Friends of Sherwood Island host Shorefest

WESTPORT — A rainy day did not deter Friends of Sherwood Island from hosting their annual Shorefest.

On Friday the group hosted its annual fundraiser, which included lots of food and drink as well as a silent auction. Proceeds will benefit Sherwood Island’s Nature Center, park programs for schools and families, summer internships and more.

Hope Hageman, co-founder of Friends of Sherwood Island, said it’s been over 20 years since the group was first founded.

“I think the most monumental thing has been the construction of the Nature Center,” she said of her group’s work.

Hageman said she would become a founding member when co-founder Winnie Balboni, of Westport, asked her to join her new organization.

“It started around the fall of 1995,” she recalled. “Next year will be 25 years. That will be a major celebration.”

Erica Caldwell, treasurer for Friends of Sherwood Island, said over the years Friends has been continuing to expand. Recently, former state senator Toni Boucher joined the organization and according to Caldwell has been a great help.

Boucher would be in attendance for the event alongside state Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, state Sen. Tony Hwang, and state Rep. Gail Lavielle. Each would take turns serving drinks for guests in attendance.

Caldwell said proceeds will help Friends in their environment focused initiatives. It will also contribute to educating the youth about the resources, needs and value of the park.

“We want to help the stewards of the future and get them excited to learn about the environment and help animals in their environment,” Caldwell said.

As Friends approaches its quarter century anniversary, she said her organization will continue to be protectors of the park and it’s natural resources.

“Friends is trying to continue to focus on the environment,” Caldwell said. “We want to continue to do a lot for the habitat of animals that live here.”