We’re Moving!

It is with a happy full heart that I report this is the last blog that will be posted from this particular site. The Connected Citizen, has moved on to greater pastures to have a greater reach and bigger impact. We’ve joined forces and passions with Tanya Smith and Nina Chanana and together we have created a wonderful resource for you and for the community.

The Connected Citizen is now TheConnectedCitizen.org – a website full of great information on how and where to volunteer, donate your goods,  get involved and more! We offer updates on urgent community needs (donations, volunteers) and great variety of events (fundraisers, speakers, cultural events). And of course, we will continue to blog right on our site – stay tuned for some wonderful guest bloggers we have lined up!

Check it out early and often! Stay in touch and sign up for our newsletter (we promise will won’t flood your inbox and will only send when it’s important).  Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Drop us a line and tell us what you love and what you don’t. We want to hear from you!

See you over at TheConnectedCitizen.org!

Gen, Tanya & Nina


Finally, a Shoe Drive!

Finally, a Shoe Drive!


Shoes seem to multiply in the closet, in the basement, in the       garage. You put a pair of sneakers out and before too long, you’ll have 6. If you subscribe to any type of exercise regimen, you no doubt have sneakers piling up in every corner. Have children? The shoes you bought them today may not last the week.

Confession: I have my own battles with shoes in my house. I purchase shoes first and find the occasion for them second. I reluctantly admit, this may amount to a pair (or 2, or 20) over what is needed or wanted. But I’m not the only offender, the pile of my husband’s basketball shoes can bring me to tears and I dream of burning them in effigy.

But short of starting a brush fire…there is another way…

The spring athletes at Fairfield Ludlowe High School have a used shoe collection going on through this Friday, May 11th. Everything from dress shoes & sneakers to flip flops & clogs will be accepted-basically anything the exception of shoes containing metal, ski or snow boots.

Not only will donating to the shoe drive give you more space in your closets and peace in your soul, it also benefits our community directly. The FLHS Falcons will be giving the shoes to a distributor that will pay by the pound and then send them to countries in need. The proceeds from the shoes will be donated to Southport’s Wakeman Boys and Girls Club and the Smilow-Burroughs Clubhouse in Bridgeport. That’s a win-win-win.

Shoes will be accepted at Fairfield Ludlowe High School, 785 Unquowa Road, Fairfield (in the front or back of the school, or in the main office) as well as the Southport and Bridgeport Wakeman locations (385 Center St.Fairfield  & 2414 Fairfield Ave., Bridgeport)

What are you waiting for? Get rid of those shoes and do a little good for the community!


Photo courtesy of doobybrain.com

Near & Far House Tour

2012 Near & Far Aid Designer House Tour Events

Continuing a rich tradition of its celebrated House Tour, long-time philanthropic organization Near & Far Aid proudly announces the 2012 House Tour, featuring five exceptional designer homes in exclusive enclaves of Westport, Southport and Greenfield Hill. The day’s events kick off with a Decorating Power Breakfast at the Patterson Club in Fairfield with guest speaker – Jeffery Bilhuber, who is universally recognized as a major force for his fresh spin on classic designs. After the House Tour, the day’s events culminate with the exciting “Toast the Tour” cocktail reception at a stunning estate overlooking Southport Harbor.

Events for the Day:

Breakfast Event Tickets (9:15 to 10:45 AM)   $65 (tickets are limited)

House Tour Tickets (10 AM – 4 PM) $60 in advance, $75 day of the Tour

“Toast the Tour” Tickets (6:30 PM to 8:30 PM) $125 (tickets are limited)

To purchase tickets to any or all events click here

**Volunteer Opportunities:

Interested in being a docent for the day?

The House Tour needs docents for the day.  Help out as a docent/hostess at one of the beautiful homes May 4th (10-4).  Contact Carol Timpanelli at CAROL228@ATT.NET   Subject line: Will help as hostess

Beautify Your Home…Better Your Community

Beautify Your Home…Better Your Community

Its that time of year again! You cannot properly ring in the new spring season without a trip to the Junior League of Eastern Fairfield County’s Annual Art Show held March 30, 31 and April 1 at the historic Burr Homestead in Fairfield.

Night Blooming Cereus by Ellen Hoverkamp

The Art Show has become a staple in the community providing patrons with amazing original works of art for purchase and local and regional artists (over 120!) an opportunity to showcase their talent. The Show is the primary fundraiser for the JLEFC and funds their mission and projects in the community – everything from training volunteers to early literacy and health & nutrition programs.


Morning Breeze by Will McCarthy

The Show kicks off its 20th Anniversary year with doors opening Friday March 30th   at 10am with works of art on both floors of the Burr.  The Show really gets on the road when night falls and the Burr is transformed in The Great Gatsby-themed Preview Party. Party-goers will enjoy hors d’oeuvres & dinner catered by Vazzy’s Restaurant, specialty drinks (along with an open bar), dancing to the acclaimed live band Mia and the Riff and bidding on an exciting collection of silent auction items. (Trips! Jewels! Sporting events!Restaurants! And much more!)

The Preview Party is open to the public and tickets may be purchased here.

Along with the art,  Saturday, March 30th opens  the 2nd Annual “Beautify Your World” Boutique with 18 “pop-up” stores (Jo Malone, Bungalow Basics, Nature Girl Designs etc.) and runs though Sunday April 1.  Perfect for Easter, Mother’s Day, or just because shopping. Don’t forget to take a load off at the Café where The Bistro Box is serving ‘Gourmet Road Food’ – (paninis, soups, desserts etc.)

Three Portrait artists are on-site Saturday and Sunday ready to capture you or your loved one’s image in either acrylic, colored pencil or a silhouette. Walk-ins for the artists are welcome but reservations are suggested.  (artshow.jlefc@snet.net)

Carol LeBeaux Silhouette Portraits

Joan ElizabethGoodman Color-pencil Portraits




What better way to give back to your community that attending this fun, one of a kind Art Show.  Don’t miss out – it only happens once a year….

buildOn and Gear Up!

I met the most amazing group of kids last week…

I was invited to go read to the students of Geraldine Johnson Elementary School in Bridgeport, one of The United Way’s Schools of Hope.  I was there to read along with 17 students from Bassick High School (also of Bridgeport). The teens were members of buildOn which according to their website is an “after school youth service program that mobilize[s] urban teens to lift up their communities and change the world through intensive local community service”. All but a few were also a part of Gear Up which is a program that starts in 7th grade and follows the students through High School to ensure they are prepared for (and go to) college.

As it turned out, there was nary a student missing from this uber responsible group so all of the classrooms had their readers. This allowed me to hang back and get to know Lisa Nelson, the Home/School Coordinator (whose job it is to bring programs such as these to the elementary school), meet Ms. Geraldine Johnson, an amazing woman for whom the school is named, and chat it up with the BuildOn students.

What an impressive bunch they were! In an age when we are (ok, maybe just I am) often dismayed with the youth of America, they were a refreshing reminder of what could be. They had poise and grace, were thoughtful and articulate in their comments and demonstrated patience and eagerness in responding to my never-ending questions (Where are you from? What do you do? Where have you been/visited? What do you like/don’t like about it? – you know, typical grown-up nosiness).

When Ms. Nelson announced she was looking for volunteers to make a presentation to classrooms – I could feel myself instinctively start to cower. Even though she was talking only to the students, I had a flashback of a younger me praying to blend into the background and not have to perform this task.

To my surprise, nearly every student raised their hand. “C’mon, Ms. Nelson, you know how I love to talk! And I’m so animated with the kids!” one girl begged. Confidence, intelligence, respect …this is what this group of young people embodied and why the students of Geraldine Johnson and others in the community are lucky to have them as role models.

In fairness, I didn’t meet them before so maybe they were always this way, but if this is the type of citizen these programs are helping to define – then these programs are working and we need to make sure that they stay.

My only regret is that I won’t be able to follow them as they grow into adulthood. They each had that spark that leads to great things.

I left the school with a feeling of hope and excitement for the future.

There’s no Gala Like a Girls Gala

There’s no gala like a girls gala…

I love going out. I spend so much of my time on the soccer field, freezing at the hockey rink, up to my eyeballs in craft paint and sticky from a hot glue gun. Between the dog and the kids, there are days I just long for heels and blowing-out my hair.

And there is something extra awesome about a Girls Night Out. Unlike my husband (who is otherwise fabulous) my girls will notice if I’ve blown my hair dry (or chopped off six inches) or if my lipstick is hint darker than normal. They understand the precarious nature of getting out of the house…alive and alone.

Girl time is precious. For a moment in time, you suspend all other titles (co-worker, wife, mother, short-order cook, finder of all things lost) and you are just a girlfriend –  free to talk about the trivial (what’s your favorite mascara?) and the serious (what’s your take on Komen’s new decision?).

Take a Girls Night Out and pair it with a fundraising event for a worthy organization and you’re knocking it out of the park.

CancerCare is holding its 10th Annual Girls Night out on March 1st at Lillian August in Norwalk. CancerCare’s GNO has all the trimmings: wine (duh), hors d’oeuvres, live entertainment and silent auction as well as vendors.

CancerCare offers free, professional services such as counseling, support groups, and educational workshops to anyone affected by cancer. To learn more click here.

So ditch the diaperbag and the briefcase, grab whatever holds the essentials – cell, credit card and for me, Chanel lipgloss #46 – and a few good girlfriends and meet us at CancerCare’s Girls Night Out!

For more information, please contact Jennifer Keller, Special Events Manager, at jkeller@cancercare.org.

Game On! Adventure World gives Baby Seals for 5$ donation to Water.org!

Calling all Gamers!

I’ve never considered myself a gamer until my 10 year old pointed out that I had more iphone apps and had broken through more levels that the my 3 kids put together. A slight indulgence while waiting at the doctor’s office does not a gamer make…or does it??

Whatever, your definition of being a gamer, whether its Wii, Xbox, Iphone or Facebook Apps, here’s a great way to give back while gaming on! Adventure World, a Zynga game on Facebook (the same makers of FarmVille and MafiaWars), is offering Oscar, the Baby Seal at Base Camp of Adventure World  for a 5$ donation to Water.org. Water.org is a non-profit organization, founded by Matt Damon, Gary White and Zynga Inc. (a leading social games company), and brings fresh water to those around the world who need it most.

And just because I find this staggering, according to Water.org’s website, 25$ can bring fresh water to a person for LIFE. So grab 5 friends and donate 5 smackers to Water.org and enjoy little Oscar on Adventure World! And know that you’re feel good about gaming…how easy is that?!

Hurry this opportunity for Oscar the Baby Seal won’t last long!

Donate today! Click here

Learn More! Click here

Play Adventure World! Click here



What’s Going On? Motown Mania!

What’s Going On? Motown Mania!

Whats Going On? For 21 years The Kennedy Center has held its Annual Dinner and Cabaret Gala and for 21 years it has been a night not to be missed…This year’s Gala adds a fun 60’s vibe with a Motown-infused event. Gala-goers will be treated to a three-course dinner and entertained with a two-act Motown musical revue.

You Better Shop Around…The Gala also boasts an extensive and exciting Silent Auction – a chance to bid on some of 2012 hottest items as well exciting trips and getaways.

Baby, where did our love go? All the way to the Trumbull Marriott  on Saturday, January 21st.  Cocktail hour and Silent Auction begins at 6:30 followed by Dinner and Cabaret at 8:00.  Those with a festive flair have the option of dressing in 60s-70s attire – how long have you been waiting to pull out that dress from the back of the closet?! Don’t miss this moment! Tickets may be purchased by clicking here.

Baby, I Need Your Lovin’ and so do our friends and patrons of  The Kennedy Center. The Cabaret Gala benefits The Center’s Children’s Services. For over 60 years, The Kennedy Center has provided comprehensive program services for those with special needs and disabilities of all ages and is Connecticut’s more innovative and comprehensive rehabilitation facilities.

You Can’t Hurry Love..its true but you better get a move on and buy your tickets to this soon-to-be sold-out event!  Motown, dinner, and the opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of our friends with special needs and disabilities…get your tickets today!

Will you be there?? I’ll be there …(ok, ok, I’ll stop…in the name of love)

Build a house? Yeah, I can do that…

I did not inherit the handy gene. I can remember well my father finally calling a carpenter after an attempt at hanging a picture left a grapefruit-sized hole in the wall (and his ego).  It is looking back this moment that I reminded that I am truly his daughter and was not switched at birth.

When the opportunity to help build for Habitat for Humanity and Women Build presented itself, it was equal amounts of wanting to give back and shear curiosity…sure, they let anyone help build, sure they do…

I expected to clean up? Hand someone nails? Paint, maybe? Surely no one would let me do anything important. So, when they placed me on the committee that was entrusted with insulated the entire house… (Who, me?) I tried to look as confident and non-chalant in front of my team leader as possible. “Yeah, er, no problem.”

“Ever handle a staple gun?”, he asked.  I gulped. “Well, heh, in a manner of speaking..I mean…ahem…I stapled a lot in my internship in college. The stapler was…um…really heavy?”

I was dying. For the love, I thought I might insulate myself inside the walls of the house and there I would be keeping the family nice and warm for all time and eternity…

But the long and short of this fantastic story is that a team 5 others and I insulated an entire house all by ourselves all in one day. I have never felt such a “I am woman, hear me roar” moment.  By the end, I was swinging from the rafters, double-fisting staple-guns** to keep the owners of this house (who, by the way, worked right along side us as they did every weekend until their house was complete) warm and cozy.

(**mild exaggeration)

While it was deeply meaningful to meet the family whose home we were building and the sense of giving back was immense, it was one of the most amazing things I have ever done for myself. The glass-ceiling of handiness in my mind had been lifted and obliterated. Every day since then I know that I really can do anything.

Sign up for a day with Habitat and let your inner Bob Villa take over – believe me, we all have one.

Free Thursday Nov. 10th? Head to Norwalk for the 4th Annual Women Build’s Gourmet Expo benefiting Women Build and Habitat for Humanity.

To learn more about Habitat and what they do for your community, please visit www.habitat.org/

Food for the Belly, Food for the Soul

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one.” – Mother Theresa

 As we make plans to make, create, and devour mountainous amounts of food this Thanksgiving, remember those in Fairfield County who, not only will go without the traditional November meal, but also do not have enough to eat on the other 364 days of the year.

Chronic illness and increased susceptibility to disease (due to a compromised immune system), emotional (anxiety/depression) and behavioral problems, impaired cognitive development are just some of the consequences of hunger. And our children are among the most vulnerable. Traumatic life events in families can be associated with food insecurity.*

This is not just an urban affliction. All towns in Fairfield County are seeing a surge in the demand for food pantry resources while food pantries and food banks are seeing a decline in their donations.  According to Connecticut Food Bank, a study done by Feeding America shows  “that children are struggling with hunger in every county and congressional district in Connecticut, at an overall rate of 18.9 percent.” That’s 1 out of every 5 kids in Connecticut.

But you can help and there is no need to wait until November 24th – many food pantries are in dire need right now.  Check out the list below for a pantry in Fairfield County near you. Drop off donations, organize a food drive (Click here for tips ), or donate funds to a food bank.

Not in Fairfield County?  Find a food pantry or food bank near you http://www.ampleharvest.org/find-pantry.php

And feel good about stuffing your belly on Thanksgiving!



Connecticut Food Bank Inc     (203) 256-1935
74 Linwood Ave
Fairfield, CT 6824              http://www.ctfoodbank.org
TheFood Bank Of Lower Fairfield County     (203) 358-8898
461 Glenbrook Rd
Stamford, CT 6906            http://www.foodbanklfc.org
Operation Hope Of Fairfield Inc     (203)292-5588
636 Old Post Road
Fairfield, CT 06824            http://www.operationhopect.org
Interfaith Housing Association Of Westport And Weston, Inc. (203)226-3426
49 Richmondville Ave
Westport, CT 06880            http://www.hwhct.org/history
Food Bank Of Fairfield County, Inc.     203-368-1691
71 Timko St.
Fairfield, CT 06430
Christian Community Action Norwalk Inc
98 South Main St
Norwalk, CT 06854          http://www.ccanorwalk.org