This is the first of four articles leading up to the third annual Westport First Awards and Lincoln Day Dinner, which will take place Sunday, Feb. 28, at the Inn at Longshore. The awards will honor local individuals and organizations that go above and beyond the ordinary to serve and improve the Greater Westport Community.

The Westport First Awards, a non-partisan event sponsored by the Westport Republican Town Committee, recognizes the selfless work of individuals who support our town and whose noble efforts to make Westport a better place for us all to live. This year's honorees are: Al Diguido, president of Al's Angels, The Westport Woman's Club; Rick and Totney Benson; and the Kowalsky Brothers.

Al DiGuido, the founder and president of Al's Angels, is among the 2010 Westport First Award Honorees. For years he served as a board member for numerous charities. Having seen the good work that these organizations accomplished, he decided to dedicate even more of his time to helping children and families in need. DiGuido founded Al's Angels with the mission of providing moments of joy and comfort to families that are challenged by childhood cancer, rare blood diseases, AIDS and domestic violence.

Through hard work, an amazing group of volunteers, and tremendous generosity, today Al's Angels is able to help thousands of children in the tri-state area. The Board of Directors underwrites all of the organization's fund-raising and administrative expenses. One-hundred percent of donations to Al's Angels go directly to the programs it supports.

Al's Angels follows an extensive due diligence process to ensure that every dollar raised goes to the organization where it will have the greatest impact. Before investing in a program, Al's Angels carefully reviews its strategy, scrutinizes its financial statements, evaluates its facility teams, and conducts multiple site visits.

DiGuido is also the CEO and founder of Zeta Interactive, a full-service interactive marketing company based in New York City. He has been long recognized as one of the direct response industry's premier innovators and a pioneer in e-mail communications. He has more than 20 years of marketing, sales, management and operations expertise.

"All of Westport benefits from the selflessness and dedication of these fine individuals and organizations being honored at the Westport First Awards," remarked Desiree Soli, chairman of the 2010 Westport First Awards. "They epitomize leadership, self-sacrifice and devotion to our community, and personify the best that Westport has to offer."

The Westport Republican Town Committee is sponsoring the Westport First Awards which complements the RTC's mission to honor Westport's historic, educational and artistic legacies. The RTC welcomes and encourages the participation of all citizens in town government and believes an informed, committed and involved citizenry are necessary for our community's proper functioning.

Tickets to the 2010 Westport First Awards and Lincoln Day Dinner may be purchased by contacting Soli at (203) 400-2773 or Tickets for the event cost $100 per person. A portion of the net proceeds will be donated to Al's Angels and the Westport Woman's Club.