Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Kids These Days––2015

Four local teens use their time and talent to give back



For Zoe Butchen, 15, community service is a practice that started early. “A huge part of me revolves around the idea of giving back,” she says.

A dancer, Butchen was only ten when she launched Dance Donations to distribute used costumes to studios that can’t afford their own. She has shipped costumes as far as California, but delivering costumes to a local YMCA allowed her to witness participants’ appreciation firsthand. Last year, her charitable work became personal. Her father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and she started the Dance, Shake, and Donate campaign. Inspired by Taylor Swift’s song “Shake It Off” the campaign encourages people to post videos of themselves dancing. She also organized a town-wide dance event on Main Street last year that drew over 1,000 people. “It was exciting to see how many people embraced the cause,” she says.

So far, she has raised nearly $75,000. Butchen’s stage will grow even bigger as she hopes to be invited to the World Parkinson’s Congress next fall. “There’s still a lot more to do,” she says.

Erick Vallalta, 18, moved to Ridgefield from El Salvador not speaking a word of English. He attended the Boys & Girls Club after school. There he perfected his English, made friends, and built his confidence. He credits his hard-working mother and time spent at the club for making him who he is today: “It was like a second home and family for me.” In high school, Vallalta made the transition from B&GC member to volunteer to employee, helping to make a difference for other children. He is also a member of the Keystone Club through which he’s helped with town events such as Breakfast with Santa and the Halloween party. He’s been selected to attend both regional and national Keystone conferences. The gratitude he feels for the B&GC and Ridgefield is reflected in his actions; he’s often at the club even when not scheduled to work. “It’s always been about giving back for everything they’ve given me as a child,” he says. College is on the horizon, too. “I know it’s something I can do,” Vallalta says. “I would be the first in my family to go.”

Erin Desimone, 16, has been dancing with the Enchanted Garden since she was three and says, “Dance is part of my identity.” Her love of dance and passion for helping others has led her to perform in the annual Nuts About the Nutcracker, which raises money for the Molly Ann Tango Foundation, a local organization dedicated to enriching the lives of special-needs children. One year, Desimone advocated to have a wheelchair-bound girl be part of the show and recalls how appreciative her parents were for their daughter to have that opportunity. Desimone is also a member of the Molly Ann Tango junior board, which focuses on community awareness and recipient outreach. Board members spend time with special-needs participants and deliver holiday baskets during the season. “It’s such a personal experience,” she says. Desimone is also working toward her Girl Scout Gold Award by helping the Prospector Theater. Thinking about the future, she knows that dance and helping others with special needs will continue to be part of her life. 

Patrick Francis’ decision in fifth grade to play the euphonium, a tuba-like instrument, has led to a continuing commitment to music. Now a high-school senior, he has added trombone, tuba, French horn, trumpet, and percussion to his repertoire. Francis, 17, plays in nearly every ensemble in RHS, including the pit orchestra. “At first you’re all working separately but once you come together, it’s really amazing,” he says. He also plays in the annual Funk-Raiser to help raise money for the school’s music program. Francis is the vice president of music talent for the Ridgefield Music and Arts Center, a student-led group that organizes events around town to give young musicians a chance to showcase their talents. RMAC musicians perform at the Holiday Stroll and host Music Fest, a day-long festival held in Ballard Park. Additionally, Francis plays in the Westchester County Youth Orchestra and for St. Mary’s, where he helps out with younger kids. He currently gives private lessons—including teaching trombone to the musical director of RHS. He enjoys teaching and plans on majoring in music education.

Add your comment:

Connect With Us

            

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

Tell It on the Mountain

Ski Schools Filled with Ridgefielders

Where are they now?

Baked Success––over coming rejection and the challenges of Down Syndrome

How We Met: Knocked Off Her Feet

A 'bumpy' start to the relationship

(Taylor) Swift Action

The Grammy-winning star's attention caught by local Ridgefield student

Ten Minutes with Linda Eder

A multi-talented Broadway singer

Profiles

Your Guides to Leading Local Professionals

Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Edit ModuleShow Tags

January 2018

No Events
No Events

Play with printmaking and discover how different textures and materials make marks. Using craft foam, toys, rollers, and paint, two to five year olds, and their families, will create one-of-a-kind...

Cost: $15; $12 member

Where:
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
258 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
Telephone: 203-438-4519
Contact Name: Emily Devoe
Website »

More information

Academy Award-winning drama stars screen-legend Humphrey Bogart (“Casablanca,” “The African Queen”), Walter Huston (“Yankee Doodle Dandy”), and Tim Holt...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
Ridgefield Playhouse
80 E Ridge Road
Ridgefield , CT  06877
View map »


Contact Name: Vania Saintfery
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

A New Documentary that Charts a Momentous Period of Change for The Met and New York City in the 50’s and 60’s from Director, Susan Froemke. As the Metropolitan Opera launches its...

Cost: $15

Where:
Ridgefield Playhouse
80 East Ridge
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Telephone: (203) 438-5795
Website »

More information

Chef Deborah Miller Ages 21 and Older Hands-On Participation Class Description:  Feeding the family is so much easier when you’ve mastered a few great soup and stew...

Cost: $75

Where:
Hunt Hill Farm
44 Upland Road
New Milford, CT  06776
View map »


Sponsor: Hunt Hill Farm
Telephone: 860.355.0300
Contact Name: Deborah Miller
Website »

More information

A New Documentary that Charts a Momentous Period of Change for The Met and New York City in the 50’s and 60’s from Director, Susan Froemke. As the Metropolitan Opera launches its...

Cost: $15

Where:
The Ridgefield Playhouse
80 East Ridge Ridgefield
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Telephone: (203) 438-5795
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

EVERY THURSDAY | 7:30 PM - 10:00 pm Music | Spoken Word | Comedy | More Hosted by Don Lowe Hunt Hill Farm is excited to announce OpenMic night every Thursday night.  Please stop by to...

Cost: donation

Where:
Hunt Hill Farm
44 Upland Road
New Milford, CT  06776
View map »


Sponsor: Hunt Hill Farm
Telephone: 860.355.0300
Contact Name: John C. Maxwell III
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
No Events

Visit us on the third Saturday of every month for free! See the latest in contemporary art and participate in a family art-making workshop in The Studio. Bucket of Junk: Family Workshop with...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
258 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
Telephone: 203-438-4519
Contact Name: Emily Devoe
Website »

More information

Saturday, Jan. 20 Mini Golf in the Stacks at Wilton Library, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Wilton Library will hold its first mini golf fundraising event, presented by Bankwell. There will be 18 hole of...

Cost: $5 per player

Where:
Wilton Library
137 Old Ridgefield Road
Wilton, CT  06897
View map »


Sponsor: Bankwell
Telephone: 203-762-3950
Website »

More information

Class Description:  If you love the big, bold flavors of Cabernet Sauvignon wine by itself, then learn how to enhance your dishes with that flavor you love.  The dishes on this menu are...

Cost: $100

Where:
Hunt Hill Farm
44 Upland Road
New Milford, CT  06776
View map »


Sponsor: Hunt Hill Farm
Telephone: 860.355.0300
Contact Name: Deborah Miller
Website »

More information

Opening Act: Gabrielle Cacciola Pepsi Rock Series Powered by xfinity The Lords of 52nd Street are Liberty Devitto, Richie Cannata, and Russell Javors, who along with the late Doug Stegmeyer...

Cost: $38

Where:
Ridgefield Playhouse
80 East Ridge
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Telephone: (203) 438-5795
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags