Tag Archives: Nicole Straight

Unsung Hero #42

Across Fairfield County, Food Rescue US volunteers are gearing up for April 25. That’s when the non-profit — which delivers extra food from restaurants, grocers, bakeries and caterers to soup kitchens, food pantries and other hunger relief organizations — throws its annual fundraiser. “Food For All” features amazing food and fun from over a dozen great restaurants, including Amis, Kawa Ni and Match Burger Lobster.

One of the volunteers working hardest on the event is Nicole Straight. But that’s no surprise. In the 4 years she’s been involved with Food Rescue US (formerly known as Community Plates), she’s saved untold tons of food.

And helped feed countless county residents.

A private chef, cookbook author and creator of Time to Eat! — a longtime cooking class for busy parents — Nicole is passionate about her volunteer work.

“In a community as fortunate as ours, it’s easy to oversee the invisible and sometimes uncomfortable hungry in our towns,” she told fellow food rescuer Ria Rueda.

“They are in Westport, Fairfield, Norwalk, New Canaan, Darien, Greenwich and Bridgeport. In the current culture, many people feel overwhelming powerlessness, a what-can-I-do feeling?”

Nicole Straight, rescuing food.

For Nicole, service means “boots on the ground” small acts. She loves helping her immediate community, easily and in under an hour.

Food rescue can be done alone, or with family or friends. An app allows anyone to find out when a food run is needed, 7 days a week.

“I love this job because it humanizes and connects me to people in our community I might never have met,” Nicole says.

Since becoming site director in 2016, Nicole has increased the volunteer base from 300 to 500.

But food rescue is not all she does.

Nicole volunteers weekly at the Cesar Batalla School in Bridgeport.

Nicole Straight, with students at Cesar Batalla School.

And she teaches poker at Westport’s Senior Center.

Which is just one more reason we are proud to “hand” this week’s Unsung Hero award to the very aptly named Nicole Straight.

(For more information on the “Food for All” fundraiser, and tickets, click here. For more information on Food Rescue US, click here. To nominate an Unsung Hero, email dwoog@optonline.net)

To Cesar Batalla School, With Love

If you’re like me, you spend time sitting in Riverside Avenue traffic wondering what goes on behind those mysterious windows above Arezzo restaurant.

bonnie-marcus-logoTurns out it’s a design studio, home to the Bonnie Marcus Collection. Launched by Diane von Furstenberg’s former right-hand woman, it’s where 10 very talented people — all local moms — create illustrations for bridal shower, wedding and party invitations; greeting cards; calendars and more.

Bonnie has developed licensing deals with some of the biggest companies in the world. Her designs are found in more than 50,000 retail and online stores.

But today her studio concentrates on one school, in nearby  Bridgeport.

Bonnie’s cards often feature hand-painted sparkles. So Westporter Nicole Straight — who volunteers at the Cesar Batalla School, and is a big fan of Bonnie Marcus Collections — came up with an idea: Give every student there a chance to make a sparkling Valentine’s Day card for someone special.

Westport middle school student Sydney Gusick helped package goodies at the Bonnie Marcus design studio.

Westport middle school student Sydney Gusick helped package goodies at the Bonnie Marcus design studio.

It could be a parent, sibling, teacher or friend. The key is for kids to have fun making their own cards.

Today, Nicole is delivered 1,200 sparkle pens to the school.

Plus Valentine’s gifts for each teacher: A calendar, filled with color and creativity, for every classroom.

Bonnie and the rest of her team enjoyed plenty of smiling faces at Cesar Batalla today.

Who knows? They may find a future designer there too.

(Hat tip: Robin Gusick)

Making a valentine, today at Cesar Batalla School.

Making a valentine, today at Cesar Batalla School.