AARP offers free

tax prep to seniors

To the Editor:

Federal Tax Day for tax year 2010 is April 18, 2011, but state income tax returns are still due on April 15. Seniors and low-to-middle income filers in the Norwalk area can take advantage of a free tax preparation program offered by AARP.

Since 1968, AARP Tax-Aide -- the nation's largest, free, volunteer-run tax assistance and preparation service -- has helped nearly 50 million taxpayers file their returns. The program provides free e-file preparation on both state and federal returns.

Last year, AARP Tax-Aide prepared more than 2,500 returns in the Greater Norwalk area, saving local residents over $500,000. This year, AARP Tax-Aide is available at:

More Information

Fact box

The Norwalk Library on Belden Avenue on Thursdays from 3 to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

"¢ The South Norwalk Library on Tuesdays from 3:30 to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

"¢ The First Congregational Church on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

No appointments are necessary and, while the program focuses on seniors, it is available to all low and moderate-income tax filers. For more information on this and other AARP programs, please visit www.aarp.org.

Bob Duff

State Senator

Think of Scouts

while spring cleaning

To the Editor:

It's nearly spring, and the town curbside pick-up is scheduled to begin after storm cleanups. While this is a valuable service, there is a true recycling alternative: the Boy Scout Tag Sale.

By donating your reusable items to the Darien Boy Scouts, you won't have to put your items on the street, and you will have the satisfaction of knowing that these items are being recycled and used by another family, while raising money to support the Boy Scouts in our community. You will also be provided with a receipt, as your gift is tax-deductible.

The Boy Scouts are scheduling pickups for items you can't bring to the cabin yourself. Please call 203-656-1830, ext. 3, to schedule a pick-up for Saturday, April 9, 16 or 23, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., or, drop your items off at the Scout Cabin, 140 West Ave., April 13 through 16, or 20 through 23, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

We eagerly seek furniture, lawn furniture, lawnmowers, snow blowers, lawn and garden tools, sporting goods, electronics, stereos, computers (Pentium IIIs and newer), TVs (less than 8 years old) housewares, dishes and decorative items, pictures, collectibles, lamps and linens, knickknacks and jewelry, books, games and toys, bikes, trikes and scooters, and holiday items.

If you would like to donate a small boat, call 917-887-9068. Unfortunately, we cannot accept pianos, clothing, mattresses, sofa beds, typewriters, exercise equipment, skis or building materials such as sinks, windows and doors.

Also, please join us for the tag sale on Sunday, May 1, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. It's a great opportunity to find that special item you've been looking for at a low cost, while helping a very worthy cause. On behalf of the Darien Boy Scouts Troops 35 and 53, thank you.

David Rucquoi, Chairman

Darien Boy Scouts Tag Sale

Former library perfect spot for senior center

To the Editor:

I moved to Hale Lane in 1989. Back then, we all were thrilled that the "old" library was our neighbor. Years later we were sorry to see it move away.

I still consider myself a neighbor of the former library which now seems to be used for a parking lot, by whom I do not know. I do think the former library would make a cheerful, airy, in fact jaunty and informal Senior Center.

Moreover it is marvelously central -- a plus in its favor. We rarely lose electric power here in the center of town and we're easy to find.

Just tell someone to look for the Sport Shop and there you have it.

Someone suggested to me that I wouldn't want seniors next door. They would be in and out, in and out and didn't I know they didn't drive very well, didn't I? I didn't know that. I will be 80 this year and I have several friends here on Hale Lane, who certainly are in their 70s and I think we drive quite well and I must admit I am in and out of Hale Lane fairly often as I go to Trader Joe's, the movies, meetings, the new library, Palmers, etc. In fact the speaker who was cautioning me happens to be 80 something.

What's fun about the present senior center is that it's a very relaxed and casual rather "senior" kind of place. It's on a quiet and dead end street and the only other people nearby seem to be children from Middlesex School playing games on the fields nearby.

Indeed by Darien standards it's almost bucolic. Stick a few cows in under the trees and there are pretty trees and you have a vista almost rural which one sees in our rather densely populated town only in the country clubs with their rolling golf courses.

The site of the former library may not be bucolic but it's pretty and not surrounded by all kinds of Town Hall offices . In fact when I need something from a Town Hall office I either use the phone or mail. I don't need to be located there.

I wish someone had asked my opinion. I am a neighbor and I was never consulted.

Ann Ferris

Darien

Choose to Reuse

making a difference

To the Editor:

I was so pleased with two recent events in Darien -- the "In the Bag" exhibit currently shown at the Darien Nature Center and the "Bag It!" movie presented at the library. I applaud Darien's Choose to Reuse group for co-sponsoring these events and for their efforts towards eliminating bags at checkout counters throughout town, hopefully in the near future.

The documentary "Bag It!" was an insightful look at the ways in which plastics impact our environment. Eliminating, or at best decreasing the use of plastics is one very simple but real way to help. Many people who become educated about how plastics are killing fish, sea birds and marine life ask the question "what can I do?" There is a very simple answer: "Stop using plastic bags and containers!"

The overwhelming response to the movie heard during the reception that followed was "it's about time." About time that Darien is helping to shed light on the global problem of plastic pollution. Last week, I had a first-hand look at the issue when in Florida walking on a beach that was just littered with tiny plastic pieces on the shore. These are the tiny pieces digested by fish and marine life, mistaken for food. And it's the plastics from towns just like ours that goes to the Great Garbage Dump in the sea that's creating the destruction of our marine life. A visit to the Loggerhead museum, a hospital for sea turtles, cemented my conviction to do my part in cleaning up our oceans.

I have heard Liz Milwe, one of the curators of the "In the Bag" exhibit, speak on several occasions about how the Bag Ban in Westport has helped improve their commerce and community. Merchants feel it has saved them money from the cost of supplying bags, as customers bring their own. Townspeople feel empowered; it has brought an overall awareness of good stewardship. The story is one of each individual making small changes to create massive rewards in the sustainability of our environment. Be the change.

Please visit www.ChooseToReuseInDarien.org for more information.

Karen Hughan

Darien

`Bag It' exhibits need to ax plastic bags

To the Editor:

A hopeful spring-like feeling swept over me a couple of weeks ago, after watching "Bag It," the documentary presented by the Darien Library. While there was a lot of information that I already knew, there was a lot that I did not. This movie explores the health risks of plastics and the chemicals in them. The idea is to first rid our town, state and country of plastic bags. The movie emphatically shows that by taking and throwing away plastic bags, they will remain in the environment for generations to come. Cities and countries around the world are already banning them, isn't it time that we joined in?

Darien is filled with intelligent, creative, action-oriented people. From young and old to with and without, the community has already made great efforts to educate and inform the area about the consequences of our usage of plastic bags. Choose to Reuse is an organization that is attempting to demonstrate how we can do one thing that will make a big difference. However, it takes all of us to make such a movement work. It can be inconvenient at times, remembering to bring reusable bags every time you shop, but it is worth it.

The residents here lead busy lives and it can be trying to change our routines. We are not responsible for saving the planet, but we are responsible for our town and teaching the next generation. If you think that this doesn't concern you, then you are welcome to stick to the traditional ways. But I have hope that Darien can continue to educate themselves and do better than out of sight, out of mind. If anyone hasn't seen `Bag It,' please try to watch this eye-opening film.

Victoria Holdt

Darien

Act locally

To the Editor:

Recently the Darien Library presented a showing of the movie "Bag It" in concert with the campaign to ban plastic bags in Darien. For those of you who missed the film, I highly recommend a home viewing of the library's copy now available for circulation.

Often overrun with suggestions to help save the planet, we find ourselves imagining that our small individual contributions would be seemingly inconsequential. But let us start with the simple choice of the reusable bag. I believe that if you have the ability to make positive change, then it is your responsibility to do so. I look around Darien and see that we clearly value well-kept property. Many Darienites are leaders in their fields and command a fine attention. Let's take that pride in our town and our leadership ability and apply it to banning plastic bags. It is our duty to be the change agent and set an example for our neighboring communities and for future generations.

Support the Ban the Bag effort in Darien and hold up to your responsibility to make positive change. Why would you not?

Noelle Henderson

Darien

Supportive housing is important, to the homeless and to you

To the Editor:

Last month, Gov. Malloy presented the 2012/2013 budget along with a pledge that he would seek shared sacrifices from individuals and businesses in the state to help fix that which is broken in Connecticut. I was surprised and impressed with the governor's decision to include a significant allocation of $30 million in capital expenditures and operational expenses to create supportive housing for the homeless and those most at risk of homelessness. Funding will be administered through the Department of Social Services and the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, two state agencies that for the past 10 years have done an extraordinary job of addressing the needs of homeless individuals and families throughout the state.

This is an important step forward in the ongoing campaign to reduce and, ultimately, end homelessness in Connecticut.

According to "Portraits of Homelessness in Connecticut," a study published last month by the Connecticut Coalition to End Homeless, state emergency shelters served 11,700 people last year, including more than 1,500 children; and there are approximately 3,800 men, women and children staying in Connecticut emergency shelters and transitional housing programs on any given day. And if those statistics alone aren't alarming, the study notes that --¦ half of all families and 40 percent of single adults in shelters reported that this was their first homeless experience."

There are many reasons for homelessness: poverty; isolation; substance abuse; or mental illness. The recent recession has had a significant impact as well, because people lost their jobs or suffered an income reduction, while state and local governments cut budgets for many of the "safety-net" programs and initiatives designed to address these problems.

But regardless of the reasons for homelessness, there are ways to eliminate it -- by building permanent housing combined with access to support services for employment, education and health and community inclusion.

Supportive housing saves tax dollars and makes sense. Stable housing gets people out of emergency shelters and back into the community. Non-profit organizations in Stamford -- such as St. Luke's Life Works, Laurel House, The Mutual Housing Association and The Shelter for the Homeless have significantly reduced the level of homelessness by developing permanent, affordable housing for the homeless together with the supports they need to maintain housing and recover their lives once again. Cities and towns throughout the state that have developed supportive housing have realized significant savings through the reduction in use of public services by the homeless. Construction of supportive housing units helps stimulate local economies by providing jobs for people who build and maintain the structures. Neighborhoods with supportive housing are more attractive to developers and businesses.

All of which combines to benefit the larger community and you.

Rafael Pagan Jr.

Executive Director

Shelter for the Homeless