Tag Archives: Rach’s Hope

Roundup: Michael Bolton, Lynyrd Sykynrd …

And the winner of “American Song Contest” on NBC is …

… not Michael Bolton.

Connecticut’s (and Westport’s) contestant finished 7th Monday night. After 8 weeks, the title went to AleXa of Oklahoma.

But our guy made the semifinals — the top 10 out of 55, in our national version of Eurovision. And our neighbor is still #1 in our hearts. Click here for the full story.  (Hat tip: Mark Mathias)

Screenshot from the “American Song Contest” website.

=======================================================

The schedule for paving (and closing) Riverside Avenue from Charles Street to Railroad Place has changed again.

It’s now tomorrow and Friday (May 12 and 13), from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. If you’re dropping off or picking up at the New York-bound platform, take note!

Road paving here soon.

=====================================================

There are agendas. And then there are agendas.

Here’s what the Downtown Plan Implementation Committee will discuss tomorrow, beginning at 8:30 a.m. (click here for the Zoom link).

I. Opening Remarks – Chair
A. Overall Meeting Goals
I. Approval of Minutes (4/2022 Meeting)
II. Strategic Priority Review
A. Parking Lots Reinvention
1. Downtown Lots Design Master Plan
a) June kickoff meeting with core steering team
b) Planning for public engagement and project timeline
2. Baldwin Lot – completion targeted for end of June
B. Pedestrian Access
1. Streetscape Improvements
a) Bench installs
b) Additional cans for high traffic locations
Strategic Priorities (cont)
Pedestrian Access (cont.)
2. Main Street Improvements
a) Status (bump out and re-pavement)
C. Sustainability
1. Solarization
a) Initial meetings with consultant
2. Alternative Transportation
a) Bird proposal
(1) background
D. Maintenance
1. Special Services District
a) Last Ordinance Draft
b) Cost development – RFQ

If you can’t make the 8:30 start, perhaps you can watch during dinner.

Main Street magic (Photo/June Rose Whittaker)

=====================================================

The Staples High School boys lacrosse program is adding 4 honorees to their Hall of Fame.

Bill Rexford (Class of 1986), Ryan Kubie (’96), Paul McNulty (Staples ’64, head coach 2009-18) and the 16-0, undefeated regular season 2010 team will be honored at halftime of Saturday’s game against New Canaan. The contest begins at 3 p.m. The Wreckers are currently ranked #2 in the state.

Rexford and Kubie starred in the early days of Staples lacrosse. The ’10 team made history.

McNulty, meanwhile, was one of the keys to the growth of Staples lacrosse into the powerhouse it is today.

He took over a program that had had 3 coaches in 4 years. Within a year, he coached that ’10 squad to its undefeated record. The Wreckers reached 2 state championship games during his tenure.

McNulty returned to his alma mater — where he starred with Laddie Lawrence on the track team — after a hugely successful career coaching Wilton High lacrosse: 3 state championships, 2 state runners-up, and 20 All-Americans, among other achievements.

McNulty is a member of both the US Lacrosse and FCIAC Halls of Fame, and has earned numerous other honors. During his 50-plus-year career, he also coached football, soccer, tennis and track, starting at a segregated Black school in Jacksonville, Florida.

Fun fact: He was a student teacher at Robert E. Lee High School in Florida with Coach Leonard Skinner, who was notorious for sending home boys with long hair. A few of them wanted to form a band, and did not want to get their hair cut.

So they quit school, formed that band, and named it after their coach: Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Paul McNulty

=======================================================

The Cottage of Westport has named a new chef de cuisine: Danny Oddo.

He was previously executive sous chef at The Simone in New York City. He also worked for Marc Murphy’s restaurant group, which included Landmarc in Tribeca, and was part of the opening team at the Paloma in the Hotel Hendricks.

“Growing up in New Jersey, my love of cooking stemmed from visiting local farms and spending time in the kitchen with my mother and grandmother,” Oddo says.

“I am inspired to have the opportunity to work with Chef Brian Lewis and his entire team to bring my experience and background to our guests, and to work with local farmers and purveyors to offer new flavors, textures and colors on our menu.”

Danny Oddo

======================================================

Its name is simple: Circle of Friends.

Its mission is clear: pairing local teens with special needs youngsters. They spend at least one weekend a month together, doing what friends do: bake cookies. Play games. Go bowling.

It’s a wonderful, low-key organization, loved by all who participate in it.

Their annual fundraiser and volunteer recognition is Sunday, May 22 (5:30 p.m., Beth Israel Synagogue, Norwalk). It’s always a warm, welcoming night. This year, special awards (courtesy of Senator Richard Blumenthal) will be presented to teens from Westport, Weston and surrounding towns. Despite the isolating effects of COVID, they’ve provided home visits and programs to their friends.

The evening promises good food, inspiring speeches, prizes and more. Click here for tickets and more information.

=======================================================

Beechwood Arts’ final event of “UpsideDown at The Westport Library” is this Friday (May 13, 7 p.m.).

There’s a reception for 15 artists (with wine and refreshments). Their art will be projected on the 19-foot screen, and they’ll share stories of reinvention and inspiration over the past couple of years, when “the world turned upside down.”

Click here to register for the free event.

=====================================================

The Westport Library middle school summer program includes math, literacy and STEAM activities. Each week the immersive experience covers a different topic, over 2 days.

Mondays center around a blend of inquiry, design, research, writing and the arts. The Tuesday class builds on the work from Monday, focusing on math, science and revision, testing and technology, with students creating a physical representation of their learning.

Students work together to solve challenging problems that are authentic, curriculum-based, and interdisciplinary. Click here for details.

=======================================================

Rach’s Hope is a special organization, with a special mission: It helps families address the many challenges of a child’s critical illness.

Named for Rachel Doran — a 2018 the Staples High School National Merit Commended Scholar, talented Players costume designer, and founder of her own pajama company — the annual fundraiser is special too: a “PJ Gala.”

This year’s event raised nearly $40,000. Donations are still being accepted. Click here to learn more.

Enjoying the Rach’s Hope gala.

=======================================================

In today’s “Westport … Naturally,” Canada goose parents teach their offspring to use the designated crosswalk.

(Photo/Les Dinkin)

Nice! Now if they could only teach it (and themselves) to not poop all over the beach …

======================================================

And finally … based on the Paul McNulty story above, you’d have to be brain dead not to know what today’s featured band is, right?

Roundup: Officer Honors, American Relay, Rach’s Hope …

===================================================

Congratulations to Mark Heinmiller: Westport Police Department’s Officer of the Year.

The detective received the honor last night, in a family ceremony at the Remarkable Theater.

A WPD press release called him “an incredibly accomplished and effective investigator who successfully closed a number of complicated cases over the last year. Heinmiller’s knowledge and dedication to his investigations has undoubtedly improved the safety and quality of life for all of Westport’s residents and visitors.”

Other awards included unit citations, certificates of recognition, meritorious service awards, investigator ribbons and life-saving awards.

Marc Heinmiller and K-9 dog Lola at work.

=======================================================

Bacharach Community — Homes with Hope‘s supportive housing program for formerly homeless families — needs new roofs for its 3 homes.

They hope Westport has it covered.

“We’ve Got You Covered” — the clever name for the project — is reaching out to local businesses. They can redirect their 2021 state tax dollars for a 100% one-to-one tax credit, through the Neighborhood Assistance Act program.

“We’ve Got You Covered” is less than $25,000 away from its goal. To help sponsor the Bacharach Community roof project (minimum contribution: $250), click here.

The program deadline is October 1. However, payment is not due until December 31. For more information, email Janet Zamparo: jzamparo@hwhct.org

Homes in the Bacharach Community.

=======================================================

When Nancy Wilson saw an “06880” post announcing the Great American Relay — a relay race fundraiser for first responders and military personnel, beginning September 11 in Boston and ending 38 days later in Santa Monica, California — she set out to find a team.

On Wednesday, her crew — Nancy, Jason Lucas, Kelly Konstanty, Lisa Goldstein, Karla Cohen, Lauren Leppla, Kenji Ogawa and Ken Gallagher — arrived in town. They handed their baton to Barbara Campbell, Elizabeth Hofmann and Jeffrey Wollman, who ran to Darien.

To learn more about the Great American Relay, click here.

Westport Fire Department personnel with runners (from left): Barb Campbell, Jeff Wollman, Ken Gallagher, Jason Lucas, Lauren Leppla, Nancy Wilson, Kelly Konstanty, Lisa Slow Goldstein, Karla Cohen Fisher.

=====================================================

As Gold’s prepares for Yom Kippur, the longtime, always popular delicatessen wants its customers to know what’s going on.

Here are a few signs:

(Photo/Tracy Porosoff)

=======================================================

One coming-of-age film, and another about what happens years later, highlight this weekend’s Remarkable Theater offerings.

The drive-in on Imperial Avenue screens “The Big Chill” — the still very relevant 1983 classic — on Friday, September 17 (7:30 p.m.).

The next night’s feature (Saturday, September 18, 6:45 p.m.) is “Luca,” a 2021 release about 2 boys experiencing an unforgettable summer.

Click here for tickets and more information.

=======================================================

Three years ago, Rachel Doran — a rising senior at Cornell University, National Merit Commended Scholar, talented Players costume designer, and founder of “Rachel’s Rags,” a company that makes intricate cotton and fleece pajama tops and bottoms — died following a rare reaction to common medications.

Her family now has a mission: to support families with critically ill children. To help, they’ve organized an outdoor, family-friendly event for October 2 (4 p.m., Compo Beach).

Rachel’s grandfather “Pa” pledged to walk 1,000 miles in his 80th year to honor Rachel, and raise money for Rach’s Hope. He’s almost there. He plans to finish at the upcoming event — nicknamed “Walk the Extra Mile with Pa and Team Rach’s Hope.”

At the end of the mile walk, everyone will gather to celebrate Pa’s feat with a pizza truck, live music by Ellis Island, and beverages.

PJs are optional, but encouraged!

Click here for more information, and to register or donate.

Rachel Doran’s grandfather gets ready to walk. You can too!

=======================================================

The Westport Tree Board in partnership with Earthplace present Call of the FOREST.

The science and enchantment of the global forest provides us with answers to modern dilemmas.

‘Call Of The Forest – The Forgotten Wisdom Of Trees’ is a documentary featuring scientist and acclaimed author Diana Beresford-Kroeger. The film follows Diana as she investigates our profound biological and spiritual connection to forests. Her global journey explores the science, folklore, and restoration challenges of this essential eco-system.

Beresford-Kroeger explores the most beautiful forests in the Northern Hemisphere from the sacred sugi and cedar forests of Japan to the great boreal forest of Canada. She shares the amazing stories behind the history and legacy of these ancient forests while also explaining the science of trees and the irreplaceable roles they play in protecting and feeding the planet.

=======================================================

You could call it a “rain forest.”

“Call of the Forest” — a movie co-sponsored by the Westport Tree Board and Earthplace — was rained out in July.

The new date is September 22 (6:30 p.m., Earthplace outdoor amphitheater; indoor if rain).

The coumentary features scientist/author Diana Beresford-Kroeger as she investigates our profound biological and spiritual connection to forests. Her global journey explores the science, folklore and restoration challenges of this essential ecosystem.

Click here for more information.

In other Tree Board news, they’re joining with the Westport Library for a children’s “Oaktober oaktivity on Jesup Green (October 23, 11 a.m.)

Oak seedlings — courtesy of Bartlett Tree — will be available at both events (while supplies last).

====================================================

Today’s very serene “Westport … Naturally” scene comes courtesy of Lauri Weiser:

(Photo/Lauri Weiser)

=======================================================

And finally … Lauri Weiser’s image above leads (naturallyto:

 

Roundup: Food Rescue, Harvest Fest, Shred It! …

===================================================

Last month, Allyson Stollenwerck and her 12-year-old son Walker attended Wakeman Town Farms’ “Attainable Sustainable” panel.

They heard about Food Rescue US. The nonprofit’s app enables volunteers to pick up unused food from local restaurants and markets, and bring it to social service agencies.

Allyson and Walker signed up. Their first assignment was to bring leftover donuts and pastries from Coffee An’ to the Westport Housing Authority on Canal Street.

“It was super simple,” they report. “Food Rescue emailed great instructions, and it was a quick trip. We hope others give it a try.”

I have no idea why Coffee An’ does not sell out every day. But if they — and any other food establishment in town — don’t, it’s great to know that Food Rescue can help. (Click here for more information on Food Rescue US).

Walker Stollenwerck, rescuing food from Coffee An’.

=====================================================

Alan Nevas has had a very full life.

The longtime Westport lawyer is a former Connecticut state representative, US Attorney for the District of Connecticut, District Court judge, and — following retirement in his 80s — a special counsel attorney.

Now he’s got another accomplishment. At 93, was the oldest runner among nearly 1,200 in the traditional Chilmark Road Race on Martha’s Vineyard. He completed the hilly 3.1-mile course, in hot weather, in 1:08.37.6.

Congratulations, Judge Nevas! (Hat tip: Susan Filan)

Alan Nevas

=====================================================

Everyone’s got documents to shred. And who doesn’t want to support cancer research?

Both come together on Saturday, September 18 (9 a.m. to noon, William Raveis Real Estate, 47 Riverside Avenue).

Raveis is sponsoring “Shred it for Cancer Research.” Your stuff will be shredded as you watch. You don’t even have to leave your car.

There’s a suggested donation of $5 per shopping bag, $10 per box, $20 for a large garbage bag (cash or check).

100% of every donation benefits the William Raveis Charitable Fund, Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

=======================================================

How’s this for a delicious combination: The Westport Farmers’ Market, and MoCA Westport.

An opening reception for “Between the Ground and the Sky” — a collaboarative exhibition — is set for August 27 (6 to 8 p.m., MoCA).

Guests can meet featured artists, enjoy custom cocktails from Bar MoCA, and check out the great new garden.

“Between the Ground and the Sky” features more than 50 stunning large-scale photographs by Anne Burmeister and Ashley Skatoff from the Who Grows Your Food initiative — a photographic journey celebrating the farms and farmers associated with the Farmers’ Market.

The exhibition also includes two site-specific installations by Kristyna and Marek Milde and the naturalistic works of Donna Forma. Click here for more information.

From “Between the Ground and the Sky.”

======================================================

Speaking of food:

Wakeman Town Farm’s biggest fundraiser of the year features seasonal fare by local farmers and chefs — plus libations, live music and more. Auctions include culinary, garden and travel experiences.

“Harvest Fest” — held outside, under a tent — is set for September 11 (6 p.m.).

Funds support youth education programs and outreach, such as free camperships to youngsters from Horizons Bridgeport, and families with limited income. Click here for more information, and tickets.

Scenes from Wakeman Town Farm’s Harvest Fest.

=======================================================

Lisa, Alan and Ellie Doran write:

“Yesterday was the 3-year anniversary of the day we lost Rachel. [The 2015 Staples High School graduate — a rising senior at Cornell University, National Merit Commended Scholar, talented Players costume designer, and founder of “Rachel’s Rags,” a company that makes intricate cotton and fleece pajama tops and bottoms — died following a rare reaction to common medications.]

“In our ongoing mission to support families with critically ill children, we are holding an outdoor, family-friendly event (October 2, 4 p.m., Compo Beach).

“Rachel’s grandfather “Pa” pledged to walk 1,000 miles in his 80th year to honor Rachel, and raise money for Rach’s Hope. Please join us October 2 to Walk the Extra Mile with Pa and Team Rach’s Hope (or just cheer us on).

“At the end of the 1-mile walk, we will gather to celebrate Pa’s feat — and all your love and dedication to our charity — with a pizza truck, live music by Ellis Island, and beverages. PJs are optional, but encouraged!”

Click here for more information, and to register or donate.

Rachel Doran’s grandfather gets ready to walk. You can too!

======================================================

Run, don’t walk:

The Great American Relay starts in Boston, and ends in Santa Monica, California. There are 415 stages through 18 states, over 38 days.

It starts on 9/11 — the 20th anniversary of that fateful day, and raises funds to support the military and first responders. Runners can dedicate their stage to a first responder or veteran they care about.

Last year, Westonite Jeffrey Wollman was a support runner, from Fairfield to Westport. An avid racer — he’s run 8 marathons since 2015 — he is also the Fleet Feet Westport training group coordinator, and one of their coaches.

He’s participating again this year, as the lead runner from Westport fire headquarters to the Darien Fire Department. He’ll start his 8.3-mile stage on September 13, just before noon.

Eight spots are still available. For more information, or to join or donate, click here.

Dave Wright (Fleet Feet Westport owner, left) and Jeffrey Wollman.

 

=======================================================

The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum is in Ridgefield. But there’s a strong Westport presence.

Board chair Diana Bowes is a longtime Westporter. Betty Stolpen Weiner is the new director of development. Claudia Lonkin — the visitor experience manager — is also a substitute teacher at Staples. And executive director Cybele Maylone is the granddaughter-in-law of former Board of Education chair Joan Schine.

All are exited about the Aldrich’s Artists at the Table (October 1). The “farm-to-museum” dinner in the Sculpture Garden features a locally sourced 3-course dinner prepared by Hayfields Market Catering. Guests and artists share a meal, engage in conversation, and celebrate local flavors and contemporary art.

Click here for more information, and tickets.

=======================================================

Jill Amadio has quite a resume.

The Westporter has been a reporter in Europe, Asia and the Americas; a communications director with NASCAR and the US Olympic ski program; a ghostwriter of 14 memoirs for clients like Rudy Vallee’s wife, a US ambassador, a nuclear physicist, oil baron and more; and a mystery series writer.

Her new novel, “In Terror’s Deadly Clasp,” is based on a true story. It provides a rare, chilling glimpse of terrorists’ daily lives in America as they enjoyed strip clubs, fast food, fat bank accounts and freedom from their religious rules while planning the 9/11 attacks.

For more information, click here.

Jill Amadio

=====================================================

Tricia Freeman describes today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo:

“This bullfrog hangs out a foot from my dock on Nash’s Pond. He doesn’t flinch when people walk by (hence my ability to get a closeup). I guess he been here longer than we have, because he’s not budging!”

(Photo/Tricia Freeman)

=======================================================

And finally … on this day in 1868, French astronomer Pierre Janssen discovered helium.

 

Rach’s Hope Shines Through

The family of one critically ill child could not visit much. The cost of hotels and meals away from home was prohibitive.

The family of another found lodging miles from a hospital — but had no way to get back and forth. Parents of a third worried about care for their other children, while they tended to their sick one.

When a child is diagnosed with a critical illness, parents face a blizzard of decisions. They’re in a fog of uncertainty and fear, handling a hurricane of tasks.

Yet in the midst of all that activity and emotion, one more weather-related metaphor stands out: a ray of sunshine.

It comes, gracefully and lovingly, from Rach’s Hope. The Westport-based foundation honors Rachel Doran. In 2018 the Staples High School National Merit Commended Scholar — a rising senior at Cornell University, talented Players costume designer, and founder of her own pajama company — developed a rare reaction to common medications.

She suffered severe burns to 95% of her body. She then developed another life-threatening syndrome. After 35 harrowing days, Rachel died.

Rachel Doran

Despite their grief, her parents Alan and Lisa remembered the kindness shown by friends, hospital staff and strangers.

Small gestures — finding a hotel 2 blocks from the hospital; arriving with healthy muffins and protein shakes; taking care of Rachel’s sister — sustained the family at a time when they were so focused on Rachel that they had no time or energy to care for themselves.

Since then, Rach’s Hope has provided real, important sustenance and hope to families tossed by the tornado of a child’s critical illness.

For example, a Westport resident who teaches in another town knew of a student in intensive care at Yale New Haven Hospital. Rach’s Hope sent Uber cards for transportation, and Uber Eats for meals.

“Family members have to eat and sleep well, so they can be strong for their child or sibling,” Lisa notes.

Another boy in that same district is being treated in Boston. Rach’s Hope provided gas cards to the parents, and covers their hotel bill.

Columbia Presbyterian is a great hospital. But there is no reasonably priced hotel nearby. The Dorans formed a partnership with the Holiday Inn in Fort Lee, New Jersey. They pay a discounted rate for families who stay there — and the hotel provides shuttle service to the hospital.

Though its reach is wide, Rach’s Hope’s Westport roots are deep. Lisa’s niece volunteered as a counselor at Experience Camps — the Westport-based program for children whose parent, sibling or primary caregiver has died.

Last summer, Rach’s Hope sponsored 2 children for the camp. They’ll send 5 this year. A week for each child costs $2,500.

To raise funds, Rach’s friends, their families and others close to her –including W Hair & Color, Rothbard Ale + Larder and Le Rouge by Aarti — are sponsoring the 2nd annual “Rach’s Hope PJ Gala.”

It’s Saturday, February 29 (7:30 to 11 p.m., Penfield Pavilion, Fairfield). Last year’s inaugural event was fantastic: warm, fun and energetic.

And it brought in over $100,000.

(Yes, you’re supposed to wear PJs. Rachel had founded her own pajama company, Rachel’s Rags.)

Rachel Doran (left) shows off her portfolio.

It’s clear she touched a ton of people. Her sister Ellie and friends founded a flourishing Rach’s Hope chapter at Staples. The school’s volleyball team hosted a fundraiser of their own. And Rach’s Hope is one of the charities receiving proceeds from this year’s County Assembly dances.

They all believe in Rach’s Hope. And they hope everyone who knew Rachel — and many who did not — will support the February 29.

The storm of a child’s critical illness will never go away. But with Rach’s Hope’s help, those dark clouds may part just a bit.

(For tickets, more information or to make a donation, click here.) 

PS: As a fashion design management major at Cornell, she was a research assistant in the Costume and Textile Collection, wrote for their blog, and became a curator. 

Her mentor Denise Green called her “the kind of assistant every professor, collection manager and peer dreams about. She was curious, determined, passionate, smart, kind, and had a great sense of humor.”

A central exhibition space — which housed her own project a few months before she died — has been named in her honor. Click here for more information, and to donate.

Rach’s Hope Reaches Out

Rachel Doran graduated from Staples High School in 2015. The Cornell University rising senior — a National Merit Commended Scholar, talented Players costume designer, and founder of “Rachel’s Rags,” a company that makes intricate cotton and fleece pajama tops and bottoms — died 3 years later, from complications of 2 very rare diseases.

Her family honored her memory by creating Rach’s Hope, a not-for-profit foundation that helps families weather the storm of critical illness, with lodging, meals and transportation. A Westport family is among those already helped in the tri-state region.

Rachel’s sister Ellie — now a Staples senior — keeps her memory alive at school. She started Rach’s Hope Club. Over 200 students have signed up to help.

Rachel Doran (right) and her sister Ellie.

Their first fundraising event is this Sunday (October 13, 3 to 6 p.m., Rothbard Ale + Larder restaurant). It’s a “Beatles Cocktail Hour,” with music by Tim Palmieri.

The club also runs social media for Rach’s Hope, and is helping plan the 2nd annual PJ Gala on February 29.

Rach’s Hope Club is not the only group keeping Rachel’s memory alive at Staples. On Tuesday, October 15 (4 p.m.), the girls varsity volleyball team dedicates its game to Rach’s Hope.

Of course, they’ll gladly accept donation to this great cause.

Fashion Show Features Rachel’s Rags

Rachel Doran’s death last summer — following a rare reaction to common medications — devastated many Westporters.

Her former classmates at Staples High School — where she had been a National Merit Commended Scholar, talented Players costume designer, and founder of her own pajama company — mourned the rising Cornell University senior.

So did Ellen Gang. Her design studio and camp offer after-school and summer classes in fashion and related skills for children, teenagers and young adults. For years, Rachel was a student there. She was a camp assistant. And she exhibited in Ellen’s annual fashion show.

Rachel Doran (left) shows off her portfolio.

So it’s fitting that this year’s event — set for Saturday, May 18 — will honor Rachel.

Even better: It’s a fundraiser for Rach’s Hope. That’s the charitable organization the Doran family set up, to assist families weather the storm when a child is critically ill.

There’s more: This year’s show will highlight Rachel’s creativity, by showcasing a collection of “Rach’s Rags.” That’s the pajama pant business she began when she was just 11. True to her character, she gave part of her earnings to charity.

But Ellen needs some of those creations to show off. She asks anyone who has Rachel’s Rags PJs can lend them to the show.

They’ll be returned — lovingly — afterward.

Just the way Rachel lived her life.

(If you have Rachel’s Rags PJs to lend, email ellensgang@gmail.com. To support the May 18 “Walk the Runway for Rach’s Hope” fashion show at 4 Sunnyside Lane in Westport, click here.)