Thursday, May 19, 2022

Person of the Week

Guilford Courier

Four years after the loss of his son Ethan to a gunshot, Mike Song and his family continue their efforts to make Ethan’s life and loss meaningful by supporting Ethan’s causes and programs that keep kids safe, including those that inform about the dangers of opioid abuse, texting, and driving and promote gun safety and advocacy. Next up is a return of the Keep Kids Safe SongStrong 5K is on Saturday, June 4. Photo by Ben Rayner/The Courier

Staying Strong After an Unfathomable Tragedy

Published May 18, 2022 08:30 a.m.

Most Guilford residents are sadly all too aware of the tragedy that occurred in January 2018, when 15-year-old Ethan Song lost his life in an accidental shooting. The grief, despair, and frustration the Song family has endured since Ethan’s death simply isn’t possible to truly convey.

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The Source

Beth O’Keefe, who is co-chairing this year’s Nite in Hand festivities with Lisa Rana, promises the Daniel Hand High School Class of 2022 an evening of non-stop entertainment on Tuesday, June 14. Photo by Ben Rayner/The Source

A Nite Like No Other

Published May 18, 2022 08:30 a.m.

Since 1989, the educators and parents of Madison have created a special and safe evening for graduating seniors. Though postponed and revamped the last two years due to the pandemic, this year’s Nite In Hand (NIH) event will come back as strong as ever, thanks to efforts of volunteers like Beth O’Keefe.

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The Sound

Shoreline Eldercare Alliance (SEA) President Steve Cudgma encourages shoreline seniors, and those who care for them, to attend SEA’s Celebration of Healthy Aging set for Wednesday,

May 25, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Woodwinds in Branford. Photo courtesy of Steve Cudgma

Cudgma Helps SEA ‘Celebration of Healthy Aging’ Return

Published May 18, 2022 08:30 a.m.

It’s been a long wait for fans of Shoreline Eldercare Alliance (SEA)’s signature event, but SEA president Steve Cudgma says shoreline seniors, and those who care for them, will be thrilled when SEA welcomes them back to enjoy its Celebration of Healthy Aging on Wednesday, May 25, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Woodwinds in Branford.

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North Haven Courier

Autism comprises a wide and diverse spectrum. Helen Pappas focuses her creative abilities through her Nikon camera to capture the emotion of her subjects in still life photography. Photo courtesy of Helen Pappas

Helen Pappas: Living Big Through Still Life

Published May 18, 2022 08:30 a.m.

Objects, landscapes, animals, and people have a state of existence mostly invisible to the non-artist. For the artistic mind, the ordinary becomes extraordinary. For Helen Pappas, the lens through which she witnesses and celebrates life is two-fold enhanced, one through the lens of her camera, the other, through the lens of autism.

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East Haven Courier

Beth Purcell uses her extensive experience in business administration and finance to enhance the operations of both Yale University and the East Haven Board of Finance. 

Photo courtesy of Beth Purcell

Beth Purcell: Volunteering Close to Home

Published May 18, 2022 08:30 a.m.

There’s an old saying that life’s greatest riches are often right in our own backyards and that one does not have to venture far to have a full and productive life. East Haven native Beth Purcell is a living example of this philosophy.

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Valley Courier

Musicians at Valley Regional High School and John Winthrop Middle School are used to working with Kevin Lam, but about 60 new musicians from throughout the community joined him recently to perform “Kyiv, 2022” with the high school musicians at their spring concert.

Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Kevin Lam: Banding Together

Published May 18, 2022 08:30 a.m.

Kevin Lam conducts bands. But Kevin, instrumental music director at Valley Regional High School (VRHS) and group lessons teacher at John Winthrop Middle School, had never conducted a band the size of the Ukraine Benefit Ensemble, the group he recently led. The large group performed as a part of the spring concert at the high school.

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Harbor News

Old Saybrook High School College and Career Readiness Coordinator Carina Using is grateful for community support as she helps students find their path forward from high school. 

Photo courtesy of Carina Using

Ready for Launch: Using Preps OSHS Students for Next Steps

Published May 18, 2022 08:30 a.m.

All high school students have had a moment where they thought to themselves, “I have no idea what I’m going to do with my life.” Luckily for Old Saybrook High School (OSHS) students, they have Carina Using, the college and career readiness coordinator, to help them find some guidance.

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Harbor News

Since moving to town full time in 2018 and joining the Old Saybrook Rotary Club, Gary McCauley has found ways to serve a community he has admired for more than a decade.

Photo courtesy of Gary McCauley

Gary McCauley: Finding a Community, Ready to Help

Published May 11, 2022 08:30 a.m.

In 2011 Gary McCauley and his family bought a summer place in Old Saybrook. They became year-round residents in 2018 and ever since Gary has made his presence felt in the community as a member of the Old Saybrook Rotary Club.

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Valley Courier

Serving on the Essex Board of Selectmen gives Stacia Libby a chance to work in the interests of her neighbors. Photo by Aaron Rubin/The Courier

Libby Stacia: Everyone Needs to Be Heard

Published May 11, 2022 08:30 a.m.

“You talk about everything at a bar. You sit at a bar, everyone always wants a beer, there’s no pressure to sell, they’re coming to you,” she says.

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The Source

After 15 years in various positions at R.J. Julia booksellers, Lori Fazio is stepping up to the role of president. Photo courtesy of Lori Fazio

Sharing a Love for Books

Published May 11, 2022 08:30 a.m.

Despite several decades of prediction of the doom and demise of bookstores, the town’s iconic R.J. Julia Booksellers has not only survived, but thrived.

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East Haven Courier

“Teaching is like being a mom, you’re a nurturer, you’re a server,” says Marissa Mollica-Velazquez, who uses her advanced education and experience to lead the efforts of the East Haven Family Resource Center to serve preschoolers and their families. 

Photo courtesy of Marissa Mollica-Velazquez

Marissa Mollica-Velazquez: Preparing Preschoolers for Success in K-12

Published May 11, 2022 08:30 a.m.

Marissa Mollica-Velazquez may have a long title—East Haven Family Resource Center (FRC) and School Readiness Early Childhood Facilitator—but her mission is simple and clear: to help local preschool youngsters and their parents prepare for entry into grade school.

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North Haven Courier

Rob Deko, Jr., credits his mother and father for a childhood filled with life lessons about helping others and the importance of giving back to one’s community. Photo courtesy of Rob Deko, Jr.

Rob Deko, Jr: Heroes Helping Heroes

Published May 11, 2022 08:30 a.m.

Rob Deko, Jr., comes from a family of helpers, in the form of public service providers via firefighting through his father and nursing via his mother. Born and raised in East Haven, Rob spent his early years serving his local community but now helps in North Haven, North Branford, and beyond.

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The Sound

Branford resident and well-known shoreline soccer coach Shane Smith is back in Poland for his second humanitarian trip since the Russian invasion broke out in February. He’s shown here at the April 24 Stand with Ukraine gathering outside the Blackstone Library. 

Photo by Wesley Bunnell/The Sound

Smith Seeks to Help Ukrainians in Need

Published May 11, 2022 08:30 a.m.

Shane Smith’s first trip to Ukraine in 1999 was far different from trips he has undertaken in recent months, on his own, to do what he can to help others in need in a time of war.

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Guilford Courier

After COVID created a 2-year upheaval to traditional Project Graduation (PG) celebrations, Christine Blumberg and many parent volunteer members of the Guilford High School (GHS) community are determined to make this year’s all-night, substance free PG party especially memorable for the GHS Class of 2022. Photo courtesy of Christine Blumberg

Blumberg Rallies Support for GHS Project Graduation

Published May 04, 2022 08:30 a.m.

After Covid created a two-year upheaval to traditional Project Graduation (PG) celebrations, Christine Blumberg and many parent volunteer members of the Guilford High School (GHS) community are determined to make this year’s all-night, substance-free PG party especially memorable for the GHS Class of 2022.

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The Source

Madison artist and author Dianne Coyle wrote A Widow’s Spiritual Journey: Prayers, Reflections and Meditations for the Everday Catholic not to offer instruction, but the grieving move through the process. Photo by Ben Rayner/The Source

Dianne Coyle: Taking Time to Reflect

Published May 04, 2022 08:30 a.m.

To say that grief is complicated is something that seems a bit obvious. As we all grieve and process the loss of loved ones in our own unique way, local author Dianne Coyle has compiled a lifetime of reflections on this topic in her new book, A Widow’s Spiritual Journey: Prayers, Reflections and Meditations for the Everday Catholic, not as a guidebook, but as a larger map to find one’s way past the darkness of grief.

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East Haven Courier

Lynn LaFogg rides her motorcycle with Bikers Against Animal Cruelty, Inc., to raise funds and awareness to fight against animal cruelty and neglect. She also volunteers to help cook for and serve both the homeless and senior citizens through St. Bernadette Church in New Haven.

Photo courtesy of Lynn LaFogg

Lynn LaFogg: A Two-Wheeler Supports Four-Leggers

Published May 04, 2022 08:30 a.m.

East Haven native Lynn LaFogg grew up loving animals. Today, when not caring for and enjoying her own dogs—Diva, a blue heeler-Chow mix, and Gunner, a Labrador retriever mixed with three other breeds—she volunteers to help both abandoned pets and feral animals through the organizations she supports.

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Harbor News

Of the many ways Susan Esty has worked to better her Old Saybrook community, her volunteer efforts with the Lions Club have had the widest impact locally and internationally. 

Photo by Eric O’Connell/Harbor News

Susan Esty: All In Like a Lion

Published May 04, 2022 08:30 a.m.

“Honestly when people ask what is a Lion, I say well, I don’t know what a Lion isn’t,” Susan Esty says.

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Valley Courier

That woman with the sword? That’s Vickie Miorelli, captain of the Essex-based Sailing Masters of 1812 fife and drum corps, which will commemorate the anniversary of the 1814 British raid on Essex Harbor in the The Burning of the Ships parade on Saturday, May 14. 

Photo courtesy of Vickie Miorelli

Vicki Miorelli: Call Her Captain

Published May 04, 2022 08:30 a.m.

This could be a Final Jeopardy question, and Vickie Miorelli would know the answer

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The Sound

Rob Deko, Jr., credits his mother and father for a wonderful childhood filled with life lessons about helping others and the importance of giving back to one’s community.

Photo courtesy of Rob Deko, Jr.

Rob Deko, Jr: Heroes Helping Heroes

Published May 04, 2022 08:30 a.m.

Rob Deko, Jr., comes from a family of helpers, in the form of public service providers via firefighting through his father and nursing via his mother.

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The Source

George Marinelli   Photo courtesy of George Marinelli

George Marinelli Proves It’s Cool To Be Kind

Published April 27, 2022 08:30 a.m.

A far as cool goes, Madison’s George Marinelli is pretty much as cool as the proverbial cucumber gets. A life-long musician whose list of playing and band credits is as impressive as it is long highlights the respect his fellow rockers have for this talented guitarist.

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Guilford Courier

An introductory Arabic class at Guilford High School in 2005 is one of the essential elements that helped Andrew Simon, a historian of media and pop culture in the modern Middle East, launch a 10-year journey to research and write his new book, Media of the Masses–Cassette Culture in Modern Egypt. Photo courtesy of Andrew Simon

Press Play: Simon Explores Modern Egypt’s Cassette Culture in ‘Media of the Masses’

Published April 27, 2022 08:30 a.m.

An introductory Arabic class at Guilford High School. Experiencing the Egyptian Revolution in Tahrir Square. Discovering the power of two magnetic tape reels inside a plastic case.

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The Sound

For the past 35 years, the James Blackstone Memorial Library has enjoyed the extraordinary effort Frank Zdunek, who works at the town’s iconic building as facilities manager. Frank, a Branford resident, is a native of Poland. Photo by Pam Johnson/The Sound

Zdunek’s Handywork Keeps Branford’s Blackstone Library Running

Published April 27, 2022 08:30 a.m.

He may have arrived in Branford speaking no English, carrying a single suitcase and with only $10 in his pocket, but Frank Zdunek feels enriched by the luck that brought him here, and that has helped him to become a beloved member of his adopted hometown.

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North Haven Courier

As an educator with a keen interest in American history, Kimberly Carew is excited to see the return of the North Haven Mayflower Society’s annual banquet, to be held on May 15 at Cascade in Hamden. Photo courtesy of Kimberly Carew

Kimberly Carew: For the Love of History

Published April 27, 2022 08:30 a.m.

Where history, community, and children converge you will find Kimberly Carew. She has a long history of service to North Haven children as a teacher and in her efforts to help preserve the town’s history through her work with the Mayflower Society of North Haven.

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East Haven Courier

Rob Deko, Jr., credits his mother and father for a wonderful childhood filled with life lessons about helping others and the importance of giving back to one’s community. 

Photo courtesy of Rob Deko, Jr.

Rob Deko, Jr: Heroes Helping Heroes

Published April 27, 2022 08:30 a.m.

Rob Deko, Jr., comes from a family of helpers, in the form of public service providers via firefighting through his father and nursing via his mother.

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Valley Courier

Dick Shriver and his wife Barbara lived in Lviv, Ukraine, for seven years and continue to receive firsthand reports of the war tearing that country apart. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

Dick Shriver: Firsthand Knowledge of Ukraine

Published April 27, 2022 08:30 a.m.

Dick Shriver has something to say about Ukraine, and not just because he listens to news reports. Dick and his wife Barbara lived for seven years from 1995 to 2002 in Lviv, one of Ukraine’s major cities in the west of the country near the Polish border.

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The Source

Between budgets, primaries, elections, and more, Republican Registrar of Voters Ann Devine says the Registrars Office is busy year-round. Photo courtesy of Ann Devine

Ann Devine: Stewarding a Stable Polling Process

Published April 20, 2022 08:30 a.m.

It’ safe to say that Madison’s new Republican Registrar of Voters Ann Devine grew up around a ballot box.

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Guilford Courier

As one who jumps into costume to help host Guilford Free Library (GFL)’s annual Comic Con, it’s safe to say Teen Services Librarian Sara Martone can get pretty enthusiastic about special events at GFL, including the annual Friends Spring Book Sale coming Friday, May 6 and Saturday, May 7. Photo courtesy of Sara Martone

Martone Shares News of GFL Spring Book Sale and Other Exciting Events

Published April 20, 2022 08:30 a.m.

As one who jumps into costume to help host Guilford Free Library (GFL)’s annual Comic Con, it’s safe to say Teen Services Librarian Sara Martone can get pretty enthusiastic about GFL’s special events, including the annual Friends of GFL Spring Book Sale coming Friday, May 6 and Saturday, May 7 to GFL at 67 Park Street.

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North Haven Courier

After four attempts, Rudy Vener finally won first place in the Connecticut-based Tassy Walden Awards children’s book writing competition last year. Leila, the tortoiseshell cat, functions as a “mews” when he writes. Photo by Gina Vener

Rudy Vener: The Art of Perseverance

Published April 20, 2022 08:30 a.m.

The famed science fiction writer Ray Bradbury wrote in his advice to writers, “To fail is to give up. There is no failure unless one stops. Not to work is to cease, tighten up, become nervous and therefore destructive of the creative process.”

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East Haven Courier

George Ambel never leaves home without donning one of the 16 military hats he owns. He served in the U.S. Air Force for 25 years before his honorable discharge. Today, George helps fellow veterans in all branches of the service obtain the maximum disability compensation allowed by law. Photo courtesy of George Ambel

George Ambel: Helping Disabled Veterans

Published April 20, 2022 08:30 a.m.

George Ambel, 83 years young, may live in North Haven but his desire to help U.S. military veterans reaches across the shoreline, including East Haven.

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The Sound

Former TV journalist Erin Logan doesn’t gloss over some gritty details in her new self-help book, 'Reporting Facts and Running from the Truth' (see book image, next photo). The former Branford resident will be in town for a special book signing on Wednesday, April 27, from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at Loved Boutique & Resale, 847 West Main Street. 

Photo courtesy of Erin Logan

Logan Shares Self-Worth Journey in ‘Reporting Facts and Running from the Truth’

Published April 20, 2022 08:30 a.m.

Former TV journalist Erin Logan doesn’t gloss over some gritty details in her new self-help book, Reporting Facts and Running from the Truth—A TV Anchor’s Struggle to Find Self-Worth Beyond a Job Title.

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