Tag Archives: Westport Senior Center

Roundup: Old Mill Parking; GFA; Senior Center; More


Starting today, the Old Mill Beach parking lot is fully re-opened.

That means a reversion to previous rules: Parking is available for vehicles with beach emblems or hang tags, on a space available basis.

As in the past, Parks and Recreation Department staff will strictly enforce all parking regulations.


Greens Farms Academy has announced plans for in-person, on-campus instruction, 5 days a week, beginning September 1.

The private school on Beachside Avenue has spent the summer making numerous preparations — everything from changing physical spaces and furniture, to mandating one-way building pathways, to delivering lunch to assigned spaces.

One more change; There will be no formal uniform at GFA this year.

Meanwhile,  the fall sports season will look different this year. The Fairchester Athletic Association has canceled all regular season games and tournaments. The league cited “differing return-to- school plans and academic models” for its member schools, in light of COVID-19, as the reason.

However, GFA says, the league’s announcement does not preclude the school from scheduling interscholastic opportunities between and among like schools, if able.


The Senior Center is sponsoring 3 interesting events this month.

Next Thursday, August 6 (10 a.m., Zoom meeting), a Westport Weston Health District panel will discuss COVID-19 in Connecticut. Viewers can ask questions too. Click here for the link.

A Caregiver Support Group meets on Wednesdays (August 5 and 19, September 2 and 16, 10 a.m.). Positive Directons’ Terry Giegengack will facilitate the sessions. For more information, call Holly Betts (203-341-5096) or email hbetts@westportct.gov.

Friends of the Westport Center for Senior Activities hosts a free summer concert series in August and September. The stars are local musicians. First up (August 14, 1:30 p.m.): pianist Mathew Graybil, who has played around the world. He’ll feature works by Chopin, Schubert and Brahms. Click here for the Zoom link.

The Senior Center is closed. But programs continue.


At Staples High School, 2004 alum Charlie Stoebe was a soccer and track star (and captain). He graduated from Dartmouth College, and is now working with NBC Sports.

Charlie is multi-talented. In his spare COVID-related time, he created a new party game.

“What Was the Question?” tests how well you know your friends and family. But unlike most getting-to-know-you games, it starts not with a question, but an answer. Players must figure out the question. After each reveal there are fun discussions on the answer the player gave, and the predictions everyone else made.

“What Was the Question?” is now in Kickstarter mode. To help get it to market — and help out a really great Staples grad — click here.


And finally … Danish pianist Bent Fabricius-Bjerre died yesterday at 95. You may know him as Bent Fabric. Or maybe you just know his most famous song:

Unsung Hero #145

Alert — and grateful — “06880” reader Bob Weingarten writes:

Although the entire staff at the Senior Center should be recognized for their support during the pandemic, I would like to recognize one individual who has assisted many of us seniors on how to participate in the new online Senior Center programs. While doing that, he has also called seniors just to chat and ask about our health.

When COVID-19 struck, the Senior Center made over 30 programs available online. They range from yoga, tai chi, qigong and exercise classes to French language, current events, religion class and studio art.

To take an online class a participant needs a computer, email address and internet access. But having those resources means nothing, unless you know how to use them.

Jason Wilson, in a Zoom meeting.

Jason joined the Center full time last July, as assistant program manager. He has made it his mission to help seniors — and instructors — learn new technology skills.

When I had a problem accessing Zoom for one of my wife’s classes, Jason helped. He remained online to make sure no one else had any problems.

We should all be thankful to the entire staff at the Senior Center, including director Susan Pfister  and program manager Holly Betts. The doors may be closed, by Jason is helpful — and the staff provides phone coverage Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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

Senior Center Offers Online Classes

When the Senior Center closed earlier this month, the impact was felt by hundreds of Westporters.

But Senior Center staffers are as resourceful and resilient as the men and women who flocked there every day.

Over 30 programs are available — online, via Zoom — for the spring quarter. The list includes yoga, tai chi, qigong, essentrics, low and high impact exercise classes, French language, current events, religion and studio art.

Spring classes begin this Wednesday (April 1).  Scroll down for the complete list of offerings. (It’s formatted poorly — but that’s the best I could do. Sorry!)

All that’s needed to take an online class is a computer, email address and access to the internet. To register, seniors (age 60 and over) should call 203-341-5099 weekdays, between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. (That’s the number for questions too.)

The Senior Center is closed. But classes are offered online.

A few writing classes have already begun online. Participants were thrilled to see their classmates — and begin writing again.

In addition, the Senior Center created a YouTube channel, with links to free videos in a variety of subjects.

They’ll post a weekly documentary film on the channel, along with some of their free classes.

The most popular — the aerobic chair class — is on it too.

Click here for the link YouTube channel. After opening the page, you can subscribe to the YouTube channel by clicking the red button on the upper right.

Senior Center director Sue Pfister adds this message:

My staff and I are doing our best to keep seniors mentally and spiritually stimulated, physically challenged and engaged during these unprecedented times.

I’m so impressed with everyone’s willingness to jump on board virtually, and make the best out of this otherwise frightening time. I know if we continue to be creative, flexible and open-minded we will get through this and come out wiser, stronger, more compassionate and more appreciative of our community.

Stay home, stay safe.  I miss you all terribly.

Bringing the Outdoors In Thurs. 1:00 pm. Chris Goldbach 4/2-6/25 $48
Still Life Thurs. 4:00 pm. Chris Goldbach 4/2-6/25 $48
Drawing Flowers Fri. 10:00 am. Dick Rauh 5/22-6/26 $24
Blending Pastels Fri. 10:00 am. Lisa Arnold 4/3-5/15 $28
Advanced Drawing & Watercolor Tues. 10:00 am. Tom Scippa 4/7-6/30 $52
Current Events Fri. 12:45 pm. Lila Wells 4/3-5/22 free
Book Talk: Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths about Science and Religion Mon 10:30 am. Part 1 Linda Bruce 4/6-5/11 $24
Book Talk: Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths about Science and Religion Mon 10:30 am. Part 2 Linda Bruce 5/18-6/15 $24
Writers Workshop Tues 9:30  FULL Jan Bassin 4/7-6/30 $96
Writers Workshop Tues 1:30  FULL Jan Bassin 4/7-6/30 $96
Writers Workshop Wed. 10:30 am. FULL Jan Bassin 4/1-6/24 $96
Writers Workshop Thurs 9:30 am. FULL Jan Bassin 4/2-6/25 $96
Writers Workshop Thurs 1:30 pm. Jan Bassin 4/2-6/25 $96
Learn to Play the Ukulele Tues. 1:00 pm. Uncle Zac 4/7-6/30 $52
Intermediate French Wed. 1:00 pm. Nell Mednick 4/1-6/24 $52
Conversational French Wed. 10:30 am. Nell Mednick 4/1-6/24 $52
Essentrics Mon. 11:00 am. Dyan DeCastro 4/6-6/29 $48
Zumba Gold Wed. 10:30 am. Karen Liss 4/1-6/24 $52
Tai Chi Beginner’s Wed. 10:00 am. Mari Lewis 4/1-6/24 $52
Tai Chi Reinforcement Mon. 10:45 am. Mari Lewis 4/6-6/29 $48

 

Guided Qigong Mon. 2:10 pm Deby Goldenberg 4/6-6/29 $48
Cardio Strength Fri. 9:30 am. Shelley Moll 4/3-6/26 $52
Weights in Motion Mon. 9:30 am. Shelley Moll 4/6-6/29 $48
Dance & Stretch Tues. 1:00 PM. Sandy Adamcyzk 4/7-6/30 $48
Dance & Stretch Wed. 1:00 PM. Sandy Adamcyzk 4/1-6/24 $48
Strength Training Mon. 1:00 pm Sandy Adamcyzk 4/6-6/22 $36
Strength Training Fri. 10:00 am Sandy Adamcyzk 4/3-6/26 $44
Yoga Total Health Mon. 8:45 am. Denise O’Hearn 4/6-6/29 $48
Yoga Total Health Wed. 8:45 am. Denise O’Hearn 4/1-6/24 $52
Yoga Total Health Fri. 8:45 am. Denise O’Hearn 4/3-6/26 $52
Yoga/Core Strength Sat. 10:00 am. Maria Vailakis-Wippick 4/4-6/27 $52
Yoga Gentle Sat 11:15 am Maria Vailakis-Wippick 4/4-6/27 $52
Yoga Beginning Thurs. 3:00 pm. Maria Vailakis-Wippick 4/2-6/25 $52
Yoga Wellbeing Tues 7:45 am. Paula Schooler 4/7-6/30 $52
Yoga for Wellness Sat 8:45 am. Paula Schooler 4/4-6/27 $52
Yoga for Brain Longevity Thurs. Noon Paula Schooler 4/2-6/25 $52
Therapeutic Yoga Thurs. 7:45 am. Paula Schooler 4/2-6/25 $52

Unsung Hero #118

Little things mean a lot.

For many years, Gerry Cataldo has worked at the Senior Center. His is a thankless — and often unnoticed — job.

Gerry sets up each room for meetings, educational programs, games, lunches, exercise activities and more.

When he’s not moving partitions, tables, chairs, and sports equipment, he’s cleaning halls and restrooms. When he’s not doing that, he’s helping any way else he can.

Gerry Cataldo makes sure that everyone at the Senior Center has a ball. Or two.

Every day — Monday through Saturday — 30 to 50 different events take place at the Senior Center. Gerry makes sure that each one is ready to go.

When it’s done, he makes sure the next one follows smoothly.

Senior Center regulars and staff know they could not function without him. Gerry Cataldo is truly an Unsung Hero!

(Hat tip: Bob Weingarten. To nominate an Unsung Hero, email dwoog@optonline.net)

Wise Words At The Farmers’ Market

It’s a scene familiar everywhere in America.

A group of retirees gathers every morning. They sit in the same seats. Over a single cup of coffee, they chew over all the problems of the world.

A group in Salt Lake City realized that all their wisdom, all that advice, went to waste. No one listened to them.

So one Saturday, they headed to the local farmer’s market. They hung a sign — “Old Coots Giving Advice” — pretty much as a joke.

To their amazement — and despite the disclaimer “It’s pretty bad advice,  but it’s free” — people wanted to listen.

Old Coots at a Salt Lake City farmers’ market.

Sarah Gross saw a CBS News story about the group. Suddenly, a light bulb went off over the longtime caterer’s head: There are plenty of older Westporters, with lifetimes of experience and a wealth of advice.

And we’ve got a Farmers’ Market.

Which is why this coming Thursday (September 19), a group from the Senior Center heads a few yards south on Imperial Avenue. There — under a table, tent and chairs — the writing group led by Senior Center coordinator of writing programs Jan Bassin will offer advice to anyone who wants it.

The official topic is “what we would have said to our 25-year-old selves.”

But feel free to ask about anything else, from turnips to Trump.

Just don’t call them Old Coots.

They’ve taken the name Westport’s Wise Words.

Respect.

A couple of old coots at an early Westport Farmers’ Market.

FUN FACT: Robert Penn Warren rocked Sarah Gross in her crib, and Ralph Ellison held her in his arms when she was an infant in Westport. Her extended family was made up of  authors and artists and the like — and her father was a book editor and literary agent until his death a few years ago.

Unsung Hero #111

Ruth Sherman walks the walk.

Literally.

Every day for 50 years — in all kinds of weather* — Ruth has walked from Hillspoint Road to the top of Compo Hill.

She recently returned from Spain, where she completed the 100-mile El Camino spiritual trek.

For the 79-year-old longtime Westporter, it was no big deal.

Ruth Sherman

Yet Ruth’s walks are only part of her daily routine. Since the 1960s, she’s taught exercise and fitness at the Westport Weston Family Y. Right now she’s with the Arthritis Foundation Family aquatic program.

When the Senior Center opened, she began teaching there too.

Many class members are younger — often much younger — than Ruth. But they struggle to keep pace.

When she’s not walking or leading classes, Ruth bikes. Of course, her rides are for good causes.

Since last century, she’s raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, in the Pan-Mass Challenge. She was not always alone: Sometimes she was joined by her husband Larry, 4 children, in-laws and friends. Her group was called Ruthie’s Riding Rascals.

You’ve probably seen Ruth Sherman around town. The next time you see her, say hello — and congratulate her for being this week’s Unsung Hero.

But you’ll have to be in pretty good shape to catch up.

*And in Westport, you know what that means.

(Hat tip: Richard Fogel)

Exciting New Project Is “Write Here” In Westport

The Westport Library attracts plenty of writers.

And not just in the stacks, or for book talks.

It’s a wonderful place for anyone — published author, budding writer, wannabe — of any age to sit and create.

Choose your spot: the big tables in the Forum, one of the smaller community rooms, a bench on the Riverwalk.

There are other places in Westport to write, of course. The Senior Center and Westport Writers’ Workshop offer classes. The Saugatuck Story Lab is a welcoming space too.

Jan Bassin.

But Jan Bassin believes our town pulses with places that can inspire words. To jump-start those muses, she’s teamed up with the library to offer a month-long community writing project.

Every day during August, Bassin — Senior Center coordinator of writing programs, and the library’s Maker-in-Residence — will host an hour-long write-in.

Every day, it will be at a different spot.

The Playhouse. Compo Beach. The Farmers’ Market. The boardwalk at National Hall. Longshore. The train station.

You name it — if it’s in Westport you’ll find Bassin, and writers of every age and ability, all month long.

Each “Write Here” (get it?) session begins with a brief introduction from a representative of that location. Bassin will provide a prompt. Writers will then free-write: prose, poetry, first-person, creative, whatever. At the end, anyone who wants to can share their creations.

“The act of writing connects us to ourselves and our community,” Bassin says. “When you write somewhere, you feel connected to that spot.”

One example: At Wakeman Town Farm, the prompt might spur one person to write about her memories of growing up on a farm. Someone else might react to the sights and smells of WTF itself. A third person might be inspired to create a poem about animals.

Scenes like this could inspire some great writing.

The project kicks off this Thursday (August 1, 12 noon, Westport Library). I’ve been known to write a few stories about “06880,” so I’ll join Jan Bassin to talk briefly about writing in Westport.

Then we’ll turn it over to you all, for your own words.

Every “Write Here” session is free. You can come to as many or as few as you want. You can read your writing aloud, or keep it private.

“Write Here” will evolve, Bassin expects. She may create a website for writers who want their words to live on (by name, or anonymously).

You might even be inspired to submit a “Write Here” story to “06880.”

You know: this blog, right here.

(For more information about “Write Here: Westport,” click here.)

Baron’s South Fill: The Sequel

On Monday, “06880” posted a story about Baron’s South. Reader Morley Boyd had written — and sent photos — describing construction material from the recent Senior Center modernization project that had been dumped in the southwest meadow. He said that demolition debris was mixed with the fill; that there was evidence of soil erosion, and that mature trees had been removed from the site.

Yesterday, another concerned reader sent an update. This reader noted that the Baron — Walter Langer von Langendorff of Austria, who founded Evyan Perfumes in the 1930s, bought the estate in 1967, and lived there until his death in 1983 — had planted and nurtured diverse species of trees on his 32-acre wooded, hilly property, between Compo Road South and Imperial Avenue.

Among the “legacy trees’ was a Hinoki False Cypress. It grew robustly and beautifully in a protected valley.

It was judged the state’s #1 Golden Hinoki False Cypress, on a list of Notable Trees compiled by the Connecticut College Arboretum. It was not located where the construction occurred.

Tree warden Bruce Lindsay and Planning & Zoning Commission member Al Gratrix went to great lengths to ensure that the tree — which had been designated for relocation — would be given special attention by the contractor, so it could thrive.

The Hinoki was replanted at the crest of a hill, bordering the Fairfield County Bank parking lot. The “06880” reader who visited yesterday reports that the tree is brown, dry and dead.

After replanting, the Golden Hinoki False Cyprus appears dead. This photo was taken yesterday.

Not far away, the reader says, there is plenty of construction debris in the fill.

The runoff appears headed toward Deadman’s Brook, and the Saugatuck River.

Baron’s South: Town Officials Reply

Yesterday, “06880” posted reader Morley Boyd’s comments about Baron’s South. He said that construction material from the recent Senior Center modernization project had been dumped in a nearby meadow. He was concerned about debris in the fill, soil erosion, and the removal of trees.

Morley wondered why the material was placed there, whether it has been tested, when it will be removed, and where it will go.

Today, 2 town officials responded.

Jen Fava — director of Parks & Recreation — says:

Mr. Boyd’s characterization of an “illegal dump site” including a “host” of objects is greatly exaggerated, misleading and a misrepresentation of the actual conditions.

The decision was made by the Center for Senior Activities Building Committee to store the fill on site temporarily for use in other projects within the town and/or on the Barons South property.

A closeup of the rear of the dumped fill on Baron’s South. (Phots/Morley Boyd)

This fill was taken from on site in order to accommodate the Senior Center expansion. The fill, as taken from its original location, contains rocks and soil, as would be expected, but it is all from the Baron’s South property.

Mr. Boyd’s description also made it sound as though truckloads of debris have been dumped.  This is simply not the case.  There are a few pieces of metal and other debris, but not in quantity, as implied by the description.  The items in question are being removed.

With regard to the “mature trees” that were removed, this was done in consultation with the tree warden. Only a few trees were removed, which were not in the best condition and were identified to be taken down as part of the future plan for this site.

Alicia Mozian, Department of Conservation director, adds:

I inspected the site last night. It is fully stabilized and the erosion controls are in very good shape. I saw no evidence of silt/sediment on the driveways leading down toward the waterways.

Filling In An Earth Day Puzzle

Happy Earth Day (again)!

My post today earlier today about living shorelines” may have made you feel all warm and earth-fuzzy. You might even be motivated to take a walk at some open space in town.

Great! Just avoid part of Baron’s South.

Alert “06880” reader/local activist Morley Boyd recently noticed that 1,000 or so yards of construction material — from the recent Senior Center modernization project — have been dumped in the southwest meadow.

Morley Boyd took this photo — and outlined the approximate footprint of the excavated fill at Baron’s South.

It includes, he says, both fill and demolition debris: rusty pipes, sharp metal objects, chunks of concrete and asphalt, plastic garbage bags, shattered plastic containers, rubber tires, bricks and more.

Morley says that trapped, standing water at the rear of the dump area abuts residential property. He sees “considerable evidence” of soil erosion across the top section of raw, unprotected construction rubble and fill.

Debris in the Baron’s South landfill. The Senior Center is on the right. (Photos/Morley Boyd)

He also believes that a number of mature trees were removed from the site, to accommodate what he says is a grade raised by 5 or 6 feet.

 

Morley wonders why the material was placed there, whether it has been tested, when it will be removed, and where it will go. He has written to town officials, and awaits a response.