Tag Archives: Westport Rotary

COVID Roundup: Library Book Sale; Rotary Speaker; Oystercatcher Chick; Parks & Rec; More

The latest Westport tradition to fall victim to COVID-19: the Westport Library’s summer book sale.

In its place: a “virtual” fund-raiser.

Auction item previews begin June 10. Online silent bidding takes place from June 17 through June 19. To receive a link to the auction website when it is activated, click here.

Donations are being sought for the auction. “No item is too big or too small,” they say: experiences (concert, theater or other event tickets, backstage passes, tickets for TV shows tapings, private chef services, private wine tastings, spa days, cooking lessons, art classes); travel (use of vacation homes, tours, boat trips); food and wine packages; picnics; restaurant gift certificates; unique jewelry; works of art; children’s birthday parties — you get the idea.

For more information or to donate items, call 203-952-0070 or admin.book@westportbooksaleventures.org.

The Westport Rotary Club always books interesting guest speakers. This Tuesday (June 2) at 12:30 p.m., they host a particularly timely one.

Anne Diamond — president of Bridgeport Hospital, and executive vice president at Yale New Haven Health System — will talk about how her organizations responded to and allocated critical resources during COVID-19. She’ll also discuss a unique collaboration among hospitals in Fairfield County.

Because it’s a Zoom meeting, everyone is invited. Click here for the link. The meeting ID is 859 6608 8043; the password is 624628.

In the midst of so much sad, bad news, there is also this:

Tina Green reports that yesterday morning, the Compo Beach American oystercatchers successfully hatched one chick. Another egg has yet to hatch.

A pair of piping plovers also has a nest in the same roped-off area of South Beach. Stay away — and rejoice!

American oystercatcher and chick. (Photo/Tina Green)

Parks & Recreation director Jennifer Fava follows up on Governor Lamont’s announcement raising the limit of people in outdoor recreational gatherings from 5 to 25:

  • No contact sports or sports that include shared handling of objects such as balls or Frisbees are allowed.
  • Attendees shall remain 6 feet apart, excluding immediate family members, caretakers and household members, and except when dining, masks shall be worn when within 6 feet of those not in the same household.
  • If the event is an organized gathering, the organizer shall demarcate 6 feet of spacing.

This increase applies to outdoor recreational gatherings including the opening of the Wakeman, Staples (including the track), and Kings Highway fields for individual use and exercise.

Moving trucks came today for Restoration Hardware.

However, the closing of the home furnishings store –they did not sell hammers or weed killer — is not COVID-related.

The company says the 11,000-square foot spot opposite Anthropologie, a few yards from Main Street, is not in keeping with the current large-format stores (“galleries,” in Restoration-speak) they’ve opened the last few years.

No word yet on what will replace it. Although for nearly the entire 20th century, it sure worked well as a movie theater.

(Photo/Chip Stephens)

The Westport Police Department, TEAM Westport, and the NAACP are partnering on a food drive this Saturday (June 6, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.) at Stop & Shop in Westport.

The event was organized in the wake of last week’s death of George Floyd, at the hands of members of the Minneapolis Police Department.

And finally … one of the most powerful anthems ever written, from one of the greatest singers of all time.


Unsung Heroes #52

In 2012, Sam and Sharon Carpenter helped supervise a Builders Beyond Borders trip to Nagarote, Nicaragua.

The longtime Westporters fell in love with the community of Sonrisa de Dios (“Smile of God”), and vowed to continue serving it.

They’ve returned every year since. Each year, they bring at least 20 family members and friends to share the experience.

Sam and Sharon Carpenter

Working with NicaPhoto — a support agency whose board Sam joined in 2013, and now serves as chair — and with special help from Westport Rotary, the Carpenters have helped build 4 classrooms, 3 latrines, a playground, sidewalks and garden at an elementary school; rebuild homes after an earthquake; and construct walls, classrooms and more at another site.

Beyond building, Sam and Sharon join others on the trip as they play and dance with the children.

Sharon Carpenter and her friends.

It’s one thing to spend a week on a service trip. It’s another to return to the same community, year after year. That shows special care and commitment. It also builds lifelong solidarity and friendship.

A longtime fellow volunteer cites the Carpenters’ “incredibly big hearts, generosity, love for their fellow man, enthusiasm in the face of challenge, and always their love.”

In 2013, Ronnie Maher — another volunteer — had dinner with Sam, Sharon and the mayor of Nagarote. The mayor asked Sam why he was there.

“I’ve been very fortunate in my life,” he replied simply. “I can give back, so I do.”

Sam Carpenter, hard at work.

Nagarote knows and loves Sam and Sharon Carpenter. Many Westporters know and love them too — but may be unaware of their long and strong commitment to this Nicaraguan community.

That’s why they’re this week’s Unsung, but very worthy, Heroes.

(To nominate an Unsung Hero, email dwoog@optonline.net)

Keep Summer Going, With Saturday’s Lobsterfest

Just when you think all the fun summer stuff — cookouts, clambakes, beach parties — is over, up pops the Lobsterfest.

Sponsored by Westport Rotary, it’s become a last-gasp-of-the-season tradition. The’s 6th annual event — set for this Saturday (September 16, 3 to 7 p.m.) — includes food hundreds of folks love: a choice of 2 humongous lobsters or a 14-ounce strip steak, plus all the fixings.

It’s a block party without the block. Instead, over 1,000 people fill Compo Beach. It’s a fantastic way to catch up with those you haven’t seen since the last Lobsterfest, and meet newcomers too.

Thanks to volunteer efforts of the noontime and Sunrise Rotaries, and organizations like Staples’ Service League of Boys, National Charity League and Builders Beyond Borders, the event raises an enormous amount of money. It’s promptly redistributed to local, regional and international service agencies.

Rick Benson — shown here in costume — started the Westport Rotary Lobsterfest in 2012.

But this year’s Lobsterfest has some special wrinkles too.

There’s a new first platinum sponsor — the Shoreline Group from Morgan Stanley — and new gold sponsor (Melissa & Doug).

There’s a new band: Oh Cassius! (the exclamation point is part of their name!).

Craft beer is provided by 5 Connecticut breweries, along with a new selection of wines courtesy of Westport Wine & Spirits. Donations were arranged by Alex Cohen, Rotary Club member and his fellow Staples High grad, Casey Dohme, owner of the Blind Rhino bar in Norwalk.

The cash raw bar is enhanced with local Hummock Island oysters, and — for the first time — shrimp cocktail. Professional oyster shuckers will be on hand too.

After last year’s event, not much remained of the 3,000 lobsters.

A tasting tent should entice lovers of McCallan single malt scotch and specialty cocktails.

Kids can enjoy new entertainment, and meals from Joey’s by the Shore — with kids’ serving trays.

As always, Lobsterfest goes on rain or shine (to-go boxes are available). Tickets must be purchased in advance, from Rotarians, at Joey’s, or online here.

Get your bib on!

You Can Help Save This Child’s Life…

… or you can turn the page.

Okay, that’s over-dramatic. It’s not a life-or-death situation. And you don’t turn a blog page; you click the “x.”

But here’s the deal. Westport Rotary is all set to host a 17-year-old exchange student. Martin arrives from the Czech Republic on August 17.

Yet until the 1st host family steps up — for a 3 1/2-month period — Martin can’t get a visa.

He seems like a great kid. He likes skiing, tennis, volleyball, golf and hockey. He plays guitar, and is social and adventurous. He looks forward to Westport.

If he can get here.

Anyone can host: families with kids, people without children, empty nesters, you name it.

Rotary ClubMany Stapleites have enjoyed Rotary exchanges abroad. Many Westporters have hosted exchange students. As of yet though, no one has stepped up for Martin.

Host families provide room and board for 3 1/2 months. The student does not need his own bedroom. Major expenses are covered by the student’s natural family, and Rotary provides health insurance plus a small stipend.

You can click the “x” at the top of this page. Or you can contact Fides Østbye (203-858-6694, fidesmo@aol.com), to give Martin his 1st Westport home.


Allen Raymond: He Gets Things Done

For Monday’s “06880” post, I asked the 4 candidates currently running for 1st selectman to name 5 Westporters they admire.

Three included Allen Raymond.

Allen Raymond, circa 1963.

Allen Raymond, circa 1963.

That’s a no-brainer. The 90-year-old former publisher (and town historian) has not just lived on Compo Cove since 1922. He’s served on more boards, advised more town leaders, brokered more good and smart deals, and contributed more to every facet of life — educational, recreational, spiritual — than anyone since the Bedfords.

And they were an entire family.

But it’s not just the 1st selectman candidates and me who revere Allen Raymond. Here’s an email I got from another admirer:

“I noted the frequent mention of Allen Raymond as a person the selectman candidates would ask for guidance.


“Certainly, Allen has been a successful figure in town for many years. He is generous with both his time and his money. He has sat on almost every guiding committee we have, from church to Y to kitchen cabinet.

“He has already been honored by many organizations – including the Y’s renaming of Sunny Lane to Allen Raymond Lane.

Allen Raymond: The man, and his sign.

Allen Raymond: The man, and his sign.

“One more honor is coming up. On Wednesday, June 5 the Westport Rotary honors him at their annual Golf and Tennis Fundraiser at Longshore.

“But I think the real reason that people want to speak to him is because they want to know how he and others managed to get things done. How to get the purchase of Longshore done – without lawsuits and squabbling.

“How to get organizations like the Westport Historical Society and Earthplace to be sustainable, contributing, active town resources.  How to draw people into a church to celebrate its history, as well as its present contributions and mission.

“I think the Rotary honor is a good reason for potential politicians, as well as friends and neighbors, to come together one more time to ask for Allen’s advice, and celebrate his ability to get things done.

Westport Rotary Drives The Compo Beach Wheelchair

Like many Westporters putting away beach chairs last fall, Dan DeVito realized he needed a replacement.

Unlike most Westporters, though, he could not just run down to Patio.com.

Parks & Rec director Stuart McCarthy gives Rotary president Irwin Lebish a ride in the new wheelchair.

As Parks & Rec operations supervisor, Dan’s chair was a beach wheelchair — specially adapted for use on sand. It had been a gift form Westport Rotary, but after 7 years of steady use — by disabled visitors, and carrying injured people in emergencies — it was rusted and falling apart.

DeVito called Peter Ferrara, former Westport Rotary president. The organization unanimously agreed to buy a replacement.

That’s just one of many good deeds done by the 88-year-old civic group. A short list of Rotary-funded projects includes the original Compo Beach playground, Levitt Pavilion, interfaith housing and a gazebo at Mahackeno.

A longer list — all the way back to Rotary’s 1st year, 1924 — is fascinating. Anson Leary, club historian from its founding until his death in 1962, wrote:

The playground of Bedford Elementary School was covered with rocks. All our members, augmented by other citizens, spent an entire Saturday (June 7, 1924) with teams, trucks and other heavy equipment clearing the area and making it into a good playground. The project cemented the ties that bound us together.

More projects soon followed. The town needed an ambulance, so Rotary raised the entire price: $3,600.

Then came a junior high fife-and-drum corps, a twilight baseball league, and several Boy Scout troops.

Rotary members built — with their own hands — the first 6 fireplaces at Compo’s South Beach; the swimming pool at Aspetuck’s Girl Scout camp, and the pavilion at Mahackeno.

The Rotary Club even organized Westport’s Chamber of Commerce.

Of course, all that work costs money. This Wednesday (June 6), Rotary sponsors a major golf and tennis fundraiser, at Longshore. To sign up for golf, call Tony Riggio (203-227-6877). For tennis, call Elaine Whitney (203-221-7335).

If you just want lunch, that’s fine too. Come to the tent outside the Inn at Longshore at noon. Everyone is welcome.

And everyone using the new beach wheelchair will soon thank Westport Rotary — and you.

Beaches, Banks, Barons, Budgets

“Forbidden  Westport III:  Beaches, Banks, Barons & Budgets” has a bunch of B’s in the title.

But the Sunrise Rotary’s Broadway-based satirical musical boasts anything but a B-list cast.

Former first selectwoman Diane Farrell -- aka "Brown Bag Mama," for her famous lunches.

Past performers included superintendent of schools Elliott Landon (singing “Big Spender”) and first selectman Diane Farrell (“Brown Bag Mama”).  State representative Ken Bernhard and third selectman John Izzo appeared onstage — in drag.

This year’s event continues the tradition.  From politicians to the Green Village Initiative, from banks-on-every-corner to bitches-on-the-beach (hey, they’re dogs — don’t get offended), anything Westport-based is fair game.

“Forbidden Westport III” is performed one night only:  Saturday, April 30 (7:30 p.m., Bedford Middle School).  It’s a fundraiser for Homes With Hope.

Tickets ($55 each; $20 students) can be purchased from any Sunrise Rotary or Westport Rotary club member, or online (click here).  The only requirement for purchase is a healthy sense of humor — about our town, and ourselves.