A sold-out crowd filled Fairfield University’s Quick Center for last night’s “Stand Up for Comedy.”
The benefit — the 15th annual for Homes with Hope, but the first in-person comedy show for them since COVID struck — featured comedian Pat McGann. He knew his audience, and deftly straddled the line between humor and awareness of the the crucial work HwH does to ease homelessness and food insecurity in Westport.
A “paddle raise” pledge drive before McGann took the stage marked a milestone: Over 15 years, “Stand Up for Comedy” has now raised over $3 million.
Pat McGann, on stage at the Quick Center. (Photo/Dan Woog)
Also last night: MoCA Westport’s opening reception for “From the Pen to the Knife.” The exhibit features watercolors by Marian Christy. Now 90 years old, she invented Knifed Watercolors — using only palette knives and puddles of paint (no drawing, no brushes).
Christy was a Pulitzer-Prize nominated journalist for the first chapter of her life, when women had limited journalistic opportunities. During this second chapter, she pivoted from “the pen to the knife.”
The exhibition is on view through November 27. Docent-led tours are available on Thursday afternoons (advance registration requested). Admission is complimentary on Thursdays after 4 p.m. For more information, visit click here,
It’s autumn in Westport — a time when everyone has a “favorite” tree.
I have several. They’re at Staples High School’s Loeffler Field — the long-time home of the soccer teams. They hold a special place in my heart, because I had them planted there 16 years ago, when we built a terrace at the top of the hill.
Shira Honigstein loves them too. She sent this photo, for today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature.
Posted onSeptember 30, 2022|Comments Off on There’s Nothing Funny About Homelessness. Except On October 15.
As Connecticut’s housing crisis worsens — buffeted by the perfect storm of an economic downturn, rising rents and decreased stocks of affordable units — Homes with Hope becomes more important than ever.
For nearly 40 years the non-profit (originally the Interfaith Housing Association) has provided area residents with emergency shelter, supportive housing, a community kitchen and food pantry, and much more.
It offers beds for men and women downtown, in the shadow of Tiffany. There are also small individual and group homes throughout Westport — unobtrusive yet critical housing at a time when the need for affordable units is critical.
The Gillespie Center is a few feet away from Tiffany. (Photo/June Rose Whittaker)
Since 1983, Westport — town officials, other non-profits and countless individuals — has supported Homes with Hope. That support continues.
A $1 million renovation of Gillespie Center and Hoskins Place — nestled next to Barnes & Noble, Walrus Alley and Don Memo — will add security measures, insulation, and air conditioning for volunteers in the food pantry (plus refrigeration, for perishable goods).
Plans are moving now through the permitting process. The target date for construction is early next year.
Not far away, on Compo Road North next the Little League fields and tennis courts, Project Return will transition from an emergency shelter to supportive housing for young women ages 18 to 24. With longer stays they’ll be able to access more services, including education, jobs and social work.
If approved by town bodies, 6 units will be added to Westport’s overall affordable housing stock.
Project Return’s “Susie’s House,” on North Compo Road.
All of Homes with Hope’s work — which goes on 24/7/365 — costs money. Exactly 2/3 of their budget comes from donations.
Which is why “Stand Up for Comedy” — the annual fundraiser — is so crucial.
This year’s event is October 15 (8:30 p.m., Fairfield University Quick Center). Pat McGann headlines the comedy special. The Chicago-based comic has performed at Madison Square Garden, Gilda’s LaughFest, the Great American Comedy Festival, the Nashville Comedy Fest and Montreal’s Just for Laughs Festival.
He’s been on the Late Show with David Letterman — twice — and the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. His riffs on his wife, kids and marriage were spot on.
After a COVID-canceled 2020 event and a Westport Library hybrid version last year, Homes with Hope executive director Helen McAlinden, and event co-chairs Allyson Gottlieb and Becky Martin, are thrilled to be back at the Quick Center.
“This is a great opportunity to be together, laugh and support a very important cause,” McAlinden says.
The laughter pays off. Last year, Homes with Hope served 951 different people: men and women at the shelters; individuals and families in 8 other housing programs; children in after-school programs, and the community kitchen and food pantry.
The non-profit also covers, on an as-needed basis, costs like security deposits, or first and last month’s rent, for clients moving into their own rental places.
McAlinden notes that in this part of Fairfield County, people need to earn $38.50 an hour to afford a studio or 1-bedroom apartment. Connecticut’s minimum wage is $14, so even 2 full-time jobs would not cover that.
“There’s nothing more meaningful than helping someone get on their feet, and plant roots,” says Gottlieb.
She and Martin hope many Westporters will get on their own feet too, on October 15 too — to stand up for both comedy, and Homes with Hope.
(For tickets and more information on “An Evening of Comedy with Pat McGann,” click here.)
(“06880” is your hyper-local blog. Please click here to support our work.)
Comments Off on There’s Nothing Funny About Homelessness. Except On October 15.
There’s not much funny about a sales job selling retail packaging.
But Pat McGann liked talking to people. He got to travel. It was a living.
Until July of 2010, when he got laid off.
The timing was not great. His wedding was 4 months away.
So at 31, the Chicago native embarked on a new career.
He’d already been doing open mic shows. Now it became his full-time gig.
It did not take long to get gigs. The comedy community is very welcoming, McGann says. He became the house MC at Zanies, welcoming crowds and introducing comedians.
It wasn’t easy — 10 to 14 shows a week, 6 days a week. But he got experience. He loved it. And hey, it was a living.
McGann opened for Sebastian Maniscalco, including 4 sold-out shows at Madison Square Garden. He worked at Gilda’s LaughFest, the Great American Comedy Festival, the Nashville Comedy Fest and Montreal’s Just for Laughs Festival
He was invited on the Late Show with David Letterman — twice — and the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. His riffs on his wife, his kids and marriage were spot on.
Being funny on TV is different than on stage. “You’re set up for success,” McGann says — simply standing next to a late night host provides “instant credibility” — but the stakes are high. You better be funny.
Then came COVID. “It blew up our whole industry,” McGann says.
There was not much funny about the global pandemic. Still, people were desperate for laughs.
Comedy thrives on shared experiences. McGann helped audiences relate to what everyone was going through — virtually, of course — and made it through. Comedians like him helped us all.
There’s nothing funny about homelessness either. But that’s the hook for McGann’s upcoming appearance.
He’s the headliner for Homes with Hope’s “Stand Up for Comedy” — an annual (and very popular) fundraiser. This year’s event is October 15 (8:30 p.m., Fairfield University Quick Center).
“Comedy is a uniting force for good,” McGann notes. “This will be a night where people come together, have some laughs, and do something good for others.”
He’s spoken with Homes with Hope executive director Helen McAlinden. He learned about the non-profit’s many programs — the Gillespie men’s shelter and Hoskins Place for homeless women; supportive housing initiatives, and programs like Project Return — and is all in for the cause.
“This is why I do standup: to have people leave a room feeling better about things, after laughing for a while,” McGann says.
“Knowing that what they paid for goes to something good – those are the best kinds of nights, for all of us.”
(Click here for tickets to Pat McGann’s October 15 “Stand Up for Comedy” Homes with Hope fundraiser, at the Quick Center. Click here for more information on Homes with Hope.)
(“06880” is sometimes funny, sometimes serious — and always, your hyper-local blog. Please click here to contribute.)
At the dawn of another school year, superintendent of schools Thomas Scarice sent an update to residents.
Among the items: a new app for parents, called “WheresTheBus.” It’s a tool for parents to know when their child’s bus will arrive, with up-to-the-minute ETAs. It’s available on any Apple or Android device, and will go live sometime in September, after routes are firmly established.
As for COVID, Scarice says the risk “continues to change for the better,with protection from vaccines and growing immunity from prior infections. We will continue to follow guidance from the State Department of Public Health and the CDC on minimizing the effects of respiratory disease in school. Our focus this year will be on promoting vaccinations, monitoring symptoms and utilizing at-home self-testing.
“We continue to encourage all students, families and staff to stay up to date on vaccinations. COVID at-home self=test kits will be available to all families and staff, and their use is encouraged.”
When will my kid’s bus come? Check out WheresTheBus!
Mia Dillon first appeared at the Westport Country Playhouse in 1979. That’s more than a decade before Clay Singer was born. She’s had several Broadway credits, including “Our Town” with Paul Newman, and a Tony nomination for “Crimes of the Heart.”
But Singer — a 2013 Staples High School graduate, and former Staples player — has his own sterling resumé. Before finishing a recent national tour of “The Band’s Visit,” he appeared on his hometown Playhouse stage in “Romeo and Juliet” and “Man of La Mancha.”
Singer and Dillon share the stage in “4000 Miles,” the current Westport Playhouse production. It’s perfect casting.
Singer plays 21-year-old Leo, who finishes a cross-country bike trip by staying at the Greenwich Village apartment of his feisty 91-year-old grandmother Vera. Together they explore issues like age, family, love, sex and politics. They don’t always agree — but that’s what gives the show its punch, and its surprises.
It’s another Westport Country Playhouse hit, in a summer of them. The fact that the star is a local boy is an extra special treat.
Clay Singer and Mia Dillon in “4000 Miles.” (Photo/Carol Rosegg)
An “06880” reader writes: “I recently raised the red flag on my mailbox to alert my carrier that envelopes inside needed to be mailed.
“Within a matter of hours (before she showed up), a “red flag thief” stole the envelopes. They contained checks, and while the amounts were fairly small, the thief used them to steal nearly $10,000 from my checking account. Fortunately, my bank covered the loss.
“Apparently this is a widespread problem nationwide, and not a new one. The thieves often use chemicals to change information on the checks. They can also use the checks as a starting point for identity fraud (such as creation of fake ID).
“One wonders if a local criminal gang drives cars (or rides bikes) through the streets of Westport looking for raised red flags.
“In the future, needless to say, I won’t use my mailbox to mail checks. Sadly, that kind of old world charm and trust needs to be relegated to history :(”
The reader added this PS, a few hours later:
“I just told my mail carrier what happened. She was glad I told her, because on Tuesday she discovered no mail in 12 boxes on her route, despite the red flags raised. She also mentioned a case involving a Westport resident whose stolen check from the mailbox was used for a $30,000 fraud.
“Finally, she said that blue boxes aren’t always safe either. Thieves can slide a sticky mousetrap-type sheet inside (on a piece of wire), to pull out mail that way. Good grief.”
But the National Geographic contributor took time out this week to appear on “Good Morning America.” Wilkes talked about how his photographs document climate change. Click below for the intriguing clip:
In other Library news: Verso Studios is steaming up with the Westport Farmers’ Market. They’ll bring original Connecticut talent to the Thursday music performances at the Imperial Avenue parking lot.
With Verso Studios curating, singer/songwriter/troubadour Frank Critelli and Friends will be playing next Thursday (September 1). The Sawtellesfollow on October 13.
It’s no joke: Tickets are going fast for “Stand Up for Homes With Hope.”
The popular fundraiser — a night of comedy at Fairfield University’s Quick Center — returns live after 2 un-funny COVID years. (The virtual events were, of course, quite fun.)
This year’s lead comic is Pat McGann. A rising star who began stand-up comedy at the age of 31 (after realizing he was not very good at selling packaging), his appeal stems from his quick wit and relatable takes on family life and marriage.
The event is Saturday, October 15. Tickets are $200 and $150 (including a reception with cocktails, light supper and music) and $75 (wine before the curtain). Click here for tickets. For sponsorship information, click here.
Longtime Westporter Pete Noonan — one of the founders of the town’s girls soccer program — died peacefully Tuesday, at his Las Vegas home. He was 90 years old.
The Massachusetts native was a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard Business School.
His professional life as an engineer and management consultant led him, among many diverse engagements, to the Apollo space project, and Taiwan to consult on modernizing the island’s national rail system. He also worked on the merger of the American and National Football Leagues, to create today’s NFL.
He was a proponent of the Theory of Constraints, and was instrumental in its adoption by many corporations. In later years he took the entrepreneurial plunge with a pistachio farm in Argentina, leveraging the expertise he acquired from his many agricultural consulting assignments.
He loved classical music, opera and Shakespeare, and collected Shona sculpture and modern Chinese ink painting. His trained tenor voice was heard in opera and choral performances, turned heads in church, and turned lights on in houses as he organized annual family and neighborhood Christmas caroling.
He was an avid and competitive sailor, and loved soccer. He became passionately involved in soccer as his children grew with the game. He coached and refereed in the Westport Soccer Association — and served as its inaugural president, giving countless hours to not only his children but thousands of others. He was especially instrumental in the early development of competitive soccer for girls and women.
He was a lifelong Boston sports fan, but particularly loved the Red Sox (and enjoyed bantering with his 2 Yankee-loving sons).
He was committed to education and exceptionally proud of the academic, athletic, and professional accomplishments of his 5 children. He was well read and versed in a variety of subjects, including economics, politics the arts and sports.
He was predeceased by his brother James E. Noonan and beloved daughter Clare Noonan Bolich. He is survived by his wife Eva Meder, brother Rev. Mark L. Noonan, former spouse Margaret Ryan Noonan, children Mary Alma, Michael, Mark and Diane Eichler, and granddaughters Olivia, Tess, Caleigh and Meghan.
Jeanne Harris — a former Representative Town Meeting member, and the wife of former RTM member Holton Harris, and also the mother of former RTM member Walter Harris — died in 2021. A celebration of her life will be held tomorrow (Saturday August 27, 2 to 5 p.m.) at the Westport Woman’s Club.
And finally … Jerry Allison, the drummer with Buddy Holly & the Crickets, died this week near Nashville. He was 82. Click here for a full obituary — and the very interesting back story to “That’ll Be the Day.”
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