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Norwalk Neighbors Notes: Saluting Volunteers

NORWALK, Conn. -- At the Norwalk 2.0 launch party last week at Fat Cat, guests were asked to describe Norwalk in one word. “Friendly,” “fun,” “progressive” were a few of the adjectives. But one word that might describe the city more aptly is “volunteer-centric.” The co-founders of Norwalk 2.0 ( www.norwalk2.org ), Jackie Lightfield and Maribeth Becker, have been longtime volunteers for the city. (And they know how to throw a great party, too.)

Another pair of volunteers worthy of great praise is Pat Tyre and Tom Chiappetta of Christopher Estates . Pat and her husband, Tom, mentor some of Norwalk’s youth and have been for over 10 years. Recently, they took a field trip with two Norwalk sophomores to colleges to whet their appetites for higher learning. About the trip, Pat said, “I wanted to make sure that they had a chance to see a small college and a large university.  We went to Howard University, Morgan State, the Naval Academy, Georgetown, George Washington, Johns Hopkins and Loyola of Maryland, seven colleges in two days, plus a ball game. We kept them moving!”

Before new high school graduates head off to college or other careers, parent volunteers made sure they had wonderful graduation parties. Tara Whalen of Deerwood Manor helped with the NHS post-graduation party. “I thought it was going to be hard to stay up all night,” said said, “but time flew by pretty quickly. I was exhausted the following night and slept a good 13 hours!  Everyone that worked on or at the event deserves a huge round of applause. It was great!”  At BMHS, Donna and Jeff Meier of Rampart Road, Karen Pace of Crest Road and many other parents stayed up all night. Karen said, “It was so much fun!  Donna really deserves some recognition. She set up during the day, stayed for the party and then did the clean up!”

Betsy Brown of West Rocks is an unusually devoted volunteer, too. She volunteers every day of the week. For over 10 years, she volunteers at PAWS. When you walk into PAWS, one thing that’s missing is pet odor. Maybe that’s because Betsy does lots and lots of laundry. “We are always washing towels, toys and bedding. We try really hard to keep the dogs comfortable. We feel so sorry for the dogs and the kittens. We probably have 140 cats. They’re everywhere. My sister and I have adopted four dogs from PAWS.” On the days Betsy isn’t at PAWS, you may see her at the Smilow Family Breast Health Center at Norwalk Hospital. As a two-time breast cancer survivor, Betsy knows how valuable it is for a patient to have support. “20 years ago, I had to figure it out myself,” says Betsy, “but at Smilow, they navigate the process of what you need to know to get better. I love it there so much that I put my pet therapy on hold. I used to escort the therapy dogs around to patients at the hospital. Volunteering is my way to give back and get involved in the community.” Don’t be surprised if you see Betsy at Moxee Boutique of Wilton on Route 7 . She volunteers there, too. “It’s because it’s my friend’s store, my dear friend of 30 years. Moxee is a shop with the most interesting art, furniture, new and vintage clothing. I like to help out, and I would do anything to help her succeed. Even tie balloons on the sign with cars zooming by. And let me tell you, they zoom!” Lots of people and pets must be very grateful to have Betsy as a friend.

To have your social event, announcement or honor included in Norwalk Neighbors Notes, email Jeanne at jeannehard@aol.com .

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