spirit Shop, Harvest, Hummock Island Oysters, Le Rouge Chocolates by Aarti, Little Pub, Matsu Sushi, Mionetto Prosecco, Pane e Bene, Pearl at Longshore, Rive Bistro, Tacos Mexico, Tarantino Restaurant, The Spread and Washington Prime. Click here for tickets and more information. 

Memorial Day 2012: Westport On Parade

Happy Memorial Day!
Who doesn’t love a parade?

The start of the parade.

Al’s Angels — one of the many civic organizations to march (or ride).

The Y’s Men’s float was, as usual, spectacular. This one honored Korean War veterans — complete with freezing mist.

Middle school musicians keep the beat.

Buck Iannacone (left), this year’s grand marshal, poses with his son and granddaughter. Buck’s great-grandchild was born 10 days ago.

CLASP celebrated 30 years of service to people with disabilities.

Staples junior Tyler Jent sings “America the Beautiful,” framed by the doughboy statue and flag at half-staff.

The next generation celebrates past ones.