Tag Archives: National Charity League

Roundup: Qatar, Kids, Service …

Giles Goodburn lives in Westport. But he grew up in the UK, where he became great friends with rugby teammate Marc Bennett.

They stayed close over the years. Their families celebrated special occasions together; they vacationed together too, all over the world.

Most recently, the Goodburns would visit the Bennetts in Dubai, where Marc — a travel industry executive — worked. Marc, Nancy and their 2 boys would reciprocate, in Westport. Marc loved fishing off the Westport shoreline, and Cockenoe Island.

One memorable Christmas Eve, Marc, Giles and and their sons  skated at Longshore. Marc fell, dislocated his shoulder, and spent that night in the ER.

“He was the life and soul of the party, and a dear friend,” Giles says.

Marc’s most recent job was with Qatar Airways to boost Qatar’s tourism trade, in the runup to the coming soccer World Cup.

Near the end of 2019, he was found hanging in a Doha hotel. He had been arrested at his office 10 weeks earlier. He told friends he had been detained for 3 weeks, blindfolded, stripped, blasted with high-pressure hoses, slammed against wall and deprived of sleep, by the country’s secret police,

After his release he could not leave Qatar. Authorities there called his death a suicide. But British officials, and Marc’s family, are not so sure.

Last week, the Times of London published a story about the case, and of the secret Qatari unit that was involved. In the run-up to the World Cup, Qatar has attracted international attention for its human rights abuses, and the deaths of foreign workers building stadiums and other infrastructure.

Click here for the full Times story.

Marc Bennett at Longshore, just before he fell.

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Westport Zoning Board of Appeals member Thomas Hood Jr. died on Thursday at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. The New Jersey native was 65.

Thomas received his BS in civil engineering from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, an MBA from the University of Connecticut, and a master’s in architecture from NJIT.

He had over 40 years of experience in the design, planning and construction of buildings, software engineering, advanced product development, marketing, and consulting.

Thomas was appointed to the ZBA in 2018. Previously, he spent 2 terms on the Flood & Erosion Control Board.

He was a member of the United Methodist Church of Westport and Weston for more than 30 years, where he served as a trustee and sang in the choir.

Thomas’s favorite activities were spending time with his family, painting, cooking, and being near the water. An avid sailor, he was a member of both Cedar Point Yacht Club and the Mantoloking (New Jersey) Yacht Club.

Thomas is survived by his wife of 40 years, Mary Jane (Pascale) Hood; their children, Elizabeth (James Ifert) of Philadelphia, and Thomas and Meredith, both of Brooklyn; his sister Barbara Hood Benz (Charles) of Mantoloking, and extended family.

Visitation will be held Thursday, (October 6, 4 to 8 p.m., Magner Funeral Home, 12 Mott Avenue, Norwalk, CT). A memorial service is set for Friday (October 7, 11 a.m., United Methodist Church of Westport and Weston).

Memorial contributions can be made to the American Diabetes Association.

Thomas Hood

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Sure, there’s a lot going on this month.

But if you’ve got children, try to make time to the 2nd annual Fall Family Festival (Saturday, October 15, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Greens Farms Academy; $20 per family).

Sponsored by WestportMoms — the multi-platform we’ve-got-kids-covered organization — it features food, crafts, games and fun (bouncy houses, ninja course, music, art projects, DJ, pumpkin and cookie decorating, face painting, hair extensions, glitter tattoos, magic, STEM activities and more).

Many businesses will show off their products and services — all with activities for kids.

Organizers Megan Brownstein and Melissa Post ask attendees to bring gently worn jackets, for donations to a local non-profit.

A scene from last year’s Fall Family Festival.

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Speaking of kids: They love nature. They also love Victoria Kann.

This Sunday (October 9, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.), they can combine both. The author will read from her popular “Pinkalicious: Treasuretastic” book, and sign copies. There’s also a scavenger hunt for natural treasures through the remarkable Blau House gardens, and a chance for children to take a bean home and watch it grow.

The gardens are at 9 Bayberry Ridge Road. Registration and payment ($10 per child, which includes a copy of the book) must be done by October 7. Click here for details.

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Speaking still of kids:

The 3rd grade Brownies troop from Long Lots School recently raised funds through cookie sales to purchase a native tree for the Long Lots Preserve, next to the Community Gardens.

The Preserve protects land for future generations, while educating Westporters about a healthy environment. It is turning open space overrun with invasive plants and pests into a native New England forest.

The girls — who have been a troop together since kindergarten — worked with Long Lots Preserve director Lou Weinberg, and their troop leaders to dig a hole and plant their tree. It was a great project — one they can see every day, outside their school.

Long Lots Brownies, Lou Weinberg and their Preserve tree.

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Westport’s National Charity League chapter invites 6th grade girls to apply for the 2023-24 year.

With over 275 members, NCL Westport has more than 275 members (women and their daughters in grades 7-12) provide volunteer service for over 30 community  non-profits.

The 6-year core program includes leadership development and cultural activities. Click here or email mmurphy33Wyahoo.com.

National Charity League seniors, at Ned Dimes Marina.

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Lynn Flint writes: “I’m really concerned about the number of people walking on the side of the road with traffic, not against it, wearing dark non-reflective clothes, in the early twilight and darkness — especially where there are no sidewalks, and the streets are poorly lit.”

As darkness falls earlier, this long-running (and walking) problem gets worse. “06880” readers: Please wear light clothing. Walk against traffic, not with it.

And if there’s a sidewalk nearby, use it. Taxpayers have paid good money to save your life.

Light clothing is good. Walking with traffic is not.

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Speaking of taking care of accident victims:

This weekend at the VFW, Westport Volunteer Emergency Medical Service honored the achievements of our volunteers. Among them:

  • Crew Chief of the Year: Jamie Bairaktaris
  • Volunteer of the Year: Stew Reifler
  • Youth Corps Member of the Year: Jenna Baumblatt
  • EMT of the Year: Ryan Blake
  • Presidential Service Awards Lifetime Recognition: Danielle Faul
  • Presidential Service Awards Lifetime Recognition: Audrone Tarnok
  • Carol Dixon, Danielle Faul: 20 years of service
  • Dorrie Harris: 30 years of service
  • Pat Salvo, Jay Paretzky: 40 years of service

Click here, then scroll down for more information on each honoree.

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo features just one autumn leaf.

It’s October 3. Believe me: There are many more to come.

(Photo/Lauri Weiser)

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And finally … Happy 81st birthday, Chubby Checker. Let’s dance!

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Roundup: Renovations, Playhouse Comedy, Kids’ Fathers Day Cards …

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Two town-owned buildings with important tenants are getting upgrades.

Tomorrow (Thursday, June 10, 5 p.m., livestream) the Public Site and Building Commission considers renovations to the Longshore restaurant, and Homes with Hope.

Greenwich Hospitality Group — owner of the Delamar Hotels, and the new operator of the Inn at Longshore — will be making improvements to the restaurant, which is currently closed. The Inn remains open.

The town has received a $500,000 grant for work on the Gillespie Center. The shelter behind Barnes & Noble will undergo ADA improvements, and air quality systems will be upgraded.

The PS&BC meeting is available on Zoom (868 1556 4709; passcode: 266287).

The Gillespie Center. (Photo/June Rose Whittaker)

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There’s nothing funny about the Westport Country Playhouse’s productions being pushed back from this summer to next.

But there will plenty to laugh about onstage soon. From June 18-25, there’s live, stand-up comedy, on the fabled stage.

In partnership with Fairfield Comedy Club’s 3rd annual festival, comedians Mike Birbiglia, Boomer Funny Ladies, Harrison Greenbaum, Jessica Kirson, Dan Soder and others will bring smiles (and belly laughs) to real, live faces. (“Content is appropriate for age 18 and up,” the WCP says.)

Audience members must be fully vaccinated, or receive a negative COVID test with 72 hours of the performance. Concession stands are open. Click here for tickets, and more information.

Mike Birbiglia

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Just in time for Fathers Day, Westport Book Shop is hosting a Children’s Craft Event.

Saturday, June 19 — the day before the big one — kids ages 6 to 11 are invited to the used book store on Jesup Green to make their own cards.

There are 2 sessions: 10:30 to 11:15 a.m., and 11:15 to noon. Call 203-349-5141 to register.

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Westport’s National Charity League chapter has donated $3,750 to 3 Bridgeport charities serving people hit hard by the pandemic. Grants include $1,250 each to Homes for the Brave, Mercy Learning Center and Caroline House.

While NCL normally only donates time and talent, they made an exception in these critical times.

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“Westport … Naturally” is big on mallards wildlife. This one finds a tasty morsel in the Saugatuck River, near the library.

(Photo/Larry Untermeyer)

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And finally … in 1968, President Johnson declared this a national day of mourning. Presidential candidate Bobby Kennedy died 3 days earlier, from an assassin’s bullet. Two months earlier, Martin Luther King was similarly slain.

Roundup: Art Show, Beechwood, Private Benjamin …

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Here’s news to put a spring in your step:

Staples High School’s Jazz Combo earned 1st place at the 2021 National Jazz Festival this weekend. They competed in Small Ensemble Division 1 Live Performance.

Leading the quintet were seniors Lucas Lieberman (piano) and Abe Rubin (bass). The other members are sophomores: Noah Jahnel (tenor saxophone), Delaney McGee (trumpet), and Witt Lindau (drums).

Lucas was named the Superior Musician for the division, while Delaney and Witt were selected as 2 of the 3 Outstanding Musicians.

The Staples High School Jazz Ensemble participated in the Large Ensemble Division 1 Live Performance competition. Though they did not place, the adjudicators called the ensemble a “swingin’ band” and “one of the better bands that we’ve heard, in a tough division.” Congratulations to director Phil Giampietro, and all the musicians!

Click here to hear the Jazz Combo. Click here for the Jazz Ensemble.

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Westport’s back-to-normal journey continued yesterday, with a pair of just-like-old-times events.

The Westport Woman’s Club held its annual-except-for-last-year art show. Paintings, photos, ceramics — all by local artists — were admired (and bought) by a large, joyful bunch of happy-to-be-back art lovers.

Miggs Burroughs and Nina Bentley were among the artists exhibiting at yesterday’s Westport Woman’s Club show.

And  Frederic Chiu and Jeanine Esposito opened Beechwood — their Weston Road home, where they host regular arts salons (and more) — to the public, for the first time in a year.

The grounds were spectacular. Especially the centerpiece: an ancient copper beech tree, which gives the property and the arts series its name.

The Beechwood copper birch tree. (Photo/June Rose Whittaker)

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COVID stopped many things this year — but not the National Charity League.

Yesterday, Staples High School’s chapter of the mother/daughter community service organization honored 5 pairs — each of whom did more than 30 hours annually — with a “car caravan.”

It ended with a ceremonial “tea” at Ned Dimes Marina, for all 16 seniors.

National Charity League seniors, at Ned Dimes Marina. Back row (from left): Lauren Spheeris, Milei Wyatt, Grace Maloney, Tatiana Bicalho, Daphne Baker, Hannah Murphy, Kaytlyn Carnahan, Callie Rourke, Kyla Race. Front row: Maya Sampath, Abby Ragland, Isabelle Gerard, Hayley Buckman, Elana Lundbye, Sarah Corneck, Chloe Chaple..

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Just added to the Remarkable Theater’s schedule: “Private Benjamin.” It’s this Thursday (May 27, 8 p.m.). The parking lot opens at 7 p.m., for tailgating.

Click here for tickets, and more shows.

“Private Benjamin”

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Boston College’s “Spoon River Revival” has won the Outstanding Creative Ensemble Award from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.

Four cast members — including Staples High School Class of 2020 graduate Nick Rossi — were chosen to participate in the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship competition. The award provides recognition, honor and financial assistance to outstanding student performers for the further pursuit of education. Click here for the full story.

Emily (Sophie Rossman) and George (Nick Rossi) at the soda shop, in Staples Players’ production of “Our Town.” (Photo/Kerry Long)

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo comes from downtown, via Frank Rosen:

(Photo/Frank Rosen)

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And finally … on this day in 1624, Peter Minuit bought Manhattan for the Dutch, from the Lenape Native Americans.

It is commonly believed the price was $24 worth of trinkets. It was actually “60 guilders worth of trade” — approximately $1,143 in 2020 dollars.

So today’s featured artist and song are no-brainers:

 

 

 

Roundup: Sweet Photos, Trash, Pumpkins, More


Westporters love Tom Kretsch’s photos. They love Saugatuck Sweets. And they love Al’s Angels.

So plan to stop by the ice cream shop patio on the river tomorrow (Saturday, October 10, 1 p.m. to 8 p.m.). Kretsch will display his evocative images — many of his home town.

A percentage of all sales benefits Al’s Angels, the nonprofit started by Saugatuck Sweets owner Al DiGuido to help families with children battling cancer, and families with food needs.

(Photo/Tom Kretsch)


Last weekend, 35 mothers and daughters from Westport’s National Charity League spent a cleaning Compo Beach. The effort supported NCL’s philanthropy partner, Save the Sound.

Volunteers removed over 45 pounds of garbage from the beach. They found PPE, plastic bags, straws and food wrappers, along with 235 cigarette butts, 160 bottle caps and 33 balloons. Data collected will help Save the Sound stop debris at its source. 

A small bit of all the trash.


What’s new at the Senior Center?

Its first-ever pumpkin decorating contest. It’s October 30 (11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.).

Submissions will be judged on originality and scariness. Members can vote for their favorite pumpkins while picking up a drive-through lunch (chicken pot pie, salad, roll, cookie and Halloween treats) from staff members (in costumes).

Seniors can enjoy their meal while socially distancing in the parking lot. Prizes include a Halloween goodie bucket, and a gift card for a Senior Center luncheon.

Lunch is $8. The cost to enter the contest: free (and priceless).


ADL Connecticut’s 10th annual Walk Against Hate will look from the first 9. Though participants can’t join together physically, they’ll still send a powerful message.

Individuals, families, friends, colleagues and teammates are invited to get creative. They can walk wherever they want, from October 12-18. Registration is free, though fundraising is encouraged to help ADL fight anti-Semitism, racism and all forms of hate.

Fundraisers who give or get more than $50 get an ADL bandanna. The first 1,000 people to raise over $150 receive t-shirts.

ADL Connecticut has a strong Westport presence. Director Steve Ginsburg lives here; so does Walk Against Hate chair Claudia Cohen.

Jill Nadel chairs the outreach committee). Terry Bernard, Shelly Herst, Margie Jacobson, Ken Backman, Sara Weiner (co-chair of the education committee), Bret Weiner, Chuck Harris, Liz Kaner, Lynne Goldstein and John Kaufman are all on ADL’s state board. Many other Westporters serve in other capacities.

To register for or donate to the Walk Against Hate, click here.


Instead of a traditional luncheon, the American Cancer Society’s annual “Women Leading the Way to Wellness” event (Wednesday, November 18), is on Facebook Live.

There’s an option to buy a $125 “Wellness Box” to enhance the viewing experience. The boxes are valued at over $175, and include products from The Granola Bar, Performance Physical Therapy and West.

Click here for more information.


And finally … this is the birthday of John Lennon. He would have been — are you ready? — 80 years old today.

 

Roundup: Mental Illness, Senior Center, Namaste,


Margie Friedman’s mother Steffi was a well-known Westport sculptor. Her works grace Temple Israel, Earthplace and the library’s children’s section.

Margie — a 1972 Staples High School graduate — is quite accomplished too. Her recently completed documentary, “Orchestrating Change,” tells the inspiring story of the only orchestra in the world created by and for people living with mental illness, and those who support them. The mission of Me2/Orchestra — “me, too” — is to erase stigma, one exhilarating concert at a time.

With compelling characters, striking animation, beautiful music, even humor, “Orchestrating Change” shows what living with a mental illness is really like. The film challenges audiences to reconsider preconceived notions, and empowers those living with a diagnosis.

The film is currently airing on public television nationwide, and is available on PBS Passport for subscribers. To learn moreand read reviews, click here. For the trailer, click here.


The Senior Center’s next quarter begins Thursday (October 1).

Over 40 programs are offered by Zoom: yoga, essentrics, Pilates, tai chi, cardio workout, strength training and dance, and others including history, ukulele, support groups, concerts and more.

Click here for a list of fall classes. To register, click here, then follow the prompts — or call 203-341-5099 weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For scholarships and othrd questions, call 203-341-5099, or email seniorcenter@westportct.gov.


This past weekend was a productive one, for Westport’s National Charity League chapter. Members collected 1,640 pounds of food, for the Person-to-Person program.


Yoga instructor Paula Schooler has some very cool “Namastay @ Om” t-shirts for sale.

They’re available in men’s and women’s sizes, small through extra large, in black and gray for $20. A portion of the proceeds benefit the Connecticut Nurses Foundation COVID-19 Heroes Fund.

For more information email stringofpearls36@aol.com, or call 203-226-6465.


And finally … a little something to get you ready for tonight’s presidential debate.

COVID Roundup: Main Street Planters; Protest Info; Library Dropoff And Delivery; More


As Westport reopens, the Downtown Merchants Association swings into action.

They’re getting a great response from volunteers eager to help plant and care for 16 barrel planters the WDMA is putting on Main Street. That’s the first of many enhancements, making the area welcoming and inviting.

The WDMA also produced and donated 1,000 bags for the library to use for their curbside book pickups. The bags feature a link to the new Westport Marketplace, where people can find out where to shop and how.

Main Street planters


Yesterday, both the Town of Westport and Westport Police Department Facebook pages featured an announcement about “Truth & Reconciliation: A Conversation About Race and Policing.”

Set for tomorrow (Friday, June 5, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.), it’s co-sponsored by a number of organizations, including the Anti-Defamation League of Connecticut, Connecticut Police Chiefs Association, state Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, and the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities.

Click here to view.


In the wake of the death of George Floyd, a group of mostly young Westporters has organized another event.

A “Peaceful Against Police Brutality” is set for tomorrow (Friday, June 5, 1:30 p.m.) at the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen (Post Road) bridge in downtown Westport.

Organizers says masks and social distancing are required.


Westport Unitarian Church director of social justice David Vita was at Sunday’s “Unite Against Racism” rally on Jesup Green.

He compiled this powerful 15-minute video about the event, held in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death by a Minneapolis police officer.


Usually, the award of a big scholarship is a big deal. COVID-19 has forced even those ceremonies onto Zoom. But Karen Jacobs made Tuesday’s event a great one anyway.

Her husband died of cancer 10 years ago, at 45 years old. Since then the Chad A. Jacobs Memorial Foundation has provided over $300,000 in academic and athletic scholarships throughout the area.

This year they created a new award, called Seize the Day. Recipients Charlie and Will Capalbo received $10,000 each.

Charlie — a graduate of Fairfield Ludlowe High School — battled 2 separate cancers. His brother Will — like Charlie, a hockey player — donated bone marrow for a transplant. They are the grandsons of Westport writer Ina Chadwick.

Friends, colleagues, teammates and relatives of Chad Jacobs were on the Zoom call. So was the Capalbo family. Karen asked them to step outside, onto their front lawn.

There, she and her children — Staples graduates Taylor and Mac — presented Charlie and Will with a traditional over-sized check. This fall, Charlie will be a sophomore at Fairfield University; Will is a sophomore at Albertus Magnus.

The coronavirus can’t keep a great ceremony down!

The Capalbo family (rear), and the Jacobs family (in front, with over-sized checks).


Beginning June 15th, the Westport Library will offer curbside pickup service for materials placed on hold, and homebound delivery for eligible Westport residents.

To prepare, books and other borrowed materials can be returned to the Annex in the upper parking lot, beginning Monday (June 8).  The Library is waiving overdue fines and fees.


Westport’s National Charity League chapter is donating $7,300 to 4 organizations that support the food insecure: the Westport Department of Human Services, Homes With Hope food pantry, Mercy Learning Center and Person to Person.

Part of the funds came from members who opted to not take refunds when the chapter’s annual tea was canceled, due to the coronavirus. Click here for more information on the NCL’s Westport chapter.


MoCA Westport says: “We believe in the power of expression, in the voices for change and in caring for ourselves and for others. We believe that art has the power to reveal, inspire, and affect powerful change.

“We care deeply about the ongoing problem of unequal justice in our country, and stand in solidarity with the peaceful protest movements sweeping our nation and the world.

“In a display of solidarity and reflection, MoCA Westport will cease all virtual classes, concerts and posts this week.”


One more sign the local dining scene is returning (somewhat) to normal: The (socially distanced) scene last night at Bartaco:

(Photo/Sabra Gallo)


And finally … from Fairfield’s own John Mayer: