Tag Archives: Westport Domestic Violence Task Force

Roundup: Selectmen, Mark Twain, Winslow Park …

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Missed yesterday’s debate between the candidates for first and second selectmen?

No problem!

The event — sponsored by the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce and Westport Library — is now online. Click below to view.

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Domestic violence is real, and part of Westport life.

Next Monday (October 18, 7 p.m.), the Westport Domestic Violence Task Force, Westport Human Services Department and Westport Library will present an important webinar.

“When Stop Doesn’t Work: What is the Impact on our Children?” features Ann Rodwell-Lawton, associate director of the Domestic Violence Crisis Center. She and Liz Modugno — an alcohol and addiction counselor at Westport’s Aspire Counseling — will discuss the generational impact of trauma and family violence on children. Click here to register.

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Westport native Bruce Michelson is now an English professor — and noted Mark Twain scholar — at the University of Illinois. He credits Burr Farms Elementary School 6th grade teacher June Jack with getting him interested in the famed author.

John Kelley — who sent along this interview with Michelson from the Mark Twain Circle of America newsletter — recalls a field trip to Twain’s Hartford home with that class. Michelson mentions the visit in the piece.

It took place more than 60 years ago. Who knows what youngster today will follow a career in the 2080s that started — perhaps today — in one of our elementary schools?

Bruce Michelson

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Frank Sisson writes:

At Winslow Park. another dog owner told me he had seen a dead dog on the road just outside a North Compo entrance — one of several openings in the stone wall along the road. Why are those openings not gated to prevent such a tragedy? Dogs will be dogs, and one unauthorized squirrel chase in the wrong direction could spell disaster.

If the town can’t swing it, maybe a group of regular Winslow Park dog owners could get together with a plan to chip in and make this happen.

There are gates — though open on this part of the Winslow Park stone wall. (Nell Waters Bernegger)

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Longtime Westporter June Fernie died recently. She was 94 years old.

A child of the Depression and World War II, she was the eldest daughter in a family of 7 children. She left her home in Guelph, Ontario, Canada at 17 for Toronto, where she worked as secretary at an advertising agency. Her life changed when John Fernie, a recently discharged RAF pilot and artist from Scotland, walked through the door looking for a job.

After a quick courtship they married and emigrated to the US in 1947, making their first home in a cold-water flat in Brooklyn.

A talented illustrator, John found work quickly at a prestigious Madison Avenue ad agency. Working together, the newlyweds earned success.

In 1950 they moved into their first real home in Westport. Their children Bruce, heather and Mitchell were born and raised there.

June and John enjoyed all that New York, Westport and London had to offer in the swinging ‘60s, socializing with creatives from the art and literary worlds as well as entertainers from movies and music.

June organized family skiing in Vermont every winter, and annual summer holidays in England and Europe. Supportive of John’s love of fast automobiles, she was an enthusiastic pit crew during frequent weekends at the racetrack.

In 1970 June and John moved their family to Vermont, before finally settling
in Kennebunkport, Maine in 1980.

June was a talented administrator who, in addition to managing her husband’s art business, worked for many years as an administrative assistant in Maine. Her years as a volunteer at the Kennebunkport Historical Society brought her a great deal of pleasure.

June is survived by her children Bruce (Katherine Walsh) of West Tisbury, Massachusetts and Heather Fernie McInnis (Craig) McInnis of Kennebunkport; daughter-in-law Barbara Borchardt of Cumberland, Maine; foster daughter Jill Deveraux of Oro Valley, Arizona; grandchildren
Alexander, Dana, Bowen, Avery, Mitchell and Trevor, and great-grandchildren Mae Fernie, Helena and Ollie.

June Fernie

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The Westport Library Book Sale earlier this month exceeded already high expectations. That’s due in part to over 200 volunteer who assisted with setup, the event itself and cleanup. Other volunteers work year long processing books, and helping at the Westport Book Shop.

Organizes give a special shoutout to organizations that supported the effort, including the Westport Young Woman’s League, Neighbors and Newcomers of Westport, Abilis, Westport Public Library staff, Staples Service League of Boys, Westport National Charity League, Builders Beyond Borders, and Staples High School National Honor Society.

All proceeds of the sale support the Westport Library, and the employment of adults with disabilities.

Staples Service League of Boys (SLOBs) at the Westport Library book sale.

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Three attorneys at Westport’s FLB Law — Stephen Fogerty, Eric Bernheim and Joshua Auxier — have been named to the 2021 Connecticut Super Lawyers list. Brian Tims has been named to the publication’s Rising Stars roster.

Super Lawyers lists are generated by peer ratings.

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo pays homage to our beloved fall ritual: Dogs are allowed back on Compo Beach.

This guy acts like he owns the place, all year long.

(Photo/Collette Winn)

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And finally … happy 63rd birthday to Marie Osmond!

 

 

Roundup: Mental Health, Staples Graduation, Dream Spa,

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Since going public earlier this year about her lifelong battle with existential anguish and depression, Melissa Bernstein has shined an important light on mental health.

Her book Lifelines, and digital support community of the same name, has raised awareness even further.

Now, throughout May — which is Mental Health Awareness Month — LifeLines is hosting free activities and workshops. There’s a different one each day.

The goal is to help people “dive inward and discover their true selves,” LifeLines says. They range from “Breaking Up With Your Inner Circle” to “Tracing Your Triggers.” Click here for the full schedule.

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Plans have been announced for Staples High School’s graduation. It will be … outdoors.

“Pomp and Circumstance” will ring out at the football stadium, at 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 17 (rain date: June 18). All seniors will be together, and will be allotted 2 guests each. The ceremony will be livestreamed, for family and friends who cannot attend.

This is the first time the football stadium has been used for graduation in 27 years. The previous 26 events were held in the fieldhouse. Last year’s graduation was a “drive-by,” with each graduate having a special moment in front of the school.

Staples High School graduates gather outside the fieldhouse in 2018, before the ceremony. This year they’ll march instead to the right, onto the football field.

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This past year has been a tough one for everyone. Moms — as they so often do — have borne much of the brunt of the pandemic.

So Dream Spa & Salon wants this Mother’s Day to be extra special.

They’re giving away 3 prizes to “superhero” moms: a “wakeup call” ($375 value), “dream essentials” ($180), and “dream feet pedi” ($65).

To win a “dreamy” gift for your mom (or spouse), follow @dreamspasalon on Instagram. All the details are there.

Winners will be announced (of course) on Mother’s Day. Which — as you certainly better know — is Sunday, May 9.

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The Westport Domestic Violence Task Force just completed a very successful collection for baby items, for 2 area safe houses and local clients.

Westporters donated 4 strollers, 7 car seats, 3 booster seats, multiple car seat bases, 5 cases of formula, over a dozen cases of diapers, countless packages of wipes, baby washes, new baby clothing, 18 bottles, and over $500 in cash.

The Task Force thanks the entire community, and the men and women of the Westport Police Department, who helped collect and transport the donations.

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How strong were yesterday’s winds?

This was the scene this morning at Compo Beach. Let’s hope no one was inside at the time.

(Photo/Les Dinkin)

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Jazz returns to MoCA Westport in a big way.

Talent from the Jazz at Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Spotlight kicks off Friday, May 14 (7 p.m.), with pianist/composer Isaiah J. Thompson. The young artist leads his jazz quartet in what MoCA promises will be a “powerful, mind-blowing performance.”

On May 28, The Alexa Tarantino Quartet debuts music from their new album “Firefly.” Their performance last summer sold out.

A third Lincoln Center artist will perform later this summer, followed by the Samara Joy Ensemble on August 20.

Tickets are available in a variety of formats, including individual concert tickets, a 4-concert Jazz Package, or a Season Pass with all 13 Music at MoCA concerts. Click here to purchase, and for more information.

Isaiah Thompson

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As Westport opens up, the May issue of Westport Magazine examines “the good life.”

Stories include personal reflections on Christopher Plummer; Dave Briggs on Lou Gehrig Day; Center Stage producer Andrew Wilk; super-organizer Meredith Triscott; home design shops; creating the perfect patio, and the advantages of private aviation.

Westport Magazine is available at Barnes & Noble, Balducci’s, Whole Foods and CVS.

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And finally … it’s the 1st of May, so …

Roundup: Domestic Violence, Anti-Semitism …

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Victims of domestic violence have so much to deal with. Getting basic supplies for their young children should not be one of them.

Now through Sunday (April 25), Westport’s Domestic Violence Task Force is collecting supplies. Needed items include car seats in new or like-new condition (tags attached, to check expiration date), strollers, diapers, wipes, lotions and baby wash, and new bottles.

To arrange contactless pickup, email co-chair Jillian Cabana: wdvtf06880@gmail.com.

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Saturday is the big day: CLASP Homes’ “Un-Scavenger Hunt.” (“Un?” It runs all day, at your convenience. It’s not a race.

There are tons of clues, covering Westport trivia, history, art, pop culture and more. You answer by posting photos, videos, texts and GPS check-ins on the app. Bonus points are given for creativity, ingenuity and humor (costumes, props, songs, pets … you get the idea).

Prizes include sunset cruises; a private tour and wine-and-cheese reception at Dragone Classic Motorcars with George Dragone; Broadway tickets and more.

There are separate prizes for students in grade 12 and below (including cash). And a special prize for the organization that registers the most teams.

The Un-Scavenger Hunt raises funds for CLASP. For nearly 40 years they’ve  provided care, support and inspiration to adults with autism and developmental disabilities.

Click here for tickets. Click here for the Goosechase app, which will be used. You can practice on it too, until the event goes live.

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We may pretend it’s not happening. But people — even in Westport — make Holocaust “jokes,” and talk insensitively about Jewish traditions and lives. I’d guess teenager in Westport has heard something.

In response, ADL Connecticut is organizing a virtual “Fairfield County Teen Leadership Summit on Anti-Semitism.” It’s Tuesday, April 27 (7 to 8:15 p.m., Zoom).

A teen panel will share personal stories. Attendees will learn skills to stand up to anti-Semitism, be resilient and become empowered as school leaders. Click here to register. For more information, email swalden@adl.org.

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A couple of nature shots. First, a swan stepping into the Saugatuck River …

(Photo/Paul Delano)

… and a hungry gull at Sherwood Island State Park.

(Photo/Gene Borio)

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And finally …  today in 1775, the Revolutionary War began. The patriots beat back the British at the Battles of Lexington and Concord. The rest is history.

Roundup: Safe Homes, Mercury Gas, Gulls, More


Now through Sunday (August 30), the Westport Domestic Violence Task Force is collecting supplies for the 2 Domestic Violence Crisis Center safe houses that serve area residents.

Besides providing confidential shelters for victims of intimate partner violence and their children, the DVCC offers assistance with basic needs like food, clothing and personal items, along with counseling, legal services, transportation assistance, children’s advocacy, weekly play-based children’s programming focused on self-esteem, healthy communication, referrals to community resources and economic advocacy, including budget development and assistance with job searches and resumes.

Children living in the safe houses need several items for the new school year:

  • New backpacks
  • Notebooks
  • Pens and pencils
  • Graphing calculators
  • New or lightly used Chromebooks
  • Diapers (sizes 4-7).

To arrange ontactless pickup, email Task Force co-chair Jillian Cabana wdvtf06880@gmail.com.

If you or someone you know needs assistance, call 888-774-2900 or click here.


It’s been a few months. But the renovation project for the Mercury gas station at the Post Road/Bulkley Avenue North corner is done.

It still looks like a gas station. But it’s a lot nicer than the previous version. And the prices still seem lower than most others in town.

Mercury gas station (Photo/Seth Schachter)


Early Tuesday morning, Bart Stuck was walking on Soundview Avenue, toward Compo Beach. He saw dozens of gulls — maybe 100 — circling nearby.

When he got to the garbage can near the Soundview lot, he saw the problem. A gull had landed, then caught its webbed feet on the wooden slats. It hung beak down on the side.

Bart grabbed the 2 feet, pulled the gull up, and placed it on the sand. It shook itself off, then flew away. All the other gulls left too. 

Bart was amazed that several passersby had walked by, and done nothing. He was glad to help.

Let’s hope the next time he has a picnic, the gulls return the favor — and leave him and his food alone.

Not Bart’s gull.


And finally … as Hurricane Laura slams into the US, we’re thinking of everyone in it path.

Westporters Fight Domestic Violence

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Westport’s Domestic Violence Task Force wants to make everyone aware of the issue — and what can be done about it.

The group has collected gift certificates from more than a dozen local salons. (One owner donated because her mother was a victim of abuse.) Haircuts and colors help women in shelters start new lives. Some are preparing for job interviews. Others need to change their appearance to avoid abusers.

The salons will be thanked on Saturday, October 14, at the Westport Unitarian Church Voices Cafe. All proceeds from Pierce Pettis’ performance will be donated to the salon drive. (Click here for tickets.)

Meanwhile, this Sunday (October 1), pinwheels will be displayed on Jesup Green. There’s one for every domestic violence call the Police Department received this year.

The chilling reminder that domestic abuse happens in Westport — as it does everywhere — remains on display all month.

Next Tuesday (October 3), volunteers from our police and fire departments will join Domestic Violence Task Force members at the Westport and Greens Farms train stations. They’ll hand out informational palm cards to commuters.

And on Wednesday, October 25 (Unitarian Church, 7 p.m.), Lisa Aronson Fontes — a noted author, therapist, researcher and professor — will discuss coercive control in relationships.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month ends on October 31. Of course, the issue will not go away that day.

But in Westport, concerned citizens are doing all they can to help.