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RIDGEFIELD, CT—Families who have children with autism or kids on the spectrum can find relief from the stress of scheduling multiple appointments with therapists, dealing with insurance companies and other related issues at the area’s newest child development center that is specifically tailored to their needs. Springtide Child Development Center is pleased to announce the opening of their newest location on Copps Hill Road in Ridgefield, Conn.
Co-Founder and CEO Jia Jia said she opened the facility in Ridgefield after seeing a great need in the area for the unique services they provide for families who are impacted by autism. Springtide opened its first center in Trumbull in June 2020. In this short amount of time, they’ve seen tremendous need and have gotten really positive feedback from the families they work with.
For Jia Jia it’s personal.
“When I was a kid growing up in Salt Lake City, we had a really close family friend with a kid with autism. They would fly their therapist from the East Coast to Salt Lake once a month, and then work with their kid on the therapeutic practices throughout the month, until they could see their therapist again next month. I remember how difficult this was for the family, and also how much the therapy helped. Nearly 30 years later, I am struck by how access is still a major issue for many families today,” she shared.
The center hopes to provide refuge for parents who struggle to schedule appointments across multiple therapists and have to navigate the tough waters of dealing with confusing insurance issues and other related problems by streamlining the process all into one place.
“I realized I could make a difference,” Jia Jia said. “Over the last 20 years, I have worked for some of the most innovative and customer-oriented healthcare companies, and I discovered I could apply my learnings here to really help families. We offer convenient interdisciplinary centers where kids can receive ABA, occupational and speech therapies in one location. We manage all the insurance paperwork. And we integrate our practices with seamless technology that improves the quality of our practice and enhances our therapist effectiveness.”
Jia Jia said they opened in Ridgefield because they loved the town Ridgefield and its community. Prior to Springtide, Jia Jia served in multiple executive leadership roles including Director of Operations at One Medical Group (NASDAQ: ONEM), SVP of Operations at Sandbox VR and COO of Oxeon Partners, and VP of Service Experience at Oscar Health Insurance (NYSE: OSCR).
BROOKFIELD, CT—If you need an excuse to eat a hearty and delicious double-decker burger or sandwich today, JJ Stack’s got you covered! The newly opened Brookfield eatery boasts mouthwatering burgers, hot dogs, hand cut fries and much more. Owners Joe Attonito and Joe Acocella opened the unique eatery in late August and have been going full steam ahead ever since.
Attonito was the owner/operator of the former Tiger’s Den Sports Bar in Ridgefield, and has over 28 years of experience in the industry, started our as a bus boy and working his way up through the ranks.
“Currently I work in sales, selling food to restaurants, but was itching to get back in. This to me is like sort of some unfinished business when my previous restaurant closed abruptly after years of struggle,” Attonito said.
Acocella, on the other hand, is a restaurant newbie, but is dedicated to learning the business and becoming a bigger part of the day-to-day operations he said.
The dynamic duo said they were originally going to open a food truck but then came across this opportunity and they couldn’t refuse the chance to make something uniquely theirs and thus JJ Stacks was born. The restaurant got its name when Joe Acocella combined their first initials and the restaurant concept of their triple decker sandwiches.
Attonito said he chose to open in Broofield becasuse he loves the feel of a charming small town.
“I grew up working in restaurants with heavy “local” and “regular” business and that’s how I want to grow,” Attonito said. “We are a very community-oriented team as far as supporting local business and teaming up for fun and often charitable events, and Brookfield seems like a town that would greatly appreciate that.:
At his previous restaurant, Attonito was well-known in the Ridgefield community and helped dozens of non-profits, educational organizations, sports teams and more. He has already begun doing the same in Brookfield by hosting a few charitable events.
While opening during a global pandemic has been a challenge, Attonito said that the large patio and outdoor section offers plenty of room for safe social distancing and a great view of the mini golf course which is perfect for outdoor family fun.
“The fact that the whole feel of the place is that of an old take-out burger and ice cream joint which made us feel more comfortable considering COVID precautions. We love the idea of a unique way to spend time outdoors and something fun for kids and families to do together after being cooped up inside for so long. Obviously, we have our share of challenges, but we’re hoping the community takes to us quickly and we’re able to overcome what is sure to be a very tricky winter,” Attonito said.
Speaking of which, the restaurant offers take-out and curbside to go in addition to catering for corporate and community functions. The restaurant will be open all year round offering their full menu as well as homemade soup and donut specials for curbside and take-out, as well as limited dine-in options. JJ Stacks also participates with @deliverydotcom @ubereats @doordash and @grubhub.
Photos: Joe Attonito, JJ Stacks
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FAIRFIELD COUNTY, CT—While many businesses are closed and millions are unable to go to work or school due to the coronavirus pandemic, one local company is helping residents stay safe at home by providing grocery shopping and delivery. VanGo, a ride service for pre-teens and teens, is offering the shopping service now that they’re temporarily no longer booking rides to school and activities due to the COVID-19 shutdown.
Jamrozik created the company in 2018 specifically to support working moms to get help from trusted members of their community by providing children’s transportation to and from school, sports, and other activities. Now that the kids are no longer in school, Jamrozik, is adapting to the change.
“Since schools have shut down, we have been looking for other ways to continue supporting families within our community, and provide work for our drivers. One big pain point we noticed was getting access to groceries, especially with delivery dates and times booked up with current providers. We saw a path forward that would help both families and drivers within our community,” Jamrozik said.
While other grocery service providers have a week wait or longer, VanGo Grocery provides consistent next-day delivery as long as customers place their order by 3PM EST. In addition, many families can have the same 3-4 shoppers working with them on a regular basis so there’s a level of familiarity as well.
Customers can log onto VanGo Grocery and navigate the user-friendly website to place their order. Shoppers text families when and if an item is out of stock to ensure families are getting the right type of substitutions. Deliveries are contact-free and drivers wear masks and gloves when shopping for and dropping off the grocery order to customers.
Rates are similar to other grocery delivery services. VanGo Grocery is making sure shoppers are being paid fairly for time spent picking, packing, and delivering to consumers.
“Ultimately, our goal as a company was always to support families in a variety of ways. We started off with transportation, with the long-term aim to expand to other services. That time has come sooner than expected! When schools reopen in the future, we plan to continue offering grocery delivery, ride-sharing, and other family services in the future,” Jamrozik said.
Jamrozik said that while the change to her new business has been challenging, what helps to keep her and the VanGo team going during this crisis is the support they’ve received from the community.
“We are a small team, and this societal change has challenged us to think creatively. We’ve been working hard to launch grocery delivery in Fairfield County, and are really grateful for the support we’ve received from the community to date. That’s what keeps us going.”
VanGo Grocery is available in Ridgefield, as well as all of Fairfield County. For more information or to download the app, visit VanGo: ridevango.com/grocery.
Photo: VanGo Grocery
Photo Credit: Marta Jamrozik, Owner, VanGo
RIDGEFIELD, CT—With so many home during the coronavirus pandemic digging through garages and basements and doing home DIY remodeling projects, one local business owner has seen an uptick in calls for service. William Coghlan, owner of Powerstone Landscaping, said he is getting more new customers now because people taking advantage of staying at home to clean out their house which has created lots of business for local junk haulers.
While his crews typically work closely with both commercial and residential property owners, they’ve now seen a shift to residential clean-ups since the social distancing orders have been put in place.
“More people are home now noticing all their junk,” Coghlan said, “and they don’t want to have to go out and deal with going to the dump and risk possible exposure during this crisis.”
Crews that pick up the trash are taking more precautions during the coronavirus pandemic to ensure their customers and crews stay safe—especially with elderly and homebound with weakened immune systems.
“We’re wearing masks and gloves and following social distancing guidelines. We are also offering contact-free payment through Venmo and Cashapp,” Coghlan said.
In addition to junk removal and scrap metal pickup, Powerstone Landscaping also offers brush removal, yard cleanups, leaf blowing, mulching, cutting and splitting of fallen trees, power washing, fence installation, moving and hauling services and much more.
In addition to offering more services, Coghlan said that since the pandemic, his company has extended its service area and added additional crew members to keep up with the extensive services they offer.
“We have also made it easier for customers that do not want direct contact by offering estimates over Facetime or by them sending us pictures of jobs they need to be done,” he stated.
“People are doing spring cleaning now more than ever and cleaning out basements and other stuff in their homes,” explained Coghlan. “We’re here to help make that process safe and painless.”
Photo: William Coghlan, Owner, Powerstone Landscaping
Photo Credit: Wendy Ann Mitchell
The following press release was written and submitted by Roll with It.
WOODBURY, CT – In this challenging time of uncertainty, while many small businesses have been mandated to close to the public in order to slow the spread of COVID-19, two small business owners have teamed up in an effort to help their fellow small business owners and their employees.
Steve Hochmuth of LivinCountryUSA.com and Dennis Leahy of BrenLandscaping.com launched “Roll WithIt Clothing” to spark a little smile of hope and lend a hand during this time of crisis. They’re also inviting other small businesses to share in their success.
Roll WithIt Clothing’s first offering is a tee-shirt with an iconic view of the times: a toilet paper roll over the slogan, “Roll WithIt 2020.” The idea is to help calm fears of shortages, hoarding, and isolation by lending a helping hand, sharing what you have, and helping those in need. Some people are fighting over any and everything, even toilet paper. The view of the two men is to share.
“As the bad news come crashing in, we want to help each other ‘roll with it,'” Hochmuth said.
“Don’t discount the bad news,” Leahy said, “but, also, do not let it crash us down to the ground. Do not let it divide us.”
T-shirts are available to purchase online at www.RollWithIt2020.com. Small businesses are encouraged to apply to be part of their Affiliate Tribe (details are on the website). Twenty-five percent of sales made through their Affiliate Tribe goes right back to the Affiliate as a way to help, even a bit, keep hope afloat.
Hochmuth said, “As two small business owners whose friends are shuttering their businesses, we knew we had to do something during these tough times. We want to make Roll Withit Clothing a source of smiles and a shared income stream.”
NEW FAIRFIELD, CT—New Fairfield-based heating and plumbing professional David LaCava, owner of CT Plumbing LLC, has seen his business slightly decrease on the commercial end during this time of quarantine due to the novel coronavirus. But on the residential side, he has been getting a steady stream of calls from his regular customers as well as those seeking advice on how to “do it yourself” for home remodeling or improvement.
In today’s world of YouTube videos, it’s getting easier to access information on “how to” do projects yourself (DIY) without hiring a professional. There are some projects that require professional training and expertise to complete, such as plumbing and heating work. Many believe they can save money by doing their own home projects but unlike other DIY projects, mistakes are not cheap and can be dangerous.
“The best advice I can give is don’t (do it yourself). I’m a licensed and trained professional in plumbing and HVAC and there are some very dangerous situations a homeowner can get themselves into like possibly tapping into a gas line,” LaCava said.
LaCava urges special caution with installing a water heater—a project some think they can install on their own. Water leaks could be a problem when it comes to any installation but the main danger, LaCava said, is because many water heaters are heated through gas. Hooking up a gas line is always a job that should only be done by a professional. Gas leaks can turn into a very dangerous situation.
Even if the water heater is electric, a professional should still install it because improper installation could lead to water and steam escaping the heater which will cause mold to grow in the enclosed space.
“All that money saved by the DIY homeowner will disappear once the mold removal costs are factored in,” LaCava said. “Many times a homeowner will attempt a home improvement project and then call me after they run into problems to complete the job, which can be costly,” he continued, “so the best advice I can give them is to call a professional first.”
LaCava, who operates out of his New Fairfield, CT shop, has been in the industry for more than 30 years, is fully licensed in CT and NY, and has a AAA rating with the Better Business Bureau. For questions or more information, visit his Facebook page, email CTPlumbing7473@gmail.com, or call (203) 312-0182.
WESTPORT, CT— The coronavirus pandemic isn’t only impacting the way we live, it’s also changing the way we learn. Millions of students are currently attending school and learning via online distance learning programs and the Westport Writers Workshop is following suit. During this time of social distancing, the Westport Writers Workshop has never been more unified in their commitment to togetherness during the crisis by offering all of their spring classes online via Zoom video conferencing.
Located in a town with one of the highest numbers of coronavirus cases in the state is what led to their swift decision in the move to online classes, said Liz Matthews, Executive Director. She added that rolling with the changes is something they have to do for the sake of everyone’s health and sanity.
Matthews, a writer, and editor, began her professional career in publishing at a literary agency and as an Editorial Assistant at Random House before teaching middle and high school English at Poly Prep Country Day School in Brooklyn. A mom of two school-aged children, Matthews herself has had to adapt as a now work-from-home mom and a homeschool mom, as so many are doing across the country. Writing, like many, provides a creative escape in the crazy times we’re living in, she said.
Since its inception in 2003, the Westport Writers Workshop has developed into one of the most highly respected programs in the area for writers of fiction, memoir, romance, playwriting, children’s literature and much more. Through leadership and training from a stellar team of published, award-winning authors, students gain a deep understanding of the elements of writing and many go on to be published authors as well.
Offering workshops for every level of writer, from novice to published, Westport Writers Workshop is designed to encourage, inspire, and spark established and aspiring writers’ imaginations and help them to discover and develop their own unique writing talent and voice.
This spring, the Westport Writers Workshop is offering over two dozen online classes from romance and prose to screenwriting, memoir and travel writing. Jessica Speart is leading a class for writers who have a true story they feel compelled to tell called “Writing About Your Life.”
“It takes courage to share one’s life story,” Speart said. “Many times it deals with what was lost, what was broken, what was said, what was mended. We’ll provide a safe atmosphere in which to write about your experience in either the personal essay or memoir form.”
There is an alternative for those who find themselves reluctant to tell their story – the fictionalized memoir. This hybrid genre allows the writer to relay their experience, or life story, as a fictional account. The author is free to play with timelines and create a searing emotional journey that can be just as powerful and truthful as any memoir.
Another featured class they’re offering is Romance Writing which is being taught by Libby Waterford. Romance is a billion-dollar industry and is one of the most diverse genres in publishing.
“In this course, we’ll talk about the hallmarks of the romance genre and how to develop your central love story from meet-cute to happily ever after,” Waterford said. “We’ll discuss popular tropes, conflict, the black moment, character archetypes, sex scenes, and how to reach that emotionally satisfying ending. Prompts will be provided, or bring your in-progress romance manuscript to share and discuss via supportive feedback.”
Additional class offerings this spring are as follows:
Spring 2020 Creative Writing Workshops on Zoom:
7 Mondays, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. | April 13, 20, 27, May 4, 11, 18, June 1
7 Mondays, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. | April 13, 20, 27, May 4, 11, 18, June 1
7 Mondays, 10am-1pm | April 13, 20, 27, May 4, 11, 18, June 1
7 Mondays, 1:30-4:00pm | March 30, April 13, 20, 27, May 4, 11, 18
7 Mondays, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. | April 13, 20, 27, May 4, 11, 18, June 1
7 Mondays, 7 to 9 p.m. | April 13, 20, 27, May 4, 11, 18, June 1
8 Tuesdays, 10am-12:30pm | April 14, 21, 28, May 5, 12, 19, 26, June 2
7 Tuesdays, 7 to 9 p.m. | April 21, May 5, 12, 19, 26, June 2, 9
8 Tuesdays, 7 to 9 p.m. | April 14, 21, 28, May 5, 12, 19, 26, June 2
8 Wednesdays, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. | April 15, 22, 29, May 6, 13, 20, 27, June 3
4 Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. | April 15, 22, 29, May 6
- NEW – Everyday Inspirations II: More Prompts Guaranteed to Get Your Pen Moving – B203S20Allison Dickens
4 Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. | May 13, 20, 27, June 3
8 Wednesdays, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. | April 15, 22, 29, May 6, 13, 20, 27, June 3
8 Wednesdays, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. | April 15, 22, 29, May 6, 13, 20, 27, June 3
8 Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. | April 16, 23, 30, May 7, 14, 21, 28, June 4
8 Thursdays, 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. | April 16, 23, 30, May 7, 14, 21, 28, June 4
8 Thursdays, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. | April 16, 23, 30, May 7, 14, 21, 28, June 4
8 Fridays, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. | April 17, 24, May 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, June 5
8 Fridays, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. | April 17, 24, May 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, June 5
10 a.m. to 1 p.m. | Monday thru Friday, June 22-26
Register for a class by clicking here. To check if a class is full, call (203) 227-3250 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. All of the Westport Writers Workshop spring workshops offered on ZOOM are open to writers of all skill levels. Visit their Zoom tutorial pages to learn more about how to use the platform or contact them at email@example.com with any questions.
FAIRFIELD COUNTY, CT— Prestige Companion & Homemakers, a home care agency for the elderly that serves the entire state of Connecticut, is taking important safety precautions in the wake of the Center for Disease Control & Prevention’s (CDC) urgent warnings to help prevent the spread of coronavirus among their home care clients.
Nashia Lewis, Program Manager for Elder Care at Prestige Companion & Homemakers, said they are taking several important safety precautions to keep their elderly clients safe at home.
“As best practice at Prestige Companion & Homemakers, we will continue to put the safety of our clients first. As a best practice, we have retrained our staff in proper hand washing as well as clients and family members,” Lewis stated.
Public health officials are urging the elderly to avoid large public gatherings, travel and events. Connecticut’s Governor Ned Lamont recently called upon town and city officials to cancel all large public gatherings, events, and parades, according to a press release on the state of Connecticut’s website.
Many nursing homes are restricting visitors into their facilities in order to protect their residents. At Prestige Companion & Homemakers, most of their residents stay in their own homes and have certified nurse’s assistants, home health aides, and patient care assistants visit daily to assist with medications, bathing, chores, cooking, cleaning, shopping and more. This, Lewis said, is why health and safety is of utmost concern among their staff and clients.
“We have taken the initiative of purchasing and distributing hand sanitizer to our clients and caregivers as it helps the spread of any virus, including the coronavirus. Understanding that it takes less than one percent to be contaminated with the virus, we practice best handwashing guidelines with family members as well as clients,” Lewis said.
According to the CDC, “community preparedness planning for COVID-19 should include older adults and people with disabilities, and the organizations that support them in their communities, to ensure their needs are taken into consideration. Many of these individuals live in the community, and many depend on services and supports provided in their homes or in the community to maintain their health and independence.”
Photo and article by the Candlewood Lake Authority—
DANBURY, CT—As the 2019 boating season comes to a close, and the buoys are removed from Candlewood Lake, the Candlewood Lake Authority is taking time to reflect on the year and prepare for the future. We are pleased with all of the positive feedback we’ve received from the community regarding the control of the Eurasian Watermilfoil and good water clarity, and encouraged by the scientific water quality monitoring results we’ve received so far this year. We are happy for all the work the community has done to protect the lake and educate their neighbors to thank for that progress!
While we can celebrate ongoing programs like the Sterile Grass Carp, the drawdown conducted by FirstLight Power, and the new Homeowner’s Guides that helped us make progress, this year’s success does not mean our work is over. On the contrary, the improvements we’ve seen this year only give us more energy to work towards continuous improvements and sustainable progress for Candlewood Lake. It is for that reason that we have begun work on a new “Lake Management Plan” tailored for Candlewood Lake!
Looking to the future, there are many goals we want to accomplish to continue to preserve, protect, and improve Candlewood lake for generations to come. To do that, we are using a tried and true method developed by lakes around the country and even the world – creating a Lake Management Plan that outlines every area where progress needs to be made, sets goals of what that progress will look like in both the short and long term, and outlines strategies to accomplish those goals. These areas include all sorts of critical aspects of lake management including the fish community, aquatic plant management for recreation, blue-green algae, invasive species, water quality improvement, stormwater management, watershed land management, and community engagement and education, to name a few!
To create this document, we cannot work alone. Many different people and organizations have a part to play in protecting Candlewood Lake. For this reason, we formed a Lake Management Plan Committee in June of 2019. Following the creation of that committee, at the beginning of September 2019, we reached out to the critical stakeholders around the lake to join us as members of the committee and provide their critically important insight and expertise.
Those organizations include but are not limited to: each of the five municipalities around the lake, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, FirstLight Power Resources, and Eversource. Furthermore, we are incredibly fortunate to have a robust network of lake managers and limnologists who have undertaken relevant projects at their lakes, both locally and through our membership in the North American Lake Management Society, and have offered their assistance and expertise as we work through the creation of this document. While Candlewood Lake is incredibly unique, the experience of these limnologists will be fundamental in helping inform the goals we can realistically set and the strategies we use to attain them. The Candlewood Lake Authority has a long history of collecting and analyzing important lake data, creating strategies and action plans to address pressures facing the lake, and even has an initial Lake Management Plan we created in 1985. While our new plan will be informed by the work the CLA has done in the past, the 2019 Candlewood Lake Management Plan will be created with stakeholder input to ensure its longevity. It will also be a “living document” so as scientific discoveries are made, the community continues to change and evolve, and the ecosystem in the lake changes, that doesn’t mean the plan is out of date; it can simply be amended and updated to reflect our new understanding.
While we know that the CLA could sit down and write a “plan” without any input from the community, it would not be terribly effective at protecting the lake – because we are far from the only ones working to preserve Candlewood, and we must work with the community and other organizations to ensure that our goals and strategies are both realistic and effective. We cannot wait to begin this process in earnest and look forward to working with the community and lake experts to organize our efforts. We know how much everyone loves the lake, and we work every day to help make sure that the lake remains beautiful for years to come, because we love it too. We hope you are as excited about the future of Candlewood Lake as we are.