February 12 eEdition



Ov e r 20 , 000 c o p i e s i n p r i n t w e ek l y c o nn e c t i n g o u r c ommun i t y t og e t h e r. l Febr ua r y 12 , 2016

$1 . 75

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Our Neighborhoods

DOWNTOWN Chicken Joe’s “Ride For Kids” and The Needs Clearing House are holding their third annual “Dough for Donations” Pizza Night at Christ Church on Friday, March 13 4:00 - 9 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 14, 1:00 - 3:00 pm Science Sunday: Winter Warmth. Held at Bruce Museum. Ages 4-10 with family. Free. info@ brucemuseum.org Wednesday, Feb. 17, 7 - 9:00 pm Bowman Observatory Public Nights February 17, presented by Astronomical Society of Greenwich. Weather permitting. Free. 180 East Elm. Thursday, Feb. 18, 6:00 p.m. YMCA of Greenwich Centennial Cocktail Party. 50 East Putnam Avenue. 869-1630. Tuesday, Feb. 16, 6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. “The Evolution of Beauty” Lecture by Dr. Richard Prum. Held at Bruce Museum, 1 Museum Drive. Free to Bruce Museum members, $15 for non-members. Reservations are required; contact 413-6756 or info@brucemuseum.org. Monday, Feb. 15, 12:30 - 2:00 p.m. Knee Replacement Education by Greenwich Hospital. Prepare yourself and get answers to questions you have either before or after your surgery. 5 Perryridge Rd. Cos Cob Conference Room - Watson Pavilion. BACKCOUNTRY Sunday, Feb. 14, 11:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. ‘I Love Audubon’ Day, Audubon Greenwich, 613 Riversville Road. All ages. $20 family. Pre-register with Sematthews@audubon.org Wednesday, Feb. 10, 7 - 8:00 pm ‘Choosing Hope: The Power of Choice’ by former first-grade teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary school, Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis. Round Hill Church, 395 Round Hill Road. Tickets $5 followed by Q&A with a wine and cheese. COS COB Saturday, Feb. 13, 1:00 p.m. Cloak and Dagger Book Club: The Whispering City by Sara Moliner. Cos Cob Library, 5 Sinawoy Road. 203-622-6883; 203-930-1353. a.m. All Elementary schools. Incoming Kindergarten Parent Orientation. Parents are then asked to make a registration appointment. Children who turn five by December 31, 2016 are eligible for Kindergarten. BYRAM Saturday, Feb. 13, 9:00 a.m. Tax Help from AARP Foundation at all Greenwich libraries. No reservations. Sign-ups begin at 9:00 a.m. Please bring a photo I.D. along with all income information, any W-2’s and last year’s tax return. GreenwichLibrary.org Tuesday, March 22, 9:00 OLD GREENWICH Sunday, Feb. 14, 4:00 p.m. Sunday Afternoons Live presents pianist Evelina Puzaite. Held at the First Congregational Church of Greenwich as part of their Music and Arts Season. Tickets are $20 at the door and free for kids.

Fire Dept Counts on New Fire Station, Staff I n Greenwich’s 2016-17 budget, t hey appea r a s d i f ferent line items, for $625,168 and separate, distinct issues which are not connected,” Siecienski said. “I would say, why would you build a structure for $6 million without knowing how it is going to be staffed?” response to incidents,” Tesei told the committee. to supervise and call for backup in emergencies. With three or more firefighters on the scene, two firefighters can approach a burning building simultaneously, providing backup and an extra pair of eyes in case of sudden hazards. By Bill Slocum Contributing Editor Cards were made. Flowers were arranged and cookies were delivered to clients of Meals-On-Wheels. Photo by Lori Jackson.

At t he moment , t hree town stations, in Byram, Old Greenwich, and Cos Cob, have two-person first- response teams. Siecienski points to existing regulations prohibiting two firefighters from taking action at a house fire where no lives are in jeopardy. “Standing outside, with f lames coming out of the window, what would your expectation be?” he asked. “That they would fight the fire and try to minimize the damage. With a two-person crew, they might stretch a hoseline, but they wouldn’t go in.” That’s because one of the two firefighters must remain outside,

At the Board of Estimate and Ta xat ion’s Budge t Commit tee hearings last week, First Selectman Peter Tesei presented the initiatives as overdue. The four-firefighter proposal is a pared-down, stretched- out version of an eight-firefighter plan rejected in each of the last two years by the BET. “This initiative seeks to reduce t he haza rds assoc iated wit h a two-person staffing model while improving the operational efficiency of firefighters who provide the initial School of Education. “I knew I wanted to work with kids and the natural translation was becoming a teacher. There was never a question in my mind that was what I wanted to do.” Just a year out of college, Kaitlin applied for several teaching jobs in the state in search of a first-grade teaching position. After an interview for a fourth- g r ade t e a c h i ng j ob w i t h t he Newtown Public School district, she still remembers the phone call she received in the following days. “I have bad news and good news,” she remembers Sandy Hook’s hiring principal saying. “The bad news is that I hired a teacher who has lots of fourth-grade experience. The good news is a first-grade position just opened up. Would you like it?” Roig-DeBellis jumped at the opportunity—a dream come true. “I remember in my first couple

$500,000 respectively. For Fire Chief Peter Siecienski, they are critical, l inked steps in upgrad ing t he responsiveness of his department. The first figure adds four paid firefighters to the Byram Fire Station, and begins a four-year plan to staff up first responders. The second figure funds planning for a fire and ambulance station in northwestern Greenwich, a project expected to cost the town $6 million in the next two years. “People will say they are two

Assistant Fire Chief Robert Kick noted an incident last winter in Old Greenwich, where a two-person team arrived at a situation where two boys had fallen through ice. While one of the firefighters stayed back holding a ropeline, the other firefighter went out for the boys alone. He was successful in rescuing them, but injured his back in the process. With a three-person team, firefighters

continued, see FIREFIGHTERS on Page 3

Tragedy to Teachable Moment: Moving Forward, Choosing Hope

Neighbor to Neighbor Families Still Recovering By Chéye Roberson Sentinel Correspondent

By Evan Triantafilidis Staff Reporter

O n December 13, 2012, life was looking good for Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis. She was engaged to be married and she worked at her dream job, first-grade teacher, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. “I always knew I wanted to be a teacher from the youngest of ages,” said the 32-year-old Roig-DeBellis, author of the book “Choosing Hope: Moving Forward from Life’s Darkest Hours,” at her Greenwich home recently. “I was always so curious about the other children I saw.” When she was five, she asked her father if she could babysit their neighbor, who was just three years old. She went on to be a mother’s helper, a camp counselor and a nanny as she grew up and eventually was accepted into UConn’s Neag

T he Great Recession may have ended, but families are still struggling to stay out of poverty. Nancy Coughlin, executive director of Neighbor to Neighbor, said that although the employment rate may have risen, people are not getting the kinds of jobs that allow them to sustain themselves without outside help. “Since the recession, we’ve grown about 1-2 percent a year. This past year, we had a 4 percent increase,” said Coughlin while sitting at her desk amid boxes of paper work. Coughlin’s office reflects the constant flurry of activity at Neighbor to Neighbor, a non-profit organization based out of the lower level of Christ Episcopal Church. “We were hoping demand would go down as the economy k ind of recovered and things got better, but it didn’t,” said Coughlin. “I really think what’s happening is that the jobs that have been created since the recession are not the kinds of jobs that are getting people out of poverty.” One in six individuals struggle with hunger and 17 percent of Greenwich residents work but cannot make ends meet without public or private assistance. Neighbor to Neighbor went from serving 321 families in 2001 to serving 660 families today, and from 47,000 meals annually to 325,000. The mission of Neighbor to Neighbor is to keep families, children, and seniors in Greenwich healthy and strong by providing food, clothing and basic living essentials in an atmosphere of kindness and respect. Although Neighbor to Neighbor’s focus remains Greenwich families, a small portion of help goes to families who have been referred to Neighbor to Neighbor through social service prog rams i n St amford and Por t Chester. Neighbor to Neighbor has been a

Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis

months working there that Sandy Hook Elementary was a special place,” she said. “I had amazing friends and an amazing education. On December 13, I had my dream job and I was looking forward to getting married.” What happened the following day,

continued, see KAITLIN on Page 7

Greenwich High School’s Michael Gianopoulos works the ball past his opponent during Tuesday night’s game against Trinity Catholic High School. With Big Red’s 77-67 victory over the Crusaders, the Cardinals punched its ticket back to the postseason, securing the team’s eighth win of the season and a CIAC class LL berth. To read more on the game and to hear the team’s reaction to getting back to the state tourney, check out the sports section on B1. (John Ferris Robben photo)

continued, see N2N on Page 7

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