Tag Archives: Patty Haberstroh

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.

Yes, Back To School

Ah, July.  The beach.  Barbecues.  Back to school.

No buzzkill, but shopping season is right around the corner.  And in these tough economic times, Westport is ready to help those who find it tough to help their school-age kids.

Each year, the Department of Human Services provides new backpacks, school supplies and Payless Shoe Store gift cards to kids from 175 low-income families.  It’s an important project, in this largely affluent, you-are-what-you-tote-and-wear town.  Last year, 216 children participated — a 17 percent increase over 2008.

But DHS can’t do it alone.  Family program coordinator Patty Haberstroh needs help.  Donations of new school supplies — including backpacks — can be dropped off Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., in Room 200 at Town Hall.  Even a few pens and pencils is fine.

Monetary donations enable Haberstroh to purchase whatever supplies are most needed.  Checks should be made payable to Families in Need Fund (memo:  “Backpacks”), and sent to Department of Human Services, 110 Myrtle Ave., Westport, CT 06880.

Donations are accepted through August 14, but Haberstroh says “the sooner the better.”

(Families who think they may be eligible for the program should call Haberstroh at 203-341-1069.  For other questions about the program, call Margaret Pinheiro at 203-341-1050, or email humansrv@westportct.gov.)

House Hunting With Haberstroh And Horelik

The Haberstroh family is well known in Westport — Charlie’s on the Board of the Finance, Patty does yeowoman’s work for Human Services, and they and their kids were long involved in town athletics.

The Horeliks are well known too — think sports and Dunville’s.

Now, the entire world will know that Chuck Haberstroh and Jacque Horelik bought a house together.  Before they got married.

The ins and outs of both long journeys — home-buying and proposal-engagement-marriage — form the centerpiece of a feature story appearing in the  Real Estate section of tomorrow’s New York Times. Apparently, Chuck and Jacque are on the cutting edge of a new trend.  In Times-talk, that means:

Two distinct forms of desire — the carnal type and the kind that involves granite countertops — have been known to intermingle, but perhaps never more so than now.

Chuck Haberstroh, Jacque Horelik and their new home (Photo courtesy of Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times)

Writer Hilary  Stout describes how the couple met by chance at Lehigh, where Chuck was a student.  Later, in Westport, they “went on a date to a cool pub and restaurant.  Things were a bit on and off for a while, but then they began to get serious.”

Soon they were living next door to each other in Norwalk.  Not long after, “she ditched her room and moved in with him.”  Then — ka-ching! — they “signed a lease on a small apartment of their own.”

This being the Times Real Estate section, where the twin voyeur hobbies of homes and personal lives meet — er, intermingle — we learn more about the young lovers/house hunters:

He was in his late 20s, she was two years younger.  They had been together for two years.  They made each other laugh, they liked each other’s friends, they loved each other’s company.  And so they knew — as everyone seemed to be telling them — that it was time.

To buy real estate.

According to Stout:

The peculiarities of the housing market today are leading more couples to ponder the question, “Should we buy?” before they settle the question, “Should we commit?”

With the market beginning to favor buyers, on October 30 Chuck and Jacque closed on a “three-bedroom Cape Cod-style cottage  in Fairfield, Conn., with hardwood floors, a front porch and a back deck on a pretty corner lot.  They got it for $430,000, $29,000 less than the asking price.”

Jacque — a 28-year-old special education teacher — said she was “itching to get engaged before we bought the house.”  Chuck — a 30-year-old vice president of CastleKeep Investment Advisors in Westport — “definitely felt the pressure from me and both of our families.”

But prices and rates were dropping; the time was right.  Rings, dresses and seating charts could take a back seat to mortgage applications, home inspections and moving vans.

In good Times fashion, after a detour to explore the home-buying processes of 2 other unwed couples, the story circles back to Our Heroes:

And for Mr. Haberstroh and Ms. Horelik, both the real estate and the relationship have now fallen into place, to the delight of Ms. Horelik’s family, who are of the wedding-before-house school.

The first night they slept in their new home, they got engaged.  They are hoping for a late-summer 2010 wedding, but have not set the date.

“Between moving in and outfitting the house,” Mr. Haberstroh said, “we’ve had a hard time finding time to really make progress on that front.”

Let’s hope their parents knew that already, and won’t just read it — along with the rest of the country — in tomorrow’s New York Times.

Heartwarming Holidays

“06880” reader Christy Colasurdo sent this important note along.  She says it perfectly — I wouldn’t add a word:

On Thursday I made the last of several trips to Toquet Hall.  Local volunteers were sorting donated clothing, toys, books, CDs and gift cards for our neighbors in need.

This year, Westport’s Human Services Department Holiday Family Giving Program received a record number of requests from families hit hard by the recession.

To fill the need, it took a village. At King’s Highway Elementary School, for example, the kids raised more than $11,000 through bake sales, read-a-thons, even a walk-a-thon.  Everyone was told their efforts would help make the holidays brighter for other kids like them, whose parents had lost jobs or were experiencing financial difficulties. Knowing this, they pushed themselves, and learned that the true spirit of the holiday lies in giving to others.

Next, an army of mom shoppers filled the wish lists of 110 individuals, running to outlet centers, malls, megastores and supermarkets, picking up gift cards, warm jackets, boots, a countertop oven and all sorts of small items for kids and their families. This scenario played itself out at all the elementary and middle schools in town, and at Staples too.

This week, another army of volunteers sorted the goods collected from the schools and other community organizations.   Then Patty Haberstroh, Westport’s real Santa, called her clients and brought them individually into Toquet Hall, where they privately received their early Christmas loot.

Yesterday, a mom came in with her daughters not 5 minutes after a generous client dropped off 2 beautiful new faux-fur-lined parkas that fit both girls perfectly.  An 8-year-old Coleytown student donated all of his birthday gifts to the cause.  These little moments of serendipity bring the efforts home.

People in Westport are proud, and Human Services strives to serve them with the utmost confidentiality and respect.  Although Patty gets to know her clients well, she ensures that they remain anonymous in the community.

The need for donations doesn’t stop at the holidays.  In fact, it ramps up, as many folks are simply too tapped out to consider reaching into their wallets for one more gift.  But  the Human Services Department, located on the 1st floor of Town Hall, gladly accepts donations of cash or gift cards from supermarkets, gas companies, CVS, Walmart—wherever!  Every little bit helps a family stay afloat.

(For more information, call Patty Haberstroh at 203-341-1069.)