Tag Archives: Stacey Sobel

Roundup: Back-To-School Help, Online Returns, Hate Incidents …

If it’s August, it must be back-to-school time.

Which means, it’s time to help local youngsters whose parents can’t afford all the bells and whistles — or perhaps even notebooks and pencils — that their kids need.

Not to mention, after-school childcare.

Last year, Westport’s Department of Human Services helped 115 children from 70 families with back-to-school needs. They also provided 15 children with financial assistance to participate in programs while their parents were at work.

Human Services seeks Walmart gift cards to allow families to shop for essentials. Monetary donations provide access to after-school programs. Both are tax-deductibel.

Donations can be made online. Click here; then click on “Family to Family Programs – Seasonal Program – Back to School.” Checks can be made payable to the “Town of Westport/DHS Family Programs,” and sent to Human Services, 110 Myrtle Ave Westport, CT  06880.

If you or someone you know requires assistance, call 203-341-1050 or email humansrv@westportct.gov. All calls are confidential.

Every child deserves access to school supplies.

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First came the excitement of Lily’s Market. There’s new (and convenient) life in Weston Market.

Starting Friday, Lily’s will offer something else: returnable online returns.

“Returnable” is a subscription service. Members drop returns for items bought online in a bin, at Lily’s — skipping the hassle of printing labels, packaging, and hauling them to a shipping location.

To subscribe, scan a QR code on Lily’s returnable bin. To return an item, email rose@returnable.com with purchase/return information. Returnable processes the info, and provides next steps.

It’s all good. Plus: the first month is free!

Lily’s Market, Weton.

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With hate incidents rising in Connecticut, Stacey Sobel’s appearance yesterday at the Westport Rotary Club was timely.

Sobel — the state’s regional director of the Anti-Defamation League noted that while violence has been minimal here, white supremacists have increased their physical and online presence.

She commended Connecticut legislators and media for their vigilance in exposing and combating hate speech. “We are focused on preserving democracy,” said Sobel about the ADL. (Hat tip: Dave Matlow)

Stacey Sobel holds up a “New England Nationalist Social Club” flyer at the Westport Rotary Club’s meeting, at Greens Farms Church. (Photo/Dave Matlow)

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Yesterday’s “06880” highlighted the volunteer efforts in Ukraine of Westporters Brian Mayer and Ken Bernhard.

They’re hard-working. They’re inspiring.

And on August 15 (7 p.m.), they’re at the Westport Library.

They’ll discuss UkraineAidInternational.org, the not-for-profit Brian co-founded, as well as the triumphs and difficulties of the Ukrainian people as they fight the Russian invasion. Click here for more information, including in-person and Zoom registration.

(From left): Ken Bernhard, and Jeff, Nancy and Brian Mayer, unloading supplies for Ukraine.

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Elizabeth Petrie-Devoll is the August artist exhibitor at the Westport Book Shop.

Eleven works will be on display this month. Elizabeth creates new art from old object, enlivening history and questioning the border between the past and present.

She says, “In a disposable age I reconfigure, repurpose and compose well-worn and often utilitarian relics.

All work is available for purchase. To see more of her work, click here.

Elizabeth Devoll, at the Westport Book Shop.

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Actor Pat Carroll died Saturday. She was 95 years old.

She was well known to Westport Country Playhouse theatergoers. Her 4 stage appearances spanned 4 decades: “Once Upon a Mattress” (1961), “Something’s Afoot” (1975), “Gertrude Stein, Gertrude Stein, Gertrude Stein” (1982) and “Nunsense II” (1993).

In 1995, she directed the Playhouse production of “The Supporting Cast.”

Longtime WCP PR manager Patricia Blaufuss calls Carroll’s “Nunsense” performance “a master class in comic timing and delivery. She made the show fresh, vibrant, and a sellout. She was a remarkable stage presence and a memorable woman in entertainment history.”

Click here for a full obituary. Click here for an in-depth video interview.

Pat Carroll in “Gertrude Stein.” (Photo/Gerry Goodstein)

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Admit it: Secretly, you’d love to do improv.

This fall, the Westport Community Theatre will once again offer a master class in the art. All levels are welcome, from beginner to advanced.

Second City-trained actress Heather Delude will teach both short- and long-form scenic improvisation, along with musical improv. This is not her first WCT rodeo; she’s instructed there many times before.

The class meets Saturday and Sunday, October 8 and 9, from 1 to 4 p.m. For more information and registration, email WCTJuniors@gmail.com, or call Cindy Hartog at 203-858-6993.

Heather Delude

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Problems with the Westport Library air conditioning yesterday were nothing to crow about.

But this guy beat the heat, with a special spot outside the café, where manager Heli Stagg captured the image, for “Westport … Naturally.”

(Photo/Heli Stagg)

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And finally … were there other crows at the Library too?

We’re not sure. We were not …

Stacey Sobel: New ADL Head Battles Hatred, Old And New

As incidents of antisemitism, racism and other forms of hatred rise nationally — and yes, in this area — the work of the ADL is more important than ever.

The Connecticut chapter is one of the most active among the nonprofit’s 25 affiliates. And Westporters play an outsized role in it.

A number of locals serve on the board. Many more are financial supporters.

Recently, Westporter Stacey Sobel was named statewide director. She took over from Steve Ginsburg — another resident.

Sobel has been in town since 1989. Pregnant with her first child, she came for the same reasons as so many others: “fantastic schools, amazing access to water, the arts, the reputation of people as being open-minded, intelligent and interesting.”

She put her career as a corporate attorney on hold, for “the honor and privilege” of raising 3 sons. But she plunged into volunteerism, as president of Temple Israel and Westport Hadassah, and roles on PTAs, soccer and baseball teams, and much more. In 1998 Sobel was honored by the ADL for community leadership.

Stacey Sobel at work. A letter from former ADL director Abraham Foxman, noting Sobel’s 1998 award, hangs on the wall.

As her boys grew older, Sobel returned to the paid workforce. She spent 13 years with non-profits, the last 10 as executive director of Westport-based Child Advocates of Connecticut.

Last fall, a recruiter called about the ADL job. Working for the organization — whose mission is to fight antisemitism and all forms of bigotry, extremism, hate crimes, and promote civil rights, interfaith and inter-group understanding, and peace in the Middle East — had always been her dream.

After several intense rounds of interviews, Sobel got the job.

ADL Connecticut is both proactive and reactive, she says. They provide anti-bias and Holocaust education and training to schools, police departments and the FBI.

They respond to incidents of bias too. Within the past weeks they’ve addressed white supremacy stickers found in neighborhoods, students doing a “Heil Hitler” salute, and racist comments in a workplace.

“Connecticut reflects the rest of the nation,” Sobel notes. “People are very siloed. There’s a lot of hostile discourse. Whether it’s discussion of critical race theory at Board of Education meetings or emails about controversial topics, things get heated. Connecticut is not immune.”

Stacey Sobel

The ADL tries to build coalitions between groups, the director says. That way, they can address incidents with a united front.

Since joining ADL, Sobel has been impressed with the professionalism of many people around the estate. A recent collaboration with the FBI and Fairfield chief of police reiterated for her their commitment to keeping communities safe.

It’s a constant battle. Hate speech is increasing — including places like video games, where parents may not see or hear it. The national ADL office has an expert on gaming. Sobel hopes to arrange an event with him in Connecticut.

“I firmly believe hate is learned,” Sobel adds. “That means it can be unlearned. Under the surface, all of us were are created with the same stuff.”

Stacey Sobel (3rd from left) with her family (from left): son Steven and his girlfriend Sara; son Michael, son David and his wife Jackie.

Roundup: Playhouse Interns, Livestreams, ADL …

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In 1946 — just 15 years after its founding — the Westport Country Playhouse established an internship program. Among its graduates: a kid named Stephen Sondheim.

Now nationally recognized as a formative experience for aspiring arts professionals, it’s named for another Westport icon: Joanne Woodward.

This summer — after a 2-year COVID hiatus — the Joanne Woodward Internship Program returns live. Internships in stage management, props/scenic painting, wardrobe, marketing, company management, education, and development will run from May 28 to August 21.

In addition to working directly with senior staff, interns participate in weekly seminars. They hear a variety of guest speakers, including Playhouse staff members, visiting designers and artists, commercial producers and more. The pay is $560 a week.

The application deadline is March 11. Click here for the form.

Stephen Sondheim (crouching, top of photo), during his 1950 internship. The photo was taken at the Jolly Fisherman restaurant. Also in the photo: future film director Frank Perry (front row, left) and Richard Rodgers’ daughter Mary (2nd row, 4th from left).

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Superintendent of Schools Thomas Scarice says:

“Given the rapid drop in COVID cases among our middle and high school students, and the small number of students in quarantine, we will return to regular classroom instruction, and discontinue the use of live-streaming cameras.

“The last day of livestreaming cameras in our secondary classrooms will be tomorrow (Friday, January 28). Pending additional cases or quarantine, there will be zero Staples High and Coleytown Middle students in isolation or quarantine after today, and only 5 students in isolation and 2 in quarantine at Bedford Middle School.

“We will continue to peel back mitigating measures prudently, based on our local experience and input from public health advisors.”

No Coleytown Middle School students in isolation or quarantine!

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ADL’s Connecticut chapter is a national leader in the fight against antisemitism and bigotry.

And — like its previous director — its new leader is a Westporter.

Stacey Sobel succeeds Steve Ginsburg. Most recently, she spent nearly a decade as executive director of Child Advocates of Connecticut, serving abused and neglected children.

As a volunteer, Sobel was president of Temple Israel, and president of Westport’s Hadassah chapter.

Sobel also was in private law practice, and served in the general counsel’s office of Continental Can Company. The Long Island native l is a graduate of Lafayette College, and Boston University School of Law.

Stacey Sobel

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TAP — the personal wellness team in downtown Westport — and Fleet Feet are partnering on the weekend of February 4-6. TAP members get 10% off merchandise at the running store.

In other words: Work out. “Run” across the street to Sconset Square. Then pick up something special for your valentine a week later.

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo shows a barren — but beautiful — Sherwood Island scene.

I’m betting that 48 hours from now, it will look quite different.

(Photo/Claudia Sherwood Servidio)

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And finally … on this date in 1880 Thomas Edison received a patent for his incandescent lamp.