Community News: After-school programs underway, health expo downtown and more

Integrated recovery coaching programs launched

To kick off National Recovery Month 2020, Shelton’s Progressive Institute has launched a landmark study to measure integrated recovery coaching’s ability to improve outcomes for people diagnosed with alcohol and other substance use disorders.

The study provides over 400,000 Connecticut residents who are fully insured members of five largest commercial insurance providers with access to Progressive Institute’s Recovery Coaching program.

Westporter Curt Kuliga, CEO and founder of The Progressive Group said, “Our early studies are showing that recovery coaching programs that are designed to address specific individual needs and is integrated into the patient's overall treatment plan with therapists, medical doctors and family members improves the success rate of long-term recovery while reducing the total cost of care.”

For further information about the pilot program or any of Progressive’s Recovery Coaching opportunities, visit or call (203) 816-6424.

Storyfest goes digital

The Westport Library’s StoryFest, its annual multiday literary festival, will be going digital this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

From Sept. 15-29, the library will premiere 13 live and pre-recorded events. All events are free, and because they are recorded, can be accessed wherever and whenever the viewer choses.

Featured guests include award-winning authors Stephen Graham Jones and Paul Tremblay, and international best-selling author Josh Malerman, who wrote “Bird Box.”

Health and Fitness Expo downtown

The Westport Downtown Merchants Association has announced announce a mini event on lower Main Street — its first Health and Fitness Expo.

The WDMA is partnering with JoyRide, RowHouse, Pure Barre and Athleta to stage their live program classes outdoors on Main Street during the day. The classes will demonstrate how different levels of fitness and ability can be included. The classroom workout spaces will be set up as exhibition areas — open for all the community to see as they visit Main Street.

There will not be any walk-up opportunities to join a class. Each gym will be recruiting its own members and following COVID-19 requirements and gym policies for participating members. If you are interested in taking a class and are a member of one of these gyms, contact them for details.

Back-to-school and after-school programs underway

Director of the Westport Department of Human Services Elaine Daignault announced that back-to-school and after-school programs are underway.

Ms. Daignault states, “This is not a typical fall. COVID-19 has disrupted the usual back to school enthusiasm with a sense of anxiety, and the fear of the unknown. Still, you can help to reinforce a child’s sense of hope and stability by ensuring that they have tools they need to excel in school and an opportunity to participate in afterschool activities.”

Last year, 192 children benefitted from Westport’s Back to School Program, and many families were able to access affordable afterschool childcare. 100% of all donations benefit families directly.

Families who may qualify for this program are urged to contact the Department of Human Services. If you have any questions regarding this program, please call DHS Youth and Family Social Worker, Michelle Bottone, MA, LMFT at 203-341-1068 or via email at

‘Visiting Artist’ online courses at Suzuki Music Schools

Despite challenges brought on by the pandemic, Suzuki Music Schools of Westport and Orange has enhanced and expanded their course structure. SMS is adding multiweek online specialty courses with accomplished artists.

The "Visiting Artists Classes” series includes a fiddling class with Ben Dean of “Caravan of Thieves” beginning Sept. 19; an origins of jazz course with Grammy award winner Joe McCarthy on Sept. 17; and a film soundtrack composition class with renowned composer/violinist Dr. Andrew Smith (Ron Howard’s “Genius”) on Sept. 16.

Supper & Soul does Grateful Dead

The Westport-Weston Chamber of Concert and Westport Library are presenting the next concert in their Supper & Soul series — Terrapin, A Grateful Dead Experience — on Sept. 11 at 7 p.m. on the Imperial Parking Lot.

Having performed over 200 concerts utilizing state-of-the art equipment to create an incredible concert experience, Terrapin is considered the best New England band featuring the iconic music of Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir.

Tickets for the show are $100 per car (five-person max) and are curently on sale at

The rain date is Sept. 13.

Local entrepreneurs are finalists for awards

Westport-based, home and pet e-commerce business Gorilla Commerce has announced that its co-CEOs, Jennifer Bernstein and Marissa Saporta, were named as EY Entrepreneur Of The Year New York Award Finalists.

This program is now in its 34th year and recognizes entrepreneurial business leaders whose ambitions deliver innovation, growth and prosperity as they build and sustain successful businesses.

Bernstein and Saporta started Gorilla Commerce in 2014 with limited industry experience and used a customer-centric and data-driven approach to identify existing gaps between consumer needs and available products in the home and pet markets.

Gorilla Commerce is now a multimillion-dollar business that ranks in the top five of private label sellers on Amazon U.S. to offer functional household and pet products.