Greetings dear readers and fine friends and welcome back to the Front Porch for our first visit of fall 2021 and our final visit of September, where the sun rose this morning at 6:40, will set at 6:35 p.m., and where we are celebrating (with joy, love and happiness) the arrival of several new bambinos, all with deep Westerly roots and connections. How marvelous it is that these new little beings can spread so much love in these (often) trying times, and how miraculous that they have the power to melt away divisions and unite us all in love!

First, a big warm welcome to Laila Jane Castagna, who arrived on Sept. 21, the second daughter for Brinn and Trevor Castagna and the new baby sister for Sophia Lorraine. Little Laila was born into Westerly royalty it seems, as she is the granddaughter for Terry Castagna, of Westerly, Laurie and Biagio Luzzi, of Westerly, and Nicholas and Roz Castagna =, of Pawcatuck, and the great-granddaughter of Eileen and Ray Castagna, Bombina Luzzi and the late Angelo Luzzi, the late Betty and Roy Cooper and the late Lorraine and Jordan Russo. Also welcoming Laila to the world are big brother, Caden, Auntie Lexi, and uncles Colby, Bennett, Callhan and Johnny. Welcome little Laila!

And another warm, heartfelt welcome to Connor Brett Augustyn, who arrived on on Sept. 19. to the joy of his darling parents, Angela (Buonocore) and Greg Augustyn of Vernon, Conn. Beautiful Connor is the first grandson of Rosemary Trovato Buonocore, of Pawcatuck, and Lou Buonocore, of Westerly. The Vernon grands are Joe and Joann Augustyn. Mama Angie, a Westerly High school grad, is the granddaughter of the late George Trovato, who was also a Westerly High grad as well as a World War II vet, having served in the 8th Army Air Force 23rd Fighter Control Division in the China-Burma-India theater. Welcome baby Connor!

A belated welcome to Harper Jean Celico, daughter of Andrew and Ashley Celico, of Pawcatuck, and granddaughter of Cynthia and Eugene Celico, also of Pawcatuck, who arrived back in August. Harper's paternal granddad, Eugene, is the founder of Stage Door Theater Company, and her great-grandparents, the late Ruth and late Mariano "V8" Celico, owned V8 & Ruth's Pizza in Westerly for many years. 

And a hearty and musical welcome Tom R. "T3" Foley, who was born Aug. 25, to Maggie O. Foley and Tom C. "T2" Foley, of Westerly. Dad, the "community music program director" at the United Theatre, said a few days after T3's arrival, the United hosted a concert put on by its very own youth jazz ensemble featuring students from several local middle and high schools who had worked hard to learn the art of jazz improvisation in the newly opened Rhode Island Philharmonic Music School at the United. T2 told me that ensemble teacher Ryan Piccolo is "really excited we have students who also appreciate jazz and want to create music that comes from within themselves.” Look for a photo of the jazz students in next week's Front Porch News! On a side note, how cool that the United and the Chorus of Westerly have joined forces to create the "Speakeasy Choir," a 21 or older adult, one-night choir open to anyone. The first gathering is Oct. Oct. 8 at 7 p.m. and the first song is "Build Me Up Buttercup," by The Foundations! Look for more information on the chorus website.  
 
Congratulations to Lisa J. Schipritt, director of Charlestown's Medical Emergency Distribution Systems, who has been named “Volunteer of the Year” by the Rhode Island Association of Emergency Managers, according to Kevin Gallup, director of Charlestown's Emergency Management Agency. Lisa was instrumental in coordinating and volunteering a number of COVID-19 vaccination programs on the state and local level, Gallup said, and has also been involved in regional outreach in Charlestown, South Kingstown, Westerly and with the Chariho Regional School District. 

Congratulations also to poet, novelist, critic and Westerly native Kelley Swain, whose new book, "Ophelia Swam," was published in June. Kelley, a 2003 Westerly High School graduate (and daughter of Kathy Swain, of Westerly, and the late Kenneth Swain) moved to Tasmania last year! Yes, Tasmania ... as in the 26th-largest island in the world located off the southern coast of Australia! More on that later!

In some interesting regional news, "The Late Show" host Stephen Colbert is set to appear at the Ryan Center as part of the University of Rhode Island's alumni and family weekend on Oct. 2, and the upcoming feature-length motion picture project "Hocus Pocus 2" will be filming in Rhode Island through December and the casting agency, Kendall Cooper Casting, is looking for extras! If you have stars in your eyes and time to spare, maybe you can be on the silver screen with Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy and Bette Midler.

If you're a social media fan, you may have read that the Sun's longtime photographer Harold Hanka is taking a step back from his full-time duties. The good news is that the talented Tim Martin is stepping in to take Harold's spot, and that Harold will stay on in a freelance capacity as will Grace WhiteJackie Turner and Karen Stellmaker, who has been doing such a wonderful job with the "Out & About" assignments.

Well dear readers, remember there are plenty of COVID-19 vaccination clinics here in Westerly and around the state, so please do your part to keep us safe and healthy and get vaccinated if you're not already, mask up when necessary, stay safe, be kind and ciao bella!

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