Greetings dear friends and kind readers and welcome back for a late-January visit here on the Front Porch, where we are honoring the memory of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by celebrating the MLK Jr. federal holiday, which is known as a national day of service.

The Corporation for National and Community Service, which leads the service effort, says that "each year, on the third Monday in January, the MLK Day of Service is observed as a 'day on, not a day off.' MLK Day of Service is intended to empower individuals, strengthen communities, bridge barriers, create solutions to social problems, and move us closer to Dr. King's vision of a 'Beloved Community.'" If you visit nationalservice.gov/serve-your-community/mlk-day-service, you can find all manner of places looking for volunteers. #MLKDay.

Pop open the champagne! I heard some delightful news over the holiday weekend: Jack Duhamel, the oldest son of Aggie and Westerly Town Council President Chris Duhamel, proposed to his charming British fianceé Katie Smith, and she said "Yes!" Kate, the daughter of Christine Gordon of London, is in her residency across the pond at the at the moment, but eyeing a move to the states. Jack, who graduated from WHS in 2003 before heading off to Fordham University, lives in the Big Apple where he has become quite the successful tech entrepreneur. Just a peach of a pair! Felicitations Katie and Jack!

Speaking of the Duhamel family, a big shout-out and "job well done" to Jack McErlean, of Westerly, for such a speedy recovery. Jack is Aggie's dad, thus the council president's father-in-law. Well done, Big Jack! Great news!

Folks have also been chatting about "The Upside," the dramedy starring comedian Kevin Hart, which beat out "Aquaman" last week to claim the top spot at the box office. "The Upside," which also stars Bryan Cranston, Nicole Kidman, Julianna Margulies and Golshifteh Farahani is directed by part-time Westerly resident Neil Burger, who many readers know as a member of the extended Kellogg family clan. Neil is the husband of architect Diana Kellogg, brother-in-law of Charley Kellogg and the son-in-law of Jane Kellogg. Diana, meanwhile, it should be noted and applauded, has been designing and helping to build a girls school and women’s cooperative in India called Rani Ratnavati, which will become a center of multidisciplinary learning. Impressive!

I just read in Variety that Burger's next project will be to direct a science-fiction thriller he's written called “Voyagers," which tells the story of 30 children sent into space on a multi-generational mission to reach and populate a newly discovered planet. The film marks Burger’s first screenwriting credit since 2008’s, “The Lucky Ones.” His past directing credits also include his 2006 breakout film, “The Illusionist,” which he also wrote, 2011’s “Limitless,” and the first film in Summit Entertainment’s “Divergent” franchise.

Let's end on a little note for music lovers: Dara Blackstone will be conducting and directing a performance of Menotti's "Amahl and the Night Visitors," Saturday, Jan. 26 at United Church of Stonington in Stonington Borough.

And Pat Isted, we will miss you and the Twisted Vine, but I'm sure you're next chapter will be just as dazzling. Best of luck and Ciao bella!

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