Greetings dear readers and kind friends and welcome back to the Front Porch for our first official visit of spring 2021, where we are joyfully celebrating this glorious new season; searching for crocuses; talking about baseball (April 1 is opening day for both the Red Sox and the Yankees;) thrilled to hear that outdoor festivals plan to return (with modifications) this summer; praising the kindness movement and sending extra love and support to our friends in the Asian-American community.

I was so encouraged to read about the "Random Acts of Rotary" program in the Rev. Cal Lord's column the other day. Cal said he and other members of the Rotary Club of Westerly "wanted to bring a little sunshine to folks in our community while supporting local businesses," so they bought a number of $25 gift certificates from the Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce gift certificates and gave them out to random people. How cool is that? And then there's the state's "Be Kind RI," a free program that connects volunteers with volunteer projects in their communities (bekindri.org/about). We need to practice kindness these days more than ever, I'd say! Please let us know if you have special ways to practice kindness!

Speaking of our friends at the chamber, congratulations to chamber President Lisa Konicki and chamber Membership and Operations Manager Maria DiMaggio, who were recognized for their top notch work during the pandemic on Friday morning. It was a hearty, happy crowd that gathered outside the chamber offices to applaud the dynamic duo. SHERO awards and certificates of recognition were presented by local officials, who also honored the pair and mentioned the many ways they helped the entire Westerly-Pawcatuck community. Speakers mentioned the "Community Strong" campaign, which reminded residents "that as unsure as tomorrow was, their community would always stick together," and how Lisa and Maria helped local businesses stay alive "through monetary grants, donated equipment ... and marketing campaigns orchestrated events to keep the community going in a COVID-safe way."

Now on to Teddy Bear time. Welcome to baby Maverick Carter Monk, who was born March 11 to Jason G. and Jessica (Amarone) Monk, of Pawcatuck. Maverick's mom is The Sun's very own social media/digital account coordinator! Perhaps a virtual/emoji Teddy Bear would be appropriate? Best wishes to the Monks! 

Let's also send lots of love and get well wishes to our Front Porch friend and one of Westerly's finest, Westerly Police Sgt. Matt Champlin, who is in recovery mode and being a model patient, according to his fabulous wife, Karyn Champlin.

Speaking of Westerly's finest, you may have heard the sad news about Westerly's Mike "Sully" Sullivan, a firefighter for both Westerly and Misquamicut fire departments who was recently diagnosed with APML Leukemia. Sully's fellow firefighters have organized a fundraising dinner for the much-loved "husband, father, papa, brother, friend, fellow firefighter" at the Calabrese Club on April 10 from 3-7 p.m. "It's our time to support Sully and his family as he pushes to beat this disease." Tickets are $15 apiece and a GoFundMe Page has also been organized to help offset medical bills, travel expenses for his treatment, time away from work and other expenses that may arise, at uk.gofundme.com/f/2b0daym72o

Congratulations to another Front Porch friend, Kelsy April, who has been promoted to the position of general manager of Westerly's Savoy Bookshop & Café, Mystic's Bank Square Books, and New London's Title IX. Speaking of books, the world lost a beautiful writer and extraordinary woman this week with the passing of beloved children book's author and illustrator, Joan Walsh Anglund. The author of such classics as "A Friend Is Someone Who Likes You,” and "Spring Is a New Beginning," Joan was also a close family friend who understood the complexities of life and the importance of kindness — and a good hug — more than anyone I knew. 

Well dear readers, again, happy spring, and remember please, to keep your social distances, mask up, wash your hands, stay safe, be kind, and ciao bella!

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