Greetings from the Front Porch dear friends and kind readers, as we sit here admiring the Queen Anne’s Lace and cheerful zinnias and prepare for a new week … and a brand new month. Just like that, we’re saying farewell to July and getting ready for August. Zip goes the time. What a wonderful reminder to enjoy our summer days to the fullest. It seems like there’s something marvelous to do every night of the week — like last week when book lovers and readers were kept busy with two fabulous events.
On Wednesday, the fifth annual Books on the Beach fundraiser, a benefit for Opening Doors for Westerly’s Children — an amazing group of good people dedicated to promoting early childhood literacy and academic achievement for local children — was held at Lanphear Livery in Watch Hill, and was full of good folks and good cheer. Handsome Will Evans played music while guests chatted and had books signed by R.W. Alley, the talented illustrator of Michael Bond’s Paddington Bear books. The ever-gracious Donna Simmons, the “inspiration” for the organization, along with Nancy Loney, told those gathered a little about the history of Opening Doors, and how rewarding it has been to hear the children talk about their forever books. It was so good to catch up with darling Marion Markham, Marsha and Jack Felber, Olga Goff, Rhonda Cherenzia and her cousin, Debby Ventresca; Kelley McShane and her husband, Nick Carr (the forces behind Granny Squibb iced tea), her mom, Celeste McShane, and her mother-in-law, Demetria Carr, who happens to also be the mother-in-law of Jen Carr, the hard-working executive director of Opening Doors, who was accompanied by her husband, Alex Carr. President Sergio Cherenzia also shared remarks and many board members were present – I saw Tracy Regan, Dan Makin, Caitlin Rayner-Russell Williams, Deborah Lamm, Robin Knisley and the fabulous Georgia Felber, along with her husband, Eric Jones, and her sister, Jaffa, who is visiting from Nicaragua. How good to see so many fabulous Westerly school teachers in attendance … like Chelsea Whelan Brayman, who was there with her sister, Tara Whelan, and Anne Marie Doyle.
If you bump into my friends the Broccolos — Anne Marie and her husband John — and you’re wondering why they’re smiling so broadly and looking so happy, I have a clue! The Brocs (as they are fondly called by friends) are the parents of two great kids, one daughter, beautiful Jenna Halse (who has been involved in theater most of her life and who married her true love, Michael, a few years back, and one son, Jake (a former WHS pitcher and first baseman), who, after many hard years of study received his doctor of physical therapy degree from Franklin Pierce University. Also a UConn grad, Jake has recently accepted a position as a physical therapist with Elite Physical Therapy of Rhode Island. Says mom, “We are over the moon.” Jake is the grandson of the late Mary “Mrs. V” Cugini Ventresca, who many Italian food lovers will remember, owned the extraordinary (and legendary) Mrs. V’s Kitchen on Beach Street.
On Thursday evening, dozens of book lovers gathered at the Watch Hill Chapel for another successful book event for the Literacy Volunteers of Washington County, but I’ll have to wait ‘til next week to tell you about that event, alas! Until then, carpe diem and Ciao bella!