Tag Archives: Westport Masks

Roundup: Sidewalks, Masks, Climate Change, More

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It’s been 3 days since Sunday’s beautiful — but big — snowfall. Have you shoveled yet?

It’s the law!

The Department of Public Works reminds all commercial property owners that they are responsible for all snow and ice removal from the sidewalk within the town and/or state rights-of-way — for the total frontage of your property, and the entire width of the sidewalk.

You can be fined up to $90 — a day — for non-compliance.

And, reader Kristin Schneeman notes, homeowners are also responsible for clearing sidewalks in front of their properties.

Many are still inaccessible. So stop reading, and start shoveling.

Or get your kid to do it.

From 2016. Although you wouldn’t have know if I hadn’t told you (Photos/Tracy Yost)

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Looking for a family activity that is both fun (s’mores!), healthy (take a hike!) and educational (what kind of animal makes which kind of tracks?).

Earthplace’s “Family Campfire” on Sunday, February 21 (1 to 2:30 p.m.) sounds great. Each family is assigned its own picnic table (bring your own roasting sticks).

The cost is $25 for member families, $30 for non-members. To register, call 203-557-4400 weekdays, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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Westport Masks is scaling back. But — because everyone still needs to wear them (!!!!!!!!!) — volunteers will still be making them.

They’re no longer selling masks. But with plenty of supplies on hand, they’ll be donating them to people who cannot afford masks.

If you know of a community or charity desperate for masks — or if you can donate unused, good quality, pre-washed 100% cotton fabric — email westportmasksgiving@icloud.com. (Hat tip: Virginia Jaffe)

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Climate change is here. It’s real. So what can you do?

First, read David Pogue’s new book: “How to Prepare for Climate Change.”

Then, register for his virtual Westport Library on the topic (February 23, 7 p.m.).

Pogue — a local resident — will discuss all the basics: what to grow and eat, how to build and insure, where to invest, even where to consider relocating.

Pogue will also provide tips on managing your anxiety, and riding out the inevitable superstorms, wildfires, epidemics and tick bites.

Click here to register.

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Each year, Staples Tuition Grants awards over 100 need-based scholarships — worth up to $6,000 each — to high school seniors, and graduates already in college. Students can apply even if they did not apply or receive a grant in previous years.

It’s one of the best opportunities for college funding anywhere. But the deadline is near: March 7. Click here for more information, and to apply.

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And finally … Mary Wilson — a founding member of the Supremes and who sang on 10 of their 12 Number One hits — died on Monday in Nevada. She was 76.

Two days ago, she announced she’d be releasing new material soon. We’ll always remember her for songs like these:

Westport Masks Winding Down

In the first frightening days after COVID-19 brought Westport — and the world — to a locked-down, uncertain halt, a group of women found a way to help.

In a month, they made over 1,000 masks — and gave them all away.

Recipients included Westport’s Public Works, Parks & Recreation and Highway departments; the post office; elderly residents; Open Door Shelter in Norwalk; Food Rescue US; Thomas Merton Family Center in Bridgeport; Stamford Hospice, Norwalk Hospital and more.

Two of Westport Masks’ many creations.

Then they pivoted. “Westport Masks” — a name as simple as their generosity was boundless — continued to donate to frontline and vulnerable groups. But they also created masks for friends, family, children and the general public.

In return for small financial donations, the women used 100% of the funds to buy supplies. They suggested $10 — but they never let anyone go without a mask if they needed one.

They’ve been going strong every since.

But nearly a year later  — with masks readily available, vaccines available and the hope of some normalcy some time ahead  — Westport Masks is closing down.

Their legacy: over 5,600 masks made, $2,500 donated to local food pantries, and 5,000 meals funded.

“Closing Westport Masks is bittersweet,” say co-founders Virginia Jaffe and Marisa Zer.

“Our mask making journey is ending, but it also means that hope is on the horizon. We will have a small team of volunteers continuing to make masks for charitable donations only, until our supplies run out.

“Everything Westport Masks achieved over the last 10 months was due to the generosity of local residents, coupled with the generosity of time and skills given by over 20 Westport volunteers, cutting, sewing and delivering so many masks,” the founders say.

“This endeavor not only helped  our community, but also provided an amazing distraction from the chaos of the pandemic. It gave everyone who helped a sense of taking back some control over an uncontrollable situation.”

Westport Masks is selling their final stock of 2-layer, quality cotton, adjustable masks with a removable neck strap. A variety of styles are ready for pickup, in large, medium and kids’ sizes.

Email westportmasks@yahoo.com for details; pay by Venmo or with cash at pickup.

Roundup: Pumpkinfest, Hoops, Compo Beach, More


What’s new on Main Street?

Hundreds of pumpkins, pounds and pounds of apples, and bushels of art supplies.

It’s all part of Sunday’s “Pumpkinfest” (October 25, 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.)

Thanks to he Westport Downtown Merchants Association, Parks & Recreation Department and Westport PAL, hundreds of (costumed) families will have a chance to decorate pumpkins, take selfies in front of hand-painted backdrops (created by the Artists Collective of Westport, MoCA Westport and One River), and take home delicious (well, Cortland orchard) apples, courtesy of Camp Playland.

Pre-registration was required — and space was quickly filled. Earth Animal stepped up to underwrite an extra session, for 30 more families.

Families that want to gamble can stop by, in case there are last-minute openings.

The event is also the inauguration of a new program: Downtown Dollars. Gift cards for local stores will be awarded to families with the most creative pumpkins.

For more information, click here.


First, March Madness fell victim to COVID. Then the major sports leagues. High school spring sports were canceled — and so was 11-man football this fall.

Now comes news that one of the best sporting events on the planet — Westport Parks & Rec youth basketball — will not be played this winter either.

The department is following recommendations of the state Department of Public Health. They categorize indoor basketball as “moderate risk,” and suggest no team play.

In addition, Parks & Rec does not have access to the school facilities used for the program, director Jen Fava says.

She adds:

We understand this may be disappointing for some, but we must put the health and safety of our youth, and the community as a whole above all else. With the current rise in cases, events moving inside for the winter months and several upcoming holidays, there is uncertainty about what lies ahead. Adding a basketball league is an additional risk we feel should not be taken at this time.

Fava said that Parks & Rec is looking into alternative programs. Some basketball might be played if the DPH changes its recommendations, and school facilities become available.


This is a normal scene — in May, June, July or August.

Late October: not so much.

The beach sweeping crew was out yesterday, as the temperature neared 80.

(Photo/Chip Stephens)

Temperatures will still be in the 60s today and tomorrow. Everyone into the pool!


Tickets are still available for this Saturday’s “Show of Shows” (October 24, 7 p.m.), livestreamed from the Westport Library.

The great David Pogue MCs. Award-winning producer Andrew Wilk is the (very) creative director.

The show includes local personalities, comedy sketches, musical numbers with unexpected twists, and more.

Click here for information and tickets.


Westport Masks — the volunteer effort begun in the early days of the pandemic — has now made over 5,300 face coverings.

Thanks to sales, they’ve donated $1,500 to local food banks.

And they’re still going strong.

Tomorrow (Saturday, October 24) they’ll have their first pop-up shop mask sale. It’s at 19 Center Street (the corner of Brightfield Lane). Stop by — to keep yourself safe, and your neighbors fed.


And finally … yesterday was the 75th birthday of the Rascals’ Eddie Brigati. The vocalist/tambourine player helped write “I’ve Been Lonely Too Long,” “Groovin’,” “How Can I Be Sure” — and this classic:  

Roundup: BMS Masks; Heather Grahame Podcast; More


Everyone needs a mask — a good one. But just a few miles from here, plenty of kids can’t afford one.

In one of the most brilliant partnerships since the pandemic struck, the Bedford Middle School PTA and Westport Masks has teamed up to help the Read School in Bridgeport, which serves 800 youngsters in pre-K through 8.

The PTA is selling masks (and gaiters). For every one sold, two will be donated to Read. The program launched less than a week ago, yet enough orders have already been received to supply 250 masks to Read.

Westport Masks’ team volunteers hand-create each donation mask. The PTA sourced a 2-ply, 100% cotton style mask with a filter pocket. The design is a royal blue and white bandanna print, with 2 layers of 100% cotton and reinforced stitched nose for a comfortable fit. There are adjustable ear straps; another strap allows the mask to hang from the neck. There is no logo. Sizes are teen and adult.

As for gaiters: They are less likely than masks to be lost, can be easily pulled up and down as needed (for drinking water, eating lunch and outside during PE), and are comfortable. Designs include blue camo, blue and white shibori tie-dye, and micro-stripe/blue fade (the only one with the BMS bear logo). One size fits all.

Both styles are washable.

The cost is $20 for the gaiters (1 for your child or yourself, 2 others donated), $14 for the masks. The PTA notes that sales are not restricted to Bedford; everyone can (and should!) buy the face coverings.

To order, click here. To arrange pickup (a week before school begins) or for questions, email bms_pta@westportps.org. To help WestportMasks with sewing or fabric cutting, email westportmasks@yahoo.com.

Gaiters and masks


Heather Grahame has been an athlete all her life. In 1972 she captained Staples High School’s field hockey team. She played 2 more years at Mount Holyoke College, then transferred to Stanford University.

During college summers she leveraged her experience as a Compo Beach lifeguard to teach swimming, water safety and first aid in rural Aleut villages. The state of Alaska funded the program, to combat a high drowning rate.

After graduating from the University of Oregon law school, Grahame headed to Anchorage to practice public utility law. In 2010 she moved to Montana.

She’s on the road a lot. But she finds time to train for triathlons. Though she began when she was 56, it’s a natural for her.

In the 1980s Grahame competed in bicycle racing on the US Women’s Circuit. She placed 6th at the 1988 Olympic team time trials.

She and her family then became competitive sled dog racers. Her top international finish — 6th — came at the 2000 Women’s World Championships.

As for triathlons — well, okay. Grahame actually did a full Ironman. That’s a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.2-mile run.

The other day, she was a guest on the Purple Patch Fitness podcast. Host Matt Dixon is a top fitness and triathlon coach. She’s lived most of her life out west, but Grahame talked quite a bit about Westport and Staples sports. Click here for a very entertaining hour.

Heather Grahame (Photo courtesy of Helena Independent Record)


And finally … tonight the Remarkable Theater screens “Elf.” It’s “Christmas in July” — and drive-in moviegoers are encouraged to dress (and decorate their cars) appropriately.

And because we need a little Christmas (right this very minute), here’s “06880”s contribution. Starring, of course, our talented and beloved former neighbor, Eartha Kitt.

 

Ellen Landowne: Who Is That Masked Woman?

Now that everyone– and by “everyone” I mean normal, non-selfish boneheads — understands the importance of wearing masks, Westport Masks is busier than ever.

For many weeks the ad hoc group has made masks, then donated them to front line personnel and those in need. Recipients include Westport’s Public Works, Parks & Recreation and highway departments; Westport Post Office; elderly residents through Westport’s Department of Human Services; Open Door Shelter in Norwalk; Food Rescue US; Thomas Merton Family Center in Bridgeport; Stamford Hospice, Norwalk Hospital and more.

Dozens of folks cut, sew and deliver. But all involved agree, one volunteer truly stands out.

Ellen Landowne heard about Westport Masks in March through “06880,” and was one of the first to step forward.

Since then she has been a core team member. She’s made masks for many — including seniors — and raised funds for food pantries (through sales to the public, at $12 each).

Pretty good for anyone. Particularly for someone who — like Ellen — is 85 years young.

Ellen Landowne, at her 1942 Singer machine. It once belonged to her mother. She still uses it for all her sewing needs.

Ellen came to Westport in 1967 with her husband Bob Landowne. They were married for 59 years, until his death in 2017. Their 3 children — Deborah, Steve and Judy — all graduated from Staples High School.

After graduating from Mount Holyoke College and then New York-Presbyterian Columbia University Medical Center, Ellen became a registered nurse. She stopped working when her children were in school.

In what she calls her “second, ‘unpaid’ career,” Ellen got involved with the Girl Scouts. Funding came from 8 United Ways. She volunteered with the Westport-Weston group as a “foot soldier,” then joined the board. Eventually, she was named United Way of Westport and Weston’s first female president.

Ellen also served on the board of the Mid-Fairfield Child Guidance Center.

And at age 55, she received her private pilot certificate. She flew with Bob as far as Florida and Ontario.

Ellen Landowne, pilot.

The masks Ellen and her fellow volunteers make have 2 layers of 100% cotton.  They’re washable, with a filter pocket for added protection. They have neck ties too, so they can be worn all the time.

Masks can be ordered at $12 each through westportmasks@yahoo.com. All proceeds go to local food pantries, and to purchase supplies for more masks.

Volunteers are always needed. Organizers say: “If you have a working sewing machine, can sew in a straight line and can follow a pattern, we could use your help. Fabric cutting is also greatly appreciated.” Email westportmasks@yahoo.com.

Their next project: In preparation for return to school, the group is making children’s masks for families who cannot afford disposable ones.

(Hat tip: Virginia Jaffe)