Westport Sunrise Rotary awarded $30,300 to 27 area charities at its first Benefit Bash at Christ & Holy Trinity Church on Wednesday evening, an event attended by over 50 people.
Club president Eric Zeilinski and Charlie Haberstroh, president of Rotary’s 21st Century Foundation – the club’s charitable arm – along with Charitable Giving Committee co-chairs John Canning and Ann Lloyd, presented checks to a representative of each of the charities.
Zeilinski told the attendees that the money was raised through the club’s two fund raisers – the Great Duck Race in June and the Wine Tasting in October.
Canning told the recipients that more than 35 organizations had submitted requests – the most ever. Groups receiving Sunrise awards included Project Return, Homes With Hope, Westport-Weston Family Y, Mercy Learning Center, Open Door Shelter and Workplace. All “meet basic human needs” of people from Norwalk to Bridgeport, and a club member is involved with each.
Haberstroh called the Foundation the “bank for the club’s support of charities.” He said “80% of its donations go to area charities, 20% to international programs supported by Rotary International.” talked briefly about the Foundation
Talking to the recipients, he said “we’d be a poorer community without the work you do.”
Fundraising Sponsors Thanked
The Duck Race will be held on June 30 on the Saugatuck River behind the Main Street stores. Steve Violette, the Race Committee chair thanked this year’s sponsors – who include Westport Downtown Merchants Association, Fairfield County Bank and Melissa & Doug. He also thanked A. J. Penna for the important work he does, using his front end loader to put the support boats and the ducks into the water.
Violette said that these sponsors underwrite the event’s overhead – they pay for permits, for the ducks and for many other race day expenses.
Club member Bob Galan, chair of the Wine Tasting Committee, thanked its sponsors – Castlekeep Investment Advisors and the law firm of Berchem, Moses & Devlin. He said that after 22 years at Longshore this year’s event will be held at Christ & Holy Trinity Church, and will be a part of a Downtown Merchants Association weekend celebrating our downtown.
Zeilinski closed, thanking long time club member John Branson, the recently retired Rector of Christ & Holy Trinity for enabling the club to use this attractive venue; introducing state senator Toni Boucher; and Nick Mathias, son of member Mark Mathias, saying Nick represents “all the kids who enjoy the Duck Race,” then invited everyone to share hors d’oeuvres and refreshments.