Tag Archives: Fairfield County Story Lab

COVID-19 Roundup: Drive-By Palm Sunday; Hospital Meal Train; Find Your Fitness; Give Hemp, And More

Palm Sunday is coming. What’s a church — closed for the pandemic — to do?

Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal will make it a “drive by.”

Just drive to the front of the church, receive a priestly blessing, and listen to bagpipes!

Of course, like every other religious institution, CHT is doing a lot more during the pandemic.

For example, they put donation bins in the back door servery. Anyone can donate food. Volunteers bring it to the Gillespie Center, and 2 Bridgeport organizations: King’s Pantry (for elderly patrons, veterans, people with disabilities and the homeless) and Feed My Sheep, which helps over 80 families.

The church also provides meals for Westport police, fire and EMS personnel.

Donations can be made online too (the church buys the groceries). Click here for details.

In addition, Christ & Holy Trinity offers a short Facebook Live prayer service every night at 7. The men’s group meets every week for a spiritual discussion on Zoom. An abbreviated virtual church service is livestreamed every Sunday. Click here for details.


Westporter Lisa Power helped put together a meal train to help feed the overworked and often hungry Norwalk Hospital staff.

Lunch and dinner slots are connected with specific units. Each unit has 20 or so staff members.

The request is for individually packaged or wrapped meals (no large food trays that require sharing). Meals can be donated by individuals, families, groups or businesses. Call your favorite restaurant or deli to order.

(A&S Fine Foods in Westport has done a great job delivering food so far, Lisa says.)

Click here to sign up for the meal train. For questions and more information — including restaurants and delis that would like to be listed on the mail train — email lapower2014@gmail.com.


When COVID-19 forced the closure of gyms and fitness centers, thousands of Westporters lost their daily routines. And scores of Westporters lost all their income.

Jessica Newshel is trying to help.

The Westport resident and Pilates instructor has launched Fit Finder CT.  The free service helps people find accredited trainers who can work with them one-on-one or in small virtual groups, on the platform of their choice.  Workouts are tailored to each client’s specific needs and ability, and the equipment (or lack of) available at home. There are many types of trainers, for all ages. Click here for the FitFinder website.

Yoga instructors are also listed on FitFinder. (Photo/Frances Hoyte)


Westonite Elan Wischkin is the founder of The Giving Hemp, a craft CBD company.

He’s put 18 CBD “Giving Boxes” on his website, for $10. That money will be donated to a GoFundMe providing ventilators for Connecticut COVID-19 patients.

The box can be sent to someone as a gift, to help ease stress and anxiety.  Each includes a bottle of CBD tincture, a dark chocolate with 15mg CBD, and a poem by Kahlil Gibran: “On Giving.”

Elan will also donate 20% of sales all month to the GoFundMe for ventilators. Click here for the Giving Boxes, and the Giving Hemp website.


The Fairfield County Story Lab was all set to celebrate 1 year as a gathering place for local writers.

Instead, all gathering places are closed.

But founder Carol Dannhauser has the “write” stuff. From now through the end of the coronavirus quarantine, she’s opening up all events — free — to any writer in Connecticut, Westchester and New York City.

There are sessions for freelancers, memoirists, and people looking for agents; virtual happy hours, game nights — you name it. For details, email info@fcstorylab.com.


And finally, just another reminder:

New Saugatuck Story Lab Is The “Write” Place

For nearly 10 years, a suite of offices sat empty on the top floor of 21 Charles Street — the building opposite Tarry Lodge. That’s odd. It’s just a few steps from the train station, there are great restaurants all around, and the view is spectacular.

But the space is now rented. There’s a story there. In fact, there are countless stories.

The new tenant is Fairfield County Story Lab. It’s the brainchild of Carol Dannhauser, a journalist and writing teacher who loves both the written word, and the people who write it.

Carol Dannhauser enjoys working on one of Story Lab’s inviting couches.  

After 30 years with (among others) the New Haven Register and New York Daily News — and a freelance career in books, magazines and documentaries — Dannhauser realized that although writing is a solitary act, writers need solidarity.

She had a nice home office. Yet she’d head to Panera or Starbucks to work. She liked the background buzz. But even with a cup of coffee, she could not sit there forever.

“I was looking for ‘my people,'” Dannhauser says. “There are great writing studios in Westport” — in fact, she’s co-founder of the Fairfield County Writers Studio, elsewhere in the Charles Street building — “but they’re all about teaching,  not actually writing. I wanted a place where people could write, connect and prosper.”

She knows this town is filled with real writers: novelists, playwrights, journalists, children’s book authors, poets — you name it. She figured, “If you build it, they will come.”

She did. And they did.

Working in one of the common areas …

Dannhauser, her husband, and her business partner Diane Salerno spent 5 months renovating the 2,5oo-square foot space. They worked from Dannhauser’s vision: Give writers every type of accommodation they could imagine.

And even some they couldn’t.

There are all kinds of configurations: rooms with desks. Sofas. A quiet room (NO TALKING ALLOWED!). A deadline room (for an extra $100 a week you can lock the door, and race to finish that book or TV project.)

The cafe/kitchen — a corner room with great lighting and a killer view — is stocked with cheese, cookies, coffee, tea and a microwave.

A community room is perfect for a book club meeting, or book launch party.

… and the community room.

There’s also an interview room, a phone room and storyboard room, where groups of creatives can plot ideas. Of course, free WiFi is everywhere.

An attorney offers pro bono advice once a month on issues like copyrights and royalties.

A grand opening recently drew 100 people, including best-selling authors and 1st Selectman Jim Marpe. Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce president Matthew Mandell was there too. He’s excited that Story Lab will draw folks to Saugatuck. And — because you can’t sit and write forever — they’ll get up, go outside, and patronize nearby shops and restaurants.

As well as Mystic Market. The new store in the old Blu Parrot/Arrow had opened just a few days earlier. The market welcomed their new neighbor with a huge plate of cookies.

It’s open from 4 a.m. to 1 a.m. Hey, even writers need to sleep.

(Story Lab memberships range from a day rate to every day for a year, with several options in between. For more information, click here.)

The quiet room is QUIET!