Tag Archives: Sally Wanamaker

Trading Places: Swiss Style

The “06880” tagline is “Where Westport meets the world.”

This is the Swiss edition.

At the end of 2019 Sally Wanamaker and her husband Chris Jay began planning a move to Basel, for his work.

This past February of 2020 the couple — and their 11-year-old, Lucy — flew to Europe. They booked a 6-week Airbnb. Chris would start work; Sally and Lucy would spend 5 days, looking for apartments and doing a trial day at the International School of Basel, before returning to Connecticut with the idea of moving to join Chris in April.  

Lucy, Sally Wanamaker and Chris Jay in February, by the Rhine River.

They met parents of Lucy’s future classmates. When “Connecticut” was mentioned, a mother mentioned another family, the Ferraros – Johnny, Saran, Ellie and Julia —  who left the school the prior month. They’d moved to Westport.  

Sally realized that Lucy would be filling Ellie’s slot. 

When Sally and Lucy returned to Connecticut they called the Ferraros, offering any help they needed to get settled.

The families traded notes, talked about getting together, and marveled at the coincidence that the Ferraro girls were now going to Long Lots — the school Sally taught at for a year, before Green’s Farms Elementary.

Then came COVID-19. On March 12, it was announced that the borders could be closing.

Chris scrambled to get home. The family postponed plans to move (leaving 8 packed suitcases in the Airbnb).

Sally and Saran kept in touch, but could not get together due to restrictions.   The Ferraro girls had only 6 weeks in school before it closed. It was a tough way to begin in a new community.

Both families felt they were living in limbo.

When things began opening up again, Sally and Chris invited the Ferraros for a socially distanced boat ride (one family in the front, the other in back).

The Ferraros, on their socially distanced boat ride.

They talked about Switzerland and Westport. Lucy and Ellie chatted about their mutual friends in the Swiss school. Ellie had known them for years, while Lucy met them on her trial day and stayed in touch through social media and FaceTime.

Finally, the Wanamaker-Jays got the go-ahead to move. The Ferraros dropped a bag of transformers, adaptors, German language books and travel guides on their porch.

Sally had no guidebooks on Westport to pass on. Instead, she introduced the Ferraros to “06880.” 🙂

“Trading Places” is underway. Ellie now plays soccer in Westport. Lucy’s team just won a tournament in Zurich.

Lucy and Sally Wanamaker, on Lucy’s first day of school in Switzerland.

Sally and Saran are in touch every few weeks, chatting about the best grocery stores and sharing pediatrician recommendations in their respective locales.

They’ve discussed the difficulty of joining a new community where you see only the top half of someone’s face.

Ellie and Lucy continue to be on group chats with their mutual friends. It’s all good.

From left: Ellie and Julia Ferraro, and Lucy Wanamaker.

Oh, yeah. There’s one more thing.

The other day Lucy told her parents that she sits next to a girl named Beatriz Watanabe in German class. She just moved from Singapore.

When she found out that Lucy is from Connecticut, she said, “Oh, I lived there too.”

Of course, not just any old town in the state.

Beatriz lived in Westport. She went to Saugatuck Elementary School.

David Hidalgo: The Inspiring Sequel

In December, “06880” posted a story about David Hidalgo.

The 31-year-old Costa Rican man came to the US in search of the American dream.

He works for himself. He’s a carpenter, handyman, home improvement guy extraordinaire. Most of his clients live in Westport. They adore his workmanship, care, willingness to tackle any project; his problem-solving, humility, politeness, and his ear-to-ear smile.

David and Haiying Hidalgo, with their children at home this winter …

He and his wife Haiying have 2 children. David is involved in his son’s Boy Scouts and basketball team, and the Bridgeport community where they live.

Now he faced months of difficult, painful treatment — with no idea when he could return to work. He had no disability insurance.

Before his diagnosis, David was in the process of getting his green card. But because of a law that went into effect in October, if he applied for any form of state or federal financial aid, his green card would be denied.

Westporters, and many others, stepped up to help. Sally Wanamaker put plans to move abroad on hold, and helped raise much of the funds David and his family needed.

David’s health has improved. He’s gotten back both his energy and his hair. After 4 months at Yale New Haven Hospital — on his 32nd birthday — he was pronounced free of leukemia. He is still on heavy oral medication, but life is looking up.

… and at the beach yesterday.

It looked even better on Thursday.

That’s when Sally told him his green card had come through.

She credits Jason Abrams, a Westport resident and New York immigration lawyer — usually for corporate clients — for much of the success.

“He’s got 5 young kids,” she says. “But he saw the story on ‘06880,’ and stepped up as a pro bono attorney. He was so calm, so rational, so giving of his time.”

She also cites Senator Richard Blumenthal. “He got on board after a News12 story. He was fantastic. He said, ‘David Hidalgo is exactly the kind of person we want in this country.'”

However, after President Trump announced a 60-day suspension of all green cards, it looked like David was out of luck. But Blumenthal delivered the good news.

“Everyone is so thrilled,” Sally says. “David just keeps asking, ‘When can I go back to work?'”

It should be soon. And when he does — feeling healthy and good — he’ll also feel secure. Thanks to Sally Wanamaker, Jason Abrams, Senator Blumenthal and many others who helped, he’s got his green card in his wallet.

(Hat tip: Frank Rosen)