Now that everyone– and by “everyone” I mean normal, non-selfish boneheads — understands the importance of wearing masks, Westport Masks is busier than ever.
For many weeks the ad hoc group has made masks, then donated them to front line personnel and those in need. Recipients include Westport’s Public Works, Parks & Recreation and highway departments; Westport Post Office; elderly residents through Westport’s Department of Human Services; Open Door Shelter in Norwalk; Food Rescue US; Thomas Merton Family Center in Bridgeport; Stamford Hospice, Norwalk Hospital and more.
Dozens of folks cut, sew and deliver. But all involved agree, one volunteer truly stands out.
Ellen Landowne heard about Westport Masks in March through “06880,” and was one of the first to step forward.
Since then she has been a core team member. She’s made masks for many — including seniors — and raised funds for food pantries (through sales to the public, at $12 each).
Pretty good for anyone. Particularly for someone who — like Ellen — is 85 years young.
Ellen Landowne, at her 1942 Singer machine. It once belonged to her mother. She still uses it for all her sewing needs.
Ellen came to Westport in 1967 with her husband Bob Landowne. They were married for 59 years, until his death in 2017. Their 3 children — Deborah, Steve and Judy — all graduated from Staples High School.
After graduating from Mount Holyoke College and then New York-Presbyterian Columbia University Medical Center, Ellen became a registered nurse. She stopped working when her children were in school.
In what she calls her “second, ‘unpaid’ career,” Ellen got involved with the Girl Scouts. Funding came from 8 United Ways. She volunteered with the Westport-Weston group as a “foot soldier,” then joined the board. Eventually, she was named United Way of Westport and Weston’s first female president.
Ellen also served on the board of the Mid-Fairfield Child Guidance Center.
And at age 55, she received her private pilot certificate. She flew with Bob as far as Florida and Ontario.
Ellen Landowne, pilot.
The masks Ellen and her fellow volunteers make have 2 layers of 100% cotton. They’re washable, with a filter pocket for added protection. They have neck ties too, so they can be worn all the time.
Masks can be ordered at $12 each through firstname.lastname@example.org. All proceeds go to local food pantries, and to purchase supplies for more masks.
Volunteers are always needed. Organizers say: “If you have a working sewing machine, can sew in a straight line and can follow a pattern, we could use your help. Fabric cutting is also greatly appreciated.” Email email@example.com.
Their next project: In preparation for return to school, the group is making children’s masks for families who cannot afford disposable ones.
And the newest grocery store in Westport is … Via Sforza.
The popular Post Road West Italian restaurant now sells a wide variety of produce, meat, dairy products, pasta, rice, sauces, spices, herbs, beverages, snacks, and pantry and household items. They’re open 7 days a week, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Of course, they still offer their great takeout and delivery lunch and dinner menus too. Click here for more information, or call 203-454-4444.
Last year, Green’s Farms Church kicked off an ambitious “Church of the Future” campaign. Now is not the greatest time to be in the middle of a fundraiser. But they’ve been around for 309 years. They plan to be here for centuries more.
They’re renovating the facility, parts of which are 170 years old. That includes work on the meetinghouse, refurbishing the pipe organ, and making meeting areas more open and flexible. Local groups like AA will benefit as well.
But in this time of great need everywhere, Green’s Farms Church is thinking beyond its walls. Some of the funds raised are earmarked for local non-profits. The congregation has helped them in the past; now they’re ratcheting up that support even more.
GFC is donating $25,000 each to 4 groups: Homes With Hope, Mercy Learning Center, Pivot Ministries and the Bridgeport Rescue Mission.
Church leaders hope these challenge grants stimulate additional donations to each of these groups by others. And they hope as their own fundraising campaign continues, they’ll be able to help these and other groups even more in the future.
In the last 35 days, Westport Masks have made over 1,100 masks — and given them all away. Recent recipients include Westport’s Public Works, Parks & Recreation and highway departments; Westport Post Office; elderly residents through Westport’s Department of Human Services; Open Door Shelter in Norwalk; Food Rescue US; Thomas Merton Family Center in Bridgeport; Stamford Hospice, Norwalk Hospital and more.
While continuing to donate to front line and vulnerable groups, they’ll also create masks for friends, family, children and the general public in return for small financial donations. Westport Masks uses 100% of the funds to buy supplies. They suggest $10 — but they never let anyone go without a mask if they need one.
All masks are 2 layers of 100% cotton. They’re washable, with a filter pocket for added protection. They even have neck ties, so they can be worn all the time.
If you are confident with your sewing machine — or cannot sew but can cut fabric, or have spare fabric or good quality bed linen to donate, or want to one of your own — email WestportMasks@yahoo.com.
“We’ll keep going until no one else needs a mask,” promises co-founder Virginia Jaffe.
Yesterday marked the return of the Westport Farmers’ Market to the Imperial Avenue parking lot. Gratified shopper Emily Mikesell reports:
“Besides being as safe as possible, it was an unexpectedly sweet, positive experience. It ran like the most cheerful Swiss watch you’ve ever seen! It was wonderful to see so many familiar vendors, even behind masks. And though I felt sad not being able to over-buy from wandering and browsing, I’ll put myself in that mood over the weekend when I order for next week.
“Until then I will enjoy delicious raw milk and yogurt, farm fresh eggs and just-baked bread.
“Yes, the experience is different. But it still supports the vendors we love. It’s a real day brightener!”
To order online and for more information, click here.
Pets (and pet owners) love Earth Animal. Now artists do too.
Through May 31, they’re collecting artwork from all ages. Sketches, watercolor, chalk — whatever works is fine. So are group entries. The only rule: nothing bigger than 24″ x 36″.
Put your name on the back; drop it off at the store, or mail it to 925 Post Road East, Westport, CT 06880. Drawings will be hung in the store — and whoever created their favorite will win a $500 gift card.
Questions? Call 203-222-7173.
A couple of months ago, the message on this sweatshirt spotted on Beachside Avenue would have drawn puzzled looks. These days, it makes perfect sense.
And finally … what better way for the King’s Singers to share Billy Joel’s beautiful tune than by asking 732 people around the globe to join them in a “Stay at Home” choir? Kudos to all (and everyone behind the scenes too). What a lovely way to end the week.
Owner Eric Sierra already had a covered patio, off Riverside Avenue on the bank of the Saugatuck River. Now he’s extended it, making sure tables are 6 feet apart. They’ll serve a full lunch and dinner menu.
During the pandemic, Rive Bistro has been open weekends for curbside pickup only. Starting today, they’ll offer curbside dinners every day, from 4 to 8 p.m. When outdoor dining begins next week, curbside takeout will continue to be available too.
Yesterday at 10 a.m., town officials began handing out face masks at Bedford Middle School.
It was a great idea. It took Eve Potts an hour to get from Long Lots to Bedford — but she reports that the distribution was well organized. And, she says, “we now have a nice supply of masks.” Here was part of the line, spilling out to North Avenue, when distribution began.
Two weeks ago on “06880,” Drew Angus shared his life as a gig worker in a pandemic. The 2007 Staples High School graduate is a musician. Accessing funds through the CARES Act and PPP was a different tune than for salary and wage workers.
Today he brings us up to date on his efforts. Drew says: “My stimulus check finally came through. So did my SBA loan advance of $1,000, which is technically a grant. No word yet on the loan itself. They are processing applications as quickly as possible. The system is starting to work — slowly.
“On Friday the Department of Labor finally put the PUA application for gig worker unemployment up on their site.”
Meanwhile, Drew continues to work on his music. Here’s his latest project. It’s definitely worth checking out — and forwarding far and wide.
I’m not sure why officials have decided that a good way to honor medical workers is to spend tons of money of military flyovers — rather than, say, PPE — but another one takes place tomorrow (Thursday, May 14).
The Connecticut Air National Guard’s 103rd Airlift Wing will fly C-130s over a Connecticut hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Norwalk Hospital is on the flight path, at approximately 11:37 a.m.
Also on the list: Greenwich Hospital (11:34), Silver Hill (11:39), Bridgeport Hospital (11:43) and Yale New Haven (11:48).
Every year, MoCA Westport sponsors a student art exhibit. It’s always a remarkable show — and wonderful reminder that our arts future is alive and well.
The museum is closed indefinitely. But this year’s show is online — andn as inspiring as ever. Over 60 students from throughout the region submitted paintings, photographs, collages and ceramics. Many address these uncertain times.
Among the artists represented: Staples High School’s Alexandra Lam, Anne Machata and Caroline Rourke, and Greens Farms Academy’s Ryan Boyle and Lulu Wu.
“Quarantined All Year Round” (Emma Costa Norwalk High School), part of the MOCA High School Student Art Exhibition.
Several Staples High School sports teams have provided meals to front line personnel. The latest is the boys hockey squad.
Parents and players partnered with Staples culinary instructor Alison Milwe Grace — who also owns AMG Catering — to have 50 meals delivered to Norwalk Hospital workers.
Each player sent a personal note; the team added a bigger one, thanking the healthcare workers for all they’re doing.
PS: Several players eat gluten-free diets, so they made sure half the meals they donated were gluten-free too.
PPS: Following up on a previous “06880” story: In 11 days, Staples’ girls track team raised over $7,000 (and ran over 190 miles) for the Stamford Hospital. The boys swim team provided sandwiches for Norwalk Hospital too. And girls golf has been involved with Homes With Hope.
Buried deep in Westport’s RTM Rules of Procedure is this: the “first right-hand seat of the left-hand section as you face the Moderator” should be left empty. It’s a memorial to Maclear Jacoby, one of the original members, and to all deceased RTM members.
Now comes word that Maclear Jacob Jr. died last month, after contracting the coronavirus. He was 93, and had quite a life. After growing up in Westport he spent 65 years at Landon — the elite, all-boys prep school in Bethesda, Maryland.
He served in the Navy in World War II, graduated from Trinity College, joined the Air Force and fought for a year in Korea, and became a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force Reserve. But, the Washington Post says:
In 1955 Jacoby turned his attention to educating children….
During his 65-year career — the longest in Landon’s history — Jacoby served many roles. In addition to math teacher, he was head of Landon’s middle school. As varsity tennis coach, he led the squad to 42 Interstate Athletic Conference titles and produced more than 20 individual championships and team titles.
Even after he retired, Jacoby stayed close to campus, attending nearly every tennis match and keeping stats at football and basketball games.
(Hat tip: Charlie and Sandie Cole)
And finally … yesterday marked 2 months from the day Westport schools closed. Suddenly, things got real.
We had no idea how we would adapt. Could we last a couple of weeks at home? A month without a haircut or styling? How about 2 months of no sports or concerts?
Well, we’ve done it. There may be light at the end of the tunnel. Perhaps that’s just the light of a big freight train coming at us.
Either way, we know we’ve been able to do things we hadn’t thought possible. It hasn’t been easy. But now we can all say — like Michael in “A Chorus Line” — “I can do that!”
Since 1975, the Westport Woman’s Club has partnered with the Department of Human Services on a year-round, emergency food distribution program, the Food Closet.
When the club gets a call members fill bags of groceries, add Stop & Shop gift cards that the WWC purchases, and deliver the food to Town Hall, or directly to the recipient (whose name remains anonymous).
During the pandemic, requests for food have risen dramatically. In addition to increased demand, a traditional May food drive with the US Postal Service has been canceled.
Non-perishables are desperately needed. Canned goods can be dropped off at the Woman’s Club (44 Imperial Avenue) on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, between 9 a.m. and noon. (If the door is locked, call 203-227-4240.)
Checks are also welcome. Click here to donate online. They can also be made out to “Westport Woman’s Club,” and sent to 44 Imperial Avenue, Westport CT 06880.
Last year, Westport Woman’s Club members Wendy McKeon, Catherine Smith and Kim Reichert helped out with the Food Closet drive.
Two women-owned local businesses — Bungalow and Private Portraits — have teamed up to capture casual, candid glimpses of women at home, while raising money for female entrepreneurs affected by COVID-19.
“Sophisticated boudoir photographer” Jen Goldberg takes sunrise, socially distanced front porch sessions — as early as 5:30 a.m. — capturing moms in the moments just before their house awakens.
A portion of the proceeds benefits Sara Blakely’s The Red Backpack Fund. The nationwide effort will make at least 1,000 grants of $5,000 each to women whose businesses have been impacted during the pandemic.
For $100 (additional donations welcome), you’ll receive a 5 x 7 print and a $25 gift card to Bungalow, the Sconset Square boutique. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
HINT: Mother’s Day is Sunday!
Rye Ridge Deli originally stayed open, with curbside and delivery service. Business was slow though, so they closed. Now they’re back open, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Click here to order online.
Also now open, after an initial closure: Five Guys (11 a.m. to 10 p.m.). Click here for curbside pickup and delivery.
“Essential businesses” in Westport with 50 employees or fewer are are eligible for free masks, under a state plan. Click this link, but hurry: The application deadline is early afternoon tomorrow (Thursday, May 7).
In addition, 1st Selectman Jim Marpe advises residents about the proper use of cloth face masks. According to the CDC, they should:
fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
be secured with ties or ear loops
include multiple layers of fabric
allow for breathing without restriction
be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape
Do not put your hands on the front of mask when putting it on or taking it off. Use the loops or attached ties to secure or remove. Click here for more instructions on cloth mask use.
Homes With Hope hosts a non-perishable food drive this Saturday (May 9), from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Gillespie Center behind Restoration Hardware. Items needed include canned chicken, salmon, Spam, tuna, fruit, applesauce, soups, stews and vegetables; pasta sauce; peanut butter and jelly; mac and cheese; Chef Boyardee, and cereal.
The Sunny Daes cow has the right idea. (Photo/Lily Bloomingdale)
And finally … this underrated gem, from Sir Elton John:
The Staples High School Gridiron Club has a great idea.
They emailed all members, reminding them of the many local businesses that supported them over the years with donations to fundraisers, ads in program books and (much) more.
Now is the time to pay it back. “Please take every opportunity to support our sponsors by purchasing their goods and services whenever and wherever possible,” they say. They included a list of dozens of sponsors, just as a reminder.
Think how many Westport organizations have been helped by local merchants. If you know of someone who donated to your cause in the past — well, what are you waiting for?
ASF often contributes to local fundraisers. You can shop online to help them — and many other merchants — now.
Jennifer Hrbek reports that Yale New Haven Health desperately needs hand sewn masks.
Click here for a pocket pattern. Donations can be mailed to Yale New Haven Health (Attn.: PPE Donations), 600 Derby Ave., West Haven, CT 06516. They can also be dropped off there Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
You can donate sewn masks that do not follow the pocket pattern too. YNHHS will pass them on to homeless shelters.
Jennifer and her friend, Bedford Middle School teacher Caroline Davis, have been making masks regularly. “They’re desperately needed. And working on them with kids is a great way to teach life skills,” Jennifer says.
Unless you’re on the list of prohibited applicants.
You’re ineligible if you are “involved in real estate, multi-level marketing, adult entertainment, cannabis or firearms.” You also cannot be a state elected public official or state employee.
I understand the possible conflicts of interest around state officials and employees. But it seems to me the other groups listed have just as many small business worries as any restaurant, market, gift shop or toy store.
And realtors? I can’t imagine there were any open houses last weekend — or will be, over the next few weeks.
Amy Messing writes: “My husband and I plan to donate whatever we get from the government to help during the crisis. Other people may be moved to do the same.
“Do any local fundraising efforts distribute money to restaurant workers, small businesses and others in need? Also, are there any needs for volunteer help that you can identify?”
There are many. This morning, Westporter Stephanie Webster’s great CTBites.com featured a list of many restaurant funds. Click here to see (and note that locally it includes both Match Burger Lobster and Artisan).
I told Amy that I’d crowd-source others. Please click “Comments” below, and let us all know your favorite fundraisers and volunteer opportunities.
One positive side effect of the coronavirus: crime is way down.
I’m on the email list for regular updates from the Westport Police. Usually, the list of arrests for things like distracted driving and speeding is 6 or 8 pages long.
This morning there was just 1 (for “failure to obey control signal.”)
Often too there are 4 to 6 “custodial arrests” (aka lockups), for crimes like domestic violence, larceny and sexual assault.
For the last week, there have been none.
Nice to know that even criminals are self-isolating.
This weekend Elise, Penelope and Daphne Eisenberger painted hearts and positive messages on rocks they, their dad Nico and mother Robin Bates collected at Burying Hill Beach.
Yesterday they put them (in places no one would need to touch) by the entrances to Westport EMS, the police station, Greens Farms fire station and post office, their pediatrician’s office and a few other spots. They saw similar signs around town.
“It won’t stop anyone from getting sick, or make anyone better who is,” Nico says. “But we hope it’s helpful in some small way to those who work hard to keep us all safe.”
Coincidentally, just a few minutes before I published this piece, I got an email from EMS deputy director Marc Hartog. He writes about those stones:
“We don’t know who placed them there or when, but everyone here is incredibly moved that someone, or some group, thought about us and wanted to show their support.
“This is another example of everyday people doing whatever they can during this crisis, even just to boost the morale of our personnel on the front lines. We wish we could thank them, let them know that this gesture is so appreciated. Maybe if you post this, even though we can’t do it in person, they will know.”
Done. And PS: Now you know!
Elise, Penelopoe and Daphne Eisenberger.
Lauren Braun Costello is making lemonade — more accurately perhaps, lemon tarts or meringue pie — during this time of lemons.
Every day during the pandemic, she’s on Instagram Live with tips and tricks to stretch pantries, and help us feed our families.
Lauren is a classically trained chef, with an impressive CV. Check out itslaurenofcourse.com on Instagram.
Yesterday’s rain did not stop Doris Ghitelman.
The Westporter had to go shopping. So she called 4 high-risk neighbors and friends, and asked what they needed.
“It makes me happy to the core to help,” she says. “There’s always a silver lining 😊🧡”
PS: Nice gloves!
Across the world, John Karrel reports, people are putting teddy bears in all kinds of places: windows. Front porches. Roofs.
The idea is for parents to walk around with their kids, counting as many as they find. It’s a scavenger hunt anyone can help with.
John’s already spotted a couple of teddy bears in Greens Farms. Time to add yours! (And if you don’t have one, plenty of toy stores in Westport can help.)
Every week for decades, the Y’s Men meet to hear intriguing speakers.
COVID-19 has halted that tradition. But the Y’s Men are resourceful and resilient.
They’ve developed a podcast series — and they’re sharing them with the world.
Recent guests included internist Dr. Robert Altbaum and epidemiologist Dr. Pietro Marghello, plus that guy who writes the “06880” blog.
Today John Brandt interviews the CEO of a major wholesale distributor to national supermarkets. He’ll talk about the supply chain.
Click here to help support “06880” via credit card or PayPal. Any amount is welcome — and appreciated! Reader contributions keep this blog going. (Alternate methods: Please send a check to: Dan Woog, 301 Post Road East, Westport, CT 06880. Or use Venmo: @DanWoog06880. Thanks!)