Tag Archives: Kim Lake

Project Return Joins Homes With Hope Family

For 33 years, Project Return has helped teenage girls and young women in crisis rebuild their lives.

For 33 years too, Homes With Hope has provided emergency shelter, permanent supportive housing, food and services to homeless men, women and children.

Starting today, 2 of Westport’s most important organizations merge.

Just 2 months ago, Project Return — the converted 8-bed farmhouse on North Compo Road that since 1983 has housed hundreds of females from Westport and surrounding towns — learned that on June 30, it would lose all state money.

The Department of Children and Families — which provided 80% of the group’s funding —  has been hit hard by budget cuts. In addition, DCF has shifted its policy, from group homes to foster care.

Project Return, on North Compo Road.

Project Return, on North Compo Road.

At the same time, Project Return was moving its focus to a slightly older group: 18-25-year-old women. It’s an under-served population that is projected to rise, says Kim Lake, board member and chair of the organization’s Strategic Action Committee.

“Partnering with Homes With Hope is by far our best option,” Lake says. “They’re excellent at what they do — and they’re part of our community.”

Homes With Hope president and CEO Jeff Wieser is thrilled with the new collaboration.

“Project Return will be a separate, fully functioning program under our umbrella,” he says.

“They’ll continue their wonderful work: nurturing, coaching, helping young women get back to their families or begin independent lives.”

Homes With HopeWieser adds, “Project Return is very tied in to our mission, of supporting those without homes, or at risking of losing theirs, achieve more self-sufficient lives.

“But we did not have the facilities to focus on that population, right here in our own community.”

1983 was a watershed: The year 2 fantastic organizations were founded.

2016 will go down in both groups’ histories — now shared — too.

Recycling The Bag Ban At CVS

In 2008, when Kim Lake served on Westport’s Green Task Force, the group prodded the RTM to ban plastic bags. The 26-5 vote made this the 1st municipality east of the Mississippi to enact such legislation.

Despite fears ranging from deforestation to the cost of potential litigation, Westporters adapted easily. We now tote reusable bags without a second thought, and find it archaic that out-of-town merchants still use plastic bags.*

So the other day Kim did a double take. Instead of a paper bag, she got this at CVS:

CVS bag 1

I got a similar bag last week. I was surprised too.

Kim — who in addition to being an alert “06880” reader, is also an attorney — fished out the old ordinance.

The CVS bag meets — even exceeds — the legal standards, she says. Any retail reusable bag must have at least 40% post-consumer recycled material. This one has “at least 80%” — according to the bag, anyway.

But read the fine print. It’s “designed for at least 125 uses.” We’re advised to clean the bag by rinsing it, then hanging it upside down to dry.

Yes, and after doing that, you and I will read the 57,000-word terms of service before clicking “agree” the next time we download a new version of iTunes!

CVS bag 2

Kim wonders how “reusable” this plastic bag really is. “It looks a lot like a disposable plastic bag that the rule was written to eradicate,” she says.

What do you think? Is this the beginning of the end for Westport’s plastic bag ban? Does the ordinance need revision? Or should we just bag this whole environmental thing? Click “Comments” below to weigh in.

*Except at Stew’s.

Driving, Running, Talking About Slowing Down

Tuesday’s accident — a Staples cross country runner was struck by a minivan driver on Long Lots Road — has caused quite a stir.

Drivers have to slow down! some Westporters say.

Joggers and bikers have to share the road! others counter.

Meanwhile, alert “06880” reader Kim Lake calls the accident “truly unsettling.”

But, she adds, “even more unsettling were the comments on WestportNow about kids and their attitudes about sharing the road. Wow!

In Westport, runners often take to the roads.

“I’m appalled at the absolute absence of empathy on the part of some people in our community sometimes, at their sense of righteousness when all the facts are not even known.”

(From all indications the Staples runner was not at fault. Coaches and runners followed all proper procedures.)

For a long time, Kim has wanted more legal, clearly defined bike lanes in town. When Diane Farrell’s administration held their public hearings on her version of a Downtown Plan, Kim spoke about bike lanes and walking paths. “I was disappointed that all my comments fell on deaf ears,” she says.

On a recent trip to Washington, DC, she was impressed that a company named Spotcycle has successfully set up a system where people can, for a small fee, easily use bikes to get themselves anywhere. They pick up a bike at one station and and drop it off at their destination.

As soon as she saw how well it works, she thought: “If only in Westport…”

A couple years ago, when Kim chaired the Green Task Force, she spoke to a town employee about bike lanes. Though an avid biker himself, he was distraught.

“He would love to provide bike lanes throughout town,” she notes. “Stringent federal laws, however, prevent taking action (something about all streets having to be widened). Can you imagine the discussions that proposal would generate?”

The ideal — bicyclists in single file, all with helmets — even without a bike lane.

Kim continues: “In light of this recent incident, and especially in light of the insensitive comments, I think we should have a Town Meeting, with politicians and the Police Department, about how we drive in this town.

“Between texting, cellphones and the rush to get somewhere (wherever it is) FAST, it’s time we stop and reflect about civility and safety on the roads.”

Laws and tickets are not the only way to get people to slow down and pay attention, Kim says.

“Community consciousness can have a tremendous impact. I hope that out of this sad incident, something good will happen.”