Fashion show marks 50 years of ‘FUNdraising’

Some things come full circle. When the Wilton Woman’s Club was founded 50 years ago, one of its first acts was working to help clean up the Norwalk River.

When it presents its 50th anniversary Fashion Show and FUNdraiser on Friday, April 1, all proceeds will go to support the Wilton section of the Norwalk River Valley Trail (NRVT). The show will take place from 11 to 1:30 at Rolling Hills Country Club on Hurlbutt Street.

The club had its first meeting on May 13, 1966, at Wilton Congregational Church. Each member invited four guests to tea and the group embarked on 50 years of service to the town under its first president, Betty Sternad.

Over the years, club members involved themselves in many projects, including:

  • Supporting the development of Merwin Meadows Park.

  • Helping develop the town’s first bicycle path.

  • Creating maps as a Guide to Wilton’s Parks.

  • Helping clear trails at Woodcock Nature Center.

  • Taking on an Adopt-A-Spot in Wilton Center.

  • Undertaking clothing drives.

  • Providing student scholarships.

  • Driving seniors to medical appointments through the FISH program.

  • Organizing bingo games and lunches for seniors.

  • Supporting Wilton Social Services.

  • Sponsoring blood drives.

  • Preparing and delivering holiday meals for the homebound.

The club’s efforts were recognized when it was honored with a Distinguished Citizen Award in 2004, which was accepted by Sternad and Ellen Esseman.

But through all the years, the fashion show has been a mainstay of the club’s fund-raising efforts, and each year it chooses three beneficiaries. This year it broke with tradition with the sole selection of the NRVT.

In keeping with the theme of the NRVT, the show will feature fashions for the active woman, with selections from Outdoor Sports of Wilton and Jade Active.Life.Style of New Canaan.

“We are highlighting fashions that are for a woman’s active daily lifestyle, going from morning to evening,” said club member Dianne deWitt, who is coordinating the fashion lineup with the shops. From hiking to running and yoga class as well as fashions that are appropriate for women in the office, the show will include casual wear as well as dresses that can take you from morning to evening.

The fashions will be for all ages, all sizes and all lifestyles.

As for colors, DeWitt said attendees will see lots of blues, including turquoise, powder blue, and navy, shocking pink, vivid prints, and soft purples like lavender and desert rose with pops of color in quilted vests, tops, accessories, and shoes.

“Lighter fabrics for layering and fun color combinations round out the trends for spring-summer 2016,” she said.

Silent auction

The show will also feature a vast silent auction with an array of items on which to bid, including a European river cruise, a four-night trip for two to Curacao with lodging from the Santa Barbara Beach and Golf Resort and airfare from JetBlue, a Cannondale Catalyst 3 mountain bike plus clothes and accessories from Dorel Sports, an original painting from Maya Boreen, and more. Details about the auction items are available at .

Boreen’s painting is of a section of the trail. A member of the club, she donates a painting each year to the silent auction. This painting was executed specifically for the show.

“I was thrilled the funds were going to the trail,” she said. “I use it, I live nearby, I love it.” Sometimes it’s difficult to decide what painting to offer the club each year, but this year it was easy, she said.

“I went in early February and took some photos after a beautiful snowstorm and thought I’d do a painting of this.”

She hasn’t done any other paintings of the trail — yet. “I didn’t start walking it until the fall. I didn’t realize how great it was,” she said. “I thought it was like the Town Forest with a lot of roots.” Then her daughter came home for a visit, and being a runner, she took to the trail and reported back to her mother. “She said it was fantastic.”

The painting is of a spot on the path toward Orem’s Diner from Sharp Hill. Acrylic on canvas executed with palette knives, it is framed and measures 18 by 20 inches. It is posted on (search for Maya Boreen) and on the artist’s Facebook page.

Through, anyone interested may get the painting as a framed print, on note cards, on T-shirts, and in many other forms. That option will be available at the silent auction.

For future fund raising, Boreen is considering a series of paintings of different parts of the trail during different seasons.

The Fashion Show and FUNdraiser will be catered by Rolling Hills and includes a cash bar. To register, to advertise in the event program, or  simply for more information, visit

The trail

The Norwalk River Valley Trail is planned as a 38-mile network of trails from Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk to Rogers Park in Danbury, passing through Wilton, Redding and Ridgefield.

When it came to picking a beneficiary, club co-president Donna Sargeantson said it was an easy choice. Members wanted it to have some bearing on what the club has been doing the past 50 years and they wanted it to have a “tangible and evident impact on the Wilton community, specifically,” said Sargeanston, who shares the co-president office with Stacy Crameri.

“We knew it was an issue we wanted to be part of,” she said of the trail. “It’s a perfect fit for us. It fits our long-term interests and is quite tangible in terms of its impact on the community.” By supporting it, club members also thought they could widen knowledge of the trail throughout the community.

It is the sole beneficiary this year because “we felt if we could donate all the proceeds it would have a more immediate and tangible effect,” Sargeantson said.

Much has been accomplished along the trail in Wilton, with 1.5 miles of the eastern portion of the eight-mile Wilton Loop completed. The loop extends from the Wolfpit Road area to Cannondale. This year, the Wilton committee is looking to install 300 feet of boardwalk over wetlands from the trail’s current terminus to Twin Oak Lane that could be used as an educational platform by science teachers. The plan is to complete another half-mile to Skunk Lane, and there are also plans to build a short section along Wolfpit Road at Horseshoe Pond.

The trail, which is ADA-compliant, has always been envisioned as a means for people of all ages to have increased access to outdoor recreation, be they walkers, runners, bicyclists, or simply out socializing with family and friends.