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Monday, May 9, 2011

Wrestling Program Builds Character, Teaches Discipline

Wrestling Program Builds 
Character, Teaches Discipline:
“Beat the Streets” targets inner-city kids
(for East Haven
By Mike Lauterborn

East Haven, CT – An East Haven coach stumbled across a New York-bred afterschool wrestling program to help inner city kids, and is now bringing the program to New Haven. It promises to keep at-risk youth safe and pointed in a positive direction.

The program is being steered by Hamden resident Nathan Stadig, a wrestling coach who has taught for the past five years at Joseph Melillo Middle School in East Haven.

“I had wrestled for four years in high school, at both Killingly High in Danielson, CT and Branford High in Branford,” he said, with regard to his own interest in wrestling. “My father influenced me to pursue the sport – I was a little guy and was getting my butt kicked. It was a good way to gain some self-confidence. Once I started, I said, ‘This is the sport for me.’”

Following high school and a five-year tour in the Marine Corps, Stadig landed the coaching position in East Haven. “I immediately took to the work and enjoyed teaching these suburban kids the skills I had learned back in high school,” he said.

At the time he began teaching, he also initiated a relationship with USA Wrestling, the governing body of the sport. “Membership is not a requirement for teaching wrestling, but is a requirement for competing off-season, which I was doing outside of teaching, in the New England region,” he said. “Back in March, as I was browsing their website, I learned about a new program called ‘Beat the Streets Wrestling.’ The main objective is to get inner-city kids off the streets and involved in something productive.”

The program was started in New York about five years ago and has spread to five major cities in the U.S. “I thought it was an awesome idea, spoke with chairman Al Bevilacqua, and we agreed to establish a program in the New Haven area,” he said. “It would serve as a bridge between Boston and New York, with me as executive director for the branch,” Stadig said.

Stadig secured a partner, Julia Paigo, who had the same dream for the Hartford area, and together they started getting the word out in their local communities. “The initial response was huge, prompting us to locate respective facilities,” he said. “I approached New Haven’s Athletic Director Joe Canzanella, and he was very enthusiastic. Thus far, he has offered the use of mats and facilities, though he has yet to define a school location.”

Canzanella said the program fills the missing link between the pre-high school student athlete and high school wrestling program. “We’re excited about the possibilities. It can help build fitness levels in our urban students,” he said.

Program sponsorships are being offered and already two slots have been filled, by Kevin Sullivan Building and Remodeling of Branford and As Seen on TV in Wallingford. “Their support will cover non-profit application fees with the IRS,” said Stadig. “In return, they will receive recognition on our online sites.”

Stadig said the next step is filing their non-profit paperwork. Then, at the end of May, Stadig will meet with Canzanella to hopefully secure a spot with the goal of a summer launch.

“In the meantime, in New Haven, we are starting to hang up registration posters in schools to drive enrollment,” he said. “We’re also looking for additional sponsors, to pay for uniforms, gear and cleaning supplies.”

Summing up the program, Stadig said, “It’s a tough sport for tough kids in local inner-city areas, and a great character builder, teaching discipline, self-control and self-worth.”

For more information about Beat the Streets Wrestling, visit:
Twitter: @beatthestreet

Interested sponsors can Nathan at 203-500-2650 or email:

Crafty Creations Attract Mom’s Day Shoppers to Town Hall Green

Crafty Creations Attract Mom’s Day 
Shoppers to Town Hall Green
By Mike Lauterborn
(for Fairfield Citizen News)

Fairfield, CT – Amongst blossoming dogwoods and beneath a canopy of maple trees, people strolled about, visited with each other and eyed various merchandise displayed within white tents set up in rows in the clearing.

Held Saturday May 7, the 29th Annual Craft Fair sponsored by the Fairfield Woman’s Club attracted scores of local residents out enjoying the sunny weather and shopping for last-minute little somethings in advance of Mother’s Day. Over 50 vendors were onsite, from all over New England, with everything from jewelry, clothing and furniture to home decorative items and accessories. The Woman’s Club also offered baked goods and plants for sale.

“Booth rental fees and funds raised from our plant and bake sales go toward one $2,500 scholarship provided to a graduating senior at one of Fairfield’s two high schools,” said Debi Callan, co-president of the Woman’s Club. “This year the benefiting school is Fairfield Warde. Anything collected over the $2,500 goes to various charities like Fidelco Guide Dogs, Special Olympics, Relay for Life, the police department’s new K-9 Unit and more. We also give a drama award which this year was covered by a generous member of our Club.”

Reflecting on the Fair in general, Callan said, “It’s a wonderful opportunity for the community to come together, for kids to shop for their moms and to support some great causes.”

Exhibitor Lois Barker, of Jean Elton Studio, offering platters, cups and dinnerware, was glad to be returning for a second year. “We like to support local art and events,” she said. “All our items are handmade at our Fairfield studio. It’s a great day today and we hope people will turn out to shop, especially for their deserving moms.”

Bruno Miglietta, sitting amongst his decorative lawn and mobile creations, was also a return vendor. “I’ve exhibited here for many years,” he said. “It’s one of the best shows. People are very friendly and the show is well organized. I’m glad we have a nice day today.”

Leading around his three-year-old twins, Elena and Nathan, Fairfielder Chris Mach said he was passing by, saw some nice crafts and thought he could find something for mom for Mother’s Day. “When you get a nice day like this, it’s good to get out and mingle, and it gives mom a break,” he said.

Missy Seymour and her mom, Gaye, were browsing the Fair together. “I came here not only with my mom but my sister and our dogs, too,” she said. “It’s a great day to be out with the family and this is always a good fair. We’re just looking for anything of interest. There’s always a couple of unique and interesting booths and I brought a couple bucks for baked goods.”

Westporters Shred a Few Pounds

Westporters Shred a Few Pounds:
Residents turf out tax docs, 
statements on Shred Day
(for Westport News)
By Mike Lauterborn

Westport, CT – It was an excuse to spring clean, help the environment and guard against identity theft, and Westporters took full advantage.

On Saturday morning May 7, dozens of town residents rolled up in the parking lot at the Westport/Weston Health District offices to dispose of accumulated sensitive documents as part of Community Shred Day, hosted by the Town of Westport. Facilitating the shredding with a truck onsite was Secure EcoShred of Brookfield. Drop-off was limited to three boxes (12” x 18”) or five paper bags. There was a $5 fee per car and participants were able to watch their papers get shredded via a monitor built into the side of the truck. Volunteers from the Staples High School Service League of Boys were onsite as helpers to break down boxes and guide drop-off.

Patty Strauss, Town Clerk and manager of the records management committee for the town, was the lead coordinator of the event. “We use EcoShred for town projects,” she said. “This is also their community service effort and they donate their time.”

Strauss added that this was the third annual event and that the idea was hatched by a Westport resident who wrote a letter to Westport First Selectman Gordon Joseloff saying that her daughter goes to college in North Carolina and participates in a community shred day there. The resident asked why we don’t have a shred day here. Gordon liked the idea and we organized it.”

“It’s environmentally responsible, a great way to clean out an attic but also key to preventing identity theft,” Strauss said. “We do this at this time of year for several reasons: it’s spring so you’re already doing spring cleaning, it’s close to Earth Day and it’s just after tax time when you have a lot of financial documents laying about.”

Strauss said the event is very popular. “Last year, we had about 120 cars come through, and that was in pouring rain,” she said. “As of 9 a.m. this year, we already had 25 cars roll up.”

Michael Martinez, EcoShred Operations Manager, who was onsite operating the shredder, commented on the shredder equipment. “There’s a commercial shredder built inside the truck,” he said. “The truck will hold six tons of paper. As long as the material is paper, it will take anything.”

Town resident Philip Mathews was one of the earlier arrivals. “This is a great service to the community and always done with a smile,” he said. “I’m dropping off business and personal finance papers. This is responsible disposal, and it’s terrific that young people are helping. It’s a great training ground toward citizenship.”

Another resident, Jon Polayes, was disposing of old tax documents. “This is a good idea for security reasons and is environmentally preferable,” he said. “I could have shredded at home, but it takes longer.”

Terrence Kelley pulled up with several bags full of bank and credit card statements. “I constantly do this at home myself, but this is easier – you just drop off 1, 2, 3.”