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I Didn’t Know His Name

A volunteer discovers an unexpected bonus



Dylan Lewis, a recent WHS grad, had no idea that volunteer work with Habitat for Humanity through Youth United of Wilton, would affect him on such a deeply personal level.

Photo by Karen Morneau

I didn’t know his name. We were paired up, one Wilton kid with one Bridgeport kid. We stood side by side like new recruits as we were given our work duties for the day. “You two grab hammers. You two”—laser-sharp look at me and the red-headed boy beside me—“will be working outside, landscaping.” Landscaping? Outside? Were they kidding? It was as cold as a meat locker outside and I wasn’t suitably dressed.

The Habitat prep sheet had said, “Be prepared for all weather conditions,” but I didn’t think that meant working outside in February. I glanced over at my partner, giving him the “they have got to be kidding stare” as he grabbed the handle of a large Rubbermaid garbage can and walked toward the shell of a house. Jeez, what was with him?

I got off my high horse, pulled on the dried, mud-encrusted work gloves I’d been given, and grabbed the other garbage can. I really should have paid attention to that prep sheet because then I would have brought my own work gloves, and they would have been brand-new and soft—not ill-fitting, floral-patterened hand-me-downs. We worked in silence, picking up slimy leaves and garbage. Hours passed (though it seemed like days) before we were told we could stop for a lunch break. 

I had always wanted to become an Eagle Scout like my older brother, Ryan, but my mother told me to find something else. “Create your own path,” she said. “Do something that excites you.” Secretly, I think she was burnt out from driving Ryan to merit badge workshops, attending parent committee meetings, dealing with holiday-wreath delivery duties, and the time-consuming commitments of completing the Eagle Scout project. This is not to suggest that my mom had to actually do any part of the project, but her constant nagging of my brother to complete the mandatory written portion still echoes in my ears. 

So instead, I opted to join the newly formed Habitat for Humanity of Fairfield County/Youth United of Wilton. Almost immediately I realized that I had no idea what I had gotten myself into. There was a lot of physical labor, constant fundraising, and numerous meetings. But funnily enough, I discovered that I had finally found something I truly believed in. 

My first day “on the job” was an eye-opener. Bridgeport is not Wilton. Or Tokyo or St. Petersburg, or Istanbul. Or like any other place I have seen in my admittedly privileged travels. But it was as foreign. How could this be? Substandard housing or a complete lack of housing for families anywhere is unacceptable, but it was staggering to see in otherwise affluent Fairfield County. 

By becoming a small cog in the Habitat wheel, I am helping to put families—who must complete 500 hours of sweat equity—into their own homes. Thanks to Habitat for Humanity, I have gained many skills, including painting, building bookcases and fences, washing cars, and decorating cupcakes. Yes, decorating cupcakes is a skill. Our homemade baked goods need an edge to sell well at fundraising events. And we always need more money to break ground on our next house project.    

In July 2014, I was asked to say a few words at a house dedication. As I stood in front of the crowd that included the mayor of Bridgeport, I glanced down at my red-headed friend who was proudly sitting in the front row. Seeing that I was nervous, he gave me the thumbs-up signal. I gave him a casual “thanks for the encouragement” nod. 

His name is Michael and he lives with his family in an East Avenue house in Bridgeport, in a house I am proud to have helped build.

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December 2018

Sunday, December 9th at 3:00 PM. Open to all ages. Come to watch several short silent comedies at this fun event hosted by renowned silent film accompanist and historian Ben Model. Ben Model...

Cost: Free

Where:
Ruth Keeler Memorial Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

On November 3rd, Heather Gaudio Fine Artis set to open “Room for Play,” a group exhibition featuring works by Ellen Carey, Deborah Kass, Robert...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
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Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

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On December 9 from 12 – 3 p.m. bring your knitting projects or spinning wheels and enjoy a relaxing afternoon with seasoned knitters and spinners. They will coach you on your knitting challenges...

Cost: Free, but donations in support of New Pond Farm's fleecy flock will be welcomed!

Where:
New Pond Farm Education Center
101 Marchant Road
Redding, CT  06896
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Telephone: (203) 938-2117
Website »

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  The Wilton Conservation Commission will host a walk at Cherry Lane Park this Sunday beginning at 1 pm. to be led by Commissioner Colleen O'Brian.  All are welcome, including dogs on leash. ...

Cost: Free

Where:
Cherry Lane Park
41 Cherry Lane
Wilton, CT  06897
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Sponsor: Wilton Conservation Commission
Telephone: 203 210-5240
Contact Name: Jackie Algon
Website »

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Music on the Hill bell ringers add festive music to holiday shopping at the Westport store. Bells will ring at intervals throughout the afternoon. Kids may join in with sleigh bells. Stop by...

Cost: free

Where:
Westport Barnes and Noble Booksellers
1076 Post Road East
Westport, CT  06880
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Sponsor: Music on the Hill
Telephone: 203-529-3133
Contact Name: Music on the Hill
Website »

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James Lancel McElhinney, journal-artist, author, Yale alumnus and  Pollock-Krasner Grant recipient will unfold the epic story of painted books, from the Age of Exploration to the digital era. He...

Cost: 0.00

Where:
Ridgefield Library
472 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
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Sponsor: Ridgefield Library
Telephone: 203-438-2282
Contact Name: Laurie McGavin Bachmann
Website »

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Join celebrated artist Duncan Hannah as he discusses his memoir, 20th Century Boy: Notebooks of the Seventies, a rollicking and vividly immediate memoir of his life in 1970s New York — a lost...

Cost: free

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
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Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346
Website »

More information

The much anticipated Great Trains Holiday Exhibit at the Wilton Historical Society opens the day after Thanksgiving, Friday, November 23, with Santa visiting on December 8! Decorated for the...

Cost: Members free, Non-member adults $10/ kids $5.

Where:
Wilton Historical Society
224 Danbury Road
Wilton, CT  06897
View map »

More information

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The Maritime Garage Gallery’s latest exhibit features works inspired by art in public places. “Street Level ” brings to life the notion that public art can transforms...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
Website »

More information

On November 3rd, Heather Gaudio Fine Artis set to open “Room for Play,” a group exhibition featuring works by Ellen Carey, Deborah Kass, Robert...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Maritime Garage Gallery’s latest exhibit features works inspired by art in public places. “Street Level ” brings to life the notion that public art can transforms...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
Website »

More information

On November 3rd, Heather Gaudio Fine Artis set to open “Room for Play,” a group exhibition featuring works by Ellen Carey, Deborah Kass, Robert...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Show More...
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Wednesday, Dec. 12. The Bedford Chamber Concert Series continues its 2018-19 season, featuring an all-Vivaldi holiday program. Anthony Newman and the Bedford Chamber Ensemble will perform “The...

Cost: $45 per person

Where:
St. Matthew's Church Fellowship Hall
382 Cantitoe Street
Bedford, NY  10506
View map »


Sponsor: St. Matthew's Music Committee
Telephone: 914-522-5150
Contact Name: Anthony Newman
Website »

More information

The Maritime Garage Gallery’s latest exhibit features works inspired by art in public places. “Street Level ” brings to life the notion that public art can transforms...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
Website »

More information

On November 3rd, Heather Gaudio Fine Artis set to open “Room for Play,” a group exhibition featuring works by Ellen Carey, Deborah Kass, Robert...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

The much anticipated Great Trains Holiday Exhibit at the Wilton Historical Society opens the day after Thanksgiving, Friday, November 23, with Santa visiting on December 8! Decorated for the...

Cost: Members free, Non-member adults $10/ kids $5.

Where:
Wilton Historical Society
224 Danbury Road
Wilton, CT  06897
View map »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Maritime Garage Gallery’s latest exhibit features works inspired by art in public places. “Street Level ” brings to life the notion that public art can transforms...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
Website »

More information

The much anticipated Great Trains Holiday Exhibit at the Wilton Historical Society opens the day after Thanksgiving, Friday, November 23, with Santa visiting on December 8! Decorated for the...

Cost: Members free, Non-member adults $10/ kids $5.

Where:
Wilton Historical Society
224 Danbury Road
Wilton, CT  06897
View map »

More information

On November 3rd, Heather Gaudio Fine Artis set to open “Room for Play,” a group exhibition featuring works by Ellen Carey, Deborah Kass, Robert...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Maritime Garage Gallery’s latest exhibit features works inspired by art in public places. “Street Level ” brings to life the notion that public art can transforms...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
Website »

More information

The much anticipated Great Trains Holiday Exhibit at the Wilton Historical Society opens the day after Thanksgiving, Friday, November 23, with Santa visiting on December 8! Decorated for the...

Cost: Members free, Non-member adults $10/ kids $5.

Where:
Wilton Historical Society
224 Danbury Road
Wilton, CT  06897
View map »

More information

Music on the Hill presents a festive concert of the Jubilate Ringers handbell choir and Festival Chorus performing classic carols and songs. Featured: the premiere of "Stars over Snow:...

Cost: Free, with donations welcome: $20 suggested.

Where:
St. Matthew's Episcopal Church
36 New Canaan Road (Rte. #106)
Wilton, CT  06897
View map »


Sponsor: Music on the Hill
Telephone: 203-529-3133
Contact Name: Music on the Hill
Website »

More information

On November 3rd, Heather Gaudio Fine Artis set to open “Room for Play,” a group exhibition featuring works by Ellen Carey, Deborah Kass, Robert...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Come and meet award-winning columnist, author, and founder of Jackson, Grant Investment Advisers, Inc, Julie Jason. She'll be signing her most recent books, The Retirement Survival Guide, Managing...

Cost: 0

Where:
Barnes & Noble at the Stamford Town Center
100 Greyrock Place
Stamford, CT  06901
View map »


Sponsor: Julie Jason
Telephone: 203-322-1198
Contact Name: Theresa Robbins
Website »

More information

The much anticipated Great Trains Holiday Exhibit at the Wilton Historical Society opens the day after Thanksgiving, Friday, November 23, with Santa visiting on December 8! Decorated for the...

Cost: Members free, Non-member adults $10/ kids $5.

Where:
Wilton Historical Society
224 Danbury Road
Wilton, CT  06897
View map »

More information

On November 3rd, Heather Gaudio Fine Artis set to open “Room for Play,” a group exhibition featuring works by Ellen Carey, Deborah Kass, Robert...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

On Saturday, December 15th, at 6:30 PM, New Pond Farm Education Center will be hosting a public astronomy program where we hope to see Comet Wirtanen and some meteors from the Geminid meteor...

Cost: $4 per New Pond Farm member (max. $16 per family) and $6 per non-member (max. $2

Where:
New Pond Farm Education Center
101 Marchant Road
Redding, CT  06896
View map »


Telephone: (203) 938-2117
Contact Name: New Pond Farm
Website »

More information

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