Community News: National Merit finalists named; gun violence Survivor Coffee event; and more

— Hartford HealthCare St. Vincent’s Medical Center is presenting a free information session featuring Todd A. Morrison, a board certified orthopaedic surgeon. “Managing Your Aches & Pains” will be on March 18, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Westport Public Library. Topics covered will include causes, prevention and treatment of arthritis in the hip and knee; minimally invasive and robotic-assisted treatment options. The presentation will be followed by a question-and-answer session with Morrison. Light refreshments will be served. To register, visit or call 855-442-4373.

— Eight Staples High School seniors have been named finalists in the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program. As Merit Scholar finalists, Benjamin A. Spector, Alexander James Massoud, Samuel A. Laskin, Nora B. Dockter, Nathan E. Wang, Harrison E. Sholler, Cordelia Chen and Justin Berg all have a chance to earn one of 7,500 National Merit Scholarship awards, together worth more than $35 million.

— Gladiolus Productions' feature-length film, “The Dog Walker,” has been ordered by four video on-demand services per the company’s distributor, Leomark Studios. Amazon, Cinedigm, FandangoNOW and iNDEMAND will all stream “The Dog Walker” beginning on the film’s worldwide release date of March 6. Robyn Babina, who lives in Westport, and Kylie Garcelon Hitchcock are the owners of Gladiolus Productions.

“The Dog Walker” is a psychological thriller written and directed by Hitchcock. The plot follows an anxiety-ridden journalist who suspects she is being stalked when a past assignment comes back to haunt her.

— Westport-based nonprofit Experience Camps for Grieving Children has tapped local industry leader Kim Pucci to fill the role of chief development officer. Puci joins from global Action Against Hunger, where she served as director of external relations, leading annual fundraising growth from $5 million to $12 million over three years.

— Online spring and summer program registration with the Parks and Recreation Department will begin March 18 at 9 a.m. Walk in, fax and mailed registration, and continuing online registration, will begin March 23 at the Parks and Recreation sales office at Longshore Club Park.

— Those who have been personally impacted by gun violence are invited to attend a Survivor Coffee event on March 12 at 6:30 p.m. at Panera Bread in Westport.

— The Longshore Ladies 9- Hole Golf Association will be hosting an 2020 meeting on March 12 at 9:30 a.m. at the United Methodist Church of Westport. All lady golfers are invited to join a fun group of women who range in age, ability, and share a passion for playing golf.

— On March 14, Westporters are invited to attend A Better Chance of Westport’s 17th annual “Dream Event” fundraiser at Rolling Hills Country Club in Wilton.

Michele Mitnick, co-president of A Better Chance of Westport, explains, “Each school year, two promising students are selected from around the country to move to Westport, live in the A Better Chance house and attend Staples High School. A Better Chance of Westport provides the support and resources that allow the scholars to thrive both educationally and socially, while also adding to the diversity of the Westport and Staples communities. Since its founding, every graduate of the program has gone on to attend a four-year college.”

Highlights include speeches by alumni Thomas Jones and Luis Cruz, and graduating seniors Diego De Leon and Yoel Hooper-Antunez; a cocktail party, dinner, silent and live auctions with celebrity auctioneer CK Swett. Tickets are on sale now at

— The American Job Center Southwest’s new and improved Career Coach will return to Westport Town Hall on March 12. The Coach will offer a beginner’s class in upgraded Microsoft PowerPoint 2016 from 10 a.m. to noon, followed by an intermediate class in PowerPoint 2016 from 1 to 3 p.m. The Career Coach is a “training center” tour bus equipped with 10 wireless computer labs offering free computer classes to residents in the greater Norwalk area.

Westport-based Connoisseur has expanded its media business through an acquisition of digital marketing staff, a substantial portfolio of accounts and key management platforms from Scorpion. The combined digital operations under Connoisseur Media will be known as “Ferocious Media” going forward.

Benjamin Waller, of Westport, graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison during the winter commencement ceremony, with an economics degree.

— Psychotherapist and author Mel Schwartz will share his unique approaches for raising resilient children at the Weston Library on March 10 at 6 p.m.

Rago Arts, a leading auction house featured on PBS’ “The Antiques Road Show,” will hold a jewelry appraisal and consignment event on March 8 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Weston Historical Society. In the event of snow, the event will be rescheduled to March 15. Rago will donate a portion of its commission on consigned property consigned to the historical society. Those interested in scheduling a free appraisal must make an appointment with Rago’s Tess Brzezynski at 609-460-3601 or Please do not contact the historical society for an appointment.