Making Time

Excuses have long sabotaged the good intentions of diehards committed to New Year’s fitness resolutions. But what should you do after a night of overindulging, or when a big lunch makes you feel like you’re only up for lifting the TV remote? Before you hit pause on your workout plans, we checked in with pros on when—and if—it’s okay to skip the gym when you’re feeling sluggish. (Spoiler alert: No skip passes were handed out.)

The Action Plan
While you may want to opt out of a session at the local CrossFit, it doesn’t mean you should skip your workout entirely, says Bridget Philipp, senior director of healthy living at the New Canaan YMCA. “If you’ve done the damage already, I say it’s always better to do something, just some light cardio to get the blood flowing.” A walk, for example, is a great option.

Andrew Burlin, a trainer at Stamford’s Chelsea Piers Athletic Club, notes that while you may not be at your best for a pounding workout, an indulgent midday meal provides extra energy to burn off at the end of the day. He suggests cycling or weight lifting to burn off some of those extra calories.

It’s All About Timing:
To avoid disrupting digestion, make sure you time your workout to at least two hours after the meal.

The Action Plan
Start by hydrating and then “get on your workout clothes and step out the door,” says Philipp. “The endorphins from just starting to move may make you feel better.”

Listen to Your Body:
“If you are five minutes in and you realize it’s the wrong idea, head back home, but you can’t throw in the towel on your routine because you missed one day,” says Philipp. So get back at it tomorrow.


The Action Plan
As tempting as it is to forego your morning run or Barre class and head straight to the office instead, it may actually help you stay on task if you commit to a workout, says Burlin. “A well-formulated workout will get you cognitively in the right place to make substantial progress on your work.” If you are seriously time-crunched, Burlin suggests a quick twenty- to thirty-minute interval training workout. Try lifting weights combined with plyometric or power movements (think squats, jumps or burpees). “You will come back fresher, more energized and less stressed.”

Take a Pass:
Skip a traditional sixty-minute group exercise class. “You’ll just be looking at the clock the whole time, thinking about your project,” says Burlin.

A Matter of When
In terms of exercise science, morning workouts seem to have the edge in the clinical research pool for their ability to rev up the metabolism. Ultimately, you’ll burn more calories throughout the day.

Still, fitness experts say the best time to work out is when you can consistently make the time to do it. “The majority of us struggle to be consistent,” says Philipp, “so I always encourage people to find the time when they are most likely to do it.”

“If you are pressed for time on a regular basis, I suggest morning,” says Burlin. “As you lie in bed pressing the snooze bar, think about how an extra thirty minutes of sleep will not make you feel any more rested, but thirty minutes at the gym will set your mind up to feel accomplished and make great choices throughout the day.”

Take a Pass:
On a high-intensity workout too close to bedtime. “If you really rev yourself up too much, it can interfere with sleep,” says Philipp.

It’s a Small World

Born to Japanese immigrant parents in Boston, Yumi Kuwana did not always see her biculturalism as a gift. When she was eight, her family moved to Japan. There, she was bullied by her classmates for her distinctly American ways. “Because the Japanese culture is very homogeneous, my differences weren’t celebrated or appreciated. Instead, they were mocked. In class, they said my English was ‘too perfect.’”

Yumi Kuwana, Founder and President

Eventually, Yumi’s parents enrolled her in an international school to escape the torment and feelings of not belonging. Raising her own family in Greenwich, the Harvard-and- Wharton educated mother of three was determined to find ways to give her sons and daughter the benefits of their biculturalism in the most thoughtful way possible. “I wanted them to be bilingual and bicultural with a strong moral compass,” says Yumi, a founder of Greenwich-based Cook Pine Capital. “It was important to me that their background was something they saw as a strength.”

When she founded the nonprofit Global Citizens Initiative (GCI) here in 2012, Yumi says her goal was to create a network of young global leaders who could engage in an intense cross- cultural dialogue while embracing their differences. “And I wanted it to be a conversation they could continue for a long time,” she says.

Each year since its founding, GCI fosters understanding and action by gathering a maximum of twenty-eight teenagers from places as different as Greenwich, Syria, Brazil and Afghanistan for a nine-day summit in Cambridge, Massachusetts, held on and nearby the Harvard University campus. There, the students engage in largely self-directed discussions on topics related to global engagement, ethics, excellence and leadership.

“One of the things we are teaching is that being a good global citizen is not about jet-setting. While that has its own value, this is about engaging with people who have a different perspective from yours,” says Elizabeth Losch, GCI’s chief operating officer and a Greenwich Academy graduate.

Elizabeth Losch, Chief Operating Officer

Local participants at GCI Youth Summits have hailed from local schools including Greenwich High School, Greenwich Academy and the King School in Stamford.

Many of the international students attend summits on scholarships and GCI raises funds to underwrite their tuition and expenses. Yumi notes the student leaders—chosen from a strong applicant pool for their authentic interest in global citizenship—are a deliberately small and select bunch.

Their discussions are led by teachers who by design join the conversation infrequently to let the teens shape and drive their own dialogue. “We believe we can have a high impact program by going deep and narrow rather than large and wide,” explains Yumi of the small group that its annual summits employ. “And we also believe they learn a lot from these peer-to-peer exchanges.”

Each GCI student leaves the annual summit with an assignment: A mentored project they must embark on at home that incorporates some of the values and goals they developed from engaging with their international peers. “We have a student in Kenya who’s created a $10 water filter that could be a game changer in her community and beyond,” Yumi says. “We have someone in Greenwich who is teaching dance to students with autism. Ultimately, what’s exciting to see is the leadership and initiative they are getting out of this and bringing home.”


Lessons into Action

From creating inexpensive water filters for Kenyan villagers to dance classes for autistic children in Fairfield County, the Global Citizens Initiative Youth Summit participants have been passionate and innovative in their efforts to become more socially conscious and engaged citizens. We checked in with two Greenwich summit participants to find out how lessons learned inspired good works close to home.

Molly Kalb, Greenwich Academy Senior, GCI Youth Summit 2016

Community Project

Developing a dance project for the local nonprofit Backyard Sports Cares that supports children with autism. “Dance is often unavailable to children with autism, which struck me as particularly sad since dance has been shown to have a positive effect on empathy and social interactions.”

On The Power of Forming International Friendships

“It’s an amazing thing to know people your age from all over the world, especially when they are so committed to making a difference. One of my closest friends was a former Syrian refugee who is currently running his own nonprofit that brings education to children in refugee camps. There were students from Afghanistan, from mainland China, from Hong Kong and more. It was humbling to realize how much I still have yet to know about the world.”

 

Whitney Elmlinger, Greenwich Academy Senior, GCI Youth Summit 2015

Community Project 

An avid cook who has long been intrigued by the way food connects people, the Greenwich Academy senior is focused on finding ways provide good nutrition to the estimated 12 percent of Fairfield County’s residents who meet the definition of being “food insecure” because they lack consistent access to adequate healthy food. Besides creating a pamphlet for local food banks, Whitney has made hunger the focus of a school capstone project and also become involved with Community Plates, a local nonprofit that works to “rescue” quality leftover food from area restaurants and deliver it to local food banks and shelters for meals and distribution.

On The Inspiration of her GCI Peers

“The other students were probably the most driven, enthusiastic and motivated individuals I have ever met,” says Whitney. “Having the opportunity to take part in discussions on topics such as ethics has inspired me to stay involved in the realm of social activism. I have since joined the First Selectmen’s Youth Council in hopes of learning more about public policy, which I’ve found to be an integral part of the fight against hunger.”

One Breath at a Time

Lots of fit-minded folks seek out yoga for its calming, restorative benefits, but when Lexy Stauffer and her volunteers with the nonprofit Exhale to Inhale teach poses to local victims of domestic and sexual violence, they are seeking to help them feel safer in their bodies.

Exhale to Inhale began in New York City in 2013 when Zoe LePage, then a Barnard student with a personal history of trauma, began teaching yoga to survivors of intimate partner violence. Lexy, a Darien resident and longtime yoga practitioner, brought the program to Connecticut last year, after taking Exhale to Inhale’s intensive teacher training. Now she and a small group of volunteer teachers offer free yoga to students at the Greenwich YWCA’s Domestic Abuse Service, Domestic Violence Crisis Center in Stamford and most recently, The Center for Family Justice (CFJ), which serves domestic and sexual violence victims.

“I knew I was doing something of value when a client told me she was not afraid to go to sleep anymore,” says Lexy, who hopes to expand the program throughout the state.

Classes are taught by instructors trained in yoga adopted for trauma survivors. Since respecting personal boundaries is paramount, instructors never touch clients to correct poses. “These are not competitive classes,” says Lexy. “We go slowly. Trauma is something we hold in the body, and we are helping victims find a healthy way to release it.”

“Our clients are learning an approach
to wellness that can stay with them for a lifetime,” says Debra Greenwood, president and CEO of The Center for Family Justice. “It’s an essential part of helping them transform from victims to survivors.”

To find out more about fundraising events at local yoga studios visit exhaletoinhale.org 


Breathing Easy

Lexy Stauffer of Exhale to Inhale says anyone can benefit from the program’s gentle approach to a more mindful yoga experience. Here are some tips for bringing calm to your practice.

Breath is the key to calming the mind and body

“When people experience trauma their breath is really shallow,” notes Lexy. If you simply take the time to mindfully spell out the words “inhale” and “exhale” as you breathe in and out deeply, you can slow the process and achieve calming benefits.

Give yourself permission to be distracted

“It’s okay for our minds to wander,” says Lexy. So, if during class your thoughts turn to your grocery list or that work project that’s due, “it doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong.”

Know each body is different

Every yogi brings a different set of experiences and capabilities to the mat. “Our bodies can’t all do the same things and that’s okay,” says Lexy. “While it’s hard to not place judgment on ourselves, you’ll get more from practice if you accept your unique abilities.”

Nailing It

It’s been three decades since Maria “Empy” Constante began shaping and polishing the nails of Greenwich women. Back then she was a recent immigrant from Colombia with a passion for the beauty industry. Manicures seemed the most expedient route for the ambitious newcomer to get ahead. “I was struggling with English, but I could manage to say to my customers, “Round or square?” Empy says with a laugh. “Nails I could manage. So I did nails.”

Soon Empy was filing and shaping her way to success. Encouraged by some high-profile customers who remain loyal to this day, Empy left behind the Greenwich Avenue salon where she got her start and opened Empy’s Nails in Cos Cob with her sister, Gloria Jaramillo, at her side.

Gloria, who had immigrated to the Greenwich area a few years before Empy, spoke more confident English. Empy begged Gloria to leave a good job elsewhere to help her get started. “She was my right hand and she still is,” says Empy with a smile.

Together the sisters—among the youngest of eighteen children raised in a small Colombian mountain village—pursued the American dream. Their goal was to earn enough to live locally so that Gloria’s son, Mario, could attend town schools. “We did everything for Mario as a team,” Empy says.

When a celebrity customer advised Empy that day spas were the next big thing, she took a chance. She leased space in a West Putnam Avenue strip mall, adding hairstylists, aestheticians and massage therapists. She grew her staff from four to its current eighteen, often hiring fellow South American immigrants and mentoring them as they built their own secure futures here.

As she planned to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of Empy’s Day Spa with a November cocktail reception, the gracious and enterprising businesswoman sat down with us and shared some of the secrets to her success.


IN HER WORDS
THE LIFE LESSONS THAT HAVE BUILT A LEGACY

Take a risk
“I started knowing almost no English. I would tell my customers, ‘Please correct me.’ I always wanted to learn. And I listened to their tips on building my business. It was very hard, but you can’t get where you want to be without trying.”

Team Build
“A successful business can’t just be for your benefit. You have to share your success. It builds loyalty,” explains Empy, who considers her staff family. “If you have good people, you have to be good to them.”

All Customers are Celebrities
“I have a lot of famous customers. But I often say, you don’t know who that person is who walks in wearing yoga clothes. If you think everyone is important and treat them that way, everyone leaves feeling pampered.”

Insist on Quality 
While Empy teases she can’t give up all her trade secrets, she allows that one reason her manicures are so long-lasting is the attention paid to nail bed preparation. Her manicurists use absorbent cotton towels—rather than cotton balls or pads—to aggressively sweep away old polish. “You don’t want any residue or oils on the nail bed or the polish won’t last as long.”

 

 

Happy Feet

Above: Christine Georgopulo

Christine Georgopulo worked in real estate development before
her life took a graceful turn when she discovered beautiful, elegant ballroom dance and began competing. Five years ago, she quit her day job and opened Arthur Murray Grande Ballroom of Greenwich. Christine was recently honored with a Greenwich YWCA Brava Award for the philanthropic work her studio does on behalf of nonprofits, which include Kids in Crisis, Greenwich Hospital’s cancer patients and the Greenwich Boys and Girls Club. We caught up with the Greenwich resident as she was preparing for a dance training weekend with her teaching team.


GM: 
YOU’VE GONE FROM REAL ESTATE DEVELOPMENT TO BALLROOM DANCING. THAT’S A BIG TRANSITION.

CG: It’s been life-changing for me. When I worked in development, I was building whole blocks. It was transformative—you were changing communities—but as soon as the punch list was done, so were you. So, I never got to see people enjoy it. Here, you get to see the exponential benefit of their progress and even how it affects their lives outside. Dance opens everyone’s world. It opened mine.

GM: HAS THE POPULARITY OF DANCING WITH THE STARS BEEN GOOD FOR THE BUSINESS?

CG: Yes, in the sense that it has shown people that anyone can dance. You’ve got NFL football players doing it and someone like Kirstie Alley going on and losing all that weight.

GM: IS THERE HOPE FOR SOMEONE WITH TWO LEFT FEET TO ACTUALLY MOVE THAT WAY?

CG: If you can walk without falling down, you can dance. If it came naturally, we wouldn’t have to teach it. But I realize the idea that you can’t dance can be a big barrier for some people before they come in the door. So I say this: Every dance begins simply with putting one foot in front of the other. And I encourage people to have goals. It’s no different than going to the gym. You start out at one place, but if you work at it, you’ll get to another.

GM: DO YOU NEED A PARTNER FOR LESSONS?

CG: It’s not necessary. Your instructor can be your partner. Our approach is based on the idea that if you’re taking private lessons, your instructor can fulfill that role. We also encourage people to come for group sessions, where you can dance with your significant other. We also make everyone change partners, so you can learn to dance with others at different speeds and styles.

Christine Georgopulo with co-owner Iraida Volodina
Christine Georgopulo with co-owner
Iraida Volodina

GM: DANCE IS SUPPOSED TO BE GOOD FOR THE MIND AND BODY. HAVE YOU SEEN IT TRANSFORM LIVES?

CG: You know. I’ve got binders full of stories—people who’ve lost tons of weight, people who’ve danced as they recovered from cancer—but here’s one that sticks out: I had a client who, we would eventually learn, was in an abusive marriage. Somehow, she got her husband to let her take lessons. It was the only thing she really was allowed to do on her own. When she came to us, she was so haggard she looked twenty years older than she actually was. But she came to perform in a [showcase] we did. She stepped out in this cute little Latin number, with her shoulders up and her head held high and she rocked it. She just blossomed before our eyes. Eventually, dance gave her the confidence to take the kids and leave the marriage.

 

 

Cultural Exchange

Above: Miles Spencer

President Barack Obama’s historic March visit to Cuba signaled a détente that eased more than fifty years of Cold War tensions. Yet months before Air Force One touched down on the Caribbean island, the team at the Greenwich-based Innovadores Foundation had already been engaging in some high-tech cross-cultural diplomacy with young, aspiring Cuban entrepreneurs.

Last July the Greenwich-based foundation, whose founders include town resident and angel investor/innovation expert Miles Spencer, brought four Cuban students to Manhattan to immerse them in the entrepreneurial culture through the startup incubator Grand Central Tech.

Inspired by the experiences of the first group of students, Innovadores (Spanish for innovators) will send its second class of promising Cubans ages sixteen to twenty to the Big Apple this month. The foundation picks up the tab for their lodging, meals and travel so they can begin their journey of learning more about potential advancements in technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics.

The motivation for mentoring the Cuban students is simple, says Spencer: “I’ve been all over the world, and what I’ve seen from them in terms of their epic resourcefulness is extraordinary. We believe they’re in the best position to solve Cuba’s problems.”

The foundation’s local supporters including Greenwich residents John and Hollie Franke, traveled with Spencer to Cuba and helped pave the way for the first interns to arrive with the help of diplomat John Caulfield, who served as chief of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana until 2014. The Frankes also helped expand the Innovadores program to include internships in food and fashion, which start this summer.

Spencer with Cuban Ambassador Jeff DeLaurentis
Spencer with Cuban Ambassador Jeff DeLaurentis

CROSS-CULTURAL PERSPECTIVE
Twenty-one-year-old Havana native Raul Saunders spent last summer working at startup incubator Grand Central Tech in Manhattan as a guest of the Greenwich-based Innovadores Foundation. Because communication with the island nation is still complicated, the engineering student answered questions through a foundation representative via email.

2015 interns with Miles Spencer and John Caulfield
2015 interns with Miles Spencer and John Caulfield

1 IMPORTANT LESSONS
“That every second counts when it’s about the tech industry, marketing and innovation…I also had the pleasure of interacting with the American culture and the American people in their motherland and learning the true meaning of the American dream.“

2 ON HIS MOTIVATION
“I now know how to work harder because they pushed my limits and forced me to think harder and outside the box. I can see now how this is a turning point for our society for a better tomorrow, and I see it is in tech.”

3 ON COMING TO AMERICA
“It (was) very important because we don’t have a tech industry in Cuba, and it’s important to see what the world is up to.“

 

 

Beyond the Photo Album

Beginning with filming the life story of his own late mother, Peter Savigny has a knack for telling the stories of family members often hidden in old photo boxes and unspoken memories.

GM-TN-PhotoAlbum-2
The Westchester resident, who was born in Shanghai to German parents, is a longtime television art director who’s won five Emmys for his special effects and creative work. Savigny has spent the past decade creating documentary-style biographies for subjects ranging from some of Greenwich’s first Italian-American immigrant families (as part of a long-term project for the Greenwich Historical Society) to real estate magnate Peter Malkin.

His company, TimeStories, specializes in documenting family history for posterity by artfully blending filmed personal interviews with archival family photos and cinematic elements, such as musical scores and lush cinematography into pieces he calls DocuMemories.

Peter notes his filmed biographies are not vanity projects. “It’s about honoring time, family history and memories,” he explains. “The value is in capturing memories before they’re gone. We’ve all opened a box of old family photographs and said, ‘Who are these people? Where was this taken?’ So, what I do is a little like family archaeology.”

Peter conducts detailed personal interviews that mine life histories that sometimes get lost over generations. “The number one secret to what I do is that I’m not family,” Peter explains. “People are a little more comfortable telling me things than they might be a close relative. Yet when they do tell me, it’s almost spiritual and even cathartic. I just finished interviewing a woman and I asked her a question and she said, “Well, I’ve never told anyone that before, but since you asked….” timestories.com


THE MAKING OF A DOCUMEMORY

GETTING ACQUAINTED
Peter meets with all subjects one-on-one at least once before shooting begins. “You don’t want to be talking to a total stranger,” he explains.

BACKGROUND
DocuMemory subjects complete a detailed biographical questionnaire, which asks factual and philosophical questions, giving the filmmaker a framework for his interviews.

THE STAR OF THE SHOW
Group subjects featuring more than one family member can be accommodated.

PICTURE PERFECT
Most still photography is contributed, but Peter often incorporates historically accurate stock images of important locations (such as
a city of origin) to evoke mood and period setting.

COST
Fees vary as projects are customized and clients determine how simple or elaborate their TimeStory will be. Small projects start at around $5,000, but Peter has done some feature-length works with fees in excess of $25,000.

Portrait by Rob Lang; All other images courtesy of time stories

 

 

Let the Games Begin

Above: 2015 Greenwich Cup Triathlon; Photograph by Jeff Yardis

Last year the world-class hospital, which specializes in treating a variety of orthopedic issues and musculoskeletal conditions, opened an 18,000-square-foot medical facility at Chelsea Piers Stamford. There, a total of twenty-two HSS physicians, including one-time Greenwich High School quarterback Dr. Sam Taylor, now see patients in an outpatient center with strong ties to HSS’s New York City campus.

“For a really long time, we’ve been attracting patients from Fairfield and Westchester counties, but this allows us to go deeper with those relationships,” explains John Englehart, HSS’s chief marketing officer.

So when it came to forming an alliance with the Greenwich Cup, which at thirty-one bills itself as the longest-running multisport series in the world, the relationship seemed like a perfect match. “We’re all about supporting athletic training and encouraging healthy lifestyles,” says Englehart, a longtime Westport resident. “But what we’re most excited about is the culture of the Greenwich Cup itself. There’s just a tremendous energy and goodwill about the event that makes it more exciting every year.”

Presented by the YMCA of Greenwich in cooperation with the Greenwich Parks and Recreation Department, Greenwich Cup signature events include the HSS Greenwich Cup Half-Marathon, the push-the-limits HSS Greenwich Cup Triathlon, and the HSS Tour de Greenwich XXXII 20-Mile Bike race. The schedule is packed throughout the year with events that appeal to more casual athletes too. And do stay tuned: At press time, race director Mickey Yardis, owner of Threads & Treads, was completing plans for more events, including the likely revival of a fan favorite or two.

Yardis says the marriage with HSS is a good fit for the expanding series. “The crew at Threads & Treads and the entire HSS Greenwich Cup team is excited to have Hospital for Special Surgery lead the charge for the 2016 series,” Yardis says. “Along with my gold sponsors, Betteridge jewelers, Greenwich Time/Hearst Connecticut Media, and Poland Spring/Nestlé Waters, I am surely one blessed race director to have such unwavering support.”


GREENWICH CUP 2016 EVENTS

HSS Greenwich Cup Half-Marathon:
April 10 at 7:30 a.m. at Greenwich Point

Jim Fixx Memorial Day Five-Mile run & Kid’s Half-Mile :
May 30 at 8:30 a.m. on Greenwich Ave.

Whole Foods Cook Your Buns Three-Mile Run & BBQ & Kid’s Mile:
June 10 at 6 p.m. at Greenwich Point

Greenwich Point One-Mile Swim:
July 16 at 7:30 a.m. at Greenwich Point

HSS Greenwich Cup Triathlon:
July 31 at 7 a.m. at Greenwich Point

HSS Tour de Greenwich XXXII 20 Mile:
Sept. 11 at 7:30 a.m. at Greenwich High School

For sign-up and more information about events, visit threadsandtreads.com

 

 

Pure Genius

Eleven years ago, seventeen-year-old Greenwich native Jonathan Geller began surreptitiously reporting on the latest technology innovations before they hit the market. He would go on to found the technology news website, Boy Genius Report (BGR), and become a major market influencer on the latest electronics and gadgets.

Geller explains that his love affair with technology happened “sort of by accident” when he dropped out of Greenwich High School as a sixteen-year-old sophomore to answer the insistent call of hip-hop music. “Back then, I was way more into music than school,” he explains. In Atlanta he immersed himself in the burgeoning hip-hop scene under the tutelage of Scooter Braun, fellow Greenwich native and Justin Bieber manager.

But Geller’s plans skipped a beat when his connections to music insiders had technology companies slipping him hot prototypes (think the latest Blackberry, when Blackberries were actually hot commodities) before their official release dates. His then-anonymous blog about his discoveries for AOL developed such a following that he eventually founded BGR. Geller sold the site to Penske Media in 2010 for a deal reportedly worth several million dollars. Remaining BGR editor-in-chief, he now focuses less on the bottom line and more on the savvy content that claims 11 million unique views a month.

It stands to reason that the backcountry Greenwich home of the newly married twenty-eight-year-old was upgraded to anticipate his every want and need with the touch of his iPhone—from opening the bedroom shades to syncing his sprinklers with technologically transmitted weather forecasts. Naturally, his doors lock and unlock by intuitively recognizing his comings and goings.

The renovation was conceived with an eye to discreetly integrating technology “without making the place seem like a tech lab.” Yes, even Boy Genius has his limits. “I’m kind of old-school when it comes to the kitchen,” he confesses. “I like to grind my coffee beans myself.” So while his morning joe isn’t brewed in sync with an app that senses he’s awake (although he notes it could be), the rest of his transitionally styled home is well-appointed with ultra-smart creature comforts.


OUTSIDE TECH

Super-cool technology isn’t just for inside the home. One of the hottest new products featured by Geller and his staff is an outdoor grill controlled by voice activation or the touch of a smartphone.


SMART TOUCHES

Geller’s home technology essentials

SOMFY SHADES
These motorized shades, which Geller notes are “surprisingly affordable,” open and close on the command of a smartphone app. Of all the techie features he’s installed at home, Geller says “these are my favorite. It’s kind of a kick to open them in the morning to let some sun in without getting out of bed.”
BONUS: No annoying or dangerous strings to pull.


HIDDEN WI-FI ACCESS POINTS

“For someone like me, Wi-Fi is a big deal.” Having portals built into walls throughout the house and stashed behind art solved spotty cellular issues without adding eyesores.

GM-TN-PureGenius-2
RACHIO SPRINKLER SYSTEM
No need to schedule this intuitive, automated lawn irrigation system because it syncs with the weather forecast to determine when—and for how long—to drench the lawn.


SAMSUNG SMART THINGS HUB 

By connecting everything from light switches to keyless entry systems to this smart portal, doors lock and lights turn off whenever Geller heads outside with his iPhone in tow.



HOME IMPROVEMENTS

Geller’s tips on domestic technological enhancements just about anyone can—and should—consider installing

GM-TN-PureGenius-3
PHILIPS HUE LIGHTBULBS
At less than twenty dollars each, Geller says these bulbs, which allow lights to be switched on and off via an app, are among the most cost-effective technology upgrades on the market and can save hundreds on electric bills. The lights can also be programmed to change color for added ambiance.


AUTOMATED THERMOSTATS

“Most people don’t know how to program their thermostats, but there are some terrific ones out there that do the job for you.” He recommends models by Nest and Honeywell.


IT CAMERAS

These reasonably priced home surveillance systems are a great way to “know what’s going on at home when you’re not there.” Geller has several at his place.

GM-TN-PureGenius-4
SONOS HIFI WIRELESS SPEAKERS

For an investment of between $150 and $500, a home can be outfitted with indoor and outdoor speakers that respond to a smartphone app, playing your favorite playlists on demand. “Years ago, doing the same thing would have cost $20,000,” says Geller.



A FEW OF HIS FAVORITE THINGS
The innovations that have Geller’s attention
right now

1  NON-COMBUSTIBLE CARS
“I just turned in my Mercedes for a Tesla,” says Geller, who envisions a future with “no gas, no combustion” and cars so brainy, “my kids won’t have to learn how to drive.”

2  IPHONE 6S
While Geller confesses an overall weakness for “all things Apple,” his omnipresent phone is “simply the smartest phone ever made.” “I run my entire business from my phone; pay for things with Apple pay. It’s the one thing I absolutely couldn’t live without.”

3  APPLE TV
“It is all app- based, which I love. You can go to CNN and watch it live, or dig into the archives and watch something old.

4  APPLE WATCH
“I think wearable technology is going to continue to be a huge trend. If you don’t care that much about your phone, this watch does it all and it’s right there on your wrist. You can track your fitness, monitor your health and access your apps.”

Apple watch by istockphoto.com/duckycards

 

Question & Answer

Above: Martina Faulkner; What if ..?  – book cover

As a therapist turned life coach, Martina Faulkner has heard her share of “WHAT IFS?” Often, they’re the past tense kind tinged with remorse and regret. Think, “What if I married my college sweetheart instead?” or “What if I hadn’t eaten that entire sleeve of Oreos?”

Often, Martina’s clients come to her in the midst of life transitions. When contemplating their future, she finds the “WHAT IFS?” often get filtered through a negative lens. So, someone unhappy with their current position might wonder, “What if I take that new job and it’s an epic mistake?”

Martina specializes in trying to upend that kind of negative mentality, encouraging her clients to take their thinking to a more positive place. “The crux of my work is about trying to teach people to live more deliberately and less by default,” says Martina, a Greenwich Academy graduate now based in suburban Chicago. “While some people are limited by circumstances, a lot of life is about choice. A lot of what I do is getting them to see, “Hang on, I really can participate in my own life.”

In her new book, aptly titled What If ..?, Martina shares pragmatic strategies for approaching life decisions with an in-the-driver’s-seat mindset. On her recent book tour, she shared some of her motivating nuggets of wisdom with audiences that ranged from current GA students to staffers at Google. martinafaulkner.com

 
AS THE SEASON OF RESOLUTIONS BEGINS, HERE ARE SOME COMMON “WHAT IF?” QUESTIONS THAT CAN BECOME GOAL-ORIENTED.


INSTEAD OF ASKING

“What if I lost that last stubborn ten pounds?

ASK
“What if I ate healthier?” or, “What if I skipped dessert on weeknights?”

“Asking these kinds of questions makes you the driver. You are owning choices instead of fixating on a number,” says Martina.


INSTEAD OF ASKING

“What if I can’t get out of this dead-end job?”

ASK
“What if I found a job I love?”

“This way of thinking forces you to be more deliberate about your life. It may get you to seek a job that’s more about your passions,” says Martina.


INSTEAD OF ASKING

“Why am I stuck in this emotional rut?”

ASK
“What brings me pleasure?”

“I ask my clients what brought them joy when they were five. It sounds simple, but it can be the root of getting toward something that will bring pleasure into your life. I find it’s often some form of play. For one of my clients, the answer was, “A dog!” says Martina.


INSTEAD OF ASKING

“What if my date doesn’t like me?”

ASK
“What if I liked myself more?”

“A lot of times in relationships, we look for people to fix us. If you don’t like yourself, you often end up inviting the wrong people into your life to fill the void,” says Martina.

 

 

powered by Google

Above: Peter Sinkevich – Photograph by Sandro DeCarvalho

Peter Sinkevich was in his twenties when he made his first multimillion dollar exit from a startup—an online gaming technology he and his partners sold in 1999. Since then, the Greenwich resident, who calls himself a “serial entrepreneur,” has made similarly profitable exits from other startups. Along the way, he’s relished playing a mentoring role to ambitious sorts looking to do the same. “The question I got a lot was, ‘How did you do that?’” says Peter.

So Peter was game when approached by Google executives to establish the first Connecticut chapter of its entrepreneurial incubator, Startup Grind. He suggested Greenwich as the place to start. “There’s a cachet to Greenwich, but it was more than that,” says Peter. “It’s essentially a town made up of investors. I thought, Why not bring entrepreneurs to the investors and see what happens.”

The philosophy behind Startup Grind, which launched in the Silicon Valley in 2010, is that entrepreneurs thrive by developing like-minded professional friends (not contacts). “It’s about more than passing out business cards,” says Peter. “The point is to create a sharing economy. So when people enter the room, no one wants to sell you anything. It’s about real connections. How can they truly help each other?”

Speaking of connections, Peter’s already used his vast contacts to bring some true business visionaries to town for Startup Grind’s signature Fireside Chats. To date, guests have included GE’s first female vice chair Beth Comstock, former Virgin Atlantic Airway’s executive David Tait and Datto founder and CEO Austin McChord. startupgrindgrw.com

 

PETER’S TOP 5 TIPS FOR ENTREPRENEURS

1 DON’T BE AFRAID TO FAIL
“You have to be risk tolerant. And you don’t learn anything from being perfect. You learn from failures. That’s a very entrepreneurial trait.”

2 BE SOCIAL
“Businesses are built as much on the process of connecting with people as they are on selling. You have to be willing to put yourself out there. That can be really difficult when you are trying to run a business, but you have to be open to reaching out constantly.”

3 HAVE PASSION
“Having an excitement for what you do is the only thing that’s going to get you through the highs and lows of the business cycle, which are inevitable. You have to constantly convey that passion when you talk about your business.”

4 HIRE YOUR WEAKNESS
“It’s impossible for you to do everything correctly, so make sure you hire people who are better than you. There’s no fear of them taking over.”

5 YOUR PEOPLE ARE YOUR BEST RESOURCES
“If you have high-quality people working in an environment where they want to be, you’ll be amazed at what you can get done. Your role is to be the visionary.”

 

 

Golden Boys

When Bill Gorgas and his wife, Barbara Davis, adopted golden retrievers Chase and Clancy in 2014, they made a place in their hearts and a home for two of Greenwich’s best known and beloved pets.

The popular canines had spent most of their lives as Greenwich Avenue fixtures—the companions of the late Monsignor Frank Wisell, former pastor of St. Mary’s. They were well-known to Avenue passersbys. “People would often thank us for adopting them,” says Bill, who volunteered to take in the half-siblings after Wisell’s failing health precipitated a move to a nursing home. “But I would say, ‘We got the gift.’” Bill quickly developed a man’s-best-friend bond with both dogs. He calls the too-short year he spent with Clancy “one of the best of my life.” So when Clancy died unexpectedly from a cancer detected only days before his death in June, his heartbroken owners decided to channel their grief to benefit other dogs and their devoted owners.

Bill and Barbara founded Clancy’s Cure, an endowment they created at Stamford’s Cornell University Veterinary Specialists (CUVS) to support research in canine cancer. Bill says they have ambitious goals for the cause, which formally launched last September. The fund will support cutting-edge canine cancer research—studies that Bill notes have significant parallels to trends in human cancer research.

“The focus is on finding more targeted therapies,” explains Dr. Lindsay Thalheim, a veterinary oncologist affiliated with CUVS, who notes that mutations and genetics can play a role in how cancers respond to treatment. “The goal is to maximize the response for the tumor type and even limit toxicity” by providing more personalized therapies.

Unfortunately as this issue was going to press, Bill and Barbara got news that Chase (now thirteen) has the same cancer that took Clancy. Bill says that lavishing attention on Chase and spearheading Clancy’s Cure has helped him process the grief. “So many people have lost pets to cancer, but this helps keep Clancy alive.” clancyscure.org

 

 

Collective Effort

Above: Wendy Block and Vicki Craver

Imagine if 100 women formed a partnership where each contributed $1,000 with one goal: making a difference. That pot could grow exponentially. And so, too, could its potential impact on smaller projects that may not be receiving the support needed. Greenwich residents Vicki Craver and Wendy Block not only imagined creating such a giving circle in Fairfield County, they linked their shared passion for philanthropy to start one.

Drawing on their diverse backgrounds in philanthropy management (Wendy) and Wall Street (Vicki), the women joined forces this year to found Impact Fairfield County. The nonprofit is modeled on similar female-driven giving circles around the country that began when Cincinnati’s Impact 100 launched in 2001. Each independent “impact” circle is focused on empowering women to use their financial clout and collaborative instincts to support community projects.

The premise is smartly simple. Impact Fairfield County is focused on recruiting at least 100 women who commit to a minimum annual donation of $1,000 each. Their contributions are pooled to underwrite grants of $100,000 each.

Members play a direct role in vetting the organizations seeking grants. And popular vote determines recipients, the founders explain.

“We see this as an opportunity for women to get involved,” says Vicki, who was introduced to philanthropy when she chaired the Fairfield County Community Foundation’s Fund for Women and Girls. “It’s leveraging their thousand dollars into a hundred thousand dollars.”

Already, fifty women throughout the region have opened their checkbooks since the nonprofit’s soft launch in May. A formal recruitment campaign kicked off last month with the goal of awarding at least one major grant by spring. “It would be a dream if we could do more,” says Vicki.

HOW TO BENEFIT?
WENDY AND VICKI OFFER  INSIGHT INTO THE PROJECTS MEMBERS WILL CONSIDER FOR THE FIRST ROUND OF GRANTS THIS SPRING.

“We have an interest in learning about and highlighting needs we may not even be aware of,” says Vicki. “We hope people will learn about an organization more broadly through our support.”

“We want people to dream big,” says Wendy. “The idea is that these grants can be transformative.”

“While we are both from Greenwich, we’re committed to the idea that this should benefit the region and not just our one community,” says Wendy. “It’s also the best way to grow our own giving community.”

 

 

The Job Hunt

Above: Mary Bloomer – Photograph by Gus Cantavero

Five years ago Mary Bloomer, a former Wall Street investment banker, founded Early Career Launch, a Darien-based consultancy that’s unique in its focus on helping college undergraduates define and achieve their professional goals. Only two other such companies, as far as Mary is aware, exist in the country.

After working as a career counselor at Yale University’s School of Management, Mary
realized the coaching that she was providing MBA students was largely missing in the life of the typical undergraduate. Even though most institutions of higher learning have career offices, “A lot of students don’t access their campus resources. And for some it’s difficult to get the level of attention and expertise they’d like,” she explains.

Mary and her team are decidedly hands-on. They work with students building skills ranging from identifying their dream workplace to mastering tricky, if predictable, interview questions. It’s an elaborate process that can include everything from vocational testing to videotaped practice interviews.

The business, which has prospered mostly through enthusiastic word of mouth, has counseled students from more than 100 colleges and universities, including many Greenwich clients. (The mother of three has a daughter who attended Greenwich Academy.)

Perhaps it’s no surprise that many Early Career Launch clients are liberal arts majors looking to translate their smarts—and those seemingly ambiguous humanities degrees—into a rewarding professional life. “What we talk a lot about is identifying the universal skills that everyone has and every company is looking for,” says Mary. “Many kids come in with no idea of what they want to do, and sometimes we begin the process simply by helping them figure that out.” earlycareerlaunch.com


 

TIPS FOR YOUNG JOB SEEKERS LOOKING FOR AN EDGE

BE DISCIPLINED ABOUT BUILDING A PROFESSIONAL NETWORK.
Mary notes a large number of internships and jobs are never advertised. So it’s critical to create a contact network to capture opportunities. Alumni, friends, family and former colleagues all can help, but you “have to let people know you are looking.” Stay in touch with these contacts on a regular basis.

BOOK “INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEWS.”
Mary notes informal chats with professionals in fields of interest can reap long-term rewards. “They can really help build confidence because the pressure is off when there’s no job on the table,” she notes. Plus, “the good impression you make can also lead to a job interview when something entry-level comes up.”

KEEP SUMMER EXPERIENCE NOTES.
Mary notes it’s easy to forget what you did on school vacation once the academic year begins, so jot down tasks and accomplishments at internships, part-time jobs and volunteer commitments. Those notes can ultimately help identify and articulate skill sets.

CAST A WIDE NET AND KEEP AN OPEN MIND.
Mary encourages clients to take interviews for opportunities that may not seem especially appealing. “You can learn so much from these experiences that you can take into the interview for that dream job,” she says.

UNDERSTAND THAT JOB SEEKING IS A PROCESS THAT CAN TAKE MONTHS OF EFFORT.
“It’s not as simple as logging in online and sending off your résumé,” says Mary. “It is hard work, and all about understanding the importance of time, effort and building a network.”

 

 

Triple Threat

Above: Erin Cardillo; Portrait by Brad Everett Young

Back at Greenwich High School, Erin Cardillo (class of ’95) persuaded her drama teachers to let her stage a one act farce she wrote herself. “I think I called it, Where There’s a Will There’s a Way,” Erin says, laughing. Turns out it was a prophetic first act.

Besides earning her credit as a founder of The Magic Circle, the annual GHS student playwrights’ festival, Erin’s script foreshadowed the trajectory of her career. She went on to land parts ranging from a breakout role on the soap opera Passions to the Disney Channel’s The Suite Life on Deck.

Most recently the Hollywood-based actress wrapped the first season of the CW network’s Significant Mother, a sitcom she wrote and produced with creative partner Richard Keith. Fresh after winning first prize at the annual New York Television Festival for a different teleplay, Erin and Richard were asked to develop Significant Mother.
Erin also guest starred in the romantic comedy, which explores the complications that ensue when an overachieving twentysomething discovers his newly divorced mom has fallen for his best friend. “It was fun, after creating all those characters, to jump on the other side of the camera,” says Erin, who appeared in a two-episode role as the cougar mom’s opinionated lesbian boss.

Also satisfying? Finding a home for Significant Mother in prime time—a feat Erin explains once seemed quite improbable. “Writing was something I did to stay creative during those off times every actor has while they’re waiting for that next part,” Erin says. “But it’s taken off in ways I sort of hadn’t expected.”

At press time, the multi-tasking actress was waiting to hear if Significant Mother would get a second season, while developing other comedies for the CW as a part of a long-term deal.

BEHIND THE SCENES WITH ERIN

CELEBRITY MOMENT
Erin was once rushed by throngs of twelve-year-old Suite Life on Deck fans while touring historic sites in Washington, D.C. “My husband (actor Joe Towne) said, ‘You’re like the Beatles.’ There’s nothing quite like diehard Disney Channel fans on a school field trip.”

TRUE TO HER SCHOOL
She still checks in with GHS drama teachers Richard Kohn and Patty Cirigliano–Kohn and plans on attending her upcoming twentieth GHS reunion.

FAVORITE GREENWICH SPOT
“So many of the restaurants and bars have changed, but the one place that’s a constant for me is Tod’s Point. I usually head there with my mom for a walk whenever I’m home.”

MEMORABLE ROLE
Playing Cobweb the fairy, in a GHS production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream affirmed her life-long dramatic aspirations. “It was a smaller part in an ensemble cast, but I remember feeling part of a community and loving it.”

DREAM GIRLS
“I studied Shakespeare in London, so it’s always been a dream of mine to play a role like Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It would be great to have a big dame role, like Cleopatra. I’d also love being the lead on a sitcom.”

 

 

Casting Call

Above: Chris Harrison – Photograph: courtesy Disney/ABC Home Entertainment and TV Distribution

Chris Harrison’s television career has been forever linked to all things related to tears, roses and relationships. For twenty-five seasons he’s hosted ABC’s reality romances The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, the hookup-inducing spinoff Bachelor in Paradise and more recently, the Miss America Pageant. Yet on a soundstage at Stamford’s Connecticut Film Center, there’s not a rosebud or rejected reality suitor in sight. Last summer we caught up with the dapper Harrison as he handed out cash (instead of coveted date cards) in his role as host of the fourteenth season of the syndicated game show Who Wants To Be a Millionaire.

Parent company Disney/ABC Home Entertainment announced last spring that Harrison would assume the role originated in prime time by Greenwich resident Regis Philbin. The former sportscaster quickly settled into his new gig—and part-time life in Stamford and Old Greenwich—with the same telegenic ease with which he’s advised and consoled dejected lovers at The Bachelor mansion for thirteen years.

When Harrison’s Millionaire season debuted in September, he hoped audiences would appreciate how the game show has been tweaked to better resemble the 2002 original that was a television phenomenon. “To be honest, the show sort of lost its way for a while, and we’ve returned to its roots,” Harrison says. “We’re trying to go back to the old-school Regis style of hosting and quite frankly, that’s my kind of hosting.”

Harrison says he’s discovered some parallels between his dual positions as reality romance host and game show rainmaker. In effect, his Millionaire job is to foster, well, a love connection between the audience and participants tapped to compete for cash by answering a series of increasingly challenging questions. “For the contestants, it’s a journey too,” Harrison says in a tongue-in-cheek reference to how The Bachelor/The Bachelorette contestants ubiquitously refer to dating twenty-five potential mates at the same time. On Millionaire, “it’s a different forum, but one of the things I’m trying to elicit [from contestants] is, what’s their story? Why should we care if they win? Regis was the godfather of this show, and I consider myself a student of his genius.”

This is Millionaire’s second year taping at the Stillwater Road CFC studios, a warehouse-style complex that’s also home to The People’s Court and HGTV’s Flea Market Flip. (Past shows include Showtime’s The Big C, the TBS sitcom Are We There Yet?, and the short-lived reboot of soaps One Life to Live and All My Children.)

Harrison notes that in his many encounters with local fans—he affectionately calls them “Bachelor Nation”—he’s surprised at how few know Millionaire tapes locally. “They are shocked we are here and I love the fact that I can invite them to come sit in our audience.”

Besides being downright hospitable, the Dallas native and amicably divorced father of two went out of his way to make his time here a family affair. He rented a “big old house” in Old Greenwich and brought along his children for much of the two months he spent taping.

“The nice part is we got to have a real summer here,” says Harrison, whose permanent base is in Los Angeles. “I’m a Texas boy who went to school in Oklahoma. I’ve never spent any real time in Connecticut—lots in New York—but we love it here,” he says.

Despite a hectic taping schedule, he got out and about. He enjoyed Alive @ Five concerts, beached it at Tod’s Point and took in the July 4 festivities at the Stanwich Club.

What did fans here want to chat about? Harrison says they’ve wanted to share their strong feelings about the messy love triangle recent bachelorette Kaitlyn Bristowe was in with final two suitors Nick Viall and Shawn Booth. (She handed her last rose to now-fiancé Booth.) “It’s a side product of the show that people feel like they know me and can tell me their opinions, and I welcome that,” he says. “It also gives me a chance to tell them about Millionaire.”

 

 

Weight a Minute

As is the case with other experienced trainers, Stamford-based Kelvin Smith often hears female clients worry about “bulking up” if they lift weights. “If that were true, the tiniest kid on the high school football team could transform himself,” he says. Truth is, weight training can obliterate fat, build lean muscle and anti-age bodies by making them taut. Still, female clients recoil at the sight of heavy metal. So we asked local experts to weigh in on the myths they would like to dispel—once and for all—about pumping iron.

MEGAN HOFFMAN
Trainer at Oxygen Fitness
New Canaan

THE MYTH:
Lifting Packs Extra Pounds
You may see the scale inch up when weight training becomes routine, but it’s
for a lean reason, Hoffman says. “You’re replacing fat with muscle, which weighs more than fat,” she says.

THE TRUTH:
Lifting Is Slimming
“You may be much smaller, inch-wise, but weigh a little more.”

HER TIP:
Ignore those numbers on the scale and use the comfortable fit of your “most intimidating, scary pair of jeans” to assess the true benefits of lifting.


AMY TILLOTSON
Trainer at Equinox
Greenwich

THE MYTH:
It’s Dangerous
Just like crossing the street, there are risks involved in attempting any fitness odality,
says Tillotson.

THE TRUTH:
It’s Good for You
The bone-protective strength built as a result of weight lifting helps to defend against injury in daily life. It can also improve performance in flexibility practices such as yoga and Pilates. “You might be surprised that strength training can help you hold your yoga poses longer,” she notes.

HER TIP:
If you’re inexperienced with weights, work with a trainer to get started and rely on a workout buddy for spotting, motivation and accountability as skills improve.


JENN O’HARA
Trainer at The Gym
Southport

THE MYTH:
Cardio Is Queen
Too many women rely on intense cardio sessions as their only workout, says O’Hara, adding that if weight loss is the goal, it’s a mistake. “A five mile run is great, but you shouldn’t be doing that cardio to the exclusion of everything else,” she says.

THE TRUTH:
Variety Is Preferable
Adding weights to your routine builds muscle that makes for a more efficient metabolism. O’Hara likens it to running a car with a bigger engine. “And that muscle burns more calories even while you’re lying on the couch watching TV,” she says.

HER TIP:
Alternate intense cardio bursts with strength-training moves to maximize results and cut down on gym time.


KELVIN SMITH
Personal Trainer
Stamford

THE MYTH:
Little Weights, Lots of Reps Is the Way to Go
Smith says the benefit of lifting lighter weights in multiple sequences is in building muscle endurance.

THE TRUTH:
Heavier Weights, Fewer Reps Is Better
To really build muscle mass that will obliterate fat and tone the body, lift weights that are so heavy you fatigue the muscles quickly.

HER TIP:
Hoist weights so heavy you are exhausted somewhere between the tenth and twelfth rep.

 

 

Close to Home

Anyone who thinks domestic violence is a problem limited to other ZIP codes simply needs to listen for the calls coming into the Greenwich YWCA’s Domestic Abuse Services hotline. The phone rings fifteen to twenty times a day, sometimes more, says Suzanne Adam, the YWCA’s director of domestic violence services. True to her point, Suzanne had to briefly interrupt our interview about Domestic Violence Awareness Month (October) to take one such urgent call.

In Greenwich, by all measures a relatively safe community, domestic violence is consistently the second most frequently reported crime, second only to larceny, according to Suzanne. She estimates that 90 to 95 percent of the approximately 6,000 people the program services annually—that’s about 10 percent of Greenwich’s population—live in town.

Yet Suzanne notes that despite its pervasiveness, spreading the word that domestic violence is an equal opportunity issue remains a challenge. “There’s a cultural bias that can contribute to the idea that it’s not really a problem here,” she says. “You have to educate people that regardless of where you are—whether it’s Bridgeport or Greenwich—this is happening in families every day.”

Suzanne explains one reason people tend to underestimate the seriousness of domestic violence is a desensitizing she associates with images engrained in the media, sports and pop culture. “We live in a world where someone like [NFL football player] Ray Rice can brutally assault his wife on camera and people still come to his defense,” she says. She also points out that victims can minimize the problem as well. “There’s a misperception that domestic violence is something that always ends with someone being black and blue. It’s much more complex. It can involve sexual violence, emotional abuse. It’s a very complicated syndrome that manifests itself in many ways.”

TO HELP SHED SOME LIGHT ON THE ISSUE OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE WE ASKED SUZANNE TO SHARE SOME KEY POINTS

1 VICTIMS ARE NOT ALONE
Domestic violence victims tend to feel isolated, vulnerable and often ashamed. But every nine seconds, a woman is assaulted by a domestic partner. “When it happens, we are here for you,” says Suzanne. The hotline is staffed twenty-four hours a day.

2 PREVENTION STARTS EARLY
The YWCA has programs for children as young as first grade that promote healthy conflict resolution. With adolescents, the focus shifts to dating violence prevention. “The key is to stop the cycle before it starts,” says Suzanne.

3 THE YWCA’S HELP IS FREE AND CONFIDENTIAL
This includes shelter options for families fleeing violent homes. “A lot of women living in these situations have deep economic fears. Where will they go? How will they take care of their kids? They feel stuck in abusive situations, but they are not aware these services are completely free,” says Suzanne, who notes the YWCA has witnessed an increase in demand for long-term shelter placements.

4 YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE
The YWCA is often looking for volunteers to help with its domestic abuse hotline, community education and prevention programs, and support services at the center. Visit the website for volunteer requirements.

5 FUNDRAISING IS CRITICAL
It takes an annual budget of $2 million to provide the YWCA’s services. One way to help is to make a donation or support the annual Old Bags luncheon, which recently celebrated its tenth anniversary. The popular event, held each spring, “literally keeps our hotline going,” says Suzanne.


Domestic violence hotline
203-622-0003; or visit ywcagreenwich.org

 

 

Pushing Forward

Last December, one of Greenwich fitness instructor Wendy Rosa’s class regulars was diagnosed with breast cancer. The diagnosis came at an especially vulnerable time for her friend. “She was just reeling from the loss of her mother to cancer and then this news came. Her whole world was turned upside down,” says Wendy.

So when the fitness expert’s friend asked for help maintaining a workout routine during treatment, Wendy jumped in to help with the boundless energy of a woman who routinely teaches fifty fitness classes a week. She took an intensive course, earning her certification in cancer fitness. Then she created a first-of-its-kind Greenwich-based fitness class for women undergoing breast cancer treatment.

At press time, Wendy’s gentle, highly customized class was being held Saturday mornings at the Greenwich YMCA. Participants include women in treatment for various stages and types of breast cancer.

While Wendy deliberately dials down the intensity for women whose energy may be zapped by chemotherapy, radiation and surgeries, she says the workout is appropriately challenging. She includes some simple Zumba choreography adding in optional light weights, core and leg work as well as calming tai chi elements. Adaptations are made for a student’s individual concerns and limitations.

“What I’m giving them is a little part of their life that they want to keep,” explains Wendy, adding that research shows breast cancer patients who make exercise part of their recovery tend to have better long-term survival rates. “And what I’m getting back is something personal too. It’s become not just for my friend, but about a little bit of positive I’m trying to put back into their world.”

For more information contact Wendy Rosa at Wendy.Lee98@gmail.com or call 403-496-1857.

How To Modify The Workout

Breast cancer patients can have a variety of fitness challenges. Here’s how wendy works around those issues.
Cardio Modified Zumba moves that are done at a pace that’s ideal for a woman fatigued by treatment. Leg and Core Work Movements done lying on the floor are less taxing, but highly effective. Optional Light Weights Can strengthen the upper body post- surgery, but students are encouraged to drop them if “they aren’t there yet.” Tai Chi Provides stretching benefits and alleviates stress and anxiety. “The idea is for this to be a feel- good experience.”

Photograph: © hidesy/istockphoto

 

In the Driver’s Seat

Above: Sophie, Stefanie and their busy kids
Photograph: Esther Horvath

Sophie Koven is one of those busy Greenwich moms whose kid-shuttling needs require a detailed flow chart. With four children ranging in age from fourteen to one, Sophie conservatively estimates she spends six hours a week driving children to various schools, activities and sports commitments.

Carpools do help, but they come with their own inherent complications: long, drawn-out text conversations about other parents’ ability (or inability) to pitch in, and the glitches that happen when one kid has lacrosse practice the same time another has last-minute choir rehearsal— inevitably on opposite sides of town.

Sophie and her friend, Stefanie Lemche, a Westport mother of two, were convinced there had to be a way to reduce all that gas-guzzling idle time spent in the school pickup line and making solo crosstown trips. “It felt silly. It felt like we shouldn’t need Excel spreadsheets or endless text sessions to figure out who could or couldn’t carpool somewhere,” says Sophie. The friends decided to create a marketable solution. Drawing on their diverse professional experience and passion for greener transportation practices, the women teamed up to create GoKid, a free downloadable smartphone app designed to eliminate some of the most common roadblocks to efficient carpooling.

GoKid’s many smart conveniences include allowing multiple parents to join a specific carpool group and block off times when they can or can’t take turns driving. Parents can even track the day’s designated driver through the app’s built-in GPS device. “So if your child’s ride is late, you can actually figure out when they’ll be in your driveway,” Sophie says.

At press time, the GoKid app was set to hit the Apple store this fall. Sophie hopes GoKid ultimately delivers more carpooling efficiency and fewer needless solo trips. “The dream is that by using it you save on gas, you save on wear and tear on your car, but maybe the biggest thing you’ll save on is time.”

 

 

Helping Hands

Before starting the first American office of London-based domestic staffing concern Angela Mortimer Ltd., Greenwich resident Stephen Candland had a decades-long career in corporate and executive recruiting.

Since becoming Angela Mortimer’s U.S. director two years ago, Candland has played a role in placing employees—everyone from nannies to personal concierges—in households in Fairfield and Westchester counties.

The recruiter notes that there are many parallels between hiring great corporate leaders and exceptional domestic talent. “Today’s [domestic employee] often takes on executive functions in the home,” he explains. “We are often looking for people who have the ability to make the way a household runs seem effortless.”

Candland recently filled us in on trends—and who’s who—in the contemporary domestic team hierarchy.

Does anyone hire a Downton Abbey-style butler or lady’s maid anymore?
They actually do. We just filled a job where the client was a retired ambassador in Georgetown. We placed a staff of four in his home, and he hired a very formal butler who is sort of his full-time personal assistant and welcomes the guests too. He packs the suitcases for travel and does anything and everything that needs to be done so this man can focus on matters he cares deeply about; things such as international diplomacy and statesmanship.

Any trends in domestic hiring that are especially popular locally?
In the Greenwich area it’s personal assistants. These are employees who can manage a family or couples’ activities, travel and schedules. They are often complementary to the housekeepers and nannies. One thing we hear often from our clients who are looking for this kind of help is that they are tired of managing the staff, the vendors, and all the various people who provide them with services. They want to enjoy their beautiful homes and their families more and worry a little less about keeping things running.

What kind of skills set you apart if you want to work for a high net worth family?
Often, it’s being able to do the job in a dedicated way. It’s not that you’re working 24/7, but sometimes you have to be available to meet needs on a moment’s notice. If the couple you’re working for is stranded in Dubai, you’ve got to be able to take that call and make the arrangements they need.

How important is discretion?
It’s the one thing about the domestic staffing business that’s really changed. In this era of technology, think about the personal violations that can happen just being tapped on a smartphone. That’s one reason why confidentiality agreements are essential. They are a part of the hiring process that can’t be overlooked.

 

 

 

Goal Oriented

Whether on or off the ice, Travis James strives for excellence

When crafting the men’s apparel line Tora, Travis James, a lifelong Cos Cob resident, obsessed (“and I mean obsessed”) over everything from the quality of his ultra-soft cottons to the stitching that allows the shoulders of his tailored T-shirts to drape just so. “For the longest time, I’ve wanted to create the simplest of garments with a flawless fit,” says James, a former professional hockey prospect, who long struggled to find casual, comfortable pieces that would hang properly on his athletically broad shoulders and tapered waist.

With prices starting at around $75 for his signature V-neck T-shirt, James hopes to make Tora the go-to brand for discerningly dapper yet laid-back guys. James spent years conceptualizing Tora’s polos, hoodies and T-shirts. “I never trained as a designer but always had a knack for it,” he says. (He designed his junior hockey goalie gear, “right down to the thread color.”)

The accidental designer, now thirty-two, was influenced by the stylish menswear that captured his attention while studying in Tokyo as a University of Vermont exchange student. “They are design masters and take their clothing and fabrics seriously,” says James. Tora, which means “tiger” in Japanese, was chosen because of the nickname James’ Japanese instructors gave him thanks to his fierce and ambitious nature.

Leaving the financial industry to bring Tora to market without the help of deep pocket investors required a lot of that ambition. He launched his label online last December while also working as an assistant coach for Greenwich High’s standout boys’ hockey team.

What do his young charges think of Tora? “Some of them appreciate the quality and colors,” says James. “But it’s not something I could really stand to see them tossing on the locker room floor. I do hope they’ll be customers in a few years.” tora.com

 

 

For The Littlest Athletes

After a winter of hibernation, young athletes are probably ready (make that itching) to get back in the game. So it’s important to prep those growing bodies for all the physical hurdles spring playing fields bring, advises

Dr. Tim Greene, an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist affiliated with ONS in Greenwich.

While high school athletes often have preseason regimens carefully prescribed by coaches and trainers, younger athletes (think ages seven to fourteen) need some sport savvy preseason prep as well. Moderation is the operative word. “It’s important to remember kids are not mini-adults. For one thing, their growth plates are still developing,” says Dr. Greene, who also notes that an epidemic of overuse injuries in younger athletes has become so serious that a national campaign was recently launched to help prevent them.


Tips For Keeping Kids Healthy And Fit

To help prevent stress injuries, shut off the Xbox and nudge them outside to play. “It doesn’t have to be anything formal, but if you just get the body moving and gradually increase activity over a period of weeks, your body will have time to adjust. You want to avoid just going full tilt ahead when you haven’t done anything for months.”

Book a preseason physical. Dr. Greene suggests making a habit of arranging annual well visits before a sport season begins. “It’s a great time to look at musculoskeletal issues that can impact [kids], and also to check the heart and lungs,” he says, noting “that undetected heart issues, which can be serious, are often overlooked in young athletes.”

Encourage your child to warm up and cool down for at least ten minutes before and after practice and games. “Kids this age never want to do it, but it’s really important because a warmed up, compliant muscle can take more load before it’s injured.”

Never push a hurt child to play. “Kids this age should never play through pain,” says Dr. Greene, who adds that doing so “only makes it harder to recover from an injury.”

 Encourage athletic versatility. “At this age, you should not be playing the same sport season after season, without a break,” he cautions. “Doing the same repetitive motions again and again is what leads to this epidemic of sports injuries we’re so concerned about.” And what if that young All Star announces he or she want to take a season off or simply try something new? “Give them that break,” says Dr. Greene. “When you force them to do it, you may just push them the other way.”

Manners Matter

The way Greenwich mother of three Suzanne Wind sees it, those all-important “little things” (think making eye contact, minding table manners and writing gracious thank- you notes) have become an imperiled art with the younger set.

When it came to raising her two sons and daughter (ages five, ten and eleven), Suzanne was determined that they use the best manners in social situations. “I’m a big believer that you learn by doing, and I wanted to teach my kids that these things set you apart,” says Suzanne. “But in our fast-paced world, it’s so hard to get kids to even look up from their screens.”

So she began to dream up creative ways to get her own clan to practice living a well-mannered life. Her inventive home-etiquette lessons, which she often structured around entertaining games and challenges, eventually evolved into The Smart Playbook, her 2014 activity book targeted to children ages six to twelve. The former marketing executive’s approach to teaching simple social graces keeps manners-practice playful, rewarding kids with small tickets for completing tasks like executing a handshake. “So, after completing several challenges successfully, you might earn thirty tickets you can exchange for a meal at your favorite restaurant,” she explains.

Since it was published last year, Suzanne’s book has won several awards, and her appearances on Fox’s Good Day New York, WCBS radio and Yahoo.com’s Voices have sealed her reputation as an expert on cultivating kids’ manners. She hopes to eventually repeat her success with a follow-up project for teens.

Suzanne shared some tips on introducing much-needed etiquette essentials to youngsters.

Master Small Talk

Even preschoolers should be encouraged to make eye contact with new acquaintances and use names when greeting new people. “Looking someone in the eye can be difficult if your child is shy, so do it little by little,” suggests Suzanne.  Start by encouraging them to say hello instead of burying their face in your shoulder.

Offer Compliments

“I think it’s important for kids to express something great about everyone they meet,” she says. In workshops that Suzanne hosts for local community groups, she introduces the concept by having kids exchange crayon self-portraits, encouraging them to say something nice about the artwork.

Restaurant Smarts

Besides teaching children to chew with closed mouths, focus on the intricacies of utensil manipulation. “A lot of kids just grab them,” says Suzanne.  “Also have them hand over their cell phones and tablets. As tempting as it is to give them technology to keep them quiet, kids have to learn to interact in a way that’s considerate of those around them.”

Techno Tact

“One of the most important things you can teach your kids is that whatever you say [on social media] is public. So the rule is if you wouldn’t say it in person, face-to-face, you shouldn’t put it out there.”

Giving Thanks

Handmade drawings and cards for coaches and teachers are a great way to introduce the practice of writing thank-you notes. For general notes she says email is okay. “But make it special. Have your child take a picture wearing the sweater they received and attach it to the email.”


TheSmartPlaybook.com

 

Tuning In

Wendy Sloane began her career working behind the scenes for legendary talk show host Phil Donahue. She went on to produce television and radio programs for Geraldo Rivera and Danny Bonaduce (of Partridge Family fame) before taking time off to raise her two children, now in their teens.

Five years ago, WGCH gave the effervescent host a local base for her “dream job”—producing and hosting What’s Up with Wendy. Her now nationally syndicated radio talk show deftly mixes celebrity interviews with hot, newsy topics. Catch her engaging banter on WGCH on Fridays at 11 a.m.

As Wendy prepared to celebrate her show’s fifth anniversary and WGCH’s fiftieth year on the air, we caught up with her.


You’ve had quite the career, beginning with The Phil Donahue Show.

Back then there was no Oprah. It was Phil. He had a great crew and I felt so lucky to be part of it. And as a boss, he was generous and beyond. I remember he took us to Disney on the Donahue plane. My job was the greatest job anyone could have because I did the [audience] warm up. I still ask myself how did it happen?

Why launch What’s Up with Wendy in Greenwich?

I didn’t want to have that crazy life in New York. I wanted to get my kids off the bus. One night five years ago, I was out to dinner with a bunch of girlfriends. There was a guy there who used to own WGCH. We talked and I told him my idea to have my own show. He hooked me up with Jeff Weber [the station’s consulting operations manager] and we went back and forth. And then it was, “Can you go on in two weeks?” I had no guests, no plan. I listen to that first show and I cringe. There was a lot of dead air.

Now, it’s been five years. I think it works because I do celebrities and news stories. That mix is in my blood.

Celebrities on a press junket can be tough interviews. How do you keep it interesting?

I like to ask for the first available time slot. If I’m the first interview of their day, they’re not burnt out. I try to make it as light as possible. And what I hear back is that I’m energetic and upbeat, it’s a good experience. I had Stacy Keibler on and they said, “Don’t talk about George Clooney.” I respected that she’s moved on and didn’t want to go there. With that approach, I’ve never had a guest be rude. Sometimes, I even end up being friendly with them. Monica Potter [Parenthood ] has been back on my show six times.

You have two teenagers. What bookings would impress them?

My daughter said, “Please get [YouTube celebrity] Bethany Mota.” She was having a meet up with her fans in Danbury and I called and they said, “She doesn’t do interviews.” But I said, “Oh c’mon, please, it’s just a local radio show.” [Bethany] was great. My son loves sports and I had [New York Yankees’ pitcher] CC Sabathia on. That was pretty cool for a kid who loves sports.

 

White Glove Goes Tech

These days the latest must-have designer handbag or bespoke suit can be as valuable as a museum-quality objet d’art. So why not treat these closet acquisitions with the archival respect a fine collectible deserves?

When it comes to maintaining luxury wardrobes to the absolute highest standards, Concierge Greenwich has got you covered. The multitasking personal assistance consultancy recently partnered with Garde Robe, to offer its unique Cyber Closet management services. The white glove service will photograph, catalogue and store your apparel, providing you 24/7 cyber access to all of the items in Garde Robe’s care—no matter where in the world you are. In Milan and forgot your Birkin bag? No problem. The folks at Garde Robe will have it on the next plane. They will also pack and ship your luggage and help you transition closets for the seasons.

Speaking of impeccable storage, Concierge Greenwich also has its clients’ security in mind when it comes to accessing and protecting their confidential wealth data too. It recently formed another strategic alliance with Summitas, which specializes in offering state-of-the-art encrypted communications portals. The service allows families to confidentially share spreadsheets (and other private matters) even if the clan is spread out. “Our company is continually on the lookout for unique proprietary services that we believe will be valuable to and enhance the lifestyle management of our clients,” says Carol Goldstone, managing director of Concierge Greenwich.


Concierge Greenwich

203-883-1490

Slam Dunk

The next generation of NBA stars just moved their court a little closer. the Westchester Knicks, a developmental team affiliated with the NBA’s New York Knicks, recently tipped off its inaugural season at a new home, the Westchester County Center in White Plains.

Leading the charge as general manager is Greenwich resident Allan Houston, a former New York Knicks player, two-time NBA All-Star and current assistant general manager for the New York Knicks. The new D-league affiliate features a mix of young NBA prospects, professionals experienced on the European playing circuits as well as some former NBA players.

“I look forward to seeing whole families enjoy it,” says Houston, who predicts the relatively small environment at the WCC (as compared to its parent team’s Madison Square Garden home) will offer fans a more intimate, affordable game experience. “When you are that closeup I think people will be amazed by the level of the intensity, the energy, the athleticism involved at this level of professional sports. One of our goals is to provide a style of play that people enjoy watching and has a great entertainment value.”

Speaking of family fun, the father of seven says it’s very likely his own kids will get in on the action. “It’s going to be a little easier to bring them to White Plains than the Garden on a school night.”

New You

If a new you—or just a refreshed version—is on the agenda for the new year, a visit to a medi-spa may be just what the doctor ordered. And you can expect the doctor to be on the premises, since these clinical hybrids combine the relaxing ambience of a day spa with the aesthetic acumen of expert practitioners.

Here are six buzzed-about procedures locals are trying at the area’s top locations.


Westport Medi-Spa

This chic clinic overlooking a pretty pond has serene written all over it, but the focus is on cosmetic innovations. Dr. Dana Brownell delivers treatments.

Neo-graft

It’s a novel take on hair transplantation. Individual hair follicles are extracted from the back of the head and placed at the front of the scalp or on the brow. Success rates are as high as 98 percent. “It’s transformative, particularly for over-plucked and thinning brows” says Dr. Brownell.

HydraFacial MD

For fast and painless skin therapy, try this state-of-the-art procedure that delivers medical-grade exfoliation and saturates skin with antiaging treatments.

Fraxel

Dr. Brownell gets many requests for this intense laser therapy because it doesn’t just refresh the skin, it transforms it. It’s a wonderful way to address hyperpigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles, and it can take years off your skin with very little downtime.


Greenwich Medical Skincare & Laser Spa

This spa recently had its own facelift, relocating to a 2,500-square-foot facility at Riverside Commons. Under the supervision of Dr. Mitchell Ross, a board certified dermatologist, the emphasis is on personalized therapies that are safe and effective, says owner Marria Pooya.

Collagenation Therapy

This antiaging treatment involves a specialized device that gently pricks the skin to prep it for a deep infusion of treatments. “It’s safe for all skin types and great for tightening and reducing fine lines and wrinkles,” says Marria.

Ultherapy

This ultra-sound-based skin tightening procedure counteracts time and gravity as it gives sagging skin a visible lift after just one treatment. “It’s the closest thing I’ve seen to a facelift without having one,” says Marria. Tip: Try it for the décolletage, too.


Versailles Medical Spa

This Darien clinic evokes a welcoming European ambience and offers aesthetic treatments under the supervision of Dr. Denis Bouboulis. “People want non-invasive procedures that really work,” says founder Marie Saade. “Whether it’s dermal fillers or laser treatments, we have many options today that offer results.”

CoolSculpting

This fat-zapping therapy, which involves no downtime, is perfect for candidates with stubborn trouble spots (think love handles, belly and thighs) that don’t always respond to diet and exercise. The procedure is so, well, chill that some patients even text during treatment. “It’s the most effective fat removal procedure I’ve seen that doesn’t involve surgery,” says Marie. “And the results are impressive.”