Westport's HamletHub https://news.hamlethub.com/westport Wed, 04 Aug 2021 05:10:06 -0400 HamletHub.com Catalyst Quartet on MoCA Westport's outdoor stage this Friday! https://news.hamlethub.com/westport/events/47510-catalyst-quartet-on-moca-westport-s-outdoor-stage-this-friday47510-catalyst-quartet-on-moca-westport-s-outdoor-stage-this-friday https://news.hamlethub.com/westport/events/47510-catalyst-quartet-on-moca-westport-s-outdoor-stage-this-friday47510-catalyst-quartet-on-moca-westport-s-outdoor-stage-this-friday

On Friday, August 6 at 7 PM, experience the Grammy-Award winning Catalyst String Quartet on MoCA Westport's outdoor stage! Bring your lawn chairs, purchase delicious food from Joe's Food Truck and drinks from Bar MoCA, and explore the Museum's Summer Exhibitions with complimentary access. All CDC guidelines are explicitly followed. 

The Quartet will perform a stellar program featuring both traditional and contemporary music composed by Dvořák, Florence B. Price, and Jessie Montgomery. Montgomery is an acclaimed composer, violinist, and educator whose music interweaves classical music with elements of vernacular music, improvisation, language, and social justice, placing her squarely as one of the most relevant interpreters of 21st-century American sound and experience.
Tickets are $10 per person. Purchase HERE.
Rain Date: Saturday, August 7 
MoCA Westport thanks its Music at MoCA Sponsors including Bill & Jodi Felton, Russell and Lauren Fuchs, WildBloom Skincare, Cohen and Wolf, Wealthspire Advisors, WSHU, WPKN, and WMNR.
kerry@ducey.org (David Green, FCBuzz) Events Tue, 03 Aug 2021 08:28:57 -0400
SHU Physical Therapy Alum Takes Skills to U.S. Air Force https://news.hamlethub.com/westport/neighbors/47508-shu-physical-therapy-alum-takes-skills-to-u-s-air-force47508-shu-physical-therapy-alum-takes-skills-to-u-s-air-force https://news.hamlethub.com/westport/neighbors/47508-shu-physical-therapy-alum-takes-skills-to-u-s-air-force47508-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.

kerry@ducey.org (Kimberly Swartz) Neighbors Mon, 02 Aug 2021 12:37:02 -0400
Support our Veterans! Step OUT For The Brave 40,000 Step Challenge Kicks Off Saturday! https://news.hamlethub.com/westport/charities/47505-this-week-support-our-veterans47505-this-week-support-our-veterans https://news.hamlethub.com/westport/charities/47505-this-week-support-our-veterans47505-this-week-support-our-veterans

Beginning on Saturday, August 7th those interested in helping Veterans experiencing homelessness can take a step forward by joining the Step OUT For The Brave 40,000 Step Challenge, presented by the Homes for the Brave organization. From Saturday, August 7 through Sunday, August 15, participants can take one step, or 40,000 or more for each of the Veterans who are homeless across our country on any given night.

The challenge, which is the organization’s signature fundraiser, allows participants to take their steps wherever they reside during the nine-day period. Through August 7 the cost is just $40 to register, after that it rises to $50. Each participant will receive a commemorative Drifit event shirt. Visit https://www.homesforthebrave.org/stepout to sign up today, or to become a sponsor.

Participants can compete for prizes. Those who take the most steps, go the furthest distance, raise the most funds, post the most photos, and receive the most individual donations are just a few of the prize categories.

“While the event is a fun way to safely make a difference, the collective impact is enormous. Those who served our country and now need our assistance will be able to return to meaningful and productive lives thanks to the funds this effort will raise,” said Vince Santilli, CEO and Executive Director of ABRI/Homes for the Brave.

A festive kickoff event will take place on Saturday, August 7th at the Pedestrian Mall accessible via Park and University Avenues on the University of Bridgeport's beautiful oceanfront campus beginning at 9:00AM. Singer, songwriter and musician John Fazio Jr. of Bethel, Connecticut will perform the National Anthem. The event is part of BPT200, a citywide celebration of Bridgeport's history and modern-day culture, cuisine, and colors. 

Since 2002, Homes for the Brave has helped over 1,400 homeless individuals, almost all of whom are Veterans, to secure income, find safe and affordable housing, and make meaningful contributions to our community.

To register visit: https://www.homesforthebrave.org/stepout and for information on sponsorship opportunities please contact Vince Santilli at vsantilli@homesforthebrave.org or call 203-338-0669.

“The challenge begins in just a matter of days, we ask that you help end Veteran homelessness by joining in as an individual, a team, or as a sponsor. Every dollar raised will make a tremendous difference,” said Santilli.

Homes for the Brave would like to thank its current sponsors, including the Bridgeport Islanders; Friend of HFTB; Haynes Construction & Haynes Group; Webster Bank Arena; AT&T; BTX Global; PSEG; People's United Bank; Albertus Magnus College; Bernadette Baldino; Deadlocked Escape Rooms; King Industries; Knights of Columbus Park City Council #16; Microboard Processing; Newtown Savings Bank; T. Arduini Co. Inc.; The Original Vazzy's; Webster Bank; Liberty Printing; Tito's Handmade Vodka/Hartley & Parker Distributors; Turner Construction; Connecticare; Connecticut Community Bank; Fairfield County Bank; IPG; Mutual Security Credit Union; Petit Family Foundation; Bigelow Tea; Hirsch, Levy & Fountain, LLC; and Port 5 Women's Auxiliary. 

kerry@ducey.org (Kerry Anne Ducey) Charities Mon, 02 Aug 2021 12:31:07 -0400
Lamont Announces Deployment of More Than $16 Million To Support Local Special Education COVID-19 Recovery Efforts https://news.hamlethub.com/westport/politics/47507-lamont-announces-deployment-of-more-than-16-million-to-support-local-special-education-covid-19-recovery-efforts47507-lamont-announces-deployment-of-more-than-16-million-to-support-local-special-education-covid-19-recovery-efforts https://news.hamlethub.com/westport/politics/47507-lamont-announces-deployment-of-more-than-16-million-to-support-local-special-education-covid-19-recovery-efforts47507-lamont-announces-deployment-of-more-than-16-million-to-support-local-special-education-covid-19-recovery-efforts

Governor Ned Lamont and Connecticut Acting Commissioner of Education Charlene Russell-Tucker today visited Regional School District 17 in Higganum to highlight the more than $16 million in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief II (ESSER II) funds that are being made available to assist 170 school districts across Connecticut with delivering special education services to more than 80,000 students during the 2021-22 school year.

“These funds are an important way to provide needed resources to special education programs throughout Connecticut and ensure that all of our students have equal access to the education they deserve,” Governor Lamont said.


ESSER funding is critical to re-engaging all students and supporting learning acceleration with the different and unique needs of students in mind, such as students with disabilities. The Connecticut State Department of Education is using its ESSER II state set-aside to supplement local special education COVID-19 recovery efforts through several initiatives piloted last school year by several districts, including Regional School District 17. The district is also innovating and expanding capacity by engaging stakeholders to address the needs of students with disabilities using their local ESSER II funds. During the 2021-22 school year, four main initiatives will be coordinated by the Connecticut State Department of Education’s Bureau of Special Education (BSE) to assist in providing services to students with disabilities and their families. These include:

  1. Addressing Delayed, Interrupted, Suspended or Inaccessible Individualized Education Plan (IEP) Supports and Services: Up to $13 million in funds will assist districts with addressing delayed, interrupted, suspended, or inaccessible IEP supports and services for students with IEPs in each school district.
  2. Special Education Evaluations: Up to $1 million in funds will increase the capacity of state’s six Regional Educational Service Centers (RESC) to assist school districts in conducting special education evaluations, which will benefit approximately 240 students, as well as planning and placement teams.
  3. Supplementary Tutoring and Reading Instruction: Up to $2 million in funds will assist 170 districts with supporting supplementary tutoring and reading instruction to address the needs of 3,092 students with an IEP and a primary disability category of SLD/dyslexia in alignment with the reading goals in the student’s current IEP.
  4. Individualized In-Home Support for High Needs Students: Up to $272,000 in funds will provide for 8,000 hours of individualized in-home support through partnership with the Connecticut Department of Developmental Services to provide 1:1 in-home assistance and support for up to 200 students with high needs.

Governor Lamont and Acting Commissioner Russell-Tucker also visited the site of Haddam-Killingworth Recreation Department’s summer camp, located on the campus of Regional School District 17’s high school. The Haddam-Killingworth Recreation Department is one of 235 programs statewide that are receiving grants through the Connecticut State Department of Education’s set-aside of COVID-19 recovery funds to deliver affordable high-quality educational and recreational opportunities this summer.

In total, the grants have already expanded access to enrichment experiences for more than 50,000 students in Connecticut, with an emphasis on children and communities most impacted by the pandemic. Many summer programs continue to have open enrollment, and families still have time to find many financially accessible options on their area.

kerry@ducey.org (Kerry Anne Ducey) Politics Mon, 02 Aug 2021 10:51:18 -0400
Fairfield County Bank held its 150th Annual Meeting https://news.hamlethub.com/westport/life/47506-fairfield-county-bank-held-its-150th-annual-meeting47506-fairfield-county-bank-held-its-150th-annual-meeting https://news.hamlethub.com/westport/life/47506-fairfield-county-bank-held-its-150th-annual-meeting47506-fairfield-county-bank-held-its-150th-annual-meeting

Fairfield County Bank held its 150th Annual Meeting at the Silver Spring County Club. The attendees included the Board of Directors, The Board of Incorporators, and the Senior Management of the Bank. The Annual Meeting is held to inform the Incorporators on the financial well-being of the Bank, success and growth over the past year and strategic plans of the coming year.

The Annual Meeting was opened with remarks from Ralph L. DePanfilis, Chairman of the Board, welcoming the attendees. David A. Schneider, CEO, and Daniel L. Berta, President, presented on the financials of the Bank, the product and service offering, innovation across the organization, and Community engagement. Presentation highlights included a review of the strong financial position of the Bank through 2020 from Mr. Schneider.

Mr. Berta touched on several topics, including the Bank’s commitment to Fairfield County throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic. Fairfield County Bank processed 100% of the 1,850 Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans that were requested of the Bank. The $240 million in PPP loans, in turn, supported 20,000 local jobs throughout the pandemic.

President Daniel Berta highlighted key facets of what makes Fairfield County Bank, and how those core values were upheld during 2020.  During his discussion, Mr. Berta also brought one of the Bank’s clients into the spotlight, Astacio Plumbing and Heating, whose owner, Richard Astacio, has been banking with Fairfield County Bank since 2014.

Richard, in his client spotlight video, focused on the ways in which the personal relationship he developed with Lisa Bancroft helped him expand his growing business. Astacio Plumbing and Heating was also one of the local businesses that received a PPP loan through the Bank.

Mr. Berta announced that the Bank donated $10,000 to SPHERE on behalf of the corporators. SPHERE of CT helps adults with developmental disabilities achieve their dreams. SPHERE’s programs improve quality of life by providing rich experiences and a strong community, which the Bank is proud to support. 

kerry@ducey.org (Jillian Fernandez) Life Mon, 02 Aug 2021 10:03:06 -0400
Beardsley Zoo photography contest now OPEN for submissions! https://news.hamlethub.com/westport/life/47504-milford-photo-sponsors-beardsley-zoo-s-photography-contest47504-milford-photo-sponsors-beardsley-zoo-s-photography-contest https://news.hamlethub.com/westport/life/47504-milford-photo-sponsors-beardsley-zoo-s-photography-contest47504-milford-photo-sponsors-beardsley-zoo-s-photography-contest

Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo is proud to announce its third annual photography contest is open for submissions, an opportunity for the Zoo’s many dedicated amateur and professional photographers to submit their best work for public viewing. The contest, sponsored by Milford Photo, will be a hybrid event this year, combining digital submissions with an in-person exhibition. 

Photos are to be submitted digitally for a first round, with the top 100 selected for exhibition and judging. Photographers selected for the in-person exhibit will be asked to print and mat their photo (size 8 x 10).  Judging will take place mid-September, with an in-person show held on Thursday, October 7 in the Zoo’s Hanson Building. 

Exhibit Rules

  • Each photographer can submit three photos, with a $10 fee per photo. 
  • Photos must have been taken on Zoo grounds. Plants and grounds photos are allowed. They may be older photos from a previous year as well as current photos.
  • Milford Photo will provide First, Second, and Third prizes in the form of gift certificates to the store. First prize is $200, second prize is $100, and third prize is $50.
  •  In addition to the judged photos, a People’s Choice will be selected. The public can vote on their favorite by making a one-dollar donation for each vote. Voting will take place online.
  • Digital, first round photos are due to be submitted by September 12 at 11:59 p.m. 
  • Photographers are invited to upload their submissions at  https://www.beardsleyzoo.org/photography-exhibition.html
  • If you have questions, email Jessica Taylor at  jtaylor@beardsleyzoo.org.
  • For the best quality for viewing the photos online, the recommended image size is 1088 x 816 pixels with a maximum file size of 1MB. 

“Art is a natural way for people to express their love of animals and appreciation of nature,” said Zoo Director Gregg Dancho. “Our third Photography Goes Wild contest helps to showcase the stunning diversity of species at the Zoo, and we hope, encourages people to focus on preserving wild habitats and animal conservation in new ways.”

“We thank Milford Photo for their continuing partnership in this event,” he added. “Their assistance in judging submissions and providing prizes is much appreciated.”

Photo: First Place Photo from the 2020 Photography Goes Wild Contest, by Eileen Curnin

kerry@ducey.org (Lis Clair) Life Mon, 02 Aug 2021 07:41:52 -0400
Sign up for a blowout membership at Whip Salon in Westport and get a FREE hairspray https://news.hamlethub.com/westport/places/47503-sign-up-for-a-whip-blowout-membership-and-get-a-free-hairspray47503-sign-up-for-a-whip-blowout-membership-and-get-a-free-hairspray https://news.hamlethub.com/westport/places/47503-sign-up-for-a-whip-blowout-membership-and-get-a-free-hairspray47503-sign-up-for-a-whip-blowout-membership-and-get-a-free-hairspray

Get your FREE Hold Up travel-sized hairspray when you purchase a Whip Salon membership by August 10th.

After your blowouts, you may need extra hold on the hot days of summer. This hairspray by Whip Salon helps you go the distance with its exceptional hold and humidity resistance. You'll receive your product when you visit for your first Membership blowout appointment.

Book online now (Ridgefield, Westport or Newtown).

Become a member or give one as a gift

Members get perks like discounted pricing and FREE hot tools. 

Three levels to choose from: 

#LOYAL • 2x per month ($75)

#HOOKED • 4x per month ($145)

#DEVOTED • 8x per month ($275)

Don't forget: Whip Salon is one of the few salons in town that are open 7 days a week for your convenience.

Visit Whip Salon online here.

kerry@ducey.org (Whip Salon) Places Fri, 30 Jul 2021 14:53:00 -0400
FCBuzz Weekend: Bridgeport PRIDE, Romeo and Juliet, The Honky Tonk Angels, JOY Music Festival, and MORE! https://news.hamlethub.com/westport/events/47502-fcbuzz-weekend-bridgeport-pride-romeo-and-juliet-the-honky-tonk-angels-joy-music-festival-and-more47502-fcbuzz-weekend-bridgeport-pride-romeo-and-juliet-the-honky-tonk-angels-joy-music-festival-and-more https://news.hamlethub.com/westport/events/47502-fcbuzz-weekend-bridgeport-pride-romeo-and-juliet-the-honky-tonk-angels-joy-music-festival-and-more47502-fcbuzz-weekend-bridgeport-pride-romeo-and-juliet-the-honky-tonk-angels-joy-music-festival-and-more

HamletHub is proud to partner with the Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County and FCBuzz to elevate arts and culture in Fairfield County! Each Friday, check out the many weekend events and activities!

The Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County celebrates the vibrancy and diversity of the arts and culture across the 15 towns in our region of coastal Fairfield County and each Wednesday issues our free E-Buzz newsletter with a selection of the hundreds of events posted to our website by our members. 

Friday night, catch the finale of Pride month with Bridgeport PRIDE that includes an exhibition of the work of 30 artists in OUTWorks at City Lights Gallery, with a reception 6-8:30pm, a PRIDE March from City Lights Gallery around to The Bijou Theatre, and then a PRIDE Variety Show at The Bijou - with music, dance and drag, and featuring Ballet Eloelle debuting a newly choreographed piece, produced by Ricky Mestre, and hosted by Dolores Degage.

Also opening with a reception Friday night, 5:30-7pm at the Fairfield Museum and History Center is an exhibition exploring the impact of Columbia Records, that had a major manufacturing plant and research center in Bridgeport.  Topping the Charts: The Rise of Bridgeports Columbia Records, curated by Daryn Reyman-Lock, explores how local engineers and scientists, working at Columbia’s Bridgeport factory literally transformed recorded sound, first by introducing gramophones into the American household and later, the lateral-cut record, LPs, and stereophonic sound.

Two great outdoor theatrical experiences wrap up this weekend so be sure to check out Curtain Call’s Romeo and Juliet - its 18th Shakespeare on the Green -  playing in its own outdoors Globe Theatre, at Sterling Farms on Newfield Avenue, in Stamford, and The Summer Theatre of New Canaan with its riotous musical The Honky Tonk Angels, telling the story of three gals who follow their dreams to Nashville, with a live all-star, all-women country band on stage.

There’s a great range of music this weekend: new classical, rock, jazz, country, folk and traditional. Where to start?  In Fairfield, Saturday at 5pm the Audubon Center’s summer series of concerts by the farm pond continues with three award-winning young classical guitarists, all coached and encouraged by Music for Youth.

In Ridgefield on Saturday at 5pm, outside, among the giant Frank Stella sculptures at the Aldrich Museum, the Western CT Youth Orchestra kicks off its multi-week Charles Ives Music Festival with “Joy,” a concert reveling in joyous short pieces by contemporary composers, ending with Ravel’s famous "Introduction and Allegro.”

In Greenwich at 5pm on Saturday, BackCountry Jazz offers another free jazz concert in a fabulous private garden in Greenwich. Bennie Wallace leads his band in a garden to be revealed when you reserve your free tickets.

On Sunday 2pm-6pm, Westport’s Beechwood Arts & Innovation, an arts center offering salons throughout the year in its 1806 renovated farmhouse and under its 400-year-old copper beech, celebrates its 10th Anniversary with its “Beechwood Open,” performances and artworks by local artists, but also including several world-renowned, as well as up-and-coming, pianists playing and leaving their legacy on Beechwood’s new Yamaha Disklavier Grand Piano that records the exact movements of the pianist, enabling the piano to play it back real-time.

And on Sunday at 7pm, one of the many free concerts being offered at Westport’s Levitt Pavilion is The American Patchwork Quartet drawing on a repertoire of centuries-old American folk songs that highlight America’s immigrant roots. Old songs are made new through creative arrangements that highlight the exceptional and well-honed skills of each remarkable band member

See these and discover hundreds more events on our FC Buzz-Events page at here.

kerry@ducey.org (David Green) Events Fri, 30 Jul 2021 14:09:26 -0400
Westport Library Job Fair on August 3 https://news.hamlethub.com/westport/events/47496-westport-library-job-fair47496-westport-library-job-fair https://news.hamlethub.com/westport/events/47496-westport-library-job-fair47496-westport-library-job-fair

WESTPORT LIBRARY JOB FAIR on Tuesday, August 3rd   from 5:00 to 7:00 pm

Looking for a part-time job in a fun environment?  Come work at the Westport Library!

The Westport Library has multiple positions available in Circulation, IT, Building Support, and the Café. 

Bring your resume!

Current Openings

Application for Employment Form

For more information, see available positions here.

Westport Library is located at 20 Jesup Road.

nklein@westportlibrary.org (Nancy Klein) Events Fri, 30 Jul 2021 08:04:16 -0400
José Feliciano Headlines Concert Celebrating Connecticut's New, Tougher Human Trafficking Law at Ridgefield Playhouse on Aug. 14 https://news.hamlethub.com/westport/charities/47501-jose-feliciano-headlines-concert-celebrating-connecticut-s-new-tougher-human-trafficking-law-at-ridgefield-playhouse-on-aug-1447501-jose-feliciano-headlines-concert-celebrating-connecticut-s-new-tougher-human-trafficking-law-at-ridgefield-playhouse-on-aug-14 https://news.hamlethub.com/westport/charities/47501-jose-feliciano-headlines-concert-celebrating-connecticut-s-new-tougher-human-trafficking-law-at-ridgefield-playhouse-on-aug-1447501-jose-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 traffickjamlive.org “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 RidgefieldPlayhouse.org and here

-- For more information about Traffick Jam Live, please visit https://traffickjamlive.org/

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

kerry@ducey.org (Bo Beatty) Charities Fri, 30 Jul 2021 07:07:30 -0400
New Paradigm Theatre’s Footloose and Soul4Souls shoe drive collection https://news.hamlethub.com/westport/events/47500-new-paradigm-theatre-s-footloose-and-soul4souls-shoe-drive-collection47500-new-paradigm-theatre-s-footloose-and-soul4souls-shoe-drive-collection https://news.hamlethub.com/westport/events/47500-new-paradigm-theatre-s-footloose-and-soul4souls-shoe-drive-collection47500-new-paradigm-theatre-s-footloose-and-soul4souls-shoe-drive-collection

New Paradigm Theatre’s “Footloose” and Soul4Souls shoe drive collection

NPT is hosting a shoe drive to help benefit the Program Sole4Souls as part of their live production of Footloose this summer! 

Soles4Souls is a nonprofit charity that turns unwanted shoes and clothing into opportunity. The nonprofit donates the shoes to homeless shelters and disaster relief programs in the United States and around the world. It also helps people in developing countries launch and sustain their own small business by selling the donated shoes and clothing. 

The idea originated with Beatrix Allen, whose daughter Julia will be performing as one of the young people in Footloose, August 20 and 21st.  Bea is heading up the collection of gently used shoes from the public and cast during rehearsals and shows.  The public and cast can drop off shoes August 1-15th at Emmanuel Church between the the hours of 12-5pm and then during the shows August 20th 7pm and August 21st 2pm and 7pm. 

“I believed this would be a great opportunity for our youth to help support others in our community and around the world.” says Bea.  

The New Paradigm Theatre Company presents “Footloose,” the Broadway hit musical, live on stage August 20th and 21st at Black Rock Church in its state-of-the-art theatre. The production will feature West End London star, Craig Pinder, (original London cast of Les Miserables as Jean Valjean) as Reverend Shaw Moore. The New Paradigm Theatre Company (NPT) is a nonprofit organization promoting social responsibility and fostering creative problem solvers, leaders, and global citizens through arts education and theatrical productions. NPT offers online and in-person classes, workshops and seminars that build bridges across diverse communities. They produce professional shows that often assist other local nonprofits with strategic partnerships that highlight theatre and the arts as key components of a healthy community.

For more information, please refer to the Sole4Souls site here

For tickets:  Performances of “Footloose” are August 20th at 7p.m. and August 21st at 2 p.m or 7 p.m. Tickets are  $18-$35 for adults and youth, $30 for seniors and $50 for VIP, which can be purchased online here or by calling (203) 357-5021. 

Group ticket rates are available for 10 or more by writing to info@nptheatre.org 

Black Rock Church is located 3685  Black Rock Turnpike, Fairfield


kerry@ducey.org (NPT) Events Thu, 29 Jul 2021 13:33:44 -0400
Connecticut’s Minimum Wage Is Scheduled To Increase on Sunday https://news.hamlethub.com/westport/politics/47498-connecticut-s-minimum-wage-is-scheduled-to-increase-on-sunday47498-connecticut-s-minimum-wage-is-scheduled-to-increase-on-sunday https://news.hamlethub.com/westport/politics/47498-connecticut-s-minimum-wage-is-scheduled-to-increase-on-sunday47498-connecticut-s-minimum-wage-is-scheduled-to-increase-on-sunday

Governor Ned Lamont is reminding Connecticut residents that – as a result of legislation he enacted two years ago scheduling several increases in the minimum wage over a five-year period – the minimum wage in the state will increase from the current rate of $12.00 per hour to $13.00 per hour beginning on Sunday, August 1, 2021.

“Nobody working a full-time job should live in poverty,” Governor Lamont said. “For too long, while the nation’s economy grew, the income of the lowest earning workers has stayed flat, making already existing pay disparities even worse and preventing hardworking families from obtaining financial security. This is a fair, modest increase, and the money earned by workers will go right back into our own economy, supporting local businesses and our communities.”

“Every single worker in Connecticut deserves dignity,” Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz said. “This progress towards Connecticut’s $15 an hour minimum wage will lift our state up and ensure that nobody working a full-time job lives in poverty. I join Governor Lamont in applauding this milestone for working families in Connecticut, and I share his continued commitment to the hardworking women and men of our state.”

Signed into law by Governor Lamont in 2019, Public Act 19-4 requires the minimum wage to increase five times over a five-year period, from the then-rate of $10.10 to:

  • $11.00 on October 1, 2019;
  • $12.00 on September 1, 2020;
  • $13.00 on August 1, 2021;
  • $14.00 on July 1, 2022; and
  • $15.00 on June 1, 2023.

Ultimately, beginning on January 1, 2024, that same public act requires the minimum wage to become indexed to the employment cost index, which is calculated by the U.S. Department of Labor, and for the first time in Connecticut the rate will grow according to economic indicators.

kerry@ducey.org (Gov. Ned Lamont) Politics Thu, 29 Jul 2021 09:43:58 -0400
Norwalk-based Smart Walk for Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities holds 3rd annual walk at Sherwood Island https://news.hamlethub.com/westport/charities/47497-smart-walk-for-smart-kids-with-learning-disabilities47497-smart-walk-for-smart-kids-with-learning-disabilities https://news.hamlethub.com/westport/charities/47497-smart-walk-for-smart-kids-with-learning-disabilities47497-smart-walk-for-smart-kids-with-learning-disabilities

Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities, a Norwalk-based nonprofit that is a leader in helping children with learning and attention differences reach their full potential, announces its third annual Smart Walk for Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities on Sunday, October 3rd at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport.

This fun and celebratory event will bring together families, friends, supporters and professionals while raising funds for the organization’s educational and youth mentoring programs, parent networking support, Countdown to Kindergarten pre-school literacy program, and extensive, award-winning digital resources for families.

Online registration is going on now, visit https://bit.ly/2UGuNIa to sign-up, starting at just $15, and kids under age five are free. Participants are encouraged to create their own fundraising page.  All who register by August 9 will have a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card.

The afternoon, which begins at 12pm, will celebrate the strengths and talents of young people with learning disabilities and ADHD, and empower parents and children while rejecting the stigma still attached to these issues. Robert Tudisco, a nationally known disability rights attorney with Barger & Gaines, author, and motivational speaker, will lead the opening ceremony. Tudisco will discuss the promising future these young people can look forward to, and the importance of their parents serving as their champions and advocates. There will be an inspirational talk by a student speaker and students from Norwalk’s Crystal Theatre, a performing arts program for young people, will perform.

Children attending the event will enjoy games, crafts, face painting, a photo booth, refreshments, and an ice-cream truck. Families, individuals and teams are invited to walk the 2-mile scenic route at their own pace. The Walk will take place rain or shine, and provides an opportunity for the members of a community that includes as many as one in five children, as well as adults and professionals to come together to celebrate these children’s potential. As one participant in the 2019 Walk commented, “It gave everyone touched by LD or ADHD such a sense of home and community.”

Registration for the Walk is just $15 per person, with a maximum of $50 per family, and includes a t-shirt in addition to one free ice cream for all kids aged 16 or younger. Families are welcome to sign up at https://bit.ly/2UGuNIa and to set up their own web page to invite support from friends and colleagues.

A variety of high-profile sponsorships are currently available. To learn more, contact Jane Ross, Executive Director of Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities, Inc. at jross@smartkidswithld.org or call (203) 226-6831. For additional information, visit www.smartkidswithld.org.  Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities would like to thank its media sponsor, WSHU.

Photo credit: Rodolfo Sanches Carvalho

kerry@ducey.org (Kerry Anne Ducey) Charities Thu, 29 Jul 2021 09:28:03 -0400
Westport Playhouse Announces Return to In-Person Shows This Fall https://news.hamlethub.com/westport/places/47499-westport-playhouse-announces-return-to-in-person-shows-this-fall47499-westport-playhouse-announces-return-to-in-person-shows-this-fall https://news.hamlethub.com/westport/places/47499-westport-playhouse-announces-return-to-in-person-shows-this-fall47499-westport-playhouse-announces-return-to-in-person-shows-this-fall

Westport, CT - Westport Country Playhouse announces that in-person theatrical productions will resume this fall with a live staging of the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning drama, “Doubt: A Parable,” playing November 2 through November 20. In addition, the play will be filmed before a live audience for on-demand streaming at home. “Doubt” is written by John Patrick Shanley and directed by David Kennedy, Playhouse associate artistic director.

“Following the close of our 2019 season of plays, no one could have predicted that we would not produce a play on our stage in the presence of an audience until 23 months later,” said Michael Barker, Playhouse managing director. “For more than a year, we have produced online, outdoors, and on the radio, providing theatrical and educational programming for our immediate community and audiences around the world. Recently, we returned to the theater with comedy and cabaret performances, a toe in the waters of normalcy.

“Now we are back with one of the finest examples of modern American drama, beautifully produced on our stage in the presence of a living, breathing audience,” added Barker. ‘We simply cannot wait to welcome you back for Doubt’!’

Earlier this year, the Playhouse announced an all-virtual 2021 season when pandemic safety concerns prevented producing a live show. Easing guidelines at federal, state, and local levels, as well as those of theatrical unions, has opened the door to live theater. As of July 28, 2021, all Playhouse visitors must provide proof of their Covid-19 vaccination to attend any performance or event at the Playhouse. In addition, all visitors, volunteers, and staff are required to wear a mask (unless part of the performance). For updates on Covid-19 health and safety protocols at the Playhouse, please visitwestportplayhouse.org/visit/covid19safety/ 

The Playhouse’s 2021 season also includes two HD video productions from the Playhouse archives streaming on-demand: the musical, “Man of La Mancha” (2018), from August 23 through September 5, and John Steinbeck’s drama, “Of Mice and Men” (2008), from September 13 through 26. Both productions are directed by Mark Lamos, Westport Country Playhouse artistic director. All virtual content in the Playhouse’s 2021 season will be available on demand for patrons’ convenience, with captions in both English and Spanish translation. The complete schedule of 2021 Playhouse events is listed at: https://www.westportplayhouse.org

The 2021 season is generously supported by the Eunice and David Bigelow Foundation. 2021 season Media Sponsors are Moffly Media and WSHU Public Radio. The production of “Doubt: A Parable” is sponsored by the Eunice and David Bigelow Foundation, and Judy and Scott Phares.

All play titles, artists, dates, and formats are subject to change. 

To purchase tickets, visit westportplayhouse.org, call the box office at (203) 227-4177, or emailboxoffice@westportplayhouse.org. Stay connected to the Playhouse on Facebook (Westport Country Playhouse), follow on Twitter (@WCPlayhouse), and on YouTube (WestportPlayhouse).


Founded in 1931, Westport Country Playhouse is celebrating its 90th anniversary year. The mission of Westport Country Playhouse is to enrich, enlighten, and engage the community through the power of professionally produced theater of the highest caliber and the welcoming experience of the Playhouse campus.  The not-for-profit Playhouse provides this experience in multiple ways by offering live theater experiences of the highest quality, under the artistic direction of Mark Lamos; educational and community engagement events to further explore the work on stage; the New Works Initiative, a program dedicated to the discovery, development, and production of new live theatrical works; special performances and programs for students and teachers with extensive curriculum support material; Script in Hand play readings to deepen relationships with audiences and artists; the renowned Woodward Internship Program during the summer months for aspiring theater professionals; Family Festivities presentations to delight young and old alike and to promote reading through live theater; youth performance training through Broadway Method Academy, Westport Country Playhouse’s resident conservatory program; and the beautiful and historic Playhouse campus open for enjoyment and community events year-round.  Charity Navigator has recently awarded its top 4-star charity rating to the Playhouse in recognition of its strong financial health and commitment to accountability and transparency.

Photo Attached:  Westport Country Playhouse – Photo by Robert Benson

kerry@ducey.org (Pat Blaufuss) Places Thu, 29 Jul 2021 08:44:21 -0400
Why Small Businesses Matter in Westport: Forland Realty Group https://news.hamlethub.com/westport/places/47395-why-small-businesses-matter-forland-realty-group47395-why-small-businesses-matter-forland-realty-group https://news.hamlethub.com/westport/places/47395-why-small-businesses-matter-forland-realty-group47395-why-small-businesses-matter-forland-realty-group

Why Small Businesses Matter

Shop small, do big things for your community

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!

You're IT Forland Realty Group!

Four questions with Kris Forland, founder of Forland Realty Group.

Why did you start your business?

Forland Realty Group is a standalone Real Estate Brokerage that began as a sales group within a larger national brokerage in Westport. While all brokerage firms can essentially do the same marketing and advertising for their client, we sought to be more personalized to the needs of our clients in a way a large corporation cannot.

To have the ability to go that extra mile for a client that is selling their home or looking to purchase a new home without the constraints of a national corporation’s guidelines feels liberating and ultimately allows us to treat our clients in a way that just isn’t possible by a larger company.

We do not have a brick-and-mortar building, we are a group of dedicated agents that work together in a virtual office format. The savings in overhead from all that would normally be attributed to a traditional brick and mortar office location allows us the funding ability to market and advertise a property in a way that just wouldn’t be possible otherwise. Why did we start our own business? – Because we believed there was a better way to serve our clients.

What is your best-selling product/service?

We are a full-service Real Estate Brokerage – our best selling service is us. Ninety percent of our business stems from referrals and repeat clients. We cater to the real estate needs of each of our clients and ensure that their transactions exceed their expectations. Our clients are loyal to us because we are very loyal and effective for them.

How many local businesses do you use to support your business (products and services) and can you name them?

We utilize the services of several locals to Fairfield County businesses:

- Photography and Video Services

- Graphic design and Marketing Services

- Home Inspection Services

- Mortgage Brokers

- Real Estate Attorneys

- Financial Advisors and Planners

Have you "reimagined" your small business?

With our group breaking away from a large national firm to go out on our own and abandoning the traditional brick-and-mortar concept, it is fair to say that we have completely reimagined how we do business.

In fairness, a lot of how we have been doing business was dictated by the pandemic. However, embracing that way of doing business and allowed us to be more agile, faster in the marketplace, and reduce our overhead somewhat significantly. This in turn allows us to spend more time and money towards more profitable and successful outcomes for our clients.

Forland Realty Group is located at 355 Riverside Avenue in Westport. Visit Forland Realty Group online here, and make sure to check out their Facebook and Instagram pages as well!

HamletHub thanks Fairfield County Bank for making our Why Small Businesses Matter series possible!

daliborboldis@gmail.com (Dan) Places Thu, 29 Jul 2021 08:05:27 -0400