Trumbull's HamletHub Mon, 25 Oct 2021 23:30:56 -0400 Kennedy Center Opens Trumbull Thrift Shop

Trumbull, CT — The Kennedy Center is excited to announce the opening of its second Palm & Able Thrift Shop located at 39 Lindeman Drive in Trumbull, CT. Palm & Able at 39 provides a larger retail space, not only selling but showcasing the overflow of generous new and gently used donations The Kennedy Center received from the community throughout the pandemic. Starting Tuesday, October 26, ‘Palm & Able at 39’ will be open Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. 

The Palm & Able flagship store (shown above), located at 874 Bridgeport Avenue in the Shelton Square Shopping Plaza, opened to the public in April 2020. The “Retail with a Purpose” shop supports employment opportunities for individuals of all abilities and features amazing, thrifted treasures including clothing, furniture, housewares, and holiday décor along with beautiful artwork by Kennedy Center artists, FDA-certified PPE and more!

“The Kennedy Center is excited to extend our Palm & Able store to a second location at 39 Lindeman Drive in Trumbull,” commented Valerie Reyher, Kennedy Center Vice President of Workforce Development & Social Enterprises. ‘Palm & Able at 39’ is an extension of our Shelton location housing many wonderful thrift finds. What’s unique about ‘39’ is the location also sells hundreds of gently used books which is sure to excite booklovers everywhere. ‘Palm & Able at 39’ is one of the many social enterprises that support hiring individuals with disabilities and breaking down barriers to employment.  We encourage every company, business owner and employer to make the commitment to hire individuals with disabilities as part of their operational standards.”  

Reyher added, “We love being a part of the Trumbull community and look forward to offering our neighbors and friends a great shopping experience. We believe in being socially responsible through resale and upcycling.  Shoppers outside our area and those who prefer to shop online can visit for great finds and to support our mission.  Happy Thrifting!”

The Palm & Able name is a nod to the abilities of the people The Kennedy Center supports. 70 years ago, founder Evelyn Kennedy, who lived on Palm Street in Bridgeport, started a movement for the development of services for individuals with intellectual and developmentally disabilities that would later become known as The Kennedy Center.

2021 marks the 70th Anniversary of the Kennedy Center. Since first opening in 1951, The Kennedy Center has remained steadfast in its mission of serving and creating opportunity for persons with disabilities through its Adult and Community Services, Workforce Development, and Social Enterprise divisions.  Today, The Kennedy Center provides services, supports and employment to more than 2,000 individuals annually in more than 110 communities throughout Connecticut and the State of New York.

]]> (Liz Benyon ) Places Wed, 20 Oct 2021 06:40:36 -0400
2021 CRAzies Award Winners & Nominees Announced

The Connecticut Restaurant Association (CRA) announced today the award winners and nominees for the 2021 CRAzies Awards Gala presented by Sysco, LLC. Each year, the CRAzies recognizes the exceptional ability and talent of Connecticut’s restaurant community at this prestigious awards gala. Restaurant owners, operators, chefs, vendors and more will come together to celebrate the success of the industry at Foxwoods Resort Casino on Monday, December 6.  

“We are extremely excited to celebrate our industry at the 2021 CRAzies, especially at a time when Connecticut’s local restaurants and caterers have been through so much, and worked so hard, over these past 19 months,” said Connecticut Restaurant Association Executive Director Scott Dolch. “Congratulations to our 2021 award winners and nominees, plus a special thank you to the efforts of the nominating panel who provided valuable insight throughout the selection process.”

The CRAzies selection process began earlier this week when a panel of more than 25 food writers, critics, bloggers, and social media influencers sat down to finalize the list of award winners and nominees. Restaurateur of the Year, CT Hospitality Hall of Fame, Vendor of the Year and Friend of the Industry nominees were brought to the CRA Board of Directors, where the overall winners were selected in each of these four categories. 

In the remaining categories, the public can now vote by CLICKING HERE through the end of November for each category: Chef of the Year, Pastry Chef/Baker of the Year, Bartender of the Year, Server of the Year, Caterer of the Year, Restaurant Newcomer, People’s Choice, Regional Restaurants of the Year and Overall Restaurant of the Year. Winners will be selected from not only the public vote, but also from our nominating panel members.   

The 2021 Restaurateur of the Year honoree is Bill Taibe of For The Food Restaurant Group, who owns and operates The Whelk (Westport), Don Memo (Westport), Kawa Ni (Westport) and The Norwalk Art Space Café (Norwalk). 

The Connecticut Hospitality Hall of Fame inductees for 2021 will be Louis’ Lunch (New Haven) and Match Restaurant (Norwalk). The 2021 Vendors of the Year are ClarkHirth Associates, an accounting, tax and consulting services firm located in Farmington, and FordHarrison LLP, a Labor and Employment Law Firm that is based in Hartford. The 2021 Friend of the Industry Award will go to CT DECD Commissioner David Lehman for his dedication and leadership to our industry throughout the pandemic.

Highlighting our finalist categories, one of the most coveted awards is Chef of the Year. The five finalists for 2021 include Michone Danae Arringtonfrom The Art of Yum (Waterbury), Ashley Flagg from Millwright’s (Simsbury), Joel Gargano from Grano Arso (Chester), Emily Mingrone from Tavern on State (New Haven) and Manuel Romero from Olea (New Haven).

Our 2021 Pastry Chef/Baker of the Year finalists are Kristin Eddy from Millwright’s (Simsbury), Chan Graham from BouNom Bakery (Avon), David Vacca from Nana’s Bakery & Pizza (Mystic) and Rob VanKeuren from Flour Water Salt Bread (Darien).

The Bartender of the Year finalists are Ryan Andrade from The White Hart Inn (Salisbury), Jade Ayala from Oyster Club (Mystic), Juan Meyer from Rosina’s (Greenwich), Khalid Williams from Taprock (Unionville).

The Server of the Year finalists are Amanda Casey from Viron Rondo Osteria (Cheshire), Jason Gould from Fleming’s Steakhouse (West Hartford), Brendan Hayes from Roma Ristorante (Oakville) and Jess Saunders from Dockside Brewery (Milford). 

The Caterer of the Year finalists are Delicacy Catering (West Hartford), Emily’s Catering (Bristol), Marcia Selden Catering & Events (Stamford) and The Mobile Pub (Watertown). 

The Restaurant Newcomer award highlights the best new restaurants in Connecticut. The 2021 finalists are Camacho Garage (New Haven), The Charles (Wethersfield), Dockside Brewery (Milford), Don Memo (Westport) and Shipwright’s Daughter (Mystic). 

A new category for 2021 is the People’s Choice Award, where the public selects their favorite dining establishment in Connecticut across any genre of food or style of dining. Finalists from this category are Red36 (Mystic), Taco Daddy (Stamford), The Place 2 Be (Hartford & West Hartford) and Twister Italian Café (Parkville Market, Hartford).

The final category is Restaurant of the Year, where the CRA recognizes four different regional winners, as well as an overall winner from the sixteen nominees. 

Finalists from the North Region (Hartford & Tolland Counties) are Arugula (West Hartford), Millwright’s (Simsbury), Present Company (Simsbury) and Shu Restaurant (West Hartford). 

The South Region (Middlesex & New Haven Counties) finalists are Le Petit Café (Branford), Shell & Bones (New Haven), Tavern on State (New Haven) and Viron Rondo Osteria (Cheshire). 

The East Region (New London & Windham Counties) finalists are Oyster Club (Mystic), Stone Row Kitchen & Bar (Willimantic), TAO Asian Bistro & Lounge (Uncasville) and Tony D’s (New London).

The West Region (Fairfield & Litchfield Counties) finalists are @ The Corner (Litchfield), Community Table (New Preston), OKO (Westport) and Taproot (Bethel). 

Log onto today to learn more about the finalists, vote for your favorites, purchase tickets or become a sponsor. For additional information, please contact us at

]]> (Connecticut Restaurant Association) Events Tue, 05 Oct 2021 11:00:00 -0400
Kennedy Center Promotes National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Trumbull, CT - The Kennedy Center is proud to participate in National Disability Employment Awareness Month, an annual awareness campaign that takes place each October. The purpose of National Disability Employment Awareness Month is to educate the public about disability employment issues and celebrate the many and varied contributions of America's workers with disabilities. This year's theme is "America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion"

The history of National Disability Employment Awareness Month traces back to 1945 when Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October each year "National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week." In 1962, the word "physically" was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

“Our national recovery from the pandemic cannot be completed without the inclusion of all Americans, in particular people with disabilities,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh. “Their contributions have historically been vital to our nation’s success and are more important today than ever. We must build an economy that fully includes the talent and drive of those with disabilities.”

Reflecting this year's theme, throughout the month, The Kennedy Center will be engaging in a variety of activities to educate the community on disability employment issues and its commitment to an inclusive work culture. 

Kennedy Center President and CEO, Rick Sebastian, commented, "We are honored to participate in National Disabilities Employment Month every year. #NDEAM offers a great platform for spreading the important message that people with disabilities are a valuable and untapped labor resource in our communities.  The Kennedy Center supports more than 700 individuals who make important contributions to their employers and communities every day.”

About The Kennedy Center

2021 marks the 70th Anniversary of the Kennedy Center. Since first opening in 1951, The Kennedy Center has remained steadfast in its mission of serving and creating opportunity for persons with disabilities through its Adult and Community Services, Workforce Development, and Social Enterprise divisions.  Today, The Kennedy Center provides services, supports and employment to more than 2,000 individuals annually in more than 110 communities throughout Connecticut and the State of New York.

]]> (Liz Benyon ) Places Thu, 30 Sep 2021 11:07:14 -0400
Kennedy Center WOW! On A Wednesday fall season kickoff, Sept. 22

Trumbull, CT – The Kennedy Center in Trumbull, CT, is hosting “WOW! On a Wednesday”, an open house event to kick off the fall season. All are welcome to stop by and experience The Kennedy Center’s Autism Project, Soups & Such Catering Service, Palm & Able Thrift Store and more. The event will be held on Wednesday, September 22 from 4 pm – 7 pm at The Kennedy Center, 39 Lindeman Drive in Trumbull.

During the event, guests will enjoy special thrift and book shopping in The Kennedy Center’s Palm & Able warehouse, rock painting craft activity, Zumba with Robin at 4 pm and snacks available from The Kennedy Center’s Soups & Such Catering Service. To elevate the fun even more, Susan DeLeonardo on steel pan, accompanied by Cindi DeNatale and Bonnie Schneider on drums will provide lively entertainment from 5 pm – 6:30 pm.

Rick Sebastian, Kennedy Center President & CEO, commented, “We are thrilled to host this fun “WOW! On a Wednesday” event to showcase all that is happening at The Kennedy Center and spread the word to more people throughout the community. We invite people of all ages to stop in for great food, music, shopping and activities and kick-off the fall with The Kennedy Center.”

Masks are required. In the event of rain, this event will be rescheduled.


]]> (Liz Benyon ) Events Thu, 09 Sep 2021 06:33:12 -0400
Made in Connecticut Expo features over 300 local businesses and entrepreneurs August 15 & 16 in Naugatuck

6th Annual Made in Connecticut Expo August 15 & 16 in Naugatuck

We're bringing over 300 amazing booths all from right here in Connecticut in every category imaginable. Food companies, drink companies, handcrafted products, manufacturers, apparel and fashion designers, artists and artisans, farm producers, local authors doing book signings, health and beauty product companies, pet companies, top local gourmet food trucks, furniture makers, upcyclers and so much more!!!

Please come and support local businesses and new entrepreneurs large and small producing goods, creating jobs and supporting the local economy right here at home. 

Beer and wine selections will be available from local Connecticut breweries and wineries.

Become a vendor and learn more here.

6 Rubber Drive, Naugatuck, CT


]]> (HH) Neighbors Fri, 13 Aug 2021 04:57:00 -0400
Faxon Law New Haven Labor Day Road Race Announced

New Haven, CT: The Faxon Law New Haven Road Race is excited to celebrate its 44th anniversary this Labor Day! The event takes place Monday, September 6 on the New Haven Green. The races consist of a half marathon, relay, 5K, Town Fair Tire Kids Fun Run, and the signature 20K.  The Faxon Law New Haven 20K again hosts the USATF 20K National Championship. The race expects to feature a number of past champions and U.S. Champions. This year marks the 30th year a national championship event has been held in New Haven, making the race the longest consecutive USATF Championship race ever.

New this year, the post-race beer is locally sourced! East Rock Brewery, located about a mile from the start line, will be pouring beer on the Green! East Rock Brewery is also generously donating $1 to the Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen for every beer bought by race participants (who show their bib!) over Labor Day weekend. Packet pickup is at a new location! Friday-Sunday of Labor Day weekend, participants can pick up their bib and shirt at Corsair, the luxury apartment building in the East Rock neighborhood.

The race held a t-shirt design contest over the summer and the winner has been chosen! Grey Kupiec, long time road race participant and winner of the 2011 t-shirt contest, has designed the colorful, retro logo. The design will be featured on black technical running shirts for the first 3,500 registrants.

The event offers something for the whole family with the ACES Kids Fun Zone. Kids can enjoy clowns, outdoor games, local college & university mascots, and other fun outdoor activities on the New Haven Green. 

2021 AVANGRID Green Initiative. The 2021 Faxon Law New Haven Road Race is going green again this year! In an attempt to reduce the race’s carbon footprint there are a number of changes being implemented this year including; 100% recycled paper for all printed race material and packet pick-up bags, biodegradable cups and trash bags, eliminate the use of plastic water bottles, electric or low emission lead vehicles.

After the race, participants are encouraged to buy tickets for the BAR New Haven After Party. For just $10 for 21+ and $7 for under 21 (must be accompanied by an adult), runners can sit back and relax from 9:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at BAR New Haven. A ticket includes two slices of pizza and a beer for 21+. Tickets are limited.

The event is organized by JB Sports and a team of local volunteers who make up our Board of Directors.  New Haven Road Race President, Michael Dolan states “We’ve been fortunate to continually grow and improve throughout our history. We are proud of the longevity of race and the opportunity to bring the race back in person after having to have a virtual event last year.  The event’s success over the past 44 years reflects the support we receive from the City of New Haven, our sponsors and the local running community.”

The New Haven Road Race would not be possible without the support of Faxon Law Group, title sponsor since 2007.  Joel Faxon, founding partner at Faxon Law Group, states, “We are honored to partner once again with this great event in the City of New Haven. The Faxon Law New Haven Road Race is something our firm and the surrounding community are extremely proud to host each year. We are especially thrilled to support an event that donates thousands of dollars each year to local charities and uses the same platform and mission as our firm’s Community Builder—to empower, enrich, enlighten and engage each member of our community, bringing groups together for the greater good. It’s a legacy that we treasure on behalf of both our staff and our clients.”

As always safety of race participants and spectators is extremely important.  All runners and spectators will be asked to wear a mask on the New Haven Green when if they are not running, eating or drinking.  The race will have numerous safety protocols in place that will meet or exceed all State and local guidelines.

The event’s major sponsors include, Avelo Airlines, T-Mobile, McDermott Lexus, AVANGRID, ACES, Town Fair Tire, Corsair, Connecticut Orthopaedic Specialists and the City of New Haven.  To learn more about the event or to register, visit Early registration is encouraged; event is limited to 6,000 entrants!

]]> (JB Sports ) Events Wed, 11 Aug 2021 05:40:39 -0400
SHU Physical Therapy Alum Takes Skills to U.S. Air Force

Graduates of Sacred Heart University’s doctor of physical therapy (DPT) program can be found working in hospitals, clinics, colleges and rehabilitation facilities. Over the last 20 years, a number of them also have pursued careers in the United States Air Force, where they use their education and skills to serve their country.

Andrew Smietana, 30, didn’t realize the Air Force was a career option when he entered Sacred Heart’s DPT program in 2013. Now, after three years with the Air Force, Captain Smietana recently earned the Senior Company Grade Officer of the Year Award for the 60th Medical Group at David Grant Medical Center, Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, CA. He competed for the title against more than 400 other captains.

“It’s a great honor,” said Smietana, who received the award during the COVID-19 pandemic, when all hospital departments were working under challenging and changing circumstances.

Smietana knew since he was a teenager that he wanted to pursue a career in physical therapy. As an athlete who played baseball throughout high school and at the Division I collegiate level, the Bethel native frequently found himself around rehabilitation specialists and strength and conditioning coaches who were dedicated to helping their athletes reach peak performance. He also watched a physical therapist help his mother regain her mobility and independence after battling a difficult health situation for several years. “At a young age, I knew I wanted to help people and make as much an impact in other people’s lives as the PTs did in mine,” Smietana said.

He described SHU’s physical therapy program as “incredible” and said he’s thankful for his professors and the rigorous curriculum that prepared him for his career. “Learning PT is not easy,” Smietana said. “SHU’s program was challenging, but the professors definitely set us up to succeed when we entered the real world.”

Smietana believes SHU’s DPT program is among the best. Its problem-based learning model enables students to collaborate with classmates and work through issues instead of being “spoon-fed” information. Professors taught students clinical reasoning skills and how to think “on the fly.” They impressed on the students that all patient cases aren’t “textbook,” he said.

A fateful meeting

An earlier alumnus, Air Force Major Jeremiah Samson ’01, spoke to Smietana’s class years ago about his time as a physical therapist in the Air Force. Samson, 48, is a California native who retired from the Air Force in June after serving for 20 years.

“The Air Force wants us to succeed and provides the resources we need to do so,” Samson said. “The Air Force has an awesome team of physical therapists who want to make our profession better.”

Smietana found Samson’s presentation intriguing, but he wasn’t sure a career in the Air Force was right for him. “I thought it was interesting,” he said, “but I didn’t give it too much thought initially.” He was thinking of a career in the sports field. After Smietana graduated, he worked about two years at a small, outpatient clinic in the New Haven area that focused on sports-related injuries. He knew he was making a difference, but he felt capable of doing more.

Recalling Samson’s presentation, Smietana thought about joining the Air Force. He contacted a recruiter and began the steps necessary to commission as a physical therapist in the military.

“My job challenges me every day,” Smietana said. “I’m so grateful for it—I’m a better leader because of it. I’m so proud of what I’m doing and the people I work with every day.”

As physical therapy element chief at David Grant USAF Medical Center, with nearly 30 military and civilian personnel on his team, Smietana oversees all aspects of inpatient and outpatient PT. He recommends the Air Force for any graduating DPT students. “There is no greater feeling than serving your country,” he said. “I’ve been exposed to opportunities I never would have had on the civilian side.”

Samson echoed Smietana’s statements about SHU, saying its DPT program is exceptional. The problem-based learning technique is one he used throughout his career. “I took so many of the skills I learned from faculty with me,” he said. “They provided us with individual attention, encouraged us and were honest and up-front with students.”

Samson always wanted to serve his country, so joining the Air Force after he earned his degree was a logical step. Throughout his 20-year career, he worked as a clinician, was deployed to war zones overseas and served as an advisor to the Air Force surgeon general. Before retiring, Samson worked as the founding director of the orthopedic physical therapy residency program at Joint Base San Antonio, a military facility in Texas. He said he enjoyed teaching and leading while still seeing patients and providing care.

“It’s been a really rewarding experience,” Samson said. “I’ve made so many friends and created lifelong bonds.”

Other DPT alumni who are serving or served in the Air Force include: Muhammad Ali ’15, ’17, Brian Dilorio ’14, ’16, Chris Ficke ’99, Ben Hando ’01, Jeff Notestine ’11, ’15, Kara Patton ’10, ’13, Eric Stephan ’00 and Rachel (Ebmeier) Thompson ’15.

For more information on Sacred Heart’s DPT program, visit the program’s webpage.

]]> (Kimberly Swartz) Neighbors Mon, 02 Aug 2021 12:37:02 -0400
José Feliciano Headlines Concert Celebrating Connecticut's New, Tougher Human Trafficking Law at Ridgefield Playhouse on Aug. 14

Celebratory Concert Headlining José Feliciano on August 14 at The Ridgefield Playhouse

To mark the passage of the new state law that better protects victims of human trafficking in Connecticut, as well as highlight continued efforts by organizations around the state to focus greater attention to this pervasive problem, Traffick Jam Live, a Connecticut-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is hosting a special concert featuring Grammy Award-winning singer/guitarist José Feliciano of Weston and special guest Vaneese Thomas at the Ridgefield Playhouse on Saturday, Aug. 14.

The concert will work to raise money -- and awareness -- about human trafficking, which affects communities large and small, including many here in Connecticut. Since 2008, more than 1,000 children have been referred to the Department of Children and Families in Connecticut as possible victims of child trafficking.

Between the two performances several Connecticut based anti-human trafficking nonprofits (PEHT, LOVE 146 and TJL) will share some vital information about human sex trafficking right here in our own communities. The presentation takeaways include: tips on “Red Flags” to look for to spot early indications of “grooming” techniques of traffickers; a protective look at how social media can provide traffickers access to our young daughters.

State Sen. Will Haskell will join them on stage and comment about the importance of the recently signed anti-human trafficking law.

Traffick Jam Live is a Connecticut-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit aimed at collaboratively disrupting human trafficking, specifically sex trafficking of girls under the age of 18, in the United States. It was launched by Ridgefield resident Bo Beatty in 2016.

Traffick Jam Live shines a spotlight on the shadows of human trafficking through concert and event productions that inform audiences on vital human trafficking awareness information.  For starters, if you see something, say something by calling the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or text 233733. Traffick Jam Live is also collaboratively developing a tactical hand signal for girls to alert “trained eyes” when they are with their trafficker on an airplane, a hotel lobby or any public facility with monitored security cameras. 

"Sadly, most Americans have no idea how prevalent sex trafficking is right here in our own communities," states Beatty.

The new law, which passed earlier this summer, has been hailed by advocates working to end human trafficking. Traffickers charged in Connecticut will find it harder to avoid prosecution and victims of trafficking will now have an easier time getting their convictions vacated if the crimes they committed were done while being trafficked.

Advocates say these measures, and others included in the law, reflect a greater understanding and awareness of the problem, as well as the long-term consequences trafficking has on its victims. On a recent online zoom presentation hosted by Greenwich-based Partnership to End Human Trafficking (PEHT), the group praised the new law and the significant efforts of advocates over several years to get it passed and signed. 

“This new Connecticut State law is a major accomplishment,” said Erin Williamson, vice president of Global Programs and Strategy at New Haven-based LOVE146.

One of Williamson's and LOVE146's concerns are the predatory traffickers' enhanced social media access to vulnerable young girls anywhere in Connecticut.

The average age of entry into human sex trafficking is 12 to 14 years old, according to many anti-trafficking agencies. And the U.S. Department of State, in its "2021 Trafficking In Persons Report,” indicates that 28 percent of sex trafficking victims in the United States (more than 1 in 4) are girls under the age of 18.

Concert organizers are hoping the community comes out to enjoy some great music and do their part in disrupting human trafficking. The concert opens at 7 p.m. with a performance by Thomas and her ensemble.

"I'm honored to be a part of it. It's such an important issue," said Thomas, who has sung with Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, and Celine Dion, to name a few.  "I don't think people really know ... they know the large picture, the big picture of what human trafficking is about. But they don't see it in a personal sense. That it could be right next door to them. That it could be right in their neighborhood. I'd like to draw attention to that aspect and have people be aware of what is going on around them."

She will be followed by the presentation and then the headliner -- Jose Feliciano -- will take the stage. Feliciano, a longtime Weston resident, headlined the Grand Opening of the Ridgefield Playhouse in 2000 and is returning once again to lend his talents to a worthy cause. 

In a joint statement, both José and wife Susan Feliciano stated, “Unless we, as a people, are really aware of this perversion —  a thing as diabolical as Human Trafficking — it will continue to permeate the underbelly of our society. I must admit, not until I was invited to perform this concert in support of Traffick Jam Live,  did we, Susan and I, grasp the scope of the dilemma. We need to become more fully aware and dedicated to do whatever we can, whatever it takes, to rid this scourge in order to protect the most vulnerable among us. Together, let’s work towards eradicating Human Trafficking in all its forms.”  The venues Gold Circle tickets also include post event VIP “meet and greet” with Feliciano after the concert.

To help provide complimentary concert tickets to Connecticut human trafficking survivors and employees and volunteers of CT’s anti-trafficking nonprofits, visit “donate” page, make a donation, and enter “Comp Tix” in the comments field.  Join in and let’s JAM human trafficking together.

Tickets are available at and here

-- For more information about Traffick Jam Live, please visit

Vaneese Thomas opens the Traffick Jam Live Aug 14 ...

]]> (Bo Beatty) Charities Fri, 30 Jul 2021 07:07:30 -0400
ACT of Connecticut Announces 2021–2022 Season

The grand moment you've been waiting for... ACT of Connecticut's Season Announcement

After a year of limitations due to COVID-19, the popular ACT (A Contemporary Theatre) of Connecticut is fully opening its doors to live audiences and is thrilled to announce its upcoming 2021–2022 season. The season features four spectacular shows: Smokey Joe’s Cafe, Nickel Mines, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Rent

ACT of CT Artistic Director, Daniel C. Levine says, “We could not be more excited to be ‘back at it’ with a full season of shows. While we’re proud of the work that we’ve produced over this past year, there is nothing like performing in front of a live (and full!) audience. Next season’s shows are incredibly exciting and there is truly something for everyone. The talent that we have coming to Ridgefield this season is not to be believed, and we just can’t wait to welcome our patrons back to ACT of CT for a full season of stunning productions!”

ACT of CT’s 2021–2022 season:

SMOKEY JOE’S CAFE – The Songs of Leiber and Stoller

One of Broadway’s most enduring hits, Smokey Joe’s Cafe is a celebration of legendary songwriting team Leiber and Stoller, who virtually invented Rock & Roll. This high-energy show features nearly 40 of the greatest songs ever recorded, including “Jailhouse Rock,” "Stand By Me,” “Yakety Yak,” “Hound Dog,” “On Broadway,” “Spanish Harlem” and many more. Smokey Joe’s Cafe is a fun-filled night of electrifying 50’s Rock & Roll that will leave you flying high! This production’s Director / Choreographer will be Smokey Joe’s Cafe’s original west-end production cast member, Stephanie Pope Lofgren. 

Words and Music by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller

Performance dates: September 30–October 24, 2021


This new musical is centered around the infamous 2006 Lancaster, Pennsylvania Amish schoolhouse shooting in which a lone gunman shot ten girls (five fatally) before taking his own life. A breathtaking piece of theater, it combines spoken dialogue, movement and original music to explore multiple viewpoints and perspectives from that fateful morning. Nickel Mines is a living memorial to the young girls who lost their lives and a powerful exploration of community, perseverance and ultimately, hope. Nickel Mines will be Directed and Choreographed by Andrew Palermo and is presented in association with Anita Donofrio. 

Conceived by Andrew Palermo

Written by Andrew Palermo and Shannon Stoeke

Music and Lyrics by Dan Dyer

Performance dates: January 20–January 30, 2022 (10 performances only).

ACT of CT is the first professional theater to premiere this fascinating, elegant and moving new musical. Due to Covid-19, “Nickel Mines” (which was originally scheduled for March 19–29, 2020) was canceled just days before opening. ACT of CT is ecstatic to be able to bring back this important and powerful new musical as part of its 2021–2022 season. 


This timeless rock opera follows the last week of Jesus Christ’s life as seen through the eyes of Judas Iscariot. The story, told entirely through song, explores the personal relationships and struggles between Jesus, Judas, Mary, his disciples and the Roman Empire. The iconic 70's rock score contains such well-known songs as “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” and “Gethsemane.” A true global phenomenon, Jesus Christ Superstar has been wowing audiences for 50 years. This production will be directed by ACT of CT’s Artistic Director, Daniel C. Levine.

Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber

Lyrics by Tim Rice

Performance dates: March 24–April 17, 2022


Rent is a show about falling in love, following your dreams, and finding your voice! Winner of the Tony Award for Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Rent has become a pop-cultural phenomenon. The story follows a year in the life of a group of impoverished young artists and musicians struggling to survive and create in New York's Lower East Side. In this groundbreaking musical, these young bohemians negotiate their dreams, loves and conflicts and learn that there is “no day but today!"

Book, Music and Lyrics by Jonathan Larson

Performance dates: May 26–June 19, 2022 

Subscriptions for the 2021–2022 season are available now by visiting or by calling the ACT of CT Box Office at 475-215-5497. Visit ACT of CT website to learn more about the exclusive season subscriber benefits.

About ACT (A Contemporary Theatre) of Connecticut

ACT (A Contemporary Theatre) of Connecticut is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) professional Equity theatre located in Ridgefield, CT. Founded in 2018 by Katie Diamond, Daniel C. Levine and Bryan Perri, ACT of CT presents limited engagement runs of well-known musicals, as well as world-premiere productions by the next generation of writers and composers. In addition to fully produced mainstage productions, ACT of CT’s programming also includes a New Works Series, a Broadway Unplugged Series and an extensive theater education program. With its 182 seats and turntable stage, the theater offers an intimate, unique and immersive theatrical experience for its patrons. Given its proximity to New York City, ACT of CT has access to top theatre talent and professionals and, in just three seasons, has become one of the most well-known and highly respected regional theatres in our area. ACT of CT is dedicated to inspiring, creating and nurturing a culturally diverse and equitable environment for its staff, creative teams, cast, musicians, crew members and audiences, and is committed to achieving a diverse workforce and to maintain an inclusive and discrimination-free environment.

]]> (ACT of CT) Events Thu, 22 Jul 2021 18:03:25 -0400
United Way of Western Connecticut Awards Connecticut Housing Partners a $10,000 COVID Relief Resiliency Grant!

Connecticut Housing Partners, headquartered in Trumbull CT, and provides affordable housing throughout Fairfield County, has been awarded a $10,000 COVID Relief Resiliency Grant.

This grant will fund our Rent Bank, Rental Assistance Program. COVID-19 has created a dire emergency for many of our residents who have lost their jobs and cannot pay their rent. Many residents have been living paycheck to paycheck and have no cash reserve The Rent Bank has been a critical program, a lifeline for our struggling residents through these unprecedented times.

Renée Dobos, CEO of Connecticut Housing says, “We are thrilled to have been awarded this vital funding from the United Way of Western Connecticut. COVID-19 continues to create a dire financial crisis for many of our low-income residents who have lost their jobs and they are now unable to pay their rent. We want to do everything we can during this crisis not to evict these residents and prevent homelessness.”

The CHP Rent Bank was created to aid our residents through unexpected financial hardships. Through the Rent Bank, CHP offers temporary subsidized rent relief for low-income seniors and families in CHP properties who cannot pay their rent. Dobos continues, “Our Rent Bank Rental Assistance Program has become a “lifeline” for many of our struggling residents, with “no strings attached,” and it does not have to be paid back. We will also identify support services in the community that these residents can reach out to for job placement and educate residents about solutions to financial hardships."

CHP offers mandatory Budget Counseling to these residents during this unpredictable economic period. We interface with residents to help them budget effectively during this crisis. To qualify for the Rent Bank Rental Assistance Program, the resident would, of course, have been in good standing, and demonstrate that they have lost their job due to COVID-19.  

CHP is continually reaching out to business partners and foundations to support the Rent Bank-funded so it is available to keep a roof over the heads of struggling residents.  Since the start of the pandemic, CHP has assisted 75 households to remain safely housed.

For more information, please visit 

]]> (Robin Jerrild) Charities Fri, 16 Jul 2021 09:58:01 -0400
Baby Giant Anteater Born at CT's Beardsley Zoo

For the third time in Zoo history, a Giant anteater has been born at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo.

Arriving on June 15 after a 175-day gestation period, the baby weighed 4.3 pounds at nine days old, and 6.1 pounds at 23 days old on July 8. Proud parents are third time dad, E.O., and fourth time mom, Pana. The pair was brought to Connecticut’s only Zoo with the hopes of successful breeding, which occurred for the first time in 2016. Currently mother and baby are in seclusion most of the day, with brief forays into the outdoor habitat for fresh air and sunshine. 

“We couldn’t be happier that our Giant anteaters Pana and E.O. are parents for the third time,” explained Zoo Director Gregg Dancho. “We encourage everyone to follow the baby’s growth and progress on our Facebook and Instagram pages until the baby is a bit larger.”

Mochilla, the pair’s first offspring, is now in residence at Alexandria Zoo in Louisiana. The second-born, Tupi, is now at the Nashville Zoo in Tennessee. 

Female anteaters give birth to one offspring and the baby rides on mom’s back for the first several months of life, occasionally venturing off not too far from mom to explore its surroundings. For the first week, mom spends most of her time sleeping while bonding occurs and the baby gains strength and weight. When Pana and her baby are outside, EO will not be allowed to be in the same habitat due to the mother’s protectiveness. Pana and the baby will be outside for guests to view later this summer, alternating with EO.

The Giant anteater parents came to the Zoo from Palm Beach Zoo in Palm Beach, Florida. Both Pana and EO are twelve years old. They arrived in late May 2015 and are a highlight of the Pampas Plains habitat, which opened in August 2015. Featuring animals from the Pampas region of Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil, the exhibit represents the Zoo’s South American Adventure. 

About Giant Anteaters

Giant anteaters can live up to 26 years in human care and are usually solitary animals. They weigh up to 100 pounds, and are five to seven feet long. Their home range is from southern Belize to northern Argentina and they live in grasslands, humid forests, and woodland areas. Anteaters have one of the lowest body temperatures in the animal kingdom at 91 to 97 degrees Fahrenheit and can eat up to 30,000 ants per meal in the wild. The Latin name for anteater is Vermillingua, meaning "worm tongue," which can be as long as two feet.

]]> (Lisa Clair) Neighbors Thu, 15 Jul 2021 09:48:50 -0400
New Connecticut Law: Buckle Up in the Back Seat!

Connecticut's mandatory back-seat seat belt law effective October 1

The provision, which requires all passengers, no matter where they sit in a vehicle, to buckle up, was part of a State Department of Transportation bill, passed with bipartisan support. The bill became Public Act 21-175 when Governor Lamont signed it on July 12. It’s effective October 1.

In a press release today, AAA Northeast applauded the passage of a mandatory back-seat seat belt law during the recent legislative session, a law that’s expected to save lives and reduce fatalities and injuries on Connecticut roadways.

“Connecticut has taken a significant step to reduce serious injuries and fatalities involving unbelted rear seat passengers,” said Alec Slatky, AAA Northeast’s Director of Public and Government Affairs. “Given the spike in fatalities on roadways last year, passage of this lifesaving measure is cause for celebration."

One of the first states to pass a seat-belt law for drivers and front-seat passengers in 1985, Connecticut trailed the rest of the country in extending the law to the back seat. Pre-existing law only required rear-seat passengers under 16 to buckle up, even though proper restraint use is effective for all ages.

Now, Connecticut is the 32nd state to require all back-seat occupants to buckle up, said Slatky. “There’s overwhelming evidence that seat-belt use reduces motor vehicle fatalities and serious injuries. Now, unbelted rear-seat passengers no longer will be back-seat ‘bullets’ in crashes,” he added.

Since 2010, more than 2,000 unbelted back-seat occupants have been injured or killed on Connecticut roadways, reports the UConn Crash Data Repository.

The new law is subject to secondary enforcement, meaning drivers can’t be pulled over just because there is an unbelted adult in the back seat. However, law enforcement can issue a fine for the unbelted passenger if the driver is pulled over for a primary offense such as speeding. The fine is $50 if the driver is 18 or older and $75 if the driver is under 18.

]]> (HH) Politics Wed, 14 Jul 2021 09:09:41 -0400
Make-A-Wish CT Marks 35 Years Granting 3,600+ Wishes

July 18, 2021 marks the 35th anniversary of Make-A-Wish Connecticut, the nonprofit organization that grants life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses in our state. After 35 years of wish-granting and more than 3,600 wishes granted, Make-A-Wish has proven time and time again that light can shine in even the darkest and most uncertain times. The organization remains committed to delivering hope to wish kids and their families. 

To celebrate and honor their 35th Anniversary, the chapter reached out to wish kids over the past 35 years and created 35 snapshots, sharing one wish alumni snapshot a day – counting down to the very first wish kid who inspired the founding of their chapter in July 1986. The snapshots share where the wish kids are now and the transformative power their wishes had on them and their families, and still have, many years later. Some are now nurses, musicians, parents, business owners, teachers, news reporters…

The community is also celebrating the nonprofit’s milestone with several events and fundraising activities:

Raise Dough For Wishes is a virtual baking competition to celebrate the chapter’s 35th anniversary! The event brought together bakers in the community to show support for local children who are waiting to receive their wishes. The community can vote on a unique array of creations by donating $5 - a virtual high five! Every $5 donation is one vote for a favorite creation. The nonprofit is hoping to cook up 1,986 votes in honor of the year 1986 when they were founded! If they meet this goal, they'll be able to grant a wish for a local child waiting. Voting is open until midnight July 17 at  

Splash Car Wash is partnering with Make-A-Wish Connecticut on Saturday, July 17 to host Splash For Wishes, where they will make a donation for every car wash at all Connecticut locations. 

Five Guys is donating 20% of all purchases to Make-A-Wish Connecticut at all 24 Connecticut locations on Monday, July 19 from 4 to 10 p.m. to help the chapter celebrate 35 years of wishes.

Pam Keough, President and CEO of the Connecticut chapter shares that is “amazing how our first wish was granted 35 years ago, and it all began in New Milford with three volunteers, all licensed social workers, who were passionate about kids and were committed to forming a credible wish granting organization in the state. It is also amazing how many wishes we’ve granted and all we’ve accomplished with the help, support and generosity of the community: donors, volunteers, corporate partners, media partners, wish kids, families… 

Keough adds, “Make-A-Wish is the tipping point – the moment that signals that something amazing is about to happen. We are committed to continuing to create hope, so that every eligible child can experience the power of a wish."  


Make-A-Wish® Connecticut creates life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses. We seek to bring every eligible child's wish to life because every child deserves a childhood. Research shows children who have wishes granted can build the physical and emotional strength they need to fight their illnesses. Together, generous donors, supporters, staff and volunteers across the state unite to deliver hope to wish kids and their families when they need it most. In total, Make-A-Wish Connecticut has granted more than 3,600 wishes to local children. For more information about Make-A-Wish Connecticut, visit

]]> (Carin Buckman ) Charities Tue, 13 Jul 2021 12:15:18 -0400
2,000 Expected at Branford’s Father’s Day Road Race - NEW Location!

Branford, CT: The 41st Annual Branford Road Race has returned to an in-person event and expects 2,000 participants at next weekend’s race. There are two separate 5k races this year that will replace the traditional 5-mile run. Each participant may choose one 5k run, a two-mile walk, or the Kid’s ½ Mile Fun Run. There are 7:00am and 9:00am starts to the 5k races this year, with the former limited to 800 participants and the latter limited to 1,000 participants.  With nearly 800 already registered, the 9 a.m. race will sell out early next week.  The two-mile walk is limited to 200 walkers and starts at 11:00am, along with the Kids Fun Run, with a limit of 200. The race annually supports local non-profit and community organizations and continues to donate thousands per year. In 2021, the Branford Road Race is supporting Camp Rising Sun, Notre Dame High School, and the American Parkinson Disease Association.

This year, the race has one major change with its transition back to an in-person event, and that is a location change, usually, the race would be held on the Branford Green. However, to maximize social distancing efforts, both the start and finish lines of this year’s race have been moved to Walsh Intermediate School. There will also be no race day registration allowed this year. Race Founder Ray Figlewski stated that although the race will look much different than the last in-person race in 2019, “the proper steps are being taken to maximize the safety of all attendees in order to have a successful and secure event.”

The Post-Race Party will also look different this year, as all food and drink will be pre-packaged and in a grab-and-go format. There will unfortunately be no live entertainment or activities post-race. However, Stony Creek Brewery is hosting a Post-Race Celebration that is offering UNLIMITED beer from 10:00am – 2:00pm! Tickets must be purchased during Race registration and the event is limited to 400 attendees. All official COVID-19 rules are available on

Sponsors of the 2021 race include Medtronic, H.D. Segur Insurance, Connecticut Orthopaedics, Stony Creek Brewery, soundRUNNER, Notre Dame High School, TYCO Print, 99.1PLR and The Sound.

]]> (John Bysiewicz) Events Wed, 09 Jun 2021 16:00:17 -0400
Connecticut Housing Partners celebrates NeighborWorks Week June 5 – 12

Connecticut Housing Partners (CHP) residents, staff and volunteers will improve many of their communities during NeighborWorks Week, a weeklong celebration of neighborhood improvement activities nationally recognized as NeighborWorks Week.

During NeighborWorks Week (June 5-12), Connecticut Housing Partners, and other NeighborWorks organizations across the country will focus on neighborhood change and awareness and host several events that educate, train, and inform. The events demonstrate the value of neighbors helping neighbors.

CHP will be on-site at their (2) Senior Affordable Housing Developments, Huntington Place in Trumbull, and Wilton Commons I & II in Wilton, throughout the week with plans to beautify grounds, grow healthy produce, feed families, offer some fun and engage seniors who have become isolated during the pandemic and solidify these communities.

The weeklong theme, Better Mind, Body and Wellness, will be incorporated into the events of the week including planting vegetables and herbs into the raised beds, a tech event to teach seniors how to use laptops to access valuable information, a Tai Chi workout demo, a Healthy Trivia Contest, and rock painting in on-site gardens with the help of volunteers. Food trucks and a healthy food demo with Chef Raquel Pablo, owner of A Pinch of Salt Catering, will wrap up the week at Huntington Place and Wilton Commons.

“We continue to pull our communities together when they need us most especially during this pandemic. We are more than a landlord.  We are offering our residents hope during these challenging times,” said Renée Dobos, CEO of CHP. Dobos adds, “We are happy to be able to pull these communities together after a very difficult year and are proud of the resilience shown by all. Our important partnership with NeighborWorks America helps us achieve our goals and take care of our communities. Many of these residents feel lost and alone and CHP is the bright light showing that management cares about them and wants to help them through this crisis.”

CHP is part of the National NeighborWorks network, an affiliation of nearly 250 nonprofit organizations located in every state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. In fiscal year 2019, the NeighborWorks network provided 457,200 housing and counseling services; owned and managed 173,700 rental homes; and created 47,100 jobs. The NeighborWorks network was founded and is supported by NeighborWorks America, which creates opportunities for people to live in affordable homes, improve their lives and strengthen their communities.

]]> (Robin Jerrild) Events Thu, 03 Jun 2021 12:31:16 -0400