banner1gif.gif

By Janice Llanes Fabry

The Rye, Rye Brook, and Port Chester League of Women Voters, together with the Sound Shore Leagues of Larchmont/Mamaroneck, Harrison, and New Rochelle, hosted their annual spring luncheon at Orienta Beach Club on April 21. Featured speaker State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins discussed “Political and Policy Issues on National and State Levels of Government.”

She urged her audience to “roll up your sleeves” and assured them they have “power at your fingertips” to fight for the issues that are important. “It’s time to shake it up, elevate your voice, time to be indivisible, because government matters,” said Stewart-Cousins, the first woman in New York State history to lead a conference in Albany.

Among the political notables at the luncheon were fellow State Senator George Latimer, Mamaroneck Mayor Norman Rosenblum, Rye City Councilmember Danielle Tagger-Epstein, Town of Mamaroneck Supervisor Nancy Seligson, and former State Senator Suzi Oppenheimer.

The event emcee, Elisabeth Radow, League Committee Chair on Energy, Agriculture and the Environment, addressed sustainability and the restoration of environmental protections. Radow, the creator of Earthwise, a LWV New York State initiative, urged those in the audience to vote with their consumer dollars and actions to benefit Mother Earth (lwvny.org/earthwise).

Radow announced the creation of a new task force whose dual focus is to improve voter registration and turnout at the local level, and to advocate for voting reforms at the state level.

To that end, Stewart-Cousins discussed eliminating all impediments to voting in order to increase participation in the electoral process.

“Voting matters,” she said. “If we believe we have the luxury of slumber, then all the hard work, passion, and sacrifice will be lost.”

CAPTION:

State Senator George Latimer, Rye City Councilmember Danielle Tagger-Epstein, State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and LWV Elisabeth Radow

By Janice Llanes Fabry

Our first grandchild, imagine that! Last fall, when our daughter Jesi texted a photo of a positive pregnancy test, we were all delighted. She and our son-in-law Andrew were looking forward to having a family. My husband Jan and I were so happy for them, as was Jesi’s older sister Jena and younger brother Jason.

Three days later, and still basking in the good news, we got a phone call from Jena and son-in-law Rich three days later. “Mom, I just found out. I’m pregnant, too,” she exclaimed. “Excuse me?” I asked, a little dumbfounded. She clarified, “Yeah, Mom, we’re having a baby, too.” More tears of joy all the way around. How could we be so blessed as to have both our daughters expecting at the same time? It seems like just yesterday that I was pushing our little girls, just a year and a half apart, in a double stroller.

We were incredulous, giddy, and a little dazed. Were we even ready to be grandparents? Jan and I had become accustomed to a new phase of life that I refer to as “coasting.” There’s a sweet freedom that comes after parents have ridden out the current of college tuitions, adolescence, homework, and curfews. As much as we cherished raising our family, let’s face it, it’s exhausting seizing every teachable moment.

There’s also an earnest feeling of gratitude knowing our adult offspring are healthy and have carved out laudable lives for themselves. Sure, our son lives at home and those obstinate cell phones are still on our family plan, but everyone is pretty much self-sufficient. Besides, we genuinely enjoy our kids so much as adults that maybe we’re a little reluctant to shift the focus from them to grandchildren just yet.

Walking on a cloud for a few weeks, we knew reality would set in once the girls went to the doctor. Jena, who headed to the ob/gyn first, announced her due date is August 22. How wonderful! A few days later, Jesi visited her doctor and called. “Mommy, the baby is due August 22,” she exclaimed. “Excuse me?” I asked, even more dumbfounded.

Of course the chance that both daughters actually deliver on the same date is slim; nevertheless, upon first hearing the news, I pictured myself running frantically from one delivery room to another. “Thank God for small favors,” I thought. “At least they’ll both be in the same hospital.”

I would also catch myself singing the old ditty from the 1960s sitcom, “The Patty Duke Show” <….they laugh alike, they talk alike, at times they even walk alike; you can lose your mind when cousins are two of a kind.”>

Now that the girls are 22 weeks pregnant, grandmotherhood is beginning to feel like a second skin. My “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” app tells me that our babies weigh 1 pound, are eight inches long, and resemble spaghetti squash. (No spaghetti squash I’ve ever seen.) I take photos of the girls’ growing bumps in their New York City apartments, just a few blocks from one another. I ooh and ah over the sonograms, which, incidentally, are much clearer images than the amorphous blobs we saw in the ultrasounds of the ’80s and ’90s.

I’ve begun making preparations for a double baby shower. I’m planning on doing plenty of babysitting, so here in Rye, we’ve been acquiring cribs and a revolutionary double stroller that allows for two car seats and two bassinets. Who knew?

Just the other day I broke the news to Jason that he would no longer be king of the castle. I took him over to our freezer, where he keeps frosty mugs along the door shelves. “Jas, take a good long look at these frosty mugs of yours taking up all this real estate,” I said. “What about them?” he asked. “In a few months, these shelves might be filled with breast milk, so you may want to find another place for them,” I clarified.

Jan and I know we’re “coasting” for only a bit longer before the birth of our grandbabies, but we’re excited about cruising into uncharted adventures. We may have thought we were not yet ready for prime-time grandparenting, but there’s nothing like baptism by fire!

In the midst of a dizzying amount of street and sidewalk reconstruction in and around Purchase Street, the jackhammering paused long enough for a quiet Earth Week celebration — the official planting of a municipal tree financed entirely through donations.

Since launching the Branching Out for Rye tree fund last year, the Rye Sustainability Committee and the Conservation Commission/Advisory Council have been working with the city manager, planner, and engineer selecting specific locations.

“Part of the thinking behind the fund is to plant the right tree in the right place,” said Sara Goddard, Sustainability Committee chair. “Planting native trees is the objective. So is making Rye a Tree City once again.”

The Branching Out fund, chaired by Melissa Grieco, has so far raised $4,200, $900 of which was used to purchase and plant the honey locust now growing on the west side of Purchase Street.

A number of citizens have been an integral part of the effort. Chris Cohan put together a long list of appropriate trees for consideration. Andrea Alban-Davies suggested getting the Brownie troops to go around and ask for donations. One of the biggest supporters so far is Rye Country Day School, which has its own sustainability committee.

With a solicitation awareness and educational campaign underway, the fund will keep growing and continue to aid in the planning, purchasing, planting, and maintenance of municipal trees in vacant spaces, once graced by majestic specimens, all over town.

Pictured at the April 19 ribbon-cutting ceremony, from right: Melissa Grieco, Sara Goddard, Deputy Mayor Julie Killian, Bill Lawyer, Tracy Stora, and Gretchen Crowley.

Photo by Robin Jovanovich

While DPW crew did the heavy lifting, a number of Brownies pitched in to help distribute the top soil.

By Gretchen Althoff Snyder

Daniel Pellegrini, a 6th grader at Rye Middle School, didn’t expect a life-changing experience to arise from a bullying incident on the playground. Born and raised in Rye, Daniel, a quiet, sensitive and kind 11 year-old, had a run-in with some other boys one day after school. While Daniel told his mother Laura about the incident later that evening, she said “he kind of brushed it off, not making that big a deal of it.” Daniel was clearly affected by the incident, says Laura, but he was having a hard time explaining exactly how he was feeling.

Later that week, while Laura was doing laundry, Daniel handed his mom his cell phone with the song “Waving Through a Window” from “Dear Evan Hansen” — a Broadway musical about a socially anxious high school boy — cued up.

The RyeACT (Action for Children and Teens) Coalition has organized a community forum of great import. On May 9 from 7-9:30 p.m. at Rye High School, all are invited to a presentation on substance abuse. The three-part program begins with the results of the 2016 student survey data on drug and alcohol use, followed by a talk by Dr. Robert DuPont, a leader in substance abuse prevention, and lastly, a “Parenting for Prevention 101” workshop. After the presentations, there will be breakout groups according to age.

The week after the forum is National Prevention Week, and RyeACT co-founders Julie Killian and Nancy Pasquale, timed this event with that in mind. “We have a commitment from every one of the Coalition’s 12 sectors to do something that week,” they said in a recent conversation. The following week another Drug Take Back Day has been scheduled (over 45 pounds of drugs were collected at the last one in December).

In the year since Rye ACT held its first packed town hall, members have set up action teams at local schools (one at Rye High is working on initiatives; teachers did a group read of “Sober” with one of the authors on campus and the other via Skype). They work closely with Rye Public Safety Commissioner Michael Corcoran, “who’s all over this issue and out in the community.” Killian, Rye’s Deputy Mayor, commended the Rye Police Department, which wanted to help from the start, and now has eight officers who’ve “adopted” a school. Pasquale, a School Board member, gives Interim Schools Superintendent Brian Monahan credit for “taking a deep dive on the Health curriculum.”

The two-year-old coalition received a five-year Federal grant that requires them to have in-kind matches — folks who volunteer time and resources, institutions like the Rye Free Reading Room and Rye Recreation that offer free meeting space.

After Pasquale and Killian heard Dr. DuPont speak at a national conference in Washington, D.C., they knew he was the expert they wanted to bring to Rye for the May 9 forum. DuPont was the first director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the second White House drug czar.

Killian and Pasquale just finished reading the latest marijuana study. “The perception is that it’s a low-risk drug, but the one message we hope to get across at the forum is that marijuana, cigarettes, and alcohol are the bigger threats.”

— Robin Jovanovich