Tag Archives: Westport Senior Center

Senior Center: A Hub Of Activities

“Senior Center” is not its real name.

It’s “The Westport Center for Senior Activities.” Supposedly that conveys a more “active” vibe — conjuring images of people moving around, doing things, not sitting in a drab room watching game shows on a too-loud TV.

I don’t buy it. The official name is too long.

Besides, everyone knows that the Senior Center is a hub of activities, all day long.

Gathering for an educational lecture — a frequent and popular Senior Center activity.

In fact, there’s so much going on at 21 Imperial Avenue, it’s hard to keep track.

Participation is up 34% from last year. They’ve welcomed 400 new members since January, bringing membership to over 4,400.

Every day, they serve 50 healthy, delicious lunches.

Lunch at “Sue’s Cafe.” It’s named for former and longtime director Sue Pfister.

The wide variety of Senior Center activities includes educational lectures, an indoor music series, art classes, movies, socials, support groups, parkinson’s exercise and support classes, strength training, Pilates, tai chi, yoga, mah jongg, bridge, ping pong, poker, billiards, health screenings, tax preparation assistance, safe driving courses, scam avoidance, information and referral, a community Super Bowl party, and more.

That’s a schedule that would tire a teenager.

A Senior Center Halloween pumpkin decorating contest. (Photo/Felicia Smith)

Click here for more information, and to be put on the mailing list. Click here for the Facebook page.

Questions? Email seniorcenter@westportct.gov, or call 203-341-5099.

Thursday’s Veterans Day event. (Photo/Emma Birch)

PS: More good news: The estate of Irma Schachter — the longtime Westporter and civic volunteer — just donated $300,000 to the Senior Center.

And it won’t be used to buy too-loud TVs.

(Photo/Molly Alger)

(From senior citizens, to high school seniors, to kindergarteners — and everyone in between — “06880” has you covered. Please click here to support our work. Thank you!)

[OPINION] RTM Member: Feasibility Study Made Me Favor Long Lots Plan

Seth Braunstein is a Representative Town Meeting member from District 6, and chair of the RTM Finance Committee.

After 2 visits to the Long Lots Elementary School property, his views on the future of the Westport Community Gardens have changed. He now supports the Long Lots School Building Committee’s recommendation to relocate the gardens.

Seth writes:  

Sometimes beauty is in the eye of the beholder. You might like one thing, yet I may favor another. Opportunities for interpretation or differing appreciation exist and can be celebrated. However, we can all agree that the Community Gardens and Preserve are beautiful and valuable town assets.

Feasibility generally isn’t something that is open to the same subjective interpretation.

Last Sunday morning I joined roughly 25 other concerned Westport citizens for a formal tour of the Long Lots School property hosted by a majority of the Long Lots School Building Committee.

The LLSBC began the tour by leading the assembled group from the south end of the property where the beautiful Community Gardens and Preserve are located to the north end of the property across various athletic fields (soccer and baseball) spread across 2 distinct property tiers, then to the west side of the property where wilderness (thankfully no poison ivy was encountered) and catch basins and a stream exist amidst a steeply declining grade as the property terminates back behind Harvest Commons.

Part of the Long Lots Elementary School campus. The Community Gardens (not shown) are south of the school. (Drone photo/Brandon Malin)

I am convinced that all parties involved in the hotly debated issues surrounding the question of build new vs. renovate come to this difficult decision with only the best of intentions. I am certain that the Board of Education, the LLSBC and first selectwoman are earnest in their desire to come up with the best solution possible for our community. None of these dedicated public servants have any “nefarious intent” and none of them want to have an outcome here that results in something that would fall short of the high standards our town demands. None of these people deserve the ad hominem attacks they have been subjected to.

I am also certain that supporters of the Community Gardens have sound arguments for why their 2 decades of investment in this property leave them hopeful that their interests and the reality of a new school can effectively coexist with the Garden remaining in its existing footprint. In fact, as a concerned member of the community (and an elected RTM member) I was convinced that this mutually beneficial outcome would be highly likely.

Having now had the benefit of a well detailed explanation for the reasoning behind the LLSBC support of the option they are recommending, along with a firsthand view of the property’s limitations, my view of what is feasible has changed. I had visited the Gardens a couple of months ago at the invitation of a member and at the time struggled to see why the two could not co-exist.

Now I understand why. This is a relatively small piece of property that is already crowded. The LLSBC has worked for months and hosted numerous meetings focused on what can be done to fit all of the existing puzzle pieces together so that all of the various constituencies represented on this property can walk away happy. This has been a huge task (did I mention they are all volunteers?).

The LLSBC has had to consider not just how to build a new school on this cramped property but also, most importantly, how to make sure the children in the existing school can continue to receive the best education possible while in the middle of a construction zone for the roughly two years the project will take to complete.

The committee has considered everything from how buses will enter the property, how parents who prefer to drop their students off will approach the building, where teachers and others working in the school will park, how all of the athletic and outdoor leisure time activities can continue and how to do all of this while minimizing the inevitable disruption that a project of this scale will pose to the neighborhood.

They have also been clear in their desire to consider Westport’s intent to increase sustainability which would require a series of geothermal wells to also occupy the site in the future to increase the energy efficiency of the new building.

Parking and bus loops are considerations in designing a new school. 

Under the best of circumstances (and this property does not meet that standard due space limitations, as well as grade and drainage concerns) a project of this magnitude requires significant staging areas. Take a moment to think about things like building materials (steel, brick, windows, etc.), heavy equipment (tractors, backhoes, forklifts), workspaces (construction trailers, bathrooms), large quantities of soil and other materials (to help correct grades and support foundations), not to mention parking for the sizable construction crew. When considering the requisite staging areas, the difficult job of putting this complicated puzzle together becomes untenable.

No one wants to displace the Community Gardens. No one has made a decision to sacrifice this wonderful town resource, but when considering where the flexibility in planning this project falls it is obvious that the school (a $100 million+ investment that will further help burnish our well-regarded school district) must take the highest priority.

Some have chosen to frame this unfortunate circumstance as the Gardens vs. the school or the Gardens vs. town leadership or the BOE. That simply does not reflect the reality of the situation. This really becomes a question of what is actually feasible on this property.

I choose to look at this as an optimization opportunity. Rather than trying to overcome the inherent limits associated with this crowded property, a better solution exists. In fact, it is a solution that has already been brought forth by the LLSBC itself. The Community Gardens could be moved to a portion of the Baron’s South property. While this will undoubtedly upset the supporters of the Community Gardens (and they have earned the right to be upset given the two decades of work they have invested in the current location) it might actually offer a better outcome long term for the Gardens and for the Town.

I have been a long-term supporter of preserving the rare open space left in Westport (check the voting record – I was adamantly opposed to a deal to develop Baron’s South for housing or for active uses), but placing the Community Gardens on a portion of the property could accomplish a number of desirable outcomes.

First, it would provide an environmentally positive usage of the land that would be consistent with the passive usage spirit of the current zoning (while drawing many more people to this vastly underutilized town jewel).

Second, it would actually provide the Gardens with a bigger space than is currently being utilized. I’d also add that the supporters of the Gardens have cited the number of seniors that have enjoyed the Gardens and moving the location to a spot in Baron’s South that would place them just a few steps from the Senior Center seems like a beneficial outcome. It is difficult for me to see how this wouldn’t be a classic win/win scenario.

The proposed site of the Community Gardens, at the Senior Center. (Photo/Morley Boyd)

Ultimately, the RTM will be presented with an appropriation request for this building project and the full range of issues associated with this property will be debated. From where I stand, legitimate questions exist around the status of the baseball field. The mandate for the LLSBC was to retain all existing school features and a baseball field is one of those features so it should be included in the new plans. However, any discussion of turf or lights or a vast increase in the scale and scope of a new field should be scrutinized.

I’d also add in closing that as an RTM member and chair of the RTM’s Finance Committee I would vote to have the town provide funding for the transition of the Gardens’ location (there may be a chance to maintain the Preserve in its current location). The Gardens are unquestionably one of Westport’s jewels and moving them to a spot where they can continue to grow and blossom, rather than exist in some sort of limbo amidst at least two years of construction, seems like a smart way forward.

Roundup: Community Gardens Bounty, “06880” Party, Pink Aid Golf …

It’s one of the joys of summer here: eating veggies picked — literally — straight from the garden.

This Saturday, Westport Community Gardens celebrates 20 years by hosting a giveaway garden pop-up stand.

On July 15 (10 a.m. to noon; Hyde Lane just south of Long Lots Elementary School), gardeners share their bounty — vegetables, herbs and flowers — from the summer harvest.

You can also take a tour of all 120 plots (plus the pergola, community tables, bocce court and adjacent Long Lots Preserve).

To learn more about the Westport Community Gardens, click here.

Bounty from the Westport Community Gardens.


The annual “06880″ party is just a week away.

And if you’re reading this: You’re invited.

Next Thursday (July 20, 6 p.m.) is the day and time. The far end of Compo’s South Beach — away from the cannons, near the boat and kayak launch — is the place. (Still confused? See the aerial view below.)

The blue arrow marks the "06880" party spot.

The blue arrow marks the “06880” party spot.

Every member of the “06880″ (as in, this website) community is invited. We welcome frequent commenters and lurkers. Folks who have lived here all their lives, and those who moved here yesterday. People who want the Cribari bridge to stay the same, those who want a new one, and everyone in between. (Don’t worry: The party is a politics-free zone.)

The tagline for “06880″ is “Where Westport meets the world.” Next Thursday, that world comes to Compo.

Please bring your own food, beverages, beach chairs and blankets. (If you bring extras to share with others, we won’t say no). Then mix, mingle and enjoy the evening with the “06880″ crowd.

There’s no charge. It’s a “fun-raiser,” not a fundraiser.

A “blog party” — the “06880” version of a block party.

See you next Thursday!

(PS: Because “06880” is now a non-profit, Westport Parks & Rec allows a limited number of out-of-towners without beach stickers. Please email 06880blog@gmail.com to be put on the list. First come, first served!)


The “Play4PinkAid” fundraiser — with your choice of golf, tennis, pickleball, canasta or mah jongg — is set for Wilton’s Rolling Hills Country Club (Monday, July 24).

But there are plenty of Westport connections.

Jarret Prussin and Brian Falik are running the event. Jarret’s wife Courtney is Pink Aid’s co-president.

And of course, many Westporters have long been involved with the non-profit, which offers compassionate support and emergency financial assistance to patients in treatment for breast cancer, supporting families during a critical time.

“Play4PinkAid” is a day-long event, with lunch, dinner and drinks. Susan Hess, founder of women’s golf wear brand Golftini will share her personal connection to breast cancer, and how she is paying it forward.

A few foursomes as well as several tennis and pickle spots remain. Click here to register, and for more information.


The players on Westport’s 12u Little League team were just 2 years old when our town’s boys made it all the way to the World Series national championship game.

Now they’re embarking on their own road to Williamsport.

Westport takes on Fairfield National — their fiercest rivals — in Connecticut’s District 2 championship contest this Friday (July 14, 5:30 p.m., Unity Park, Trumbull).

There’s nothing better than a summer baseball game like this. Play ball!


Jack Klinge is a true friend of the Senior Center.

Last night at the Ned Dimes Marina, the Friends of the Westport Center for Senior Activities honored and thanked him for more than 20 years of service.

The retired executive — and current RTM member, and Westport Public Schools substitute teacher — is stepping down as president. He’ll remain (thankfully and happily) a Friends board member.

Jack Klinge, flanked by Sue Pfister and Wendy Petty, the former and current Senior Center directors, respectively. (Photo and hat tip/Diane Bosch)


Otis & the Hurricanes storm onto the Weston History & Culture Center’s lawn.

Their Sunday, July 23 show (5 p.m.) is part of the 8th annual “Music at the Barn” series. Attendees can bring a picnic dinner, beverages and lawn chair.

Otis & the Hurricanes play American roots rock, influenced by Fats Domino, Professor Longhair, Little Feat, Alan Toussaint, Delbert McClinton abd Chuck Berry.

Otis Cross has opened for and played with James Montgomery, Mark Naftalin, Buddy Guy, Johnny Winter and Buckwheat Zydeco.

Also on-site: a kids’ crafting table, lawn games, and the Daniel E. Offutt, III Sculpture Garden.

Tickets ($15 members, $20 non-members, children under 12 free) are available at the show or online.

Otis & the Hurricanes.


Want to meet the turtles?

They — the reptiles, not the band — will be at the Sherwood Island State Park this Sunday (July 16, 2 p.m.).

Wildlife rehabilitator Angelina Carnevale will be there, with a selection of native species.

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection will have staff members there too.

Friends of Sherwood Island plans to bring a touch tank, and aquarium stocked with fish and crabs.

Kids can make an origami turtle with a Nature Center intern.

Entrance to the park is free for vehicles with Connecticut license plates.

Entrance to the Park is free for CT license plate vehicles.

The following Sunday (July 23, 2 p.m.), Earthplace will visit the Sherwood Island Nature Center with live birds of prey.

This guy may crawl from the water to the Nature Center on Sunday. (Photo/David Loffredo)


The turtle above would have been a good “Westport … Naturally” photo.

Here’s another: Chives, by the Saugatuck River.

(Photo/Amy Schneider)


And finally … you don’t have to be a Mensa member to have guessed who today’s featured artists are:

(From actual turtles to The Turtles, you can read about it all on “06880.” If you appreciate our coverage, please consider a donation. Just click here — and thank you!)

Remembering Paula Leonard

Paula Leonard — a longtime Westport resident, active volunteer, well-known realtor, and a driving force behind the creation of both the Senior Center and The Saugatuck senior moderate housing building — died peacefully on May 25, surrounded by her family. She was 88.

The eldest of 3 daughters, Paula and her sisters moved frequently as children. Their father, Wendell Campbell was a CBS Radio executive who was often relocated. The Campbells lived in Ohio, Missouri, Minnesota and Illinois before arriving in Westport for Paula’s senior year at Staples High School.

After college, she attended the Katharine Gibbs School and was hired as the secretary for William Rudkin, son of Pepperidge Farm founder Margaret Rudkin.

Soon thereafter Paula met her future husband of 60-plus years, Dick Leonard. Local lore has it that when Dick asked if anyone wanted to dance on a table at Cafe Barna, Paula raised her hand.

Paula and Dick Leonard.

Married in 1957, Dick and Paula soon had 4 children born roughly 16 months apart: Rick, Jim, Anne and Carey. In 1970, they added a caboose, Colin, to the Leonard train.

The through line in Paula’s life was one of craft. Her ability to figure out how to make or do just about anything was well known. An extraordinary wife, mother, cook, needlewoman – and later in life, beader – Paula also became a leading real estate agent in Westport in her 50’s, with Merrill Lynch Real Estate and then Prudential Real Estate. She sustained her career well into her 70’s.

She specialized in antique houses, and sold the first $1 million house in Westport in the early 1980’s. She adored selling homes, and helping them settle in the town she and Dick loved. She always said, “I sold Westport. The house came with it.”

Her passion for all things Westport took many forms. A member of the Westport
Commission for Senior Services for more than 20 years, as chair Paula drove the concept, construction and opening of the Westport Senior Center on Imperial Avenue.

She helped lead the conversion of the former Saugatuck Elementary School into The Saugatuck, making moderate income housing available for aging town residents. She also helped create the first tax deferral program for seniors in the state.

Paula, with her Prudential colleague Jean Coleman, launched and sponsored for years the Westport Historical Society’s annual fundraiser, the Hidden Garden Tour, which showcased some of the town’s most beautiful gardens.

She was also active with the Westport WarmUp fund, helping income-quali1ed households with winter home heating expenses.

When her children were young, in her role on Westport’s PTA Council, Paula spearheaded the town’s first dedicated bike lanes to Compo Beach on Compo Road South.

An ardent cook, she was an early adopter of Julia Child and Elizabeth David. Paula enjoyed narratives around food and ingredients. She once carried a large potted basil plant to Martha’s Vineyard on her lap (via car and ferry), with young children in tow, to offer it to her hostess long before fresh herbs were available outside the garden.

In the 1970’s, she and fellow Westporter Pat Kessler wrote a cookbook, on how to transition from cooking for a large family to cooking for two without resorting to packaged or processed food.

In 1998, Dick and Paula built a second home in Biddeford Pool, Maine, where the family had vacationed for years. “The Boathouse” became a summer gathering spot for their children, their spouses, and a growing corps of grandchildren.

Paula spent her days body surfing, and taking long walks with their chocolate labs Pool and Abbie.

She took up golf, and hosted the children and their families at lively dinners, followed by memorable charades games with Dick’s Staples High School English teacher colleague Joy Walker and her husband Bill.

Paula Leonard (seated, center) and her extended family.

Preceded in death by her husband Dick in 2018, Paula is survived by her sisters Happy Van Sickle of Chatham, Massachusetts and Beth Lane of Newport Beach, California; children Rick (Amy) of Westport; Jim (Story) of Santa Fe, New Mexico; Anne Hardy (Jim) of Westport; Carey (Cheryl) of Stratford, and Colin (Kadie) of Fayetteville, New York, and grandchildren Lizzie Leonard, Will Hardy, Kelsey Leonard, Ned Hardy, Molly Leonard, Charlie Leonard, Amanda Leonard, Campbell Leonard, Megan Leonard, Annie Leonard and Sophie Leonard.

A celebration of Paula’s life is planned for Sunday, June 25 (3 p.m., Westport
Senior Center), with a reception following.

In lieu of flowers, donations to The Paula & Dick Leonard Memorial Award at Staples Tuition Grants are most welcome.

Roundup: Dog Fest, Equity Study, Fire Danger …

This Sunday, Westport’s dog park really goes to the dogs.

The 7th annual Dog Festival takes over Winslow Park on May 21, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The event — produced by the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce and TAILS — celebrates all things canine.

The day includes guide dog and training demonstrations, a police K-9 presentation, an obstacle course (the winner gets a year’s supply of dog food), adoptables, kids activities, food trucks, information on non-profits, and more.

Prizes will be given for best tail wagger, best dressed, best kisser, best trick, best lap dog over 50 pounds and dog that most looks like its owner. Dog owners can register for the competitions at the festival, or online.

Surrounding the main activities are over 60 pet-related vendors, picture taking, caricatures, face painting, balloon bending and giveaways.

Proceeds from the entrance fee of $10 per person, and $30 for a family of 4 will benefit nonprofit organizations. So far, over $36,000 has been donated by the Chamber to local groups.

Parking is available at business lots along Post Road East. Click here for more Dog Festival information.


For months, the Board of Education has discussed an “Equity Study Action Plan.” The goal is to help all students feel a sense of belonging.

The debate continued Monday night, for 3 hours. But one of the most compelling comments came not from a board member, but from a teenager.

One who cannot even speak.

Wynston Browne — an autistic Staples High School sophomore — has made remarkable progress over the past 2 years, using a spelling device. His parents and teachers realize now that a very keen and incisive mind had been locked away for over a decade. Wynston’s goal is to be a neuroscientist.

On Monday, Wynston typed. His words appeared on screen: “I want to do things that all kids my age do. I want to eat lunch with friends in the Staples cafeteria, and laugh instead of being laughed at. I want to attend classes that are challenging.”

And, he concluded: “Everyone got it wrong, for so long. It’s time to make it right, starting now.”

Click here to see Wynston’s compelling 6-minute speech. He did not speak out loud — but his words said it all.


Effective immediately, the Westport Fire Department has banned all outside burning until further notice. The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for the entire state, due to extremely dry conditions.

The ban includes all recreational campfires and fire pits. Brush fires spread rapidly, and can threaten homes and property. 


Today’s “Westport … What’s Happening” podcast features an introduction to the Westport Center for Senior Activities’ new director, Wendy Petty.

She discusses her plans for the center with 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker. Click below to listen to the Y’s Men of Westport and Weston production:


Westport Rotary club’s weekly lunches are always illuminating.

For 39 local non-profits, yesterday’s was also lucrative.

In a ceremony at Green’s Farms Church, the civic group distributed grants to each one. Funds came from the more than $200,000 raised by ticket sales and from sponsors of September’s LobsterFest.

Giving Committee chair Peter Helt handed charitable checks to representatives of, among others (in alphabetical order): A Better Chance of Westport, Builders Beyond Borders, Carver Foundation of Norwalk, Domestic Violence Crisis Center, Mercy Learning Center, Norwalk Housing Foundation, Positive Directions, Remarkable Theater, Staples Tuition Grants, Westport Book Sales Ventures, Westport Country Playhouse, and Westport Volunteer EMS.

75 percent of LobsterFest proceeds go to local organizations; 25 percent to international organizations.

Rotarian Rick Benson described a few of those projects, including water sanitation efforts in Kenya and providing medical equipment to a hospital in Uganda.

Rotary Club members and grant recipients, at Green’s Farms Church.


Jeff Scher is a prolific filmmaker and animator.

The 1972 Staples High School graduate — now back in Westport, working in a Cross Highway studio a few steps from his house — has created everything from an HBO documentary about a Holocaust survivor, to holiday videos for Bob Dylan and Paul Simon, and a short film about summer and water.

He made the official video for Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s “Teach Your Children.”

Now he’s made another one for Graham Nash’s new album. It’s environmentally themed — and there’s a “no mower” section that’s very Westport.

Click below to see:


Wheels2UWestport’s Park Connect returns this summer. The service — funded by Connecticut’s Departments of Transportation, and Energy and Environmental Protection — provides free rides to and from anywhere in Westport and Sherwood Island State Park.

Similar free-ride programs are available at 6 other state parks.

Rides are available from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekends and holidays, beginning Memorial Day weekend and running through Labor Day.

Rides are available through the Wheels2U app Westporters use to and from the train station.

For more information about Wheels2U and Park Connect, click here. For more information about the Westport Transit District’s services for the elderly and people with disabilities, click here.

Sherwood Island — Westport’s “other” beach — is Connecticut’s first state park.


The Westport Woman’s Club and Congregation for Humanistic Judaism team up for an important event this Sunday (May 21; light breakfast, 9:30 a.m.; program, 10 a.m., 44 Imperial Avenue; click here for the livestream link with passcode 581845).

Dr. Deborah Varat, professor of art history at Southern New Hampshire University, presents “Arthur Szyk’s ‘The New Order’: How the Cartoons of a Polish Jew Helped Prepare the US for War.”

The cartoonist’s work helped Americans visualize and personalize the Nazi evil, against which they ultimately had to fight. Today his illustrations and impact on moving American public opinion toward readiness for war are commemorated in museums around the world. For more information on Szyk, click here.

Arthur Szyk’s “Freedom From Fear.”


Lime Rock Park celebrates the 37th anniversary of Paul Newman’s Trans-Am win with an exhibit of his racing estate on May 27, during the Trans Am Memorial Day Classic.

It includes helmets, racing suits and other memorabilia that former Westport resident Newman used during his storied career. Click here for tickets. (Hat tip: Frank Rosen)

Paul Newman at Lime Rock.


The Saugatuck Rowing Club was not around — not even a dream — when the Staples High School Class of 1983 graduated.

But that’s where their 40th reunion will be, on July 29 (6 to 10 p.m.).

Click here for tickets. Click here for the ’83 Facebook page.

Graduation Day, 1983.


This pond did not look particularly inviting — unless you’re a dog.

Mark Mathias captured today’s wet “Westport … Naturally” image at the Leonard Schine Preserve, off Weston Road.

(Photo/Mark Mathias)


And finally … happy 81st birthday to Taj Mahal.

The multi-talented musician (guitar, piano, banjo, harmonica and many other instruments) has incorporated Caribbean, African, Indian, Hawaiian and South Pacific sounds into his blues/rock/gospel/funk repertoire.

He has played all over the world — including, in 1971 and ’73, at Staples High School. He returned in 1974, to the Westport Country Playhouse.

(It’s a dog’s world, as the first story above explains. Don’t be a bitch. Help support “06880.” Please click here. Thank you!)

Roundup: Suzanne Sherman Propp, Post-High School Plans, Teens Work …

Suzanne Sherman Propp came to her current gig — a very popular Greens Farms Elementary School music teacher — after a long career as a performer. (She learned her craft growing up in Westport, and as a Staples High School student.)

Suzanne Sheridan is a longtime resident, and well-known musician too. She recently started the “First Folk Sunday” series at VFW Joseph J. Clinton Post 399.

People sometimes confuse the 2 Suzannes.

A week from tomorrow — May 7, 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. — Suzanne Sherman Propp headlines Suzanne Sheridan’s First Folk Sunday.

She’ll be joined by Bob Cooper. Her husband, Peter Propp, will bring his mandolin for a few tunes.

There’s brunch, and a cash bar (including mimosas and make-your-own Bloody Marys). The cover is $10; click here for tickets.

Suzanne Sherman Propp and Peter Propp.


Staples High School’s counseling department does a great job helping seniors get into college.

But they’re just as focused on supporting students considering paths other than traditional 4-year degrees.

“Finding Your Path: Exploring Post-High School Options” (May 9, 6:30 p.m., Westport Library) features representatives from the military, community college, vocational school, and gap and postgraduate programs.

Local graduates who pursued those paths will be there too, to talk about their experiences and answer quesitons.

Students of all ages, and their families, are invited.

2011 Staples graduate Asia Bravo joined the military — and was accepted into its new Space Force program. She is shown here with B. Chance Saltzman, director of space operations.


Middle and high school students looking to make money through outdoor yard work this spring and summer can join Westport’s Department of Human Services “We Do Walkways” program.

It’s a great way to connect teenagers with senior citizens. The suggested minimum is $15 an hour; chores are limited to outside.

Students must complete an enrollment form and receive parental permission to participate. Contact Westport’s Department of Human Services at 203-341-1050 or email humansrv@westportct.gov with questions.

Seniors can join the “We Do Walkway” list by calling Human Services at 203-341-1050 or emailing humansrv@westportct.gov.

Teenagers: lend a hand!


Author, author!

This Thursday (May 4, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.), the Westport Senior Center hosts a “Meet the Authors” event.

More than a dozen local authors will discuss their books, in an informal questions. They’ll sell and sign them too. Light refreshments will be served.

Scheduled to appear: Winston Allen, Jill Amadio, Ronald Blumenfeld, Prill Boyle, Elaine Breakstone, Don Harrison, Scott Kuhner, Deborah Levinson, Diane Lowman, Allia Zobel Nolan, Penny Pearlman, Mark Perlman, Deborah Quinn, Lynn Ellen Russo, Patricia Sabena, Sue Stewart, Elizabeth Thomas Jean Marie Wiesen.

Prill Boyle is among the many excellent authors at the Senior Center. (Photo/Suzanne Sheridan)


Harbor Watch needs a new boat.

The Earthplace-based organization — which for decades has monitored and restored local waterways — must get a new vessel, for research and education programs. It is imperative to maintain their biological and chemical data.

Tickets are on sale for their “Cocktails & Clams” fundraiser (June 10, 5 to 7 p.m.). The Copps Island Oysters location in Norwalk offers an unlimited and very fresh raw bar, hors d’oeuvres, an open bar, live jazz, silent auction — and spectacular views of Long Island Sound.

Tickets are $200 each; click here. Sponsorships are available too; click here. To donate for the new boat, click here.


Reminder: The launch party for “Pick of the Pics” — the “06880” book highlighting over 100 of our blog’s best Pics of the Day — is tomorrow (sunday, April 30, 2 to 4 p.m., Savvy + Grace, 146 Main Street).

Books will be available for purchase at a special price of $20 (regular Amazon price: $24.95).

I’ll sign copies; so will Lyah Muktavaram, my “06880” intern who did 99% of the work on it.

Photographers featured in the book can pick up a free book at the launch party too.

Can’t make it? Click here to order!


Speaking of books:

After a great run in Saugatuck, Fairfield County Story Lab is moving.

On Monday, the popular workplace for writers leaves its 21 Charles Street top-floor space for 95 Mill Plain Road, in the Fairfield Arts District.

They have to give up their prime Saugatuck spot for an equally great site a few miles east. They’ll still be near plenty of restaurants, right near a train station and I-95.

Fairfield County Story Lab offers a free work day for writers and creatives (and a free week for former members). Call 203-374-8343 for more details.


Yesterday’s weather was forgettable.

But one couple will always remember it.

They got married — in the wind and intermittent rain — by the Compo Beach cannons.

Congratulations to the new bridge and groom — whoever you are!

(Photo/Gara Morse)


The Westport Weston Family YMCA’s 100th anniversary celebration continues, with a yoga fundraiser May 11 (10 to 11 a.m.).

100 participants in a “Breath, Body & Balance” class at the Mahackeno Outdoor Center will be led by Greg Barringer.

There’s a $100 registration fee/donation per person. Funds go to the Y’s Financial Assistance Program, serving under-resourced families and those in need.

Participants get a high-quality 100-year anniversary yoga mat, and a flower from Blossom +Stem. Click here to register.


Members of the Y’s Men of Westport and Weston, and spouses, toured Stamford’s 400,000-square foot world headquarters of NBC Sports this week.

It was an eye-opening, behind-the-scenes look at all that goes into a telecast that most of us take for granted.

Tour guide Terri Leopold shows off the NBC Sports facility. (Photo/Dave Matlow)


Sorelle Gallery’s new exhibition, “Connected Layers,” features abstract artists Julia Contacessi and Teodora Guererra.

It opens Friday (May 5, 19 Church Lane), with a reception set for Saturday (May 6, 3 to 6 p.m.). Click here for more information.

Julia Contacessi


Westporters know Ed Gerber for his preservation work around town.

He’s also a trustee of Historic New England. In that role, he’s sponsoring a “Connecticut Preservation at Work” speaker series.

The free event kicks off June 2 (2 p.m., Metro Art Studios, 345 Railroad Avenue, Bridgeport) with speeches by the co-owners and developers of historic Crown Corset Factory, Bridgeport’s director of business development and more. For more information, click here.

Ed Gerber


It will rain all day today. And tomorrow.

So here’s a “Westport … Naturally” photo — taken a couple of days ago — to remind us all that the weather here has been pretty good this spring.

And remember: April showers bring May flowers.

The calendar guarantees that April showers end tomorrow night.

(Photo/Claudia Sherwood Servidio)


And finally … April 29 is Eeyore’s birthday. He’s 40 today — and every day.

What a life!

(Our “06880” Roundup tells you what’s going on in Westport — today, and every day. Please click here to support our work. Thank you!)

Roundup: Sue Pfister, Teen Diversity, Wakeman Trash …

As trees come down along the Post Road, a new one will grow at the Senior Center.

Tomorrow (8:30 a.m.), a ceremony on the front lawn will honor Sue Pfister. The longtime director — and 35-year employee of Westport’s Department of Human Services — retired on December 31.

She oversaw construction of the existing building in 2004, and an expansion 12 years later.

This is not the first time Pfister will be feted. Sue’s Café — where weekday meals are served, and other festivities take place — is a key part of the Senior Center.

Sue Pfister


Three finalists have been announced for the 10th annual TEAM Westport’s Teen Diversity Essay Contest.

Tyler Darden (a Staples High School senior), Annie Dizon (Greens Farms Academy senior) and Savvy Dreas (GFA) will vie for the first prize of $1,000. Runners-up will receive $750 and $500, respectively.

The winner will be announced Tuesday (April 18, 6 p.m., Westport Library).

The contest is open to any students in grades 9-12 attending a school in Westport, or those who live in Westport and go to school elsewhere.

The prompt this year was: “The Dialogue Challenge: Effective Engagement on Race, Ethnicity, Religion and LGBTQIA+.” In 1,000 words or less, students were asked to “reflect on your own interactions with people who have different racial, ethnic, religious, and/or LGBTQIA+ identities and/or perspectives. What kinds of conversations were particularly helpful in prompting you to rethink your beliefs or opinions, perhaps causing you to change your mind or enabling you to better understand others’ points of view? Based on these experiences, what specific actions would you suggest that individuals, schools, and/or town entities in Westport take to promote good-faith dialogue, reduce bias, and foster understanding?”


Sustainable Westport celebrates Earth Day (Saturday, April 22, 8 to 11 a.m.) with a clean-up program at Wakeman Fields. It’s part of a town-wide program, sponsored by the Parks & Recreation Department.

Bags will be provided. Children are welcome.

And — as anyone who has been to Wakeman knows — there is plenty of trash to be picked up.

The Wakeman athletic field. You can’t see the garbage left by kids — and their parents — from here.


The Westport Rotary Club has been named the Most Outstanding Large Club (over 34 members) in District 7980.

The Charles W. Pettengill Award will be presented at the club’s Tuesday (April 18) meeting. Selectwomen Jen Tooker and Andrea Moore will honor Westport Rotary for their accomplishments in Fairfield County, and to Rotary worldwide.


Marianna (“Mollie) Oliver died recently, after a long illness. She was 98 years old.

A Westport resident for over 70 years, she worked as a translator, writer and editor for the United Nations and other international governmental organizations (IGOs) her entire professional life, until retiring in her 80s.

A native of Burnley in northwest England, she graduated with top honors (a “First”) in modern languages from Somerville College, Oxford in 1945.

She and Thomas Wood Oliver married in 1947. They moved to the US that year to work for the newly founded United Nations, first in Lake Success, Long Island and then in Manhattan following completion of UN headquarters.

Mollie worked full time as a translator of French and Spanish and later as an editor until some time after the birth of her 2 children in the early 1950s.

For the next 5 decades she was in much demand by the UN and other IGOs, including the UN’s Economic and Social Council, the Pan American Health Organization, and International Atomic Energy Agency, as both a translator and precis writer.

Mollie did these many jobs part-time, dividing the rest of her time between the family’s townhouse on the southern coast of Portugal, and the family home in Westport.

She became a member of the Westport Weston Community Theater soon after its founding in the 1950s. Over the next 6 decades she had many leading and supporting roles, including the early “The Lady’s Not for Burning.” Her final role was at the age of 90, in Agatha Christie’s “The Unexpected Guest.”

Mollie read avidly and widely, and was a keen gardener and birdwatcher, but first and foremost, her family says, “she was a loving wife, mother, and friend.”

She was predeceased by her husband of 48 years, Thomas Wood Oliver, in 1995, She is survived by her son Thomas Oliver of Westport and daughter Griselda Ann Oliver of Rockwall, Texas.


For generations, the Compo Beach jetties have attracted all ages, for all kinds of activities.

Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo shows 2 things to do there.

(Photo/DInkin Fotografix)


And finally … in honor of the kid in the photo above:

 (“06880” is always fishin’ for funds. If you’d like to support your hyper-local blog, please click here. Thank you!)


Senior Center Names New Director

There will never be another Sue Pfister.

But now there’s a Wendy Petty.

The Fairfield resident — and, for the past 11 years, Weston Senior Activities Center director — was announced today as the new director of the Westport Center for Senior Activities.

Pfister — who led Westport’s Senior Center for 36 years — retired December 31.

Wendy Petty

Petty led Weston’s Senior Center expansion through fundraising, capacity-building and advocacy. She established partnerships with local organizations, volunteer networks, colleagues and social services agencies, to develop innovative social and recreational opportunities for seniors.

Originally from Southern California, Petty and her husband Jim raised their children in Weston. She has a BA in counseling and human Services from Notre Dame de Namur University.

In addition to her specialty in senior services, Petty has experience in non-profit operations, team leadership, grant and program development, and budget administration.

“I am very happy to welcome Wendy to Westport’s Center for Senior Activities,” says 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker. “She brings professional expertise, operational management and local knowledge to the Human Services team and, most importantly, to the WCSA.”

Petty says, “I am very excited to join WCSA’s team and look forward to building on their success as an exemplary hub for local seniors. Together, we will continue to provide the best possible care and service to the senior community.”

In her free time Petty enjoys running, taking long walks with friends, and spending time with family. She and her husband are active in the local car enthusiast community, and enjoy weekend rallies on the back roads of Connecticut.

Westport Senior Center

“The Senior Center’s success can be attributed to a variety of factors, including a Town administration that prioritizes seniors, participants who both contribute and drive programming, and our professional staff members who facilitate connections and run the programs day in and day out,” says Human Services Department director Elaine Daignault, which oversees the Senior Center.

“Under Sue Pfister’s leadership, the WCSA’s dedicated team helped to build the center of Westport’s dreams.

“Today, we prepare for a new era of growth and prosperity for our most esteemed senior residents. I could not be more excited to welcome Wendy to the team.”

In addition to Petty’s appointment — effective February 1, 2023 — Tooker promoted Holly Betts to assistant director of the Senior Center, and Jason Wilson to program specialist, effective immediately.

Senior Center Feeds The Souls

Some older Westporters can’t shop or cook for themselves.

Some can, but want companionship for their meals.

Other residents are happy to help.

Quietly — but quite efficiently — Westport’s Senior Center meals program provides tasty, nutritious food.

In a wide variety of ways.

Paulina Przybysz’s is “nutrition program coordinator.” That dry title does not convey the spiciness and zest of the work she oversees.

Paulina Przybysz, with nutritious food in the Senior Center kitchen.

The first of the 3 prongs is home-delivered meals. Available to homebound residents 60 and older, the program allows them to live at home.

A cold lunch or hot dinner — or both — is delivered Monday through Friday (with extras for weekends and holidays), between 10 a.m. and noon.

There are options for hot and cold meals; special or therapeutic diets (for example, diabetic, bland, chopped or puréed), and requests like no pork or beef.

Eighteen volunteers — all vetted — handle deliveries (3 to 6 are needed each day). A typical route takes about 45 minutes, with 5 to 8 stops.

Drivers use their own vehicles, and pay for their own gas. (Some towns with similar programs have to hire drivers.)

If a recipient is not home, the driver calls Paulina. She follows up, to make sure the resident is okay.

The biggest challenge is when bad weather makes deliveries impossible. Seniors are urged to have canned goods on hand for those emergencies. (If the weather eases, drivers may head out later in the day.)

The program is federally funded. There is no cost to anyone covered by The Title III Older Americans Act.

Seniors with more mobility enjoy congregate lunches at the Center. Served weekdays at noon in large, bright Sue’s Café — named for longtime, recently retired Senior Center director Sue Pfister — this is a chance to socialize over a meal.

Creative Catering of Norwalk prepares both the congregate and home delivered meals. Chef Luis is “very accommodating,” Paulina says. 

Chef Luis, at work.

He arrives at 9:30 a.m. to prepare fresh food in the Senior Center kitchen. Congregate meals include soup, an entrée and dessert, all prepared under federal nutrition guidelines. (There’s an option to order a chef ‘s salad or cheese omelet too.)

The usual crowd is about 30, though Thursday bingo and special events like a Hanukkah lunch draw more. Just before Christmas, an elementary school chorus sang.

In the works: A Valentine’s Day “heart healthy” meal.

The congregate lunch program is also federally funded. There is no cost, though a donation of $5 to $7 per meal is suggested.

Paulina Przybysz serves lunch at Sue’s Cafe.

The third program is called “Hello Neighbor.” Begun during the pandemic, when seniors felt particularly isolated, it connects people who need help shopping (or a friendly phone call) with Westporters who can provide either (or both).

Participants are matched by interests — gardening, say, or reading.

“Every day is different,” Paulina says of her 3 programs. “But the seniors are so appreciative of everything.”

Dig in!

For more information on the Senior Center meals programs — including how to participate or volunteer — contact Paulina by email (pprzybysz@westportct.gov) or phone (203-341-5097).

(From senior citizens to seniors in high school — and every other age group — “06880” covers Westport. Please click here to support our work. Thank you!)

We Give Thanks For …

What are you thankful for?

That’s the question I posed last week.

Plenty of “06880” readers responded. Family, friends, community, health — the emails poured in.

When we all sit down tomorrow for Thanksgiving dinner, we’ll give thanks for many things. Among them:

The minute the moving truck left us on our first day in Westport in 1999, our friends Dee and Herb Appleman took us to the Library. I felt instantly at home, and have been devoted to it ever since. My sense of belonging grew as I met people through WestportREADS, guest lectures, hands-on workshops, art openings, concerts, contests, student performances, and PJ Story Time. (Do they still do this? My daughter is now 25!) My heartfelt thanks to all the staff, volunteers and fellow devoted patrons of the Westport Library. (Kerstin Rao)

(Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

  I am thankful for another year that has seen our efforts to Save Old Saugatuck — a neighborhood of homes and history — from destruction at the hands of an uncaring developer. We’re a community, not a commodity. (Carolanne Curry)

I am thankful to have a home in Westport, even if only part time. It is about the place, but more about the people, plus a focus on all the arts, the shoreline, the physical beauty, the diverse intellects and energies. (Rosalie J. Wolf)

The family of teen non-speaker Wynston Browne’s epiphany that he is not intellectually disable, but a fully verbal “speller,” gifted, and readying to contribute to the world. (David Browne)

I am so thankful for the Westport Senior Center. They offer many classes and lectures that keep our senior minds active and social. With the Senior Center, old age would become boring and depressing. (Scott Kuhner)

Closed today.

 Grateful to still have the love of my life after her aorta spontaneously “dissected” last February (and the surgeon who saved her!). This is the still largely unacknowledged connective tissue disorder that stole John Ritter and Jonathan Larson. ERs must learn to more quickly detect this hidden killer that masks as a “non”-heart attack. (Anonymous)

I’m thankful my sisters and mom live in Westport, so I can visit often. (Laura Lehman)

I am thankful to be able to honor the Osage Nation land that I am privileged to live on. I honor the Osages who died while trying to live on this land in Oklahoma, and other parts of this area. I have gratitude for the growin powers of rich soil, rain and sunshine, and for farmers and thosoe who work in the food chain to bring the food that we eat. I honor the indigenous peoples whose lives we have shattered so that we white folks can celebrate “Thanksgiving.” The Native Americans call it “thanks taking.” (Lucy Weberling, Staples High School Class of 1961)

I’m thankful to h

Our family is so grateful to the teachers who have taught our children over the years!  All the way from the first preschool teacher (who taught us parents as well as our child) to the teachers at Staples who have taught them subjects we parents could never teach them.  We are deeply indebted to every one of them — the incredibly inspiring music and art teachers, Science Olympiad coach, paraprofessionals who added so much friendliness to the days, school psychologists, incredibly patient custodians who helped countless times to look for lost items, principals who learned everyone’s name, librarians, cafeteria workers, nurses, secretaries who looked after the children and us parents and made such significant differences so many times over.  There are so many people who worked way harder than their job description required and were so generous with their time, caring, empathy in addition to their commitment to impart knowledge and love of learning. (Anonymous)

The late head custodian Horace Lewis was just one of the many Westport Public Schools employees who earned our profound thanks.

ave grown up in Westport in the 1950s and ’60s. I am thankful I went to Berkeley in 1967. I’m thankful I had the chance to travel around the world a bit. I’m thankful for all the friends I have made and kept. (“With lovers and friends I still can recall/Some are dead and some are living/In my life I’ve loved them all.”) I’m even thankful for the grief. I am thankful I met my husband 44 years ago, and that we now live here in Westport. It turns out for me, you can go home again. (Ellen Naftalin)  

While having my family healthy, happy and in town for the holiday is always my most joyous celebration, this particular season I am proud the concerted efforts to extinguish our democracy by a minority group of fascists has been wholeheartedly rejected by my fellow Americans. The voters of this nation have restored my faith in our ability to self govern. I am proud to witness the endurance of democracy. The 4th of July 2023 holiday should touch everyone’s heart a little more than usual. It will for me, and for this I am also thankful. (Joseph Vallone)

From poet S. J. Miller: “Autumn leaves falling/Winding their way down/Like the first foliage of the first fall/Praise for the colors/Praise with elation/God’s recreation/Eden recalled.” I’m so grateful for the rhythm of life: Divine order. For the diversity we experience in our daily lives and the faith that carries us through. One truth, many paths. (Susan Joy)

The coaches of the Police Athletic League football program, along with the Staples varsity team, having the best year in ages. Big game on Thanksgiving! (Adam Vengrow)

I am thankful for life. I nearly died in 2020. My surgeon told me a year later that he gave me a 1% chance of survival. He told my sister and brothers “She will die.” I had sepsis, and my entire system was crashing. I was intubated, on a feeding tube and God knows what else. I was out of it for 2 months. One of my brothers urged my twin sister to “pull the plug.” The doctors dubbed me the “Miracle at Meriden.” I will spend Thanksgiving by myself, but that’s okay. I usually decorate for Christmas on Thanksgiving, which gives me something useful to do. (Barbara Sherburne)

I’m thankful for today. I’m thankful for family, friends, health and home. I’m thankful I’m an American. (Claudia Jensen)

Old friends — and there is double meaning to that. Friendships that go back more than half a century are indeed special. I am also thankful to have spent the second part of my childhood and a significant part of my adult life in a place with so much beauty, along with such wonderful local resources and history. And I am thankful to have had so many wonderful and special teachers and coaches, like Jack Finn at Coleytown Junior High School, who gave a late bloomer like me a chance to blossom and pursue my passion. (Fred Cantor) 

The 1966 Coleytown Junior High School soccer team. Fred Cantor is in the 2nd row, 2nd from left (white shirt); coach Jack Finn is in back.

I’m thinking a lot about how good my life is. A childhood friend just died of a brain tumor. I think about how random it is to get sick, and die. No guarantee for longevity. I have my health, my family, many activities that I enjoy, a satisfying volunteer life. I can’t think of anything that I need or want. I try to help those less fortunate. So my Thanksgiving is a day to reflect, and be grateful for all the blessings in my life (Jalna Jaeger)

For many years I walked most mornings with a close friend, at Old Mill Beach. I’m grateful for all my years in Westport, for the many friends I made, and for the wonderful school system and great teachers. About 3 years ago I was struck with a lung illness that changed my life in a flash. I’m now on oxygen 24/7, and spend most of my time at home. I’m grateful my condo has no steps, and that I have a nice-sized patio. I’m grateful I can have outdoor visitors 8 months a year. Some friends even visit in the winter. I’m grateful for my 2 air purifiers with HIPA filters. I went through a period of denial (believing I would get better), mourning, and am now working on acceptance. I miss traveling home to see childhood friends. I am so grateful that friends and neighbors still stop by to visit. I’m grateful to my part-time helpers, and all the delicious healthy food I can order from The Pantry. Also on my gratitude list are my reflexologist and Pilates/gyrotonic teacher. who come to my home to work with me. (Anonymous)

Our family, including our puppy, our friends, those passed and present, and for my ability to think critically, learned in part at Staples High School. (Charlie Taylor)

I’m thankful for my family, for the new friends I have made this year and the old friends I still have around me. I am thankful for the new generation that has come to Westport to keep us going in the right direction. (Bobbi Essagof)

I’m grateful for the feeling of gratitude itself. It helps me my life in perspective, and to be caring and empathetic to the world around me. (Rindy Higgins)

I am so grateful to have discovered Westport. After having experienced a full life, living in many places in the world, I have settled in a place where I am surrounded by civic-minded, passionate people — farms and farmers’ markets, great dining, and all surrounded by water, with which I have a deep spiritual connection. Thank you Westport, for the many comforting things you offer. (Claudia Sherwood Servidio)

(Photo/Claudia Sherwood Servidio)

I am profoundly and enduringly grateful to the friend (who we now consider family) whose generosity of spirit motivated him to save my husband Robert’s life by donating his kidney. Robert and I fell in love as teenagers, and just celebrated our 44th wedding anniversary. Now we will be able to live, love and grow old together thanks to a living donor who unexpectedly stepped forward without even being asked. Whatever brought us together when he happened to see me crying is a miracle. Forever we will be thankful for this act of kindness, compassion and sacrifice. (Robin Frank)