Deadline extended for nominations to honor local women

To the Editor:

The YWCA Darien/Norwalk will continue to accept nominations for our Women of Distinction Awards until Monday, March 21. Nomination forms are available at our website, www.ywcadariennorwalk.org. Women selected will be honored at the YWCA Darien/Norwalk Women of Distinction Awards Luncheon at the Country Club of Darien on June 9.

These awards are a wonderful opportunity to honor women who have made a significant contribution to the local or global community. We're looking forward to receiving more nominations.

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Nancy Coughlin

Interim Executive Director

YWCA Darien/Norwalk

Off-leash

recreation a win-win

To the Editor:

Off-leash recreation for dogs is an asset to this town and the quality of life for its residents, young and old. Bravo to the RTM for allowing another six months before voting on a town-wide leash ordinance. Now it's time for the Parks and Recreation Commission (PRC) to follow through with making new rules governing the use of the parks for dogs off and on leash.

Whichever way the RTM votes on the proposed leash ordinance, the PRC has authority to make the rules for parks in Darien. Having hours and areas for off-leash recreation is a must. This is in keeping with the PRC's mission statement, which reads, "The mission of the Darien (PRC) Department is to nurture active and passive recreational activities within existing Town parklands ... and to adjust and expand both the recreational programs and parklands to meet the recreational requirements of all residents ... . The primary goal ... is to provide an environment which promotes and encourages the enhancement of individual lives through the social, physical, mental and emotional benefits of participation ... within the parks."

My life is greatly enhanced physically, emotionally and socially by walking with my dog off leash at Cherry Lawn Park. I get some exercise, talk with friends and experience the joy of watching our dogs romping, playing together, swimming, and chasing a ball, a stick or each other. There is plenty of documentation about the benefits dogs bring to humans.

Dogs are part of the family. With one in three households owning dogs, I urge the PRC to work in concert with Chief Lovello, the RTM's Public Health & Safety and Parks & Recreation committees, a representative from the Board of Selectmen, and DDOG (Darien Dog Owner's Group), to formulate a system of sharing the parks, perhaps with designated hours and/or areas for off-leash recreation.

Fairfield's Lake Mohegan is a successful model that Darien can learn from. With walking/hiking trails, a public beach, playground, picnic areas and fishing at Lake Mohegan, dogs are allowed to be off leash except for certain areas. Signs are clearly posted as to where you need to leash your dog, where dogs are and aren't allowed, and that owners are required to clean up pet waste.

Hours and areas for off-leash recreation are a must for Darien Parks, including Cherry Lawn.

Pam Zangrillo

Darien

Children need our help

To the Editor:

I watched the March 6 edition of "60 Minutes" with tears in my eyes. Our Darien resident and correspondent, Scott Pelley, interviewed children who are now homeless in Seminole County, Fla. (If you missed it, visit www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/03/06/60minutes/main20038927.shtml.

These children, who were once middle class with working parents, are now sleeping in vans, crashing on neighbors' floors, and staying in motels -- sometimes six to a room. The pain these children are enduring is unconscionable in a society as affluent as ours. Spurred by these harrowing stories, I contacted the woman profiled in the piece as well as the coordinator for homeless youth for Connecticut. I wanted to know how best to help those in our own communities who are struggling. Their advice? "Think Globally, Act Locally." They both suggested that by taking action in local communities/cities we will be considering the well-being of all homeless children.

This exchange led me to a conversation with Ceci Maher, executive director of Person-to-Person. Every year the P2P Campership program saves spots in its program for kids living in a Stamford homeless shelter. However, demand for the Campership program is up 10 percent over last year, and, because of a tough economy, P2P has had to focus all available resources on emergency assistance -- food, clothing, preventing eviction, utility assistance. Campership has had strong donations, but not enough to keep up with demand. According to Ceci, it costs only $620 to send one child to camp for seven weeks -- this gets children out of the shelter, gives them the opportunity to play with other children, and to have a positive experience while freeing their parents to try to find work. As Ceci said, as individuals we are hamstrung by a tough economy -- we cannot create jobs for these struggling families but we, as individuals, can make a tangible difference in the life of a child. I urge you to give to the Person-to-Person Campership program.

Sandee Kirchhoff

Darien

RE Children's Project thanks community

To the Editor:

What a remarkable community. Last November a group of 10 women had the idea to hold a small benefit to raise awareness for the RE Children's Project, founded by Darienite Seth Wohlberg in 2010, to find a cure Rasmussen's Encephalitis. An outpouring of support quickly followed and 10 volunteers became a dedicated committee of 36 women, who created a very memorable, Valentine-themed event, Turning Love into Power, on Feb. 12 at Woodway Country Club. Thanks to the incredible momentum of the committee, it seemed the entire town of Darien showed up to make what was a magical evening of good will and financial contributions.

The kindness of Darien has shown no limits for the RE Children's Project and it was on full display that evening. Eighteen local businesses stepped up as corporate sponsors and we are very grateful to lead benefactors Fox Hill Builders, Patriot National Bank, Ring's End Lumber, Brooks Falotico Associates, Inc., and Callari Auto Group, owner of BMW of Darien. Thank you also to Al Filippone Associates, Anne Calve Travel, Cummins & Lockwood, David Osherow, D.D.S. Orthodontics, Fabricare Cleaners, General Atlantic, H&L Chevrolet, Oak Financial Group, Inc., Odd Job, Nielsen's Fine Flowers, Stamford Hospital, Palmer's Market, Heights Pizza and Leary's Liquor Cabinet.

We are also extremely appreciative of the generous donations made by countless local vendors, artists, photographers, restaurants, spas, local friends and even Congressman Himes who provided valuable silent auction items.

Finally, our friends and guests, numbering 355 strong, came with open hearts and meaningful donations. Words cannot express the gratitude felt towards our amazing community.

Susan Ballard

Event Chairman

Seth Wohlberg

Founder, RE Children's Project