Tag Archives: Persona

COVID-19 Roundup: Free Business Help; Easter Eggs And Bagels; Wash Your Car; Holistic Health, And More

These days, many Westport businesses need help navigating the current COVID crisis — and planning for whatever follows.

Now they’ve got it. Town officials have partnered with Westport-based non-profit Social Venture Partners for a free service.

SVP volunteers —  talented, experienced businessmen and women — will be paired with local owners. SVP provides individual, confidential advice in areas like financial modeling; understanding COVID-related government programs and loan options; online business platforms, marketing and social media; and HR issues.

Second Selectwoman Jennifer Tooker oversees the program. Businesses can participate if they have a physical presence in Westport, an employee base, and have been established for at least one year.

Interested businesses should email LBAPinfo@westportct.gov. For more information on SVP, click here.


WestportMoms — the amazing Melissa Post and Megan Brownstein — have a great last-minute idea: a virtual Easter egg hunt. With, of course, a way to help our heroes.

It’s called “Bagels & Bleach” (because … read on). For every family that participates by hanging a decorated egg in their window between now and Sunday, New York’s Bantam Bagels (whose owners live here) will donate a box of bagels to the front lines at Norwalk Hospital.

But wait! There’s more! Winged Monkey will also donate bottles of bleach.

Just post your creation on Instagram. Be sure to tag #westportmomsegghunt for your box of bagels to count.

PS: WestportMoms will send a sampling (of egg photos, not bagels) to “06880.”


If you’re like me, you haven’t driven anywhere much in weeks. I now get 3 weeks to the gallon.

But if your car is looking grotty — perhaps from sitting underneath all that pollen — Scott Tiefenthaler has good news.

The owner of Westport Wash & Wax reopens tomorrow (Saturday, April 11). New hours are Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Scott spoke with 1st Selectman Jim Marpe and Police Chief Foti Koskinas. In accordance with state guidelines listing car washes as an essential service, he’ll offer exterior wash services and interior/exterior detailing, all on a virtually no-contact basis.

Westport Wash & Wax also provides express interior/exterior detail services (the customer waits), and complete interior/exterior detail services (cars are dropped off), which require no contact between customers and staff.

Fresh towels are used on each car. They’re cleaned and sanitized between each use.

For complete detailing, call 203-227-9274. For other services, stop by during business hours.


Jim and Nancy Eckl of Gold’s Delicatessen say that beginning Monday (April 13), they’ll be closed on Mondays. New hours (Tuesday through Sunday) are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“W e love our customers,” they say. “But we also love our employees! That’s why we are adjusting our hours: to give them some much needed time off to restore and recharge, so we can be here for you when you need us!  Thanks for your support, and stay safe.”

For curbside and delivery orders, click here.


Katie Augustyn is part of a group of holistic health practitioners. They provide a variety of healing services — shamanic, reiki, guided meditation and the like. But they’ve joined together under the umbrella “Healers for Humanity.”

Their rates are far below what they normally receive. All they ask is what you can afford to pay.

“We are living through incredibly challenging times,” Katie says. “If you are feeling anxiety or stress, you are not alone. We are here to help.”

Click here to find a practitioner who matches your needs, and schedule a session. For more information email transformationcenterct@gmail.com, or call 203-820-3800.


As Westport’s COVID-19 lockdown began, Diane Dubovy Benke helped her disappointed kids put things in perspective by reminding them of what their grandfather went though as a Jewish child in Nazi Europe.

“In Czechoslovakia when the Nazis came, we were put under house arrest from 1940 to 1942,” she says. “It meant no school for me from December 1939 until the end of the war. I was 7 years old in 1940. We were allowed to go out for only two hours on Friday, from 3 to 5 pm. How did I cope under house arrest? I don’t remember, but somehow I survived without TV, no internet, only books and some toys.”

Diane’s father Carl Dubovy tells his incredible Holocaust survival story– coming within steps of  the gas chambers at Auschwitz — in an interview with Persona’s Rob Simmelkjaer. Your kids can send him their own questions by downloading the Persona Interviews app, and sending Carl Dubovy a question.

Click below for the full, fascinating interview:


And finally, not a song — but a video definitely worth watching. Bellissimo!

COVID-19 Roundup: Bells, Seders, Easter, Entertainment, Saugatuck Island, More

Yesterday marked one month since the Westport Public Schools closed — and the full impact of the coronavirus hit home.

The original “2-week” period has been doubled. Though there has been no word from the governor, it looks increasingly likely that schools will remain shut through June.

Four weeks ago, we could not imagine being out for 2 weeks. Now, we realize we can do this. And we can do a lot more, in all facets of our lives.

Human beings are remarkably adaptable creatures. But it takes an enormous amount of support and collaboration to adapt. Here’s a shout-out to all who have done whatever they can, to help us through that very tough first month.


It’s still too early to get a handle on the financial impact of COVID-19 crisis on Westport. When Board of Finance chair Brian Stern sat for an interview with Rob Simmelkjaer yesterday, he noted that it is too early to know about its effect on the mill rate, which will be set in mid-May. Click on the app for the full interview; download it here.

Brian Stern and Rob Simmelkjaer.


Yesterday marked Westport’s 2nd Wednesday of bell ringing. Churches, businesses, families — all got together at 5 p.m., to show support for medical personnel and frontline workers.

One of the special ringers was Rebecca Schachter. Her bell came from her dad Seth’s World War II collection. It was used by British wardens during air raids.

Eight decades later, we’re in a different war. But the bell is as important as ever.


Like many Westport families last night, the Aders and Yormarks celebrated Passover — commemorating the Israelites’ escape from slavery when God inflicted 10 plagues upon the Egyptians — in the midst of a plague. Here’s their “virtual” Seder:


Also yesterday, Governor Lamont ordered all flags lowered to half staff statewide, mourning those affected by COVID-19. Flags will remain lowered throughout the emergency.

Reader Brendan Byrne spotted a firefighter at the Saugatuck station responding immediately:


Posted without comment (though there undoubtedly will be some from readers):

“SISTD” is the Saugatuck Island Special Taxing District. It was established in 1984 to tax island property owners on the land just beyond Harbor Road for local costs — mainly road maintenance. (Hat tip: NextDoor)


St. Luke Church will livestream all Holy Week masses and services. That’s Holy Thursday (tonight, 7:30 p.m.); Good Friday (8 a.m., 3 p.m.), Holy Saturday (8 a.m., 8 p.m.) and Easter Sunday (7:30 a.m.).

After livestreaming, they’ll be available on YouTube. Click here for details.

(Photo/Julie Mombello)


Aspetuck Land Trust’s 44 preserves are still open. They’re great places to walk, de-stress, and leave the coronavirus world behind.

But — unless people start obeying the well-marked rules — they won’t be open much longer.

There is a clear “no dogs” policy. The reasons make sense: the COVID-19 virus may be spread on dog fur just like on other surfaces. Plus, the heavy volume of dogs harms wildlife.

Yet people still bring dogs. And recently, people who did not want to follow the rules went further, and ripped up signs.

Beaches and athletic fields have been closed. Aspetuck’s preserves are still open. But some entitled morons may soon put an end to that.


Just in case you haven’t gotten the memo that Westport sports facilities are closed: There are new electronic signs at Staples High School. They rotate 3 messages: “No Trespassing.” “Athletic Fields Closed.” “Area Patrolled.”

(Photo/Jennifer Kobetitsch)


With Westport’s schools and town buildings shut, the Westport Public Art Collections presents 2 new online exhibits. They feature artwork that’s part of the new Learning Galleries — spaces at each school for displays responding to teacher requests.

Click here for “Face to Face: Looking at Portraits from the Westport Public Art Collections.” Click here for “Ties that Bind: Westport and Yangzhou.”  For more, click on the WestPAC website.


If you’ve been de-cluttering your house like crazy: Good news! Goodwill donation centers are open.

Goodwill’s career centers are open too — virtually. That’s a great resource for people looking for work. Click here for more info, and/or to make an appointment with a job counselor.


John Richers spent 40 ears in corporate finance. He owned a couple of guitars and harmonicas that were gathering dust, but for the past 5 years he’s attended a weekly jam group with “musicians of a certain age.” Now also done open mic shows, covering Dylan, Tom Petty, Neil Young and the like.

Now — in the new normal — John has started writing songs. H ejust began posting them on YouTube. Who knows? With a push from “06880” readers (and perhaps a nudge from Weston’s Keith Richards — see why below), the Westporter may soon be a pandemic star.


Richard Epstein — the Westport dentist who moonlights as a WPKN programmer — wants everyone to know that the 89.5 FM station is livestreaming a “Global Dance Party” tomorrow (Friday, April 10) from noon to midnight.

All hosts are live — from their homes. Among them: Talking Heads drummer and Sturges Highway resident Chris Frantz playing disco, house and funk, and Westonite Eric Cocks (surf, garage, psych).

Other genres include big band, swing, bluegrass, American and roots, Middle Eastern, ska, dance hall, hip hop, salsa, Latin, Afrobeat, blues, rockabilly, Bollywood, new wave, punk, and unclassifiable.


Stew Leonard’s has changed their minds. They will be open on Easter: 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.


And finally, because this is our new reality:

Persona Of The Week: Lindsay Czarniak And Marysol Castro

This week’s “Persona Live Westport” interview featured Lindsay Czarniak of ESPN and Fox Sports talking about sports, media careers and motherhood with Marysol Castro, the first Latina PA announcer in Major League Baseball (New York Mets). Both are Westport residents. Click below to watch.

This coming Monday (March 2, 6 p.m., Westport Library Forum), the Persona Live interview features Westporter Darrin McMahon, Dartmouth professor of history and author of “Happiness: A History.” He and Persona founder Rob Simmelkjaer will discuss the origins of happiness as a concept, and how people have come to view happiness not just an possibility but an earthly entitlement — even an obligation.

This and all “Persona Live Westport” interviews are also available on the Persona interview app, currently available in beta for iPhones. You can download the app (iPhone only) here.

Podcasts A-Plenty

Today is Podcast Day at the Westport Library.

Chip Stephens

At noon, yours truly introduces “06880: The Podcast.” Once a month, I’ll chat with an intriguing Westporter. We’ll talk about life in this wild, wacky, wonderful place we call home. Today’s guest is Chip Stephens: native Westporter, longtime Planning and Zoning Commission member, civic volunteer, and great raconteur.

Then at 6 p.m., Lindsay Czarniak and Marysol Castro chat for the weekly Persona podcast.

Lindsay Czarniak

Czarniak was the first anchor to serve as solo host for ESPN’s SportsCenter. She’s now a studio host for Fox Sports’ NASCAR coverage, and a sideline reporter on NFL games.

Castro is the in-stadium voice of the New York Mets, the first Latina in that role for a Major League Baseball team. She has been a weather anchor on “Good Morning America,” and “The Early Show,” as well as a reporter on ESPN.

Marysol Castro

Both podcasts will be available later in a variety of formats, including the library website and its social media. The Persona app can be downloaded wherever you get your podcasts.

The public is invited to both events, at the Library Forum.

 

Persona Of The Week: Westport’s Human Services Department

With the holiday season in full swing, Westporters frantically shuttle between shopping and holiday parties.

Yet despite our perceived affluence, many families here struggle to buy gifts for their kids, or pay heating bills as the weather gets colder.

In this week’s “Persona” 06880 interview, Rob Simmelkjaer sits with Susan Stefenson and Annette D’Augelli of Westport’s Department of Human Services. They discuss how Westporters can lend a hand to neighbors in need this holiday season.

Persona Of The Week: WTF’s Liz Milwe And Christy Colasurdo

If you can’t — or won’t — trek to New York for tonight’s Christmas tree lighting at Rockefeller Center: no problem!

Wakeman Town Farm’s annual tree lighting is this Friday (December 6, 4:30 to 6 p.m.).

That’s just one of the many events taking place regularly at community farm/sustainability center/gathering spot.

This week, Persona’s Rob Simmelkjaer interviews Liz Milwe and Christy Colasurdo. They chat about all the great things happening all year long at WTF.

(Friday’s tree lighting at Wakeman Town Farm is free, and open to all. There’s music, marshmallows, cocoa, cookies — and a collection box for unwrapped toys, courtesy of Al’s Angels.)

“Persona” Of The Week: “Mamma Mia” Cast And Crew

Staples Players‘ “Mamma Mia” opens tomorrow. It’s another fantastic show, from the nationally known high school troupe.

If you’re like me, you go to Players’ musical every year and wonder, “Who are these kids? And how do they put on such an amazing show?”

Persona’s Rob Simmelkjaer went backstage to speak to some actors and crew members, as they get ready for opening night.

Persona Of The Week: Lauren Bromberg

Each year, Craft Westport brings over 175 artisans from a variety  of genres  to town.

The 44th annual event is set for this weekend at Staples High School. It kicks off the holiday shopping season — and all funds raised by the sponsoring Westport Young Woman’s League go to local charities.

The other day, WYWL president Lauren Bromberg sat with Persona’s Rob Simmelkjaer to preview the event. They talk about WYWL’s mission, and its work in and around Westport.

(Craft Westport will be held tomorrow — Saturday, November 9 — from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, including tickets, click here.)

“06880” Persona Interview: Board Of Education Candidate Youn Su Chao

“06880” continues our series of “Persona” video interviews with candidates for local office. Rob Simmelkjaer produces these, as part of his new venture that helps users create casual, interesting conversational videos.

Today’s interview is with Democratic Board of Education candidate Youn Su Chao. Saugatuck Elementary School PTA member Jen Berniker conducted the interview. Click below:

To see all other Persona conversations, click here.

“06880” Persona Interview: Board Of Education Candidate Lee Goldstein

“06880” continues our series of “Persona” video interviews with candidates for local office. Rob Simmelkjaer produces these, as part of his new venture that helps users create casual, interesting conversational videos.

Today’s interview is with Democratic Board of Education candidate Lee Goldstein. Saugatuck Elementary School PTA member Jen Berniker conducted the interview. Click below:

To see all other Persona conversations, click here.