Tag Archives: Pawcatuck

Fundraisers to Benefit Misquamicut Area

Events to benefit the Misquamicut area, which sustained significant damage during Superstorm Sandy, are scheduled.
Bash for the Beach II, at the Knickerbocker, on December 7 from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m., featuring the music of Never Enuff, Equinox, Hope Road, The Beach Band, and Terry Sylvester of the Hollies. Tickets are $15.

The Misquamicut Beach Benefit is set for December 9 from 2 to 9 p.m. at The Malted Barley, Perks & Corks and The Twisted Vine, on High Street, Westerly. The all-ages event will feature live music, food from local chefs, a cash bar, silent auctions, art sales and a raffle. Donations of any size will be collected at the door. Donations of $20 or more will qualify donors for a chance to win a grand prize.

All funds raised will be used to make grants to businesses struggling with losses not covered by insurance. Also, the association’s fund is being used to replace damaged equipment used for a host of events such as movies on the beach and two festivals.

Beech Brook Provides Haven, Healthcare, and Homes to Horses

Deborah Finco of Mystic, owner and director of Beech Brook Equine Rescue, with Taco, a baby donkey born this Fall at the farm; her mom, Ashley was rescued from the auction block.

story & photo
by Anna Truksy

Tucked away on a 14-acre parcel of land in the woods off Fishtown Road in Mystic is Beech Brook Equine Rescue, a nonprofit organization that rescues, rehabilitates, and places horses, donkeys, and other animals. The organization was started by Deborah Finco of Mystic, a  Pfizer scientist who initially built the barn for the two horses she and her daughter rode. Deborah has CHA (certified horse association) certification and is a member of the Connecticut Horse Council and the Connecticut Volunteer Horse Patrol.

Beech Brook is now a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that relies on donations through fundraisers, sponsorships, and grants. The farm features a three-stall barn with a tackroom, a small paddock area with a run and a shed for three horses, and a couple of pastures.

Finco and her team of dedicated volunteers perform all the horse-care duties, which recently included protecting the horses from Hurricane Sandy by putting special masks on them to keep flying debris from injuring their eyes. The horses receive excellent veterinary care, which includes special diets when needed. Deborah and her team strive to find homes for the animals they rehabilitate, but those animals who are not adopted get a loving, life-long home at Beech Brook.

“We built the barn for our own horses, but then we fostered one horse, and it grew from there,” Finco explained. “Now we have not only horses but minis, donkeys, and a few other animals we well.” The animals have been rescued from situations of neglect and abuse, as well as from the auction block, where they are often sold to Canada and other countries to be turned into meat for human consumption. Recently, Beech Brook saved two beautiful female donkeys, Ashley and Matilda, who were pregnant. Ashley’s baby girl, Taco, was named through a fund-raising contest.

Beech Brook offers summer classes and programs for kids, and programs for at-risk and special-needs youth. It will be holding a Spaghetti Dinner Fundraising Event on December 7 at United Congregational Church,  Pawcatuck.

Athena Award Honors Women as Leaders, Humanitarians

2012 Athena Award recipient Marta Parsons.

by John Stratton

“Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I’m just a regular person!”

So said the surprised recipient of the Tenth Annual Athena Award at Lake of Isles October 24, as her selection was announced to some 200 leaders from the Stonington-Pawcatuck-Westerly area at the evening gala honoring her and her fellow nominees, as well as six scholarship recipients exemplifying young women of promise in the region.

The Athena Award winner is Marta Parsons of Westerly, who has an unparalleled, 35-year career in nursing and civic leadership, with a “you can do it all and do it well” attitude that she transmitted to countless other women.

There were five nominees for the 2012 award, each of whom has a stellar record of personal and community achievement. The award is sponsored by the Greater Westerly-Pawcatuck Chamber of Commerce to “celebrate professional excellence, creativity, and initiative, giving back to the community, and assisting women in reaching their full leadership potential.”

The other nominees were Michelle Yozzo Drake, Cindy Duncan, Janell Hayes Bruno, and Elizabeth “Bobette” McCracken. Alexis Ann of The Resident was the event’s keynote speaker.

This year’s presenting sponsor is Geraldine B. Cunningham Associates, with other sponsorships led by Purchasing Group Power of Northeast, Chelsea Groton Bank, The Day, The Washington Trust Company, The Westerly Hospital, and Zoe and Company, the presenting sponsor for the Athena Scholarship, along with additional donations by Prime Time Café.

Keynote speaker Alexis Ann, The Resident.

Scholarship award winners also reflected leadership and potential.

Winners of the Nancy Creaturo Memorial Scholarship are Bomina Belden and Zoe Prescott, both of Westerly High School, who have worked for the “betterment of downtown Westerly-Pawcatuck” in the spirit of the leader for whom the scholarship is named. The four Athena Scholarship recipients are Emily Buxton, of Stonington High School; Laura Martinelli, of the Metropolitan Regional Career and Technical School in Providence; Kelley Miguel, of Westerly High School; and Joni Moody, of Stonington High School.

Athena Scholarship recipients are presented with their awards. (l-r) Laura Martinelli, Emily Buxton, Joni Moody, Michelle Russell of Zoe & Co., and Kelley Miguel.

“No Farmers, No Food”

story & photos
by Barbara Reed Collins

John Whitman “Whit” Davis will be 84 years old on August 3, and for all his life he will be a proud farmer. “I was 11 years old when my father bought me a Shetland pony and a two-wheeled donkey cart. That spring he helped me plant a garden and taught me how to take care of it,” recalls Whit. “Then he said I could keep the money from whatever I could grow and sell.”

He did a milk route with his father, and followed the same route with the cart as he peddled the vegetables he grew. “I recently came across my account book that I kept back then. I sold 133 bunches of radishes at three cents a bunch,” he says, grinning. He earned a total of $75 that summer with sales of raspberries, squash, corn, lettuce and tomatoes. It was the making of Farmer John, or Whit, as he is known to thousands throughout the area and those who frequent the multi-acreage farm, at the end of Greenhaven Road in Pawcatuck.

At the time of the interview, sweet corn was being planted. The rich black soil was already greening up with early vegetables. The pride Whit takes in his work is evident as he speaks. A sign, “No Farmers, No Food,” is on the red truck he drives from his Ledyard home to the farm.

“What would people eat if we didn’t plant?” he wonders aloud. He says Americans must recognize the value of farm-raised food. What comes in from faraway places carries too many unknowns. “I don’t use any pesticides or chemicals; don’t want to handle it, don’t want it in my soil, or on my food,” he declares.

The soil, Whit says, can provide some economic savings along with hearty dishes. He knows when and what to plant, when and how to harvest, and all the other points of gardening wisdom. All he has learned will be shared with others in a journal he is writing. He described a friend’s philosophy: “Always try to put an older head on a young pair of shoulders.” And a good farmer, he says, needs to think ahead about the world’s food needs.

A younger person can take what Whit knows and start out with that information, and avoid the trials and errors of “playing catch-up.” He believes his words can be a great guide.

“I’m keeping track of what I plant, when I plant, when I pick. So, somewhere down the line, a younger person benefits. All they’ll have to do is pick up that journal. They won’t have to be 80 years old before they know what works best for this area.”

For now, Whit’s continuing the annual planting of
fields. Acres of corn seeds are already warming in
the ground, ready to break through the earth and
yield tender ears in many varieties. Information
about all his garden products can be obtained by calling 860.445.0787.