Tag Archives: Patty Haberstroh

How You Gonna Keep ‘Em Down On The Farm? ALS Pepper Challenge Spreads To WTF

The Haberstroh family’s #ALSPepperChallenge has spread all over the country.

But right here in Westport, it’s bearing particular fruit.

The latest group to raise money for research into the devastating disease — in honor of Department of Human Services program specialist Patty Haberstroh — is Wakeman Town Farm.

Challenged by Parks & Rec — whose commission chairman is Patty’s husband, Charlie — Liz Milwe and Christy Colasurdo decided to be creative.

Taking her cue from “Rapper’s Delight,” Christy wrote lyrics. Corey Thomas — WTF’s talented steward — showed his versatility as the rapper.

The video was filmed yesterday at the farm, after their annual team retreat. It’s already been viewed over 450 times on Instagram, and 400 times on Facebook.

Wakeman Town Farm was not the only organization in town taking the hot pepper challenge yesterday. Staples High School’s boys basketball team did the same — and were inspired by a visit from both Patty and Steve Haberstroh, a former Wrecker hoops star (and Patty and Charlie’s son).

Haberstroh noted that Jon Walker — a 1988 Staples grad, and another famed Wrecker basketball player — died last year of ALS.

Coach Colin Devine (far left) and members of the Staples High School boys basketball team take the #ALSPepperChallenge yesterday.

The Haberstrohs’ challenge has raised nearly $220,000 so far. That includes a $100,000 anonymous donation. Another $250,000 anonymous pledge is expected this week.

(Click here for the Haberstrohs’ hot pepper challenge donation page.)

Greens Farms Dares Other Elementary School: Take The ALS Pepper Challenge!

Every holiday season for years, Greens Farms Elementary School students, staff and parents have raised money to purchase gifts and necessities for needy Westport families. One of their major fundraisers is a Walk-a-Thon.

Patty Haberstroh — the Department of Human Services program specialist in charge of the town holiday giving program — has always supported the Walk-a-Thon, and all of GFS’ efforts, fully and enthusiastically.

Each year, she tells the kids how wonderful their contributions are, and how much they’re helping neighbors in need. She inspires everyone, of all ages, to do as much as they could.

Now Patty’s been diagnosed with ALS. And Greens Farms El is supporting her just as energetically as she’s done for them.

The other day, students, teachers, administrators and parents — some of whom no longer have children at the school — came together.

The event was the #ALS Pepper Challenge. Principal Kevin Cazzetta, assistant principal Christopher Breyan, phys. ed teacher Lisa Thomas, music teacher Suzanne Propp and seven parents ate hot peppers — after, of course, soliciting funds to do it. Money raised will benefit ALS research.

In the video below, parent Melissa Levy explains how much Patty means to Greens Farms. Then parent Kathryn St. Andre mentions the song the Walk-a-Thon participants always sing with Ms. Propp: “I Wish.”

The highlight comes at the end of the video. Greens Farms students challenge all the other elementary schools in town — well, the staff and parents there, anyway — to take the ALS challenge in honor of Patty.

Game on!

(Click here for the Haberstrohs’ hot pepper challenge donation page.)

Board Of Ed Takes ALS Hot Pepper Challenge

The other day, Jim Marpe took the ALS Hot Pepper Challenge.

Last night — rising to the 1st selectman’s challenge — it was the Board of Education’s turn.

Superintendent of Schools Colleen Palmer and the 7 board members each ate a habanero or jalapeño — at the same time pledging money for research into the devastating disease. Challenging others to do so raises even more funds.

Westport has gotten involved thanks to the Haberstroh family. Department of Human Services program specialist Patty Haberstroh was diagnosed with ALS last fall.

Board members challenged an array of prominent Westporters, including Senior Center director Sue Pfister, library director Bill Harmer, the entire Board of Finance — and Grammy/Tony/Emmy-winning songwriter Justin Paul.

Check out the video below. (Spoiler alert: It does not include the money shot — what happened after the educators ate their peppers. Hopefully, a quorum remained to conduct business.)

(Click here for the Haberstrohs’ hot pepper challenge donation page.)

Look Who’s Taking The Haberstrohs’ Hot Pepper Challenge!

When word got out that Patty Haberstroh’s family was promoting a hot pepper challenge to raise funds for ALS research, some big names responded:

Shaquille O’Neal. Charles Barkley. Domonique Foxworth. Dan Le Batard. The Miami Heat.

Now the popular Department of Human Services’ program specialist’s fellow town employees have done the same.

Yesterday 1st Selectman Jim Marpe, Staples principal James D’Amico, assistant principals Jim Farnen and Rich Franzis, and former principal John Dodig gathered at Town Hall.  After a bit of banter, they all ate eye-tearing, sinus-clearing, unfathomably hot habaneros.

It was not easy. But they did it for Patty.

And when they were done, they challenged others to do the same.

D’Amico dared the Staples science department (whose chair grows his own peppers). Farnen challenged the Staples athletic department (which includes me, as Staples boys soccer coach — yikes!). Dodig named the guidance department.

Marpe topped them all. He dared the entire Board of Education — and superintendent of schools Colleen Palmer — to eat a habanero or jalapeño.

Videos will be posted soon.

But don’t laugh too hard. We may challenge you next.

(Click here for the Haberstrohs’ hot pepper challenge donation page. Video by Justin Nadal, Staples High School media lab instructor.)

BONUS VIDEO: Check out this new video. It features plenty of celebrities — and tons of Westporters too. And after you click on — please keep the ALS Pepper Challenge going!

Haberstrohs’ Hot Pepper Challenge Picks Up Steam

Everyone in Westport knows Patty Haberstroh. The energetic, creative and deeply committed family programs specialist for the town’s Human Services Department ensures that our neediest neighbors get the resources they deserve — and that those of us with the ability to help get a chance to do so.

Patty Haberstroh

Patty’s husband Charlie is embedded in town too: He chairs the Parks and Recreation Commission. Patty’s sons starred on Staples High School sports teams, and retain strong ties to their hometown.

So when Patty was diagnosed 3 months ago with ALS, they did what the Haberstroh family always does: got together, and got to work.

The result is the #ALSPepperChallenge. It’s like the 2014 Ice Bucket Challenge — except much, much hotter.

The idea is to eat a hot pepper — habanero or jalapeno — on camera. You’re filmed making a pledge to  help find a cure. Then you nominate someone (or many others) to do the same.

A project like this needs a kick start. Patty’s son Tom — a longtime ESPN basketball writer — was just the man. His sports and media connections pushed the #ALSPepperChallenge into overdrive.

Since Christmas, Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley have eaten peppers — and raised funds. So have Domonique Foxworth, Dan Le Batard and the Miami Heat.

Oh, yeah: The Staples boys basketball team is doing it too.

Media giants like USA Today and People magazine covered Patty’s #ALSPepperChallenge.

“I’d never eaten a habanero, and I never want to again. But I’ll eat it a thousand more times if it means my mother and others living with ALS can kick this horrible disease,” Tom told People.

“There is no effective treatment for ALS. There is no cure. Anything we can do to change that, we’re going to try.”

(If you’re wondering: Why hot peppers? There are few things that make you feel more alive than eating one.)

Patty has been buoyed by support from friends, her sons’ and daughter’s friends, and complete strangers.

The average life span after diagnosis is 3 to 5 years. “I’m fighting against time here,” Patty said.

“I pray that these hot pepper eaters are raising enough money to find a cure for me and others before it’s too late.”

Anyone who knows Patty Haberstroh — and in Westport, that’s all of us — knows she is not sitting back, feeling sorry for herself.

She told People: “The adage to live each day fully has never rung more true to me. I’m saying to people that I’m lucky in that you often wish in a memorial service that the person who has passed away could hear the wonderful things being said about them. I am reading and seeing those things said while I’m very much here!”

The accolades will continue.

As will the hot pepper-eating, video-making and fundraising — in Westport, and around the world.

(For more information — and the donation page — click here.)

Graduation Ceremony, Summer Camp Help For Kids In Need

Westport is a town with plenty.

And a town that never hesitates to help those who don’t have as much.

Right now, our wonderful Department of Human Services is running two programs that touch lives we may not always see.

One is “Ceremonies and Celebrations.” For the 14th year, the fund helps students purchase special event clothing for graduations from middle and high school.

It doesn’t sound like much. But to a teenager, looking like everyone else on a big day means the world.

Last year, 34 youngsters smiled with pride, alongside all their friends.

Everyone wants to look as good as these girls did, after Staples’ 2013 graduation. The Department of Human Services helps those who need it.

Human Services director Elaine Daignault suggests that (tax-deductible) donations can be made in honor of a special teacher or person in a student’s life. A letter of acknowledgment will be sent to the honored individual.

Checks payable to “DHS Family Programs” (memo line: “Ceremonies”) can be sent to Department of Human Services, 110 Myrtle Ave., Westport, CT 06880.

Gift cards of any amount (American Express, Visa, MasterCard, Trumbull Mall/Westfield Shopping Center) to purchase clothes are also welcome.

For further information on this program, contact Patty Haberstroh (hsyouth@westportct.gov; 203-341-1069).

The 2nd program is a fund to send children to summer camp. Like new clothes for a special occasion, this project is not frivolous. It’s a godsend for working parents — and a life-changer for kids.

Summer Camp has been part of growing up for decades. In 1953, Westport artist Stevan Dohanos used Camp Mahackeno for this Saturday Evening Post cover.

Every year, thanks pour in. One woman noted the importance of swim lessons for her autistic daughter. Another said that her child “came home with a new story, friend or art project every day — and a huge smile.”

In addition to covering costs for ever-popular Camp Compo, the fund has helped a boy play American Legion baseball, and a girl participate in Staples Players’ summer program.

The other day, Westport PAL donated $1,200 to the Campership Fund. If you’d like to join them, checks payable to “DHS Family Programs” (memo line: “Campership”) can be sent to Department of Human Services, 110 Myrtle Ave., Westport, CT 06880.

To apply for campership help, click here.

What Will You Give Westport This Holiday Season?

If you’re like me, you’re excited by the holiday season — and annoyed at the rampant commercialism that accompanies it.

But if you’re like dozens of Westport households here, you wonder how you can afford any gifts at all.

Holiday giftsOverlooked in all the ho-ho-ho-ing are local families for whom the holidays may not seem merry or bright. Job loss, medical expenses, foreclosure, divorce — those circumstances and others may add extra stress to this time of year.

Fortunately, riding shotgun with Santa is Westport’s Department of Human Services.

It’s a great, confidential way for Westporters to provide gifts for kids — and ease the financial burden on entire families. Last year, hundreds of residents — including those served by Homes With Hope, the Westport Housing Authority, Project Return and the schools’ Open Choice program — received holiday assistance.

One recipient — whose life changed drastically 4 years ago — cried after picking up gift cards.

A mom of limited means thanked DHS for easing the stress she felt on Christmas morning.

A longtime Westporter — who can afford to live here only because her apartment is owned by her family — says that without the program, her son would have only one present under the tree.

Another says simply, “the Holiday Gift Giving Program has made all the difference.”

Contributions come from individuals, as well as garden and book clubs, scout troops, schools, churches and businesses. Donors and receivers are assured of confidentiality.

For years, Audrey Hertzel has organized a huge effort at Sterling Investment Partners. She collects stuffed animals and books for the Holiday Giving Program.

One resident collects stuffed animals and books for the Holiday Giving Program.

Some of the most appreciated gifts are grocery and gas cards of any amount. Also well received: gift cards to local stores.

Cash donations are always welcome. They allow Human Services staffers to buy last-minute gift cards for clients.

Cards and checks (made payable to “DHS Family Programs,” with “Holiday” on the memo line) can be mailed to Human Services, 110 Myrtle Ave., Westport, CT 06880 at any time (the sooner the better, of course). They can also be dropped off in Town Hall Room 200 during business hours.

If you’d like to shop for a family’s actual gift request — in full or part — or for questions, contact Patty Haberstroh (hsyouth@westportct.gov; 203-341-1069).

Families needing extra support during the holidays should call 203-341-1050.

Human Services’ Holiday Help

If you’re like me, you’re excited by the holiday season — and annoyed at the rampant commercialism that accompanies it.

But if you’re like dozens of Westport households here, you wonder how you can afford any gifts at all.

Holiday giftsOverlooked in all the ho-ho-ho-ing are local families for whom the holidays may not seem merry or bright. Job loss, medical expenses, foreclosure, divorce — those circumstances and others may add extra stress to this time of year.

Fortunately, riding shotgun with Santa is Westport’s Department of Human Services.

It’s a great, confidential way for Westporters to provide gifts for kids — and ease the financial burden on entire families. Last year, 432 residents — including those served by Homes With Hope, the Westport Housing Authority, Project Return and the schools’ Open Choice program — received holiday assistance.

One recipient — whose life changed drastically 4 years ago — cried after picking up gift cards.

A mom of limited means thanked DHS for easing the stress she felt on Christmas morning.

A longtime Westporter — who can afford to live here only because her apartment is owned by her family — says that without the program, her son would have only one present under the tree.

Another says simply, “the Holiday Gift Giving Program has made all the difference.”

Contributions come from individuals, as well as garden and book clubs, scout troops, schools, churches and businesses. Donors and receivers are assured of confidentiality.

For years, Audrey Hertzel has organized a huge effort at Sterling Investment Partners. She collects stuffed animals and books for the Holiday  Giving Program.

For years, Audrey Hertzel has organized a huge effort at Sterling Investment Partners. She collects stuffed animals and books for the Holiday Giving Program.

“Some of the most appreciated gifts are grocery and gas cards of any amount,” says Human Services director Barbara Butler. Also well received: gift cards to local stores.

Cash donations are always welcome. They allow Human Services staffers to buy last-minute gift cards for clients.

Cards and checks (made payable to “DHS Family Programs,” with “Holiday” on the memo line) can be mailed to Human Services, 110 Myrtle Ave., Westport, CT 06880 at any time (the sooner the better, of course). They can also be dropped off in Town Hall Room 200 during business hours.

If you’d like to shop for a family’s actual gift request — in full or part — or for questions, contact Patty Haberstroh (hsyouth@westportct.gov; 203-341-1069).

Families needing extra support during the holidays should call 203-341-1050.

 

Human Services’ Holiday Help

Westport’s Human Services Department‘s work is never done.

Just a few days after caring for hundreds of Hurricane Sandy victims, the agency turns its attention to the holidays. As always, this is its busiest time of the year.

As many Westporters shop, cook, plan vacations and share gifts, hundreds of children, families and seniors wonder how they’ll cope.

Many turn to Human Services’ Holiday Giving Program.  It’s a great, confidential way for Westporters to provide gifts for kids — and ease the financial burden on entire families. Last year, 445 residents — including those served by Homes With Hope and the Westport Housing Authority — received holiday assistance. In the aftermath of Sandy, this year’s number is sure to rise.

“This unbelievable program enabled us as a family to breathe a little easier, knowing our child could have some fun and joy in life,” one grateful recipient wrote.

Another said:  “I am overwhelmed by the generosity of the community.  It is a truly humbling experience.”

Contributions come from individuals, as well as garden and book clubs, scout troops, schools, churches and businesses. Donors and receivers are assured of confidentiality.

“Some of the most appreciated gifts are grocery and gas cards of any amount,” says Human Services director Barbara Butler. Also well received: gift cards to local stores.

Cash donations are always welcome. They allow Human Services staffers to buy last-minute gift cards for clients.

Cards and checks (made payable to “DHS Family Programs,” with “Holiday” on the memo line) can be mailed to Human Services, 110 Myrtle Ave., Westport, CT 06880 at any time (the sooner the better, of course). They can also be dropped off in Town Hall Room 200 during business hours.

If you’d like to shop for a family’s actual gift request — in full or part — or for questions, contact Patty Haberstroh (hsyouth@westportct.gov; 203-341-1069).

Families needing extra support during the holidays should call 203-341-1050.

A Good Time For Charlie

Good things happen to good people.

Charlie Haberstroh

Charlie Haberstroh is one of the genuinely good people in Westport.  The 60-year-old, 2-decade Westporter — a 2-term Board of Finance member, former RTMer, longtime Rotary leader and sports volunteer — is the Republican Town Committee nominating committee’s choice to fill a vacancy on the board of selectmen.  If approved by the full RTC, and then the 2 Democratic selectmen, Charlie would replace Gavin Anderson, who resigned for health reasons.

Charlie was not looking to leave the finance board — especially not during budget season. But 7 years is a long time.  I can’t begin to fathom what all those loooong meetings — filled with mind-numbing numbers and interminable speeches by passionate yet repetitious town officials and common citizens — does to the human brain.

Board of selectmen meetings may be quicker and less contentious, but they are just as important as Board of Finance gabfests.

“I’ve run my own asset management firm for 10-plus years, and was a manager for most of the 30 years I worked for other finance firms prior to founding my own,” Charlie told “06880.”

“The Town of Westport has many challenges over the next few years, including increasing pension and medical obligations, as well as anemic economic revenue growth at best.

“I can help try to rationalize expenditures, and look to try to make government work more efficiently.  I know the Westport school system well, and may be able to help integrate like functions.”

Charlie knows there is no magic wand.  The key is “hard work to try to do more with less.”  The other option:  “Westport runs the risk of turning into the other very high-taxed New York metropolitan suburbs.”

Selectmen are frequently caricatured (okay, by me) as dealing solely with stop signs.  Most Westporters know the selectmen only as proclamation-proclaimers.  Though the duties of the 2nd and 3rd selectmen (the former runs for office on a ticket with the 1st selectman; the latter is the loser with the most votes) are to advise the 1st selectman on all aspects of town government, and approve town contracts, the value of the 3rd selectman depends on the willingness of the 1st selectman to use his or her expertise.  The 3rd selectman’s status as the lone representative of the other party ensures that chances for dramatic votes are slim.

“I have every confidence that the (current) 1st selectman has the intellect and confidence” to use the 3rd selectman’s skills and expertiese effectively, Charlie says diplomatically.

So what about running for 1st selectman himself, in 2013?

“I have no political ambitions,” Charlie says.  “I run my own firm, and do not believe that will change in 3 years.  I can only do the best job I can for the town as 3rd selectman.

“Westport has been very good to my family during the 20-plus years we’ve lived here.  During that time my wife (Westport Department of Human Services coordinator Patty) and I have tried to give back to the community in any way we can.

“My goal has been to leave whatever organization I am involved in in better shape than when I began with it.  If I can do that in the 3rd selectman position, I will be very satisfied.”

Gavin Anderson leaves some big shoes to fill.  Charlie Haberstroh is one man who can step right into them.

Fortunately, the Westport board of selectmen is not the United States Congress.  Gordon Joseloff is not Harry Reid; Shelly Kassen is not Nancy Pelosi.

And — though he loves to golf — Charlie Haberstroh is most definitely not John Boehner.

“06880” looks forward to Charlie’s quick approval next Tuesday by the Republican Town Committee, and soon thereafter by Harry and Nancy Gordon and Shelly.