Tag Archives: Westport Sunrise Rotary Club

Pic Of The Day #775

A few of the many ducks preparing for today’s Sunrise Rotary Club Great Race. Did yours win? (Photo/Dan Woog)

Westport’s Goal: A World Record Duck

Each spring, a giant inflatable duck floats in the Saugatuck River. It’s a fun, funny promotion for the Sunrise Rotary Club’s Great Duck Race.

This spring, he gets a companion.

On April 27, the 8th annual Maker Faire features a Great Duck Project. Attendees will try to set a world record for the largest 3D printed duck.

It’s “the first of its kind global crowd-sourcing science and art initiative,” says Mark Mathias. He’s the founder of the Westport’s Maker Faire, and a Sunrise Rotary member.

Artist’s rendering of the 6-foot 3D duck.

“Global” is no exaggeration. People from around the world are invited to 3D print and submit pieces. They’ll be combined into a 6-foot tall, 476-piece duck.

Mathias takes “around the world” literally. He reached out to the McMurdo station in Antarctica, to see if they’ll participate.

He even went galactic, asking if the International Space Station could print a part, then return it to earth on a supply mission. (Party-pooping NASA said no.)

But keeping the Great Duck Project terrestrial should be interesting enough.

Don’t have your own 3D printer? No sweat. There are plenty around, in libraries, schools and offices.

Once the world-record duck is printed, it won’t disappear. You can see it at the Memorial Day parade — and, of course, the Great Duck Race.


(The Great Duck Project is a collaboration of the Westport Sunrise Rotary Club and Greens Farms Academy, which serves as the “technical lead.” For more information or to participate, click here. or contact Mark Mathias: mark@remarkablesteam.org; 203-226-1791.)

Pic Of The Day #403

Double duck on the Saugatuck (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

O Canada!

Westport loves its duck.

For the 2nd year in a row, the 23-foot high, 15-foot wide, 15-foot long, 260-pound “Sunny” is floating in the Saugatuck River. It’s a very visible (and quite yellow) reminder of the Sunrise Rotary Club’s upcoming Great Duck Race (this Saturday, June 3 — click here for details).

(Photo/Wendy Cusick)

Things are less ducky north of the border.

The BBC reports that another version of the duck — twice as tall as Westport’s will  float in Toronto’s waterfront, for a festival celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday. It then travels across the province, for an “Ontario 150” tour.

The duck in Toronto.

The provincial government is picking up some of the tab. But Progressive Conservative officials have called it “an absolute cluster duck” and “quack economics.”


Of course, Sunny’s a lot cuter.

(Hat tip: Siobhan Crise)

Remembering Bill Meyer

Bill Meyer — the consummate Westport volunteer, a man who knew everyone in town, and one of the most genuinely friendly human beings on the planet — died today. He battled multiple myeloma for over a year.

In his 85 years, Bill did more than 85 normal people could in 85 lifetimes.

Bill Meyer

Bill Meyer

Professionally, he had a fulfilling career as national sales manager for several companies. “We manufactured and sold pens and pencils,” he said of one business.

That’s like saying Bruce Springsteen “plays music.” In fact, Bill managed 800 workers on a Blackfoot Indian reservation in Montana. He was so motivational and inspirational, the tribe adopted him — and gave him an honorary Indian name.

But as much as he traveled, Bill always found time for Westport.

Plenty of time.

Here is a teeny-tiny, way-too-partial list. Bill…

  • was elected 9 times to the RTM. He chaired the Parks and Recreation Committee, and served on its  Education, and Health and Human Services Committees
  • founded the Westport Little League softball program; was a member of the Little League board of directors; umpired — and had a softball field named for him
  • served as Y’s Men president and membership chairman
  • was a director of Sunrise Rotary, Senior  Center, First Night, Westport’s AARP chapter, Westport Community Theatre, and 2 intercity Bridgeport agencies
  • served on the Saugatuck Congregational Church council
  • mentored a boy from age 5 through adolescence
  • helped with Meals on Wheels
  • volunteered on many Republican campaigns
  • was a board member of Isaiah House in Bridgeport, which helps parolees transition from prison to life outside
  • won the 2004 Service to Older Adults award
  • earned a Westport First award
  • received the YMCA’s Faces of Achievement honor.

Bill loved Staples. He loved Westport, sports, the theater, church, the Republican party, volunteering, old people, young people, and his wife Carolyn.

Or — to put it another way: Bill loved life.

We owe Bill Meyer an enormous debt. He touched each of us, and all of us.

He made Westport a better place to live.

You can’t ask for a better life than that.

This photo epitomizes Bill Meyer. He's volunteering at the Great Duck Race, sponsored by Sunrise Rotary, while hugging Republican State Senator Toni Boucher.

This photo epitomizes Bill Meyer. He was volunteering at the Great Duck Race, sponsored by Sunrise Rotary, while hugging Republican State Senator Toni Boucher.



Housing Hope

It takes more than a heap o’ livin’ to make a house a home.

In the case of the Westport Rotary Centennial House — the supportive housing initiative in Saugatuck that welcomes its 1st tenants this weekend (4 single adults and 2 single parents, each with a child — all formerly homeless) — it takes dedicated, passionate and generous Westporters, working individually and in groups.

Westport's Rotary Centennial House

Westport's Rotary Centennial House

According to Peter Powell, president/CEO of the House’s sponsor, Homes With Hope (formerly the Interfaith Housing Association), the Centennial House became a home thanks to:

  • The late Bernice Corday, who in 2004 — heeding the IHA’s board of directors’ strategic plan — urged the Westport Rotary Clubs to adopt supportive housing as their centennial project.  That plan was written by Rotarian and IHA director Jim Marpe.
  • The Rotary Clubs, who eagerly adopted the project.  Each raised $25,000 long before there was a building to hang their name on. Fundraising efforts were led by Bill Scheffler (Westport Rotary Club) and John Franklin (Westport Sunrise Rotary Club).
  • Rotarian and real estate broker Bunny Mostad, who offered her services to find a suitable property — then donated her commission to the Centennial House.
  • Audrey Sparre and former IHA staffer Candace Buckley, who applied for and received a HUD grant of more than $300,000.  That leveraged the Rotary support fivefold, enabling purchase of the property.  Citibank, impressed, gave IHA a 3% loan to finance the rest of the purchase — then renewed the loan at the same rate many times.
  • The Connecticut Housing Finance  Authority provided funding, and IHA sold tax credits to CL&P.  The house is now owned by HWH/IHA free and clear.
  • HWH/IHA staff member Karen Mahar led construction efforts.  She attended countless meetings, monitored all expenses, made many design choices, worked with an array of people and gained skills she never thought she’d need.  “She brought the house in on budget, on time, and on her shoulders,” Powell says.

Up next:  more affordable supportive housing.  This fall Homes With Hope will open 10 apartments at a building owned by another non-profit.  Next year, 9 apartments open at Hales Court.  And HWH is seeking a lease on property to develop 12 more units.

Powell is adamant in his commitment to end homelessness, through permanent supportive housing.  With the help of many others, more houses will truly become Westport homes.

Rotarians and town officials cut the ribbon at the Homes With Hope opening ceremony. (Photo by Dense McLaughlin)

Rotarians, builders, realtors, and town and Homes With Hope officials cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony. (Photo by Denise McLaughlin)