Mrs. Murray’s Garden

Bernadette Jones, Jim Crawford, Harry Ruppenicker, Jr., Larry Lariviere

Growing Westbrook – For 30 years the dedication of Joanne Marino-Murray helped the growth and expansion of many Westbrook student’s minds, self confidence and education. She loved her work as a teacher at Daisy Ingraham Elementary School and it’s only fitting that since her passing , a greenhouse and garden, which is used to cultivate plants and vegetables and teach students about science and health, has been constructed in her name; “Mrs. Murray’s Teaching Garden and Greenhouse.”

Funds donated by way of a $10,700 grant from the Westbrook Foundation, which Joanne was a former board member and chair of, were used to help get the project underway, along with a commitment from the PTO for support of ongoing expenses, and donations of in-kind services from local businesses and community volunteers.
The teaching garden is used for students in pre-k through 4th grade, and acts as a hands on educational experience that helps to build knowledge of how plants grow and how to care for plants, in conjunction with increasing awareness of healthy eating habits.

A very special dedication ceremony was held to officially devote the garden in Joanne’s honor on September 11 2013. Members of the Daisy Ingraham School, students, Board of Education members, Superintendent Pat Ciccone, members of the Westbrook Foundation and many friends and family members were on hand at the event to remember and commemorate Joanne’s distinguished career, and to celebrate a garden which will forever keep her memory alive and thriving as part of the school and environment she loved so much.

Joanne was a beloved mother, grandmother, sister, and aunt. She was passionate about her family and teaching. She took great pleasure in being able to live and work in the town of Westbrook, and endlessly donated her time and energies to the community that was her home for so many years.

“Two of Joanne’s passions, teaching and gardening, meld perfectly with this greenhouse project,” explained Westbrook Foundation Chairman James Crawford. “The Foundation directors are pleased to support this Daisy Ingraham PTO initiative. It is a fitting tribute to a much loved and respected educator.”

It was another Westbrook Elementary School teacher, Barbara Spencer who started the Westbrook Foundation in 1984. Using her original donation, as well as her bequest, along with the generous donations of many others, the Foundation has successfully distributed over a million dollars in scholarships and grants for the betterment of the lives of Westbrook students and citizens, and continues to follow the mission set forth by Barbara Spencer; to administer funds and other property to help meet the medical, educational, social, welfare, cultural, recreational, and civic needs of the citizens of the town of Westbrook, Connecticut.



Cypress Cemetery Gets a Face Lift

Preserving history one stone at a time, the Westbrook Foundation recently awarded a grant in the amount of $10,000 to the Cypress Cemetery Board of Directors, to be used for the costly repairs to repoint and cement all the joints of the 1850’s entrance to the stonewall that encapsulates the seventeen acres that is the Cypress Cemetery.

Damage to the historic wall was being caused by water getting into the crevices through top freezing, which was pushing out the stones and the mortar compromising the integrity of the structure, which by all accounts has not ever had any maintenance. According to President of the Cypress Cemetery Board of Directors Phil Bassett, without this grant, which has made these repairs possible, the wall would eventually completely crumble and fall apart.

“The residents of Westbrook are very lucky to have the Westbrook Foundation. It has helped so many different organizations and residents in town through grants and scholarship, that it is an invaluable part of the Westbrook community and we are very grateful for all that it has done for the cemetery,” said Bassett.
In the 90’s the Westbrook Foundation gave the Cemetery Board a grant to pave the roadways that run through the cemeteries grounds. According to Bassett, this infrastructure upgrade made the cemetery accessible to visitors during all seasons.

“Prior to the roads being paved, the dirt roads were very difficult to maintain during the winter months with the snow, and then in the spring they became difficult to travel on due to all the mud, so the paving has really made a big difference,” explained Bassett who oversees the maintenance of the cemetery.

This historic cemetery is the resting place of Barbara and Skip Spencer as well as several veterans from the Civil War right up through the Vietnam War. It is the only cemetery in town that is reserved specifically for Westbrook residents only, and it acts as a point of reference in the town.

“We are a poor cemetery, our only source of income comes from burials and plot sales and without the generous funds from the Westbrook Foundation we would not be able to keep up the appearance of the cemetery and be able to restore its historical character. We greatly appreciate all the Foundation has done for us as well as for other organizations in town and we continue to be grateful for the wonderful job it does in funding needed projects throughout the town,” concluded Bassett.

The cemetery grant was part of the Foundation’s spring grants which totaled just over $43,000. Each year, spring grant applications are due into the Foundation by April 1st.



There Are High Hopes for this Grant

Shown here, seasoned therapy horse Taylor, takes participants on an afternoon trail ride, with the help of a volunteers. Rides like this one foster self esteem and rider accomplishment, while the horse’s movement helps mitigate sensory integration issues.


By Karena Garrity

Old Lyme, CT With the gift of a $5,000 grant from the Westbrook Foundation, High Hopes Therapeutic Riding facility will be fulfilling the high hopes of several Westbrook residents impacted with conditions ranging from autism, stroke, traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy and sensory neurological disorders, who benefit from the facilities therapeutic program.

“This gift from the Westbrook Foundation will be used to provide support for our Westbrook residents to participate in High Hopes programs throughout the year,” explained Kitty Stalsburg, Executive Director of High Hopes. “These funds will directly help us to continue to provide an affordable, quality service to individuals with special needs.

According to Stalsburg, “Last year High Hopes provided over 8,000 Equine Assisted Activities and Therapy sessions for over 1700 people. We are truly grateful for this important support from the Westbrook Foundation.”

Chairman of the Westbrook Foundation, Jim Crawford explains “The Foundation Board is pleased to continue the important work that supports exciting initiatives in our community. Board members are privileged to be the temporary stewards of this remarkable gift and happy to provide grant monies to such deserving programs such as High Hopes Therapeutic Riding.”

Spring grant applications for the Westbrook Foundation are due April 1, 2014. For more information go to, Westbrook Foundation Grants.



Westbrook Foundation Awards 39 Scholarships

Jacob Fernandes proudly walks to accept the first ever JoAnne Marino-Murray Scholarship.

By Karena Garrity

Westbrook, CT –

Celebrating the graduates of the class of 2013, The Westbrook Foundation awarded 39 graduates a total of $59,400 in scholarships to be used toward higher education. An additional $18,000 was given to Westbrook residents, through the Messerschmidt Scholarship Fund.

The Calderari-Hoxsie-Schubert-Steinson Veterans Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Jessica Chamberlain.

The Josephine S. Crump Scholarship was awarded to Casey Abraham. Matthew Schenck and Bethany Schuster, earned the Dorothy Christopher Hoyt Scholarship.

The Oscar Manstan/Richard Nolf Memorial Industrial Arts Scholarship went to Jacob Pulcini. Christina D’Amico earned the Herbert A. Muller, Jr. Memorial Scholarship and Gavin Kyrcz was awarded the Ellen S. Murphy Scholarship.

Kathryn Cyr and Chloe Vincente were awarded the Henry Ortner Memorial Scholarship. The Olin E. Neidlinger Music Scholarship is going to Edward Wigglesworth.
The Elliot A. Spencer Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Caroline Davis. Juliana MacLachlan received the Raymond L. Wilson Scholarship and Michael Hathaway was awarded the Westbrook Grange #123 Scholarship.

James Porrell was awarded the Pat Mazeau & Myrtie Gareau Scholarship. Michael Hathaway received the Brandon E. Norman Memorial Scholarship and the Dan Nuhn Scholarship was given to Amber Neri.

The Marie Mazeau Memorial Scholarship went to Bethany Schuster and the Shoreline Amatuer Radio Club Scholarship was awarded to Alexander Schneider.

Jacob Fernandes was awarded the new Joanne Marino-Murray Scholarship and the new Eileen Daily Scholarship was awarded to Ayla Toussaint.

Barbara Spencer Memorial Scholarships were given to Caroline Barton, Ayla Toussaint, and Sean Gosselin. A Barbara Spencer Memorial Scholarships were awarded to Karim Abdel Jalil for Leadership and to Gina Trasacco for Good Citizenship. Barbara Spencer Special Awards were given to Taylor Amendola, Jerry Boccia, Morgan Campbell, Megan Doran, Kristen Fusaro, Meredith Hamm, Natalia Nardi, Julianne Panico, James Porrell, Joseph Sarr, Alexander Schneider, Julianna Senn, Jesse Tettelbach and Andrew Clark, ( a non Westbrook High School Senior).

Sixteen Westbrook residents will receive scholarship funds from the Messerschmidt Fund, those receipts are; Jordan Bean, Jacob P. Collins, Meagan Cote, Christopher Cusano, Kenneth A. Cusano, Stephanie I. Cyphers, Caroline Gallagher, Tara Higgins, Matthew S. Jennett, Britney Malhotra, Christopher Marino, Scott Nicoll, Dominic Panico, Megan Pielli, Amanda Strukus, Edward Vallee.



By Karena Garrity

Paying it forward is exactly what the Westbrook High School Classes of 1993 through 1998 decided to do with the money they had left over after their recent reunion. There was a surplus of $450.00 after their festivities were over and they jointly decided to donate that money to the Westbrook Foundation to be used for a scholarship for a graduating student in 2012.

“We wanted to have the money go to something good and worthwhile in this town instead of just sitting in a bank account somewhere,” explained Erica Syzdek, a representative from the graduating class of 1997. She now works as a special education and reading teacher at Westbrook High School. “Our hope is that the money goes to a student who embodies the spirit of Westbrook and someone who needs the funds.”

The specific request from the classes is to have this money be “…used for a student in good standing who plans to further his or her education, but is not in the top tenth percentile of their class.”

“As a whole we decided that this would be a nice thing to do with the money,” explains Melissa Ozols, also a representative from the class of 1997, who received a scholarship from the Westbrook Foundation when she graduated.

“We all enjoyed our time and education in Westbrook and we think it is great that there are so many scholarships given out by the Westbrook Foundation that help so many students,” Melissa added.

Although the 1993 to 1998 graduation classes would like to continue to donate money to the Foundation on a yearly basis for a scholarship, at this point the $450.00 is only for 2012.

“Maybe in the future we can find a way to keep the giving going, but for now this is what we can do,” said Melissa.

Erica added, “This is just one way that Westbrook Graduates can stay connected to the town and to the school system and this is our way of giving back.”


Westbrook, CT –

In the current atmosphere of technology, where everyone is either plugged in, logged on or turned up the Friends of the Westbrook Library felt it was essential to have up to date computers, printers, laptops and software available to the community.

With the help of a $9350 grant from the Westbrook Foundation, the Westbrook Library is proud to be able to offer eight personal computers with flat screen monitors to patrons in the new Children’s Room area, complete with two networked, color capable inkjet printers. In addition, there are two laptop computers available for use in any part of the Library, including the relaxing young adult/ teen nook, one new laptop for staff use and two new, networked, color capable inkjet printers in the adult computer area.

“Our goal was to make sure that the students have up to date technology to work with here at the library, that is compatible with the school’s technology,” explains Lew Daniels, Library Director. “We try to be as close to the state of the art as we can be, for the benefit of the students and the community that make use of our equipment. The Library is often an extension of the classroom and we work to ensure that our services compliment the classroom goals.”

In keeping with the mission of the library, which is, “…to support and enhance the Community’s pursuit of knowledge and enjoyment by providing a balanced collection of Library materials and informational services for all ages,” the Friends of the Westbrook Library make it a priority to keep a thumb on the ever changing pulse of technological advance that are needed by the community.

“The Westbrook Library continues as a center of ongoing community activity and access to information by both traditional and digital means is critical,” explains Daniels, who is on hand to help children and adults make use of the new equipment. “It is a priority of the Friends of Westbrook, to make sure we are supplying our community with what it needs to stay current.”

Over the years the Westbrook Foundation has been instrumental in working in alliance with the Library to aid in its expansion and its technology. A large grant was given by the Westbrook Foundation in 2007 for the Children’s room and another grant in 2011 for variety of needed technological advances such as a Power Point projector, wireless internet and more.

“We are so grateful for all the Westbrook Foundation has done for the Library,” praises Daniels. “Not every community is lucky enough to have a foundation in town to help offset the cost of needed items. The Westbrook Foundation has been a fantastic partner to us and to have this kind of funding and support right here in town is invaluable.”

He adds, “Beyond the Library, the Westbrook Foundation does a tremendous amount of good throughout the community of Westbrook and it is a very positive institution in general. It saves the tax payers money and does a lot of good for community of Westbrook.”



Westbrook Foundation member, retiring Middle School History teacher, Jim Crawford awards Corey Thomas with the Barbara Spencer Memorial Scholarship for Leadership.



The Westbrook Foundation, a non-profit started in 1984 by school teacher Barbara Spencer, has been awarding scholarships and grants to local students and town organizations since its inception and was proud to give 44 graduating seniors, in the 2011 class, the 51st to
graduate from Westbrook High School, a total of $61,650 in scholarship monies to be used toward higher education pursuits.

An additional $16,000 will be given to Westbrook residents, through the Messerschmidt Scholarship Fund.




Scholarships were awarded as follows:

  • The Veterans Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Nicole D’Orio.
  • The Josephine S. Crump Scholarship was awarded to Christopher Cusano.
  • Sara Buck and Christopher Alaimo, earned the Dorothy Christopher Hoyt Scholarship.
  • The Oscar Manstan/Richard Nolf Memorial Industrial Arts Scholarship went to Samantha Schofield.
  • Arianna Cote earned the Herbert A. Muller, Jr. Memorial Scholarship and Tyler Gracey was awarded the Ellen S. Murphy Scholarship.
  • Jeanette Murphy, Michael Avena and Danielle Bergmann were awarded the Henry Ortner Memorial Scholarship.
  • The Olin E. Neidlinger Music Scholarship is going to Julie Blum.
  • The Elliot A. Spencer Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Sharif Jalil.
  • Gegory Butterworth received the Raymond L. Wilson Scholarship and Corey Thomas was awarded the Westbrook Grange #123 Scholarship.
  • Dominic Panico was awarded the Pat Mazeau & Myrtie Gareau Scholarship.
  • Tyler Gracey received the Brandon E. Norman Memorial Scholarship and the Dan Nuhn Scholarship was given to Jamie Molinares.
  • The Marie Mazeau Memorial Scholarship is going to Tyler Bridgewater.

The Barbara Spencer Memorial Scholarship was given to Alexander Lawton, Harlan Toussaint and Julie Blum; for leadership Corey Thomas; Good Citizenship, Christopher Marino

Special Awards were given to; Jamie Abraham, Mikaela Bean, Sara Buck, Kelsey Campbell, Lea Chamberlain, Austin Charles, Brendan Coan, Meagan Cote, Anne Cyr, Cooper David, Connor Eastman, Christopher Feinman, Cody Forrest, Tara Higgins, Sabrina Husted, Chris Martel, William Morrissey, William Neale, Dominic Panico, Kara Riggio, Samuel Schenck, Michael Schneider, Samantha Schofield, Nathan Stevenson, Brittany Wigglesworth, Matthew Winschel, and Jordan Yott.

Fourteen Westbrook residents will receive scholarship funds from the Messerschmidt Fund, those receipts are; Ryan Killion, Jennifer Labbadia, Justin J. Lawrie, Britney Malhotra, Elna Munson, Martina Parashkevova, Marie Porrell, Nicole Riggio, Ryan Riggio, William E. Schwab, Dylan Twigg, Edward Vallee, Nicholas Westbrook and Samantha Westbrook.

Congratulations to all scholarship recipients from the Westbrook Foundation.



Westbrook, CT –
With the mission of keeping the town beautiful, as well as preserving its rich history, the Westbrook Foundation was more than willing to contribute $5000, by way of a grant, to the First Congregational Church of Westbrook to be used to help offset the $135,000 cost of replacing and repairing the one hundred and sixteen year-old stained glass windows throughout the church. The largest of which is 15 feet tall and depicts the resurrected Christ. It can be viewed by passer bys on Route 1 and is always a magnificent sight, especially as the sun shines through its green and yellow panes of intrically designed glass.

The window was first installed in the church in 1894, after the building was rebuilt due to a fire that took it to the ground on Christmas Eve 1892. The original cost for the stained glass windows, at the time of their installation was $642. For over a century, the dirt, grime and grease has started to deteriorate the lead holding the windows together. In addition, the glass was in poor condition as were the frames.

Thanks to the expertise of Fabio Pizzol of Milan, Italy, a third generation craftsman, along with Marsha Vasiloff Abrahamson of Vasiloff Stained Glass Windows of Old Lyme, it was possible to bring the windows back to their original luster and beauty without compromising the artistic, historic integrity. Now the largest window, located in the rear of the sanctuary has a protective plexiglass covering to ensure it will be around for several more generations of Westbrook residents and visitors to enjoy and marvel at.

“Thank you for your vision and insight to provide $5000 to the church to renovate and restore our 116 year-old windows. The window overlooking Route 1 was in dire need of repair, as were all the other windows and the congregation and you (Westbrook Foundation) stepped up to make it happen. Of course, when we started we didn’t know that the figure of Jesus in the rear sanctuary window was a reproduction of the 1507 Raphael, which currently hangs in the Vatican. But, your gift helped make the restoration a success and provide an example in the center of town of great art and culture. We can’t thank the Foundation enough,” wrote David Stoner, chairman of the Board of Trustees, who oversaw the fund raising efforts for the window replacement project, in a thank you letter to the Westbrook Foundation.


Westbrook, CT –
For the Westbrook Foundation, the students of Westbrook are this shoreline town’s greatest asset. Driving that point home, the Foundation granted $4795 to the Westbrook Public Schools to implement the Rachel’s Challenge Program, which focuses on bullying in today’s schools.

“We want to be proactive, not reactive,” said Superintendent of Schools, Patricia Charles. “I think the Rachel’s Challenge program was fantastic and very dynamic. It really got the students focused on creating a culture of caring, which is how we are going to stop bullying.”

Rachel Scott was the first victim at Columbine High School, on April 20 1999. In reaction to this horrible event, her family started Rachel’s Challenge, a heartfelt, educational program challenging students to be kind to each other in every way, every day. The program has now traveled throughout the country spreading Rachel’s words.

“At the heart of Rachel’s Challenge message is kindness and compassion,” said Colleen Kirk, the speaker, presenter from Rachel’s Challenge who visited the Westbrook Schools. “We try and teach the power of each student’s words and actions.”

The presentation, which was tailored to the different age groups at all three schools, encouraged five central challenges; eliminate prejudice, dare to dream, choose your influences, kind words and start a chain reaction.

“The program was phenomenal,” said elementary school teacher Diana Burns, who was instrumental in getting Rachel’s Challenge to the schools. “The Westbrook Foundation was by far our biggest supporter. If it wasn’t for the Foundation, the Westbrook School district would not have benefitted from such a powerful program.”
Burns brought the program to Westbrook as part of an internship assignment she is fulfilling under the tutelage of Elementary School principal, Kit Bishiop. Burns is currently going for her degree in administration.

“I had to do a school improvement project and I thought that anti-bullying is so current right now that Rachel’s Challenge would be great for all the students to learn from,” explains Burns. “The positive feedback from the students has been incredible. The High School seniors want to walk their “chain link of kindness” they have been working on since the assembly, across the stage at graduation. I think that is great. It has gotten the students to visibly think and do in a positive way.”
“I think the program was very well done and it was a wonderful opportunity for the staff to learn from, as well as the students,” said Charles, who hopes to sustain this kind of learning with a continuous message of anti-bullying.

“Rachel’s family started this program to help other communities be proactive and take the necessary preventive measures before something like Columbine happens again,” explained Kirk. “We hope this program is successful in stopping bullying and we hope the banner that the students sign, committing them to Rachel’s 5 Challenges, will hang in their schools and remind them how important their acts of kindness to each other are.”


Westbrook, CT –
The annual tree lighting ceremony was that much more festive this year thanks to a $3,900 grant from the Westbrook Foundation, to the town, for the Tree Lighting Committee to purchase 60 holiday flags.

The decorative flags, which are a treasured part of the annual ceremony, adorn the utility poles in town from Water’s Edge to the Marine District and through the center of town, North to the Tanger Outlets. Over the years these colorful, festive decorations have deteriorated, from exposure to the elements and general wear and tear; they were in dire need of replacement and the committee needed a hand in raising the funds for the purchase of the new flags.

“The committee is so grateful to the Westbrook Foundation for this grant. They have allowed us to continue our tree lighting ceremony and to add the finishing touches on dressing up the town for the holiday season,” says Tree Lighting Committee Chairman, Dennis Allen. “The new flags are very colorful and cheery and they help promote the holiday season in town.”

This is the second grant the Foundation has given to the town, for the committee, to be used to purchase new flags. The first was in the amount of $3,200 to purchase 50 flags. In total, the town now has 150 holiday flags that beautify the streets each year, spreading holiday cheer from the week immediately following Thanksgiving until after the New Year. So, next holiday season take a moment to look up and admire the crisp, new vibrant flags and appreciate the attractive splendor they add to the town’s festive celebration.


Westbrook, CT – Thanks to a generous, $3,400 grant from the Westbrook Foundation, as well as $2000 from the Westbrook Board of Education, high school Chemistry teacher, Ken Savage, was able to put his idea for hands on learning into action, with the use of a saltwater, tropical, marine reef aquarium.

“We wouldn’t have been able to make this happen without the grant from the Westbrook Foundation,” said Savage. “I am extremely grateful for these funds. This has allowed me to be able to outfit this aquarium with top shelf equipment that will last a very long time, and make for a much better display for the students to learn from and enjoy.”

Savage’s plan is to use the 100 gallon aquarium, which was donated by his neighbor, as a hands on learning tool for his Chemistry students, as well as his marine biology and animal studies classes. Senior Mary Papp, who plans on majoring in marine biology, next year at college, is already making good use of the new learning experience. She is doing an independent study project managing the aquarium. Part of her work is to care for the tank and its many, varied inhabitants, which currently include a live rock coral reef, a banner fish, a cardinal fish, a yellow tail damsel fish, a blue tang fish, a yellow tang fish and three clown fish. Papp is also working on a booklet, to accompany the aquarium, that will include in depth biological information about each fish.

“This aquarium has given the students a real sense of pride,” says Savage, who is delighted that he was able to enlist the help of the industrial arts class to build the stand for the aquarium. “My marine biology and animal studies classes are electives, so students from all learning levels are in them and to see them all work together, getting this aquarium prepared, cutting pipes, routing the piping, gluing everything and making it look good, was great. Sometimes the kids that need the most academic assistance do the best with this kind of hands on teaching.”

The aquarium is currently housed in the media center, adding a relaxing ambiance to this quiet area. Hopes are to include a small sitting area in front of the aquarium, so students can read and study by the iridescent glow of the professional level lighting system that simulates daylight, twilight, dawn and night. During the holidays and summer vacations, one of the janitorial staff, as well as Savage, who lives near by, will be taking care of the elaborate aquarium, which is electrically hooked into the schools generator in case of a power outage.

“The Westbrook Foundation is committed to funding good investments that will benefit the entire community and I think this aquarium fits the bill. Thanks to the grant monies, this teaching tool will be here long after I am,” said Savage.