Westporters step forward to help

Believe it or not, Westporters are nearing the first month of our new normal. Our cars now get two weeks to the gallon of gas. We venture out in public wearing actual masks that make us look like legit medical personnel, or bandannas we found god knows where, making it seem like we’re about to rob a bank. We’ve had so many Zoom conferences we can now log on without asking, “Is my microphone on?”

But enough about us. One of the unexpected consequences of this unexpected pandemic has been an outpouring of care and compassion by Westporters. (Not only our town, of course. Everywhere on the planet, people do wonderful things. But this is the Westport News, not the New York Times, so I’ll limit myself to local examples.)

For example, a group of neighbors gathered - appropriately far apart - on Jack Washburn’s front lawn. His family could not be there to celebrate his 90th birthday, so kids and parents serenaded him. They provided lunch and cake (and wine). They taped cards to his door, so he could read them without touching. (Though “touching” is the right description of the day.)

Elise, Penelope and Daphne Eisenberger painted hearts and positive messages on stones. They placed them by the entrances to the police and fire station, post office, pediatrician’s building and other spots. They knew it was a small gesture. But it was important. EMS deputy director Marc Hartog said he and his staff were greatly moved, just knowing that someone cared.

A number of people are making masks, then donating them to hospitals, medical offices and other frontline personnel. Among them: Virginia Jaffe, Jurga Subaciute, Marisa Zer and Taran Gulliksen. They sew over 100 a day. To donate elastic or join their team (all you need is a sewing machine; they provide patterns and instructions), email Westportmasks@yahoo.com.

Lisa Power helped put together a meal train to feed the overworked and often hungry Norwalk Hospital staff. Meals can be donated to units (each has 20 or so staffers) by individuals, families, groups or businesses. This is a win-win: Orders provide work for restaurants and delis, who make and deliver the meals. For more information, email lapower2014@gmail.com.

Speaking of food, most of us never realized how important our restaurants, delis and coffee shops are - or how fragile - until the pandemic struck.

Some closed their doors, immediately or within a few days. Others soldiered on. They created special online menus, figured out how to offer curbside pickup and delivery, and now do whatever they can to provide food for us, and work for their employees.

Yet that’s only half the battle. They need to make sure we know they’re open. Thanks to the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce, that’s easy. The website www.WestportWestonChamber.com (just scroll down) contains a comprehensive list, including hours, phone numbers, and clickable links for instant ordering. A separate list features supermarkets and grocery stores.

A similar site was the work of just a few families. In those first, frantic days of closures the Dobin-Smiths. Weilguses, Kamos, Cammeyers, Posts and Rutsteins worked ceaselessly compiling contact info, websites and more for hundreds of Westport establishments. From sporting goods to sushi, furniture to flowers, paintings to pasta and clothing to cupcakes - in categories like Clothing/Jewelry, Fitness, Salons, Nails/Spas and Miscellaneous (Compo Flowers, Earth Animal, Age of Reason, Rockwell Art, Splatterbox, Stiles Market, The Toy Post, Westport Hardware, Bungalow, photographers) — OneWestport.com has them all.

Some, unfortunately, were closed soon thereafter by the governor’s orders. But OneWestport has a solution: Buy a gift card. The cash is desperately needed now. And you’ll have a gift - for yourself or others - when (thanks in part to your help) the store or business opens back up again.

A similar site, FindingWestport.com, offers information on hours, options, etc., for a host of categories, including real estate offices and creative services.

A bit more niche - but very important, for those of us who swam, spun, worked out or did yoga every day but now cannot enter any gym or fitness center - is Jessica Newshel’s FitFinderCT.com. The service helps people find accredited trainers to assist them one-on-one or in small virtual groups. It’s a godsend for anyone wanting to work out. And for all those trainers needing to work.

Finally - for this column, anyway - search YouTube for “WestportConnected” and “WestportConnected2.” You’ll find a pair of great videos, filled with inspiring messages, services and more.

This list of Westporters who are helping - in so many ways - is hardly exhaustive. But at a time when COVID-19 has been exhausting, it’s one small way of proving that we are all in this together. And although no one in the world can escape the virus, we’re glad we’re together today in Westport.

Dan Woog is a Westport writer, and his “Woog's World” appears each Friday. He can be reached at dwoog@optonline.net. His personal blog is danwoog06880.com.