More than 200 women put their “best foot forward” Friday, April 1, for the Wilton Woman’s Club’s 50th Anniversary Fashion Show and FUNdraiser that benefited the Wilton section of the Norwalk River Valley Trail (NRVT).
Aptly named, Best Foot Forward included a luncheon, vast silent auction, raffle, and fashion show. By the end of it all, the club had raised more than $30,000 for the trail.
“We are honored that the woman’s club looked at NRVT as a community resource,” Pat Sesto said on Friday. Sesto, formerly director of Wilton Environmental Affairs who now works in Greenwich, has spearheaded the trail’s development since its inception. “Of all the options they could have chosen, this has enough broad appeal” for the club to embrace it.
Surveying the ballroom at Rolling Hills Country Club that was filled, she added, “we are wildly impressed with their ability” to raise funds.
The club’s gift will ensure the trail meets its immediate financial goal to build a 200-foot boardwalk that will take the newest section of trail to Twin Oaks Lane, she said.
In addition to money, the NRVT is actively seeking new volunteers to serve on its steering committee or any of its subcommittees and help implement the trail’s design.
“There has been some attrition and we need new blood,” Sesto said. “It’s too much for the remaining volunteers.” Anyone interested in becoming a more long-term volunteer is asked to email email@example.com.
“The Wilton Woman’s Club is a major player in philanthropy in Wilton,” First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice told the audience. “We’re thrilled you’ve chosen the NRVT [to support]. From the first day it opened, it has been a huge asset to the community.”
While the trail has been supported by private donations, Vanderslice said the town has contributed labor “and we’re happy to do that.”
“The other beauty of this trail is it has really opened up the Norwalk River,” she said, adding there is an initiative to clear invasive plants along River Road to open up the area. A plan is in place to bring the trail to Schenck’s Island.
Among the items up for bid in the silent auction were a Catalyst 3 Cannondale bicycle and accessories donated by Dorel; a personalized summer beach bag, towel and hat from Signature Style; an afternoon sailboat cruise donated by Michael Lindberg; a poncho and glass-cut necklace from Snappy Gator and Dianne deWitt; a 14K gold necklace from Wilton Jewelers; an ice cream party from College Creamery; Bobbi Brown sunglasses from Wilton Family Eye Care; clothing from Outdoor Sports; a one-month membership to Anytime Fitness; a photo session with Peggy Garbus; dinner at Barcelona Wine Bar and Restaurant; four nights at a resort in Curacao; and a Rhine River cruise for two from Tauck Tours.
Front and center was a painting of the trail by Maya Boreen. Unsuccessful bidders — and there were many bids — as well as anyone else may still purchase it as a print, greeting card, throw pillow, tote bag, or shower curtain through fineartamerica.com. (Search Norwalk River Valley Trail.) Any sales will be applied to the fund-raiser.
Fashions for the show were provided by Outdoor Sports Center of Wilton and Jade of New Canaan.
The Wilton Woman’s Club draws members for many reasons, but community service is what drew Joan McCullough and Suzy Curtice. A member for several years, Curtice said the service aspect appealed to her.
“It was a way to get involved as part of an organization,” she said, “which seems more impactful and fun.”
McCullough said she joined mostly to meet other women but “loves the philanthropy.” She is on the food bank committee, which stocks the Wilton Interfaith Food Pantry each week.
“We do a lot with Person to Person, too,” said Curtice, with McCullough adding, “All we do is community service. This is not a social group.”
Club co-president Donna Sargeantson echoed that sentiment when she told the audience, “Every individual can make a difference. Every one of you has made a difference and is an asset to our town.”