Stories

Norwalk's Third Annual Earth Day Festival on the Green Saturday, April 27

<p>Today, Wednesday, April 17th, 2024,&nbsp;Mayor Rilling announced that the City of Norwalk’s third annual Norwalk Earth Day Festival&nbsp;is Saturday, April 27th, 2024, from 12:00 to 4:00 PM on the Norwalk Green, rain or shine!</p><p>The Norwalk Earth Day Festival is a&nbsp;family-friendly, free&nbsp;event. Attendees will be able to enjoy musical performances by&nbsp;CUkes Ukelele Band and Ian Biggs, as well as dance performances by the Norwalk Metropolitan Youth Ballet. Attendees will also be able to purchase food from food trucks while participating in activities such as tree planting, yoga, sound healing exercises, face painting, and other activities. A Touch-A-Truck area will also be available for children, as well as a Giant Jenga.</p><p>Ahead of the&nbsp;Earth Day Festival, residents can participate in several environmentally friendly activities, including Mayor Rilling’s annual city-wide clean-up event from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM.&nbsp;The city-wide clean-up event invites the community to help clean up our local parks. Participants are invited to come individually or form their own groups to help clean up the community!<strong>&nbsp;</strong>To RSVP and get clean-up locations and supplies, please contact Stephen Brueski at&nbsp;<a href="mailto:SBrueski@norwalkct.gov" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank" style="color: rgb(0, 126, 182);">SBrueski@norwalkct.gov</a>&nbsp;or 203-854-7262 or Luis Estrella at&nbsp;<a href="mailto:LEstrella@norwalkct.gov" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank" style="color: rgb(0, 126, 182);">LEstrella@norwalkct.gov</a>&nbsp;or 203-854-7978.</p><p>Ahead of the Earth Day Festival, the Norwalk Bike/Walk Commission is organizing “Get to The Green, without a Machine,” which encourages individuals to walk or bike to the Earth Day Festival together. This activity promotes walkability and sustainability by encouraging people to use an alternative transportation mode rather than driving a car to reduce carbon emissions. Attendees will meet at designated points in the City. If you’re interested in walking or biking to the Earth Day Festival in a group setting, you can learn more details by visiting&nbsp;<a href="https://norwalkearthday.org" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">https://norwalkearthday.org/</a><strong>.&nbsp;</strong>A bike repair station will also be available for bikers to utilize.</p><p>Norwalk’s Earth Day Festival is a community-led event drawing support from Norwalk’s leading environmental groups, civic organizations, municipal agencies, Norwalk Public Schools and local and state leaders.</p><p>The City of Norwalk would like to thank the First Taxing District for hosting this annual event on the Norwalk Green. The City would also like to thank the following sponsors of the Earth Day Festival: the Norwalk Land Trust, Norwalk Green Association, Norwalk Water Rivershed Association, Norwalk Tree Alliance, Fairfield County Bank and Sound Federal Credit Union.</p>

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Fairfield County Residents Rally to Raise Vital Funds for Local Women and Girls

<p>The 26th annual celebration of the Fund for Women &amp; Girls was held on Thursday, April 12th at Greenwich Country Club. Attendees were encouraged to make live pledges, and their donations totaled nearly $60,000&nbsp;to support women and girls across the region. Along with the night’s donations, the <strong>total amount raised for the exceeded $360,000</strong>.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;“The Fund for Women &amp; Girls is a cornerstone of the work of Fairfield County’s Community Foundation and has always embodied our mission of creating a Fairfield County where every person has an equitable opportunity to thrive,” said Mendi Blue Paca, president and CEO of Fairfield County’s Community Foundation. “Women-led efforts such as the Fund for Women &amp; Girls are working to confront the harsh reality that deep-rooted inequities in women’s health plague our community.”</p><p>&nbsp;The Fund for Women &amp; Girls is the largest women’s fund in New England and has improved the lives of tens of thousands of women and girls in the region with more than $10 million in grants.</p><p>Organizations that benefit from the fund include: Norwalk Community Health Center, Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, Center for Family Justice, Inc., Connecticut Association for Human Services, United Way of Coastal Fairfield County, YWCA Greenwich, and many more.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;The annual fundraising event featured powerful remarks from legendary journalist and mental health advocate Jane Pauley, who emphasized the stark disparities that women and girls face -- particularly in health care -- across Connecticut. She also shared a staggering statistic: <strong>only 1.8% of all philanthorpic dollars are donated to womens organizations.&nbsp;</strong></p><p>&nbsp;Pauley shared her own personal mental health journey of being diagnosed with bipolar depression at the age of 50. Her journey of self-reflection and wellness, chronicled in her&nbsp;New York Times&nbsp;bestselling memoir&nbsp;Skywriting: A Life Out of the Blue, has inspired countless individuals to see themselves in a powerful new light and to embrace the possibility of reinvention.</p><p>&nbsp;Pauley is also a tireless advocate for Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), including an FQHC in her hometown of Indianapolis that was named the Jane Pauley Community Health Center in recognition of her ongoing support for the center.</p><p>&nbsp;“Jane Pauley is not just a name in the world of journalism and television, she is a force to be reckoned with, an inspiration and a true champion for change in mental health,” said Mary Grace Pagaduan, director of the Fund for Women &amp; Girls. “Jane also has a deep understanding of the vital role of FQHCs, which are a critical component of the Fund for Women &amp; Girls’ work through our emme Coalition and Black Maternal Health Initiative.”</p><p>&nbsp;The celebration also included the presentation of the 2024 Anne S. Leonhardt Award to Charlotte Suhler, longtime Darien resident and philanthropist, as well as one of the founders of the Fund for Women &amp; Girls.</p><p>&nbsp;"My journey has always been guided by the simple yet profound belief that change starts with one person, but it gains momentum when individuals unite," Suhler said. "The Fund for Women &amp; Girls stands as a testament to what is possible when hearts are full and determination knows no bounds. It’s a beacon of hope, illuminating the path towards a brighter, more inclusive future for all."</p><p>&nbsp;Over the years, the Fund for Women &amp; Girls celebration has featured prominent speakers such as Misty Copeland, Dr. Anita Hill, Dr. Maya Angelou, Gloria Steinem, Billie Jean King and&nbsp;Madeleine Albright.</p><p>&nbsp;Serving as the flagship fundraiser for supporting the Fund’s work, the celebration spotlighted its two signature investments, the&nbsp;emme coalition and the Black Maternal Health Initiative. The emme coalition is an innovative program that works at the intersection of physical wellness, behavioral health and case management to connect women and girls with lifelong tools for wellbeing that can be passed along to future generations. Meanwhile, the Black Maternal Health Initiative, the Fund’s newest investment, aims to eliminate systemic racism and implicit bias embedded in the healthcare system that leads to disparate outcomes for Black women in Fairfield County.</p><p>&nbsp;“The Fund for Women and Girls’ annual celebration is a time for all of us to come together and think deeply about what kind of community we want to live in,” Blue Paca said. “At Fairfield County’s Community Foundation, we firmly believe that women and girls are the backbone of our society and deserve an equitable chance to create a life where they are not just simply trying to survive but are equipped with the tools necessary to thrive.”</p><p>&nbsp;About Fairfield County’s Community Foundation</p><p>Fairfield County’s Community Foundation is partnering with our community to create a county where every person has an equitable opportunity to thrive. We work closely with community organizations, nonprofits, businesses, and philanthropists to address challenges and identify opportunities to create a stronger, more vibrant community. Informed by three decades of partnering with and serving our community, we have awarded more than $390 million in grants to nonprofits in Fairfield County and beyond.</p>

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Norwalk Ranked 30th "most diverse" City in America by WalletHub

<p><span style="background-color: transparent; color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">This week, the City of Norwalk was ranked the 30th most diverse city in America by WalletHub.</span></p><p><span style="background-color: transparent; color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">WalletHub compared 501 of the country’s largest cities across 13 metrics in 5 major diversity categories including household, religious, socioeconomic, cultural, and economic diversity.</span></p><p><span style="background-color: transparent; color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">Bridgeport was not the only Connecticut city championed for diversity in WallHub’s study. Danbury was ranked #10 “most diverse in America” and Bridgeport was #12.</span></p><p><span style="background-color: transparent; color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">Read the article in its entirety</span><a href="https://wallethub.com/edu/most-diverse-cities/12690" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank" style="background-color: transparent; color: rgb(0, 0, 0);"> https://wallethub.com/edu/most-diverse-cities/12690</a></p><p><span style="background-color: transparent; color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">*Image courtesy City of Norwalk</span></p><p><br></p><p><br></p>

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Why Small Businesses Matter in Norwalk: Smoketree Forge

<h2><span style="background-color: transparent; color: rgb(50, 55, 61);">Why Small Businesses Matter</span></h2><p><em style="background-color: transparent; color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">Shop small, do big things for your community</em></p><p><span style="background-color: transparent; color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">Why Small Businesses Matter puts a spotlight on the local merchants who donate their time, talent, goods, and services for the betterment of our community. The shop local movement spreads virally as local businesses who are “tagged” have the opportunity to share their story!</span></p><p><strong style="background-color: transparent; color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">Meet Leon Husock, blacksmith/ABS apprentice smith and founder of Smoketree Forge</strong></p><p><strong style="background-color: transparent; color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">Why did you start your business?</strong></p><p><span style="background-color: transparent; color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">I love making art (in my case, hand-forged kitchen knives and home goods), and I wanted an opportunity to share the things I make with the world. Getting to share the work I make with people at craft fairs and watching them get excited about it and want to take something home, or hearing from someone who's bought a piece of mine about how much they love it, always makes my day.&nbsp;</span></p><p><strong style="background-color: transparent; color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">What is your best-selling product or service?</strong></p><p><span style="background-color: transparent; color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">My best-selling product would likely be my hand-forged chef's knives. I make them in a variety of styles and sizes with blades ranging from plain steel with a functional machine finish, to hand-polished and elaborately forged pattern-welded steel (also known as Damascus steel). All of my chef's knives are made with beautiful polished wood handles in a wide variety of different woods. The lightweight, thin blade, and razor-sharp edges I put on my knives always impress people, and I've had multiple people buy one for themselves and then come back to get another one as a gift for a friend or family member.</span></p><p><span style="background-color: transparent; color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">That said, all of my knives are unique pieces of art made at a variety of price points; my best-selling single item is probably my hand-forged stainless steel bench scrapers, which I make from a single piece of solid stainless steel. I started making them when I got frustrated at how flimsy my bench scraper from Bed Bath and Beyond was and figured I could make a better one. I still have and regularly use the one I made myself for working with dough while baking, or for scraping down granite countertops when I'm done cooking, and people seem to like them as much as I do.</span></p><p><strong style="background-color: transparent; color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">Is there anything you would like the community to know?</strong></p><p><span style="background-color: transparent; color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">A dull knife will always find your finger! But, if there's any single thing you can upgrade in your kitchen to make the whole experience of cooking more pleasant, it's having a really high-quality chef's knife (or at the very least getting your current knife sharpened). From a practical perspective, having the main tool you use to cook with function the best it possibly can just makes life easier; more than that, having beautiful handmade tools makes working a joy.&nbsp;</span></p><p><span style="background-color: transparent; color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">Instagram </span><a href="https://www.instagram.com/smoketree_forge/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank" style="background-color: transparent; color: rgb(17, 85, 204);">https://www.instagram.com/smoketree_forge/</a></p><p><span style="background-color: transparent; color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">Etsy </span><a href="https://www.etsy.com/shop/SmoketreeForge?ref=seller-platform-mcnav" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank" style="background-color: transparent; color: rgb(17, 85, 204);">https://www.etsy.com/shop/SmoketreeForge?ref=seller-platform-mcnav</a></p><p><strong style="background-color: transparent; color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">HamletHub thanks</strong><a href="http://www.jkinfordbeautygroup.com/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank" style="background-color: transparent; color: rgb(17, 85, 204);"><strong> </strong></a><a href="https://www.fairfieldcountybank.com/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank" style="background-color: transparent; color: rgb(17, 85, 204);"><strong>Fairfield County Bank </strong></a><strong style="background-color: transparent; color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">for making our Why Small Businesses Matter series possible!</strong></p>

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 The Norwalk Health Department Recognizes STI Awareness Week

<p>This week, April 14 - April 20, is Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) Awareness Week. To protect against STIs, the Norwalk Health Department encourages residents to "Prepare Before You're There."</p><p>Preparing ahead of time allows you to be intentional about your sexual health. You can "Prepare Before You're There" by making a game plan:</p><ul><li>Talk to your partner(s) about sex, sexual health, and staying safe and healthy.</li><li>Have condoms handy and use them every time from start to finish when you have sex.</li><li>Talk to your healthcare provider about the options that are best for you including STI screening, medication to prevent HIV, and other questions you have.</li><li>Take the CDC's sexual health quiz to determine your risk for STIs: <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/std/saw/pbyt/quiz.htm" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank" style="color: var(--link);">CDC Sexual Health Quiz</a></li></ul><p>The Health Department encourages anyone who is sexually active to have regular sexual health check-ups and get an STI test every 6 to 12 months, even if in a long-term relationship and using condoms. Test whenever taking on a new sexual partner and more often if someone has multiple sexual partners. The Norwalk Health Department offers STI screening, diagnosis, treatment, education, and referrals through our Sexual Health Clinic on Mondays and Wednesdays by appointment. Please call (203) 854-7776 to schedule an appointment.</p><p>Many STIs have no signs or symptoms, so testing is the only way to determine your status. Early detection can help prevent the spread of STIs and reduce major complications and negative health outcomes. For example, common STIs like chlamydia and gonorrhea are major causes of infertility among women if the infection goes untreated. These and other common STIs can also increase the risk of HIV transmission for both women and men.</p><p>Almost half the reported new cases occur among young people aged 15 to 24, but people of all ages, backgrounds, and cultures can be infected with an STI. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in every 5 people in the United States are infected with an STI. The Norwalk Health Department on average serves about 500 people annually through our Sexual Health Clinic.</p><p>For more information about STDs and the services provided at the Health Department, visit: <a href="http://www.norwalkct.org/765/Sexually-Transmitted-Disease-Clinic" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank" style="color: var(--link);">Norwalk Health Department STD Information</a>.</p>

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Norwalk Resident Gabi Niculescu is National Platform Tennis Tourney Finalist

<p>Number 7 might be considered lucky for some. For Gabriela Niculescu, the number represents dedication, determination, and discipline, leading to seven finishes in the final round of the women's American Platform Tennis Association (APTA) tournament, its version of March Madness. From a starting field of 64 teams, Gabi and her new partner, Ellie Halbaurer, once again rose to the finals and finished an impressive second in the Women's National Platform Tennis Championship on March 8 &amp; 9 in Boston. Although they initially fell behind 6-1 in the first set, the pair roared back in exhilarating fashion to make it interesting and tied the next set, 6-6, eventually succumbing to the champions 7-2 in the tiebreaker. Before this tournament, Gabi won three national doubles championships in 2016, 2018, and 2019. Additionally, she's made four consecutive appearances in the finals, including this most recent year.</p><p>Gabi, the Redding Country Club's Director of Racquets, is the country's #5 ranked platform tennis player. She began her career as a professional tennis player, achieving a rank of 376 for singles and 199 for doubles. She played college tennis for the University of Southern California, winning a PAC-10 doubles championship, and was honored as an All-American doubles competitor in 2008. Following her success on the tennis court, in 2013, this athlete made her debut in platform tennis and has achieved extraordinary success in a short period of time.</p><p>"Gabi has cemented her status as an elite competitor. We are incredibly proud of her and thankful to have her as part of the RCC family," remarked Tim Seifert, RCC General Manager.</p><p>Added Ron Berry, RCC Racquets Chair and Fan, "Gabi's impact on our racquets program has been fantastic! Her enthusiasm and energy on the tennis, paddle, and pickleball courts – or anywhere on the RCC campus– is infectious. Even if they never played, adults and kids alike are inspired to pick up a paddle and give the sport a whirl. Our members are fortunate to have such a terrific role model and teacher."</p><p>Gabi was born and raised in Bucharest, Romania, and resides in Norwalk with her husband and two adorable sons. "I feel blessed to be the RCC Director of Racquets, where I develop my own year-round program, and I still have plenty of opportunities to be on the court and teach. Balance is never easy to achieve, but at Redding, I am able to manage work, family, and my desire to compete in platform tennis."</p><p>Primarily played in the winter, platform tennis (also known as paddle) is a double racket sport combining tennis and squash elements on a shrunken down court. The sport has exploded in popularity and has captured the hearts of enthusiasts worldwide. APTA presides over platform tennis and organizes four grand prix regional tourneys culminating in the final contest each March.</p>

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Forget About National Pet Day? Be Pawsitive, There’s Still Time to Celebrate!

<p>National Pet Day may have been on April 11th, but there’s still plenty of time to celebrate your furry friend. Your dog may not have a “job” (other than providing plenty of snuggles), but you can honor their hardworking friends by purchasing the new <a href="https://cmcommunications.lt.emlnk1.com/Prod/link-tracker?redirectUrl=aHR0cHMlM0ElMkYlMkZ3d3cuaGFyYm9yc3dlZXRzLmNvbSUyRnByb2R1Y3RzJTJGYmUtcGF3c2l0aXZlLWNvbGxlY3Rpb24=&amp;sig=9ieMbfrPb2nHBdz7wexYERtzWtvfSPoJkvuJFN9k8z78&amp;iat=1711452718&amp;a=%7C%7C66406722%7C%7C&amp;account=cmcommunications%2Eactivehosted%2Ecom&amp;email=ZmHNLrnU%2BqS35dY%2FmRtpEtfkI379pcM%2FvuRcAUP7m9%2FTqzVE%2FQ%3D%3D%3ACYJm19o1spoUzLxbuFWVd3aoRDhQ6pv3&amp;s=8fe02a14b356f658251891a0d0c64e7a&amp;i=1789A2262A2A12179" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank" style="color: rgb(0, 0, 238);">“Be Pawsitive” Collection</a> from <a href="https://cmcommunications.lt.emlnk1.com/Prod/link-tracker?redirectUrl=aHR0cHMlM0ElMkYlMkZ3d3cuaGFyYm9yc3dlZXRzLmNvbSUyRg==&amp;sig=B1ZHy4DGghMbJZMwGVybwgt4rmr1eDeV9trvPbVhD3PB&amp;iat=1711452718&amp;a=%7C%7C66406722%7C%7C&amp;account=cmcommunications%2Eactivehosted%2Ecom&amp;email=ZmHNLrnU%2BqS35dY%2FmRtpEtfkI379pcM%2FvuRcAUP7m9%2FTqzVE%2FQ%3D%3D%3ACYJm19o1spoUzLxbuFWVd3aoRDhQ6pv3&amp;s=8fe02a14b356f658251891a0d0c64e7a&amp;i=1789A2262A2A12180" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank" style="color: rgb(0, 0, 238);">Harbor Sweets</a>. A portion of the proceeds of this collection benefit the <a href="https://cmcommunications.lt.emlnk1.com/Prod/link-tracker?redirectUrl=aHR0cHMlM0ElMkYlMkZuZWFkcy5vcmclMkY=&amp;sig=4aqkdK62hJb1hxsJaTivykstSbif5ZMGzHghzLDenRyC&amp;iat=1711452718&amp;a=%7C%7C66406722%7C%7C&amp;account=cmcommunications%2Eactivehosted%2Ecom&amp;email=ZmHNLrnU%2BqS35dY%2FmRtpEtfkI379pcM%2FvuRcAUP7m9%2FTqzVE%2FQ%3D%3D%3ACYJm19o1spoUzLxbuFWVd3aoRDhQ6pv3&amp;s=8fe02a14b356f658251891a0d0c64e7a&amp;i=1789A2262A2A12182" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank" style="color: rgb(0, 0, 238);">NEADS</a> World Class Service Dogs, a nonprofit organization offering the widest array of service dog programs in the industry. You have the choice of a 6-piece or 12-piece box, and both feature an assortment of handcrafted, paw-shaped solid milk, dark, and white chocolates packaged in a pet-themed gift box.</p><p>Offering a wide range of products including a Dark Horse collection, honoring the magic partnership between horse and rider, a Golf Collection, instant cocoa, and their famous sailboat-shaped Sweet Sloops, Harbor Sweets has been producing handcrafted chocolates in Salem, Massachusetts for over 50 years.</p><p>While I haven’t had the chance to try their newest collection, Harbor Sweets were in my Easter basket this year and I finished the box embarrassingly quickly. If you do not enjoy the chocolate as much as I did, fear not, every box comes with a prepaid postcard where you can voice your complaints (though I doubt you will have any!).</p><p>Your furry friend may not be able to snack on these chocolates, but you can have them celebrate alongside you by providing their favorite treats, purchasing a new toy, and spending extra quality time with them this weekend.</p><p>The “Be Pawsitive” Collection can be purchased in person at the original Harbor Sweets shop in Salem and Beverly, MA as well as online at <a href="https://cmcommunications.lt.emlnk1.com/Prod/link-tracker?redirectUrl=aHR0cHMlM0ElMkYlMkZ3d3cuaGFyYm9yc3dlZXRzLmNvbSUyRnByb2R1Y3RzJTJGYmUtcGF3c2l0aXZlLWNvbGxlY3Rpb24=&amp;sig=9ieMbfrPb2nHBdz7wexYERtzWtvfSPoJkvuJFN9k8z78&amp;iat=1711452718&amp;a=%7C%7C66406722%7C%7C&amp;account=cmcommunications%2Eactivehosted%2Ecom&amp;email=ZmHNLrnU%2BqS35dY%2FmRtpEtfkI379pcM%2FvuRcAUP7m9%2FTqzVE%2FQ%3D%3D%3ACYJm19o1spoUzLxbuFWVd3aoRDhQ6pv3&amp;s=8fe02a14b356f658251891a0d0c64e7a&amp;i=1789A2262A2A12179" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank" style="color: rgb(0, 0, 238);">harborsweets.com</a>.</p>

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