Tag Archives: Westport Woman’s Club

Remembering JoAnne Siebrasse

Westport has lost another longtime civic volunteer.

JoAnne Siebrasse died last month. She was 93 years old.

She and her late husband Dick spent most of their long married life as enthusiastic Westporters. They came here after several corporate transfers, requiring 2- and 3-year semi-permanent relocations in the Midwest.

While Dick first commuted to New York as an advertising “Mad Man,” and later climbed the corporate ladder at CPC International in New Jersey, Westport remained their home for over 50 years. JoAnne invested her time and significant effort to make many long-term friends and community connections here.

JoAnne Siebrasse

Her primary focus in life was to be of service to others. She was active with the Westport Woman’s Club serving on its board  and with the Curio Cottage, Scholarship Committee, Yankee Doodle Fair and more.

JoAnne also was an avid, longtime participant in American Red Cross blood drives; Meals on Wheels; board member of Christian Community Action food pantry (now Person-2-Person); Westport Senior Center; Westport Historical Society, and community outreach at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and Greens Farms Congregational Church.

Her son Tom says, “Never one to take direction well, she always served on the boards of the organizations she joined to make her voice and enthusiasm heard. She gathered countless friends and interesting companions along the way.”

Donations in JoAnne Siebrasse’s name can be sent to CT Food Bank, Fidelco Guide Dogs or Homes for Our Troops.

Woman’s Club Gives Grants, Forges Forward

The Westport Woman’s Club is 112 years old.

But members of the Imperial Avenue organization — founded in the early years of the 20th century — are continuing their long tradition of working to improve our town, far into the future.

Recently, the WWC gave a $10,000 Ruegg Grant to Aspetuck Land Trust. Funds will help educate and motivate homeowners to take care of their yards in more sustainable ways, including planting native plants, switching to organic lawn care and reducing pesticides. Model landscape demonstration sites are set for Earthplace and the Haskins Preserve.

Westport Woman’s Club, 44 Imperial Avenue.

The Woman’s Club also provided community service grants to 34 Fairfield County non-profits. Ranging from arts, counseling, education and housing to seniors, special needs and women’s enrichment, awardees include Norwalk Youth Symphony, the Westport Country Playhouse, Mercy Learning Center, the Bridgeport Rescue Mission, Connecticut Food Bank, Breast Cancer Emergency Aid Foundation, Domestic Violence Crisis Center, Homes with Hope, Elderhouse and CLASP Homes.

Applications are available for 2020 grants. The deadline is October 31; click here for details.

Of course, none of that happens without active members. No one in the Westport Woman’s Club was alive at its 1907 founding — but all are looking forward to the next 112 years.

And they can always use more help.

A wine-and-cheese reception on Wednesday, September 25 (5:30 to 7:30 p.m., 44 Imperial Avenue) will introduce prospective members to community service, fundraising, special interest and monthly meeting opportunities. Non-Westporters are welcome to join. For more information, email rclark@westportnational.com, or call 203-227-4240.

(Click here for the Westport Woman’s Club website.)

Pics Of The Day #789

The Yankee Doodle Fair was packed last night. It runs till 10 p.m. tonight, at the Westport Woman’s Club (44 Imperial Avenue). Tomorrow is the last day: 1 to 5 p.m. Don’t miss it!

(Photo/Lee Scharfstein)

(Photo/Kristina Bory)

(Photo/Fred Cantor)

(Photo/Dan Woog)

(Photo/Dan Woog)

(Photo/Dan Woog)

(Photo/Dan Woog)

(Photo/Dan Woog)

Pic Of The Day #784

Rides are arriving for the annual Yankee Doodle fair. The much-anticipated, unofficial-start-of-summer event at the Westport Woman’s Club on Imperial Avenue kicks off Thursday at 6 p.m. It continues Friday evening, all day Saturday, and ends Sunday afternoon. (Photo/Amy Schneider)

Pic Of The Day #742

Westport Woman’s Club (Photo/Alison Patton)

Photo Challenge #226

Last week’s Photo Challenge was fairly easy. Plenty of women — and men — knew that the gazebo photographed by Tracy Porosoff can be found at 44 Imperial Avenue. (Click here for the photo.)

That’s the site of Bedford Hall, the Curio Cottage, the Yankee Doodle Fair, and the handsome white home of the Westport Woman’s Club.

But only Rosalie Kaye, Diane Bosch, Bobbie Herman, Carla Foster, Linda Amos, Amy Schneider, Lynn Untermeyer Miller and Barbara Raffel called it that. Linda added, “The gazebo was donated in 2000, in memory of long-time member Ronnie Kennedy by her family. It continues to be a lovely addition to the beautiful grounds.”

Many other readers got the name almost correct. Fred Cantor, Diane Silfen, Robert Mitchell, Andrew Colabella, Will Luedke, Jonathan McClure, Michelle Saunders, Seth Braunstein, Wendy Cusick, Shirlee Gordon. Kaye Leong and Bruce Salvo all said it was the Westport Women’s Club.

That actually makes more sense. It’s a club — and since 1907, a great and important one — for Westport women.

Not just one “woman.”

But Westport Woman’s Club it is. If anyone — woman or man — knows the story behind the name, please click “Comments” below.

Click “Comments” too if you know where you would find this week’s Photo Challenge.

(Photo/Seth Schachter)

(Hint: This morning, the Westport Young Woman’s (ahem) League — a different organization altogether, though its roots were in the Westport Woman’s Club — held its 41st annual Minute Man Race. This photo has nothing to do with that. But it’s a nice tie-in.)

Pic Of The Day #676

Westport Woman’s Club gazebo (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

$10,000 Non-Profit Grants Available From Westport Woman’s Club

In 2015, a $5,000 grant enabled Earthplace to update maps of their 74-acre sanctuary. Visitors can now find all trails — including those suitable for wheelchairs and strollers.

In 2016, a gift of $10,000 helped Project Return repaint their historic North Compo Road home.

A 2017 grant of nearly $5,000 gave the Westport Astronomical Society a new solar telescope for its Rolnick Observatory.

Last year, Wakeman Town Farm used $1,200 to purchase an innovative mobile chicken coop.

Wakeman Town Farm’s mobile chicken coop.$10.

All of those “Ruegg Grants” came from the Westport Woman’s Club. Established in 1995 by former member Lea Ruegg, they’re given each spring to a local non-profit with a project that makes a meaningful difference in social services, health, safety, the arts or education.

Other previous recipients include ITN Coastal Connecticut, CLASP Homes, the Westport Police Department, Hall-Brooke Hospital, Interfaith Housing, Mercy Learning Center, Toquet Hall, the Westport Rotary Club, Staples Players and the Westport Library.

Your organization could be next. The Woman’s Club is accepting submissions now through March 8.

The Westport Woman’s Club is no Jenny-come-lately to the field of philanthropy. Since 1907 they’ve supported area educational, charitable, cultural and health services. (Their first projects: sidewalks, bathrooms at Compo Beach, and hot lunches and vaccinations in schools.)

Ruegg Grants are now one of their signature projects. For an application, click here. To learn more about the Westport Woman’s Club, click here or call 203-227-4240.

Friday Flashback #104

Perhaps it was a slow news week.

More likely, a Westport Woman’s Club member’s husband was a high-ranking Life Magazine staffer.

Whatever the reason, on August 11, 1947 America’s leading photo magazine featured the organization in a 2-page spread.

Describing the town of 8,258 just 45 minutes from Manhattan, Life said Westport “pleasantly combines the character of New England and the up-to-date bustle of a commuting population.”

Like most American towns, Life noted, Westport has a woman’s club. But ours had “little time for lectures, cards and teas.”

The Life magazine story included this photo of members of the Westport Woman’s Club.

Instead — already 40 years old — the Westport Woman’s Club had transformed our “once somnolent” town through good works: organizing and funding street signs, public drinking fountains, garbage collections and trash cans, playgrounds, sidewalks, street lights, hot lunches in schools, and lifesaving equipment and a pavilion at Compo Beach.

Now, Life said, the club was focused on a visiting nurse service, free milk for underprivileged children and a free dental clinic. They also provided over $1,000 in scholarships each year.

Life reported that Ann Jones, 18, won a $300 art scholarship from the Westport Woman’s Club.

With 693 members — but annual dues of only $3 — members relied on the Yankee Doodle Fair to fund those projects. The 1947 event raised $18,000, with attractions like a merry-go-round, dart games, pony rides, and a raffle with prizes including cars, washing machines, luggage, watches and cases of scotch.

The Yankee Doodle Fair, as shown in the August 11, 1947 issue of Life Magazine.

More than 70 years later, the Westport Woman’s Club — and Yankee Doodle Fair — are still going strong.

Which is more than can be said for Life magazine.

(Hat tip: Paul Ehrismann)

A caption for this Life magazine photo described children of Westport Woman’s Club members, playing on a sidewalk that the organization helped build.

Pic Of The Day #492

Any Westport resident or organization can rent the Ned Dimes Marina clubhouse for a party or function. The other day, the Westport Woman’s Club held a lobster bake there. (Photo/Gloria Smithson)