Ridgefield Family are Advocates for Ann's Place

Thirteen-year-old Ridgefield resident Kiralyse Hermann and her mom Ann visited Ann's Place with an interest to help raise awareness within the Ridgefield community and elsewhere. Following their first visit, the family had committed not only Kiralyse to volunteer, but her brother as well for future events!

Kiralyse's first efforts which, involved going door-to-door in her neighborhood and hosting an information/donation table at a community concert in Ridgefield Ballard Park, resulted in more than $300 in donations to Ann's Place! Kiralyse and her friends also sold necklaces at the concert, the proceeds of which will be donated to Ann's Place (these were designed and made expressly for Ann's Place by Pamela Petruzzelli of Danbury, CT).

Many thanks to Kiralyse and her family for their help to ensure that Ann's Place continues to provide its cancer support services to the organization's more than 1,050 clients and their families.

Kiralyse Hermann (left) and friends host an information/donation table at a community concert in Ridgefield's Ballard Park.

Ridgefield Bicycle Sports Club Hosts a Thirsty Thursday Meet at Ann's Place

On Thursday, July 21st, The Ridgefield Bicycle Sports Club hosted one of its weekly "Thirsty Thursday" meet up and cycling at Ann's Place to help promote the organization's cancer support services. More than 60 riders attended the event, which included a scenic bicycle route followed by food and drinks at Ann's Place where Ann's Place staff members provided brief presentations about services. The event also included tours of the facilities.

The 21st Annual Ladies Golf Classic: A Hole-in-One for Ann’s Place and One Lucky Golfer

Ridgefield's HamletHub - On June 27th Ann’s Place hosted the 21st annual Ladies Golf Classic at Richter Park in Danbury to a sold out field of golfers. As an added bonus to the day’s success, Sharon Bodner of Ridgefield was the winner of a brand new convertible, courtesy of Ingersoll Auto of Danbury, after landing a lucky hole-in-one at the 17th hole. In keeping with the spirit of the event, and in lieu of the tradition of buying a round of drinks to fellow golfers, Ms. Bodner made a generous personal donation to Ann’s Place.

Many Ann’s Place volunteers dedicate many hours of personal time throughout the year to ensure the event’s success. “The entire planning committee was so excited about the success of the Ann’s Place 2016 Ladies Golf Classic. The day was picture perfect and we had 34 foursomes of golfers,” said Betty Hensal, member of the Ladies Golf Classic Committee and an Ann’s Place Board member. “We also appreciated the support of the community as we had many advertisers in our tournament booklet, outstanding raffle prize donations, silent auction items, and numerous tee sign advertisers. All of the golfers loved playing golf at Richter Park while supporting Ann’s Place. It was a very special day!”

Money raised through the event will further Ann’s Place mission of providing comfort and support to individuals living with cancer, and their families. The organization’s services include individual counseling, support groups, wellness activities, referrals to community resources, and educational programs

About The 2016 Ladies Golf Classic
On June 27th Ann’s Place held the 21st annual Ladies Golf Classic, hosting 34 foursomes at Richter Park in Danbury. Major sponsors were Paul Dinto Electrical Contractors, Inc., Union Savings Bank, Susan DeSanto, Donald & Helen LaJoie, Cartus, Fairfield County Bank, Robert Giampe, Wilda Hayes & Ron Olsen, Camastro Family Initiative, and Hole-in-One Sponsor, Ingersoll Auto of Danbury.

About Ann’s Place
Celebrating 25 years in the community, Ann’s Place is a non-profit agency serving Connecticut and the lower Hudson Valley that offers counseling, support groups, wellness activities, referrals to community resources, and educational programs, to individuals living with cancer, and their families – all at no charge. Whether you are living with cancer or love someone with cancer, we invite you to reach out to us to find strength, hope, understanding, and community.

For more information, contact David Deschenes at david@annsplace.org, visit annsplace.org or follow Ann’s Place on Facebook.

Remembering Our Friend Ervie (Bud) Hawley, Jr.

Danbury has lost a giant who leaves an indelible footprint on our community with the passing of Ervie “Bud” Hawley, Jr.  For all his decades as a visionary land development entrepreneur, quiet philanthropist and community leader, Bud remained the modest husband and great grandfather who put family first. 

Bud and his wife Carolyn have been great friends to Ann’s Place.  In addition to their other philanthropies, Bud helped pioneer the Ann Olsen Greater Danbury Golf Classic in 1990.  As our champion fundraiser on the golf board, Bud served as Honorary Classic Chairman in 1994 and continued his involvement every year.  So essential was Bud to the Classic’s success, its perpetual winners’ trophy became the coveted Hawley Cup awarded each September at Ridgewood Country Club.  The Cup is a lasting tribute to the quiet man who inspired it with his advocacy for the compassionate services at Ann’s Place.

A Danbury native and Army veteran, Bud Hawley ran a milk delivery business, then had the vision to anticipate city growth and create a modern residential housing development in 1953, followed by a brilliant commercial development career.  All four of Carolyn and Bud Hawley’s children (Gary, Nancy Hawley Hamilton, Barbara Hawley Kiselak, and David) grew up in the family business, with Gary and David continuing on that career path and now leading the Hawley Construction and the Hawley Management Companies.  Over time, the Hawley Companies’ investments in the Greater Danbury community created thousands of jobs and millions of tax dollars to better serve our growing population.  

Bud Hawley was a past recipient of the Robert S. Young Humanitarian Award, the City of Danbury Cecil J. Previdi Award, the Junior Achievement’s Free Enterprise Hall of Fame Award, and the Lions Club Melvin Jones Fellow Award. 
Mr. Hawley was a Trustee for the Regional YMCA, a Danbury Lion, and on the Ann Olsen Golf Classic Board.  He was a former Corporator and Trustee of Union Savings Bank, a past Director of the Business Systems, Inc. subsidiary of Danbury Hospital, and a past Director of the Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce.  

Ann’s Place joins countless others in remembering Bud fondly and extending condolences to Mrs. Hawley and her family.

Photo courtesy of Mike Duffy

Welcoming Don Weber to the Board of Ann's Place

Don Weber
Retired Financial Professional

Donald Weber is a retired financial professional living in Ridgefield, CT.  After earning his B.A. and M.B.A from Rutgers College and Rutgers Graduate School of Business respectively, Donald embarked on a long career which included ten years experience with Coopers & Lybrand (now PriceWaterhouseCoopers and 26 years with the Xerox Corporation in a finance function.  At Xerox his positions included Assistant Corporate Controller and Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Developing Markets Operations, a $2 Billion revenue international operating group, responsibilities included finance, business strategy, manufacturing, supply chain and market access strategy. Since retirement Donald has been active in his community.  He has served in a volunteer capacity at several area organizations as well as a Treasurer and Board Member at the Untied Jewish Center, a Finance Committee member for the Temple B’nai Chaim.

Welcoming Alice Hyman to the Board of Ann's Place

Alice Hyman
Practice Manager, Advanced DermCare, Danbury

Alice Hyman has enjoyed a long career in the field of Medical Administration at various medical practices in Danbury and is currently the practice manager at Advanced DermCare, Danbury.  Alice is active in her community and has held several elected or appointed positions which include membership on the Danbury Board of Education, the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education, The Board of Trustees for the Wooster School, the City of Danbury Planning Commission, and as an Incorporator at Union Savings Bank.  Additionally, Alice has held leadership positions at many area social service organizations.  Alice has been recognized by the National Association of Dermatology Administrators/Managers as the 2015 Practice Manager of the Year and has been the recipient of the United Nations Woman of the Year Award, the United Way of Northern Fairfield Country, Peter T. White Award, and the National Coalition of 100 Black Women Leadership Award.  Alice resides in Danbury with her husband Samuel and has two daughters Stacy and Christie.

Healthy Eating Potluck Resumes with Drum Circle

The first Healthy Eating Pot Luck of the season was held in March and included a dozen people with an amazing array of dishes to share….from fresh salads and appetizers to well-seasoned main courses to vegan chocolate ice cream and anti-oxidant rich dark chocolate with pomegranate seeds!  We feasted, enjoying each other’s company as well as the discussion led by Joe Gillotti.  


The pot luck was followed by an enlivening Drum Circle led by Jerry Gay and Tracy Yoho.  As we gathered around the drums we were instructed in various techniques, and were led in several different rhythms which filled the room with joy and a sense of calm.  The sense of community, laughter, and shared experiences made this a wonderful way to spend some time on a Saturday!

First Spanish Speaking Support Group

Ann’s Place is excited to announce a great kick off to the Spanish Speaking Support Group in March 2016! The Spanish Speaking Support Group takes place the third Tuesday of every month at the Danbury Library; it is led by Bilingual Clinical Social Worker Candy Murias, LMSW.

Peggy O’Shea has volunteered to join the April meeting, on Tuesday April 19th, 2016. Attendees can look forward to a wonderful night discussing wellness techniques, and a holistic approach to better health. Ann's Place is excited to continue to grow the Health Equity Program by providing more services to meet our clients' needs!

Dr. Bob Cooper Speaks at Supervision

The clinical team, including the onsite staff, facilitators and wellness providers were fortunate to have Dr. Bob Cooper speak at our March supervision meeting.  Dr. Cooper is a recently retired oncologist from Praxair Cancer Center, a long time board member and was instrumental in the founding of Ann’s Place. He spoke about Immunotherapy, one of the promising new cancer treatments which helps our immune system identify and fight cancer cells.  We are so grateful for Dr. Cooper’s presence with us and his willingness to share his knowledge and expertise.

Do Plants Have Feelings?

Words by: Erik Keller

When I tell people I am a horticultural therapist I often get a puzzled look, and I can only imagine what people must think: 

“Is he a plant whisperer?” 

“Do plants have feelings?”

“Can’t he get a normal job?”

While all of those responses are fair, many are surprised when I tell them that horticultural therapy (HT) is a discipline that is over 200 years old that uses plants and nature-based therapies to help people get better.  At Ann’s Place we have designed the gardens with this in mind so that we can stimulate and help heal the cognitive, social, emotional and physical challenges our clients face.

The gardens range from a shade grotto, heavily planted with sweet woodruff as a ground cover, ferns and astilbes, to a therapeutic labyrinth fronting over 6000 planted daffodil bulbs. Nature trails lead clients around and through the property so they can experience and see a wide diversity of plants. One of the most favorite gardens is our herb garden and accompanying mint walk. The mint walk contains over a dozen different mint types and the herb garden is split into three sections: kitchen, tea, and medicinal. 

Our gardens are an essential part of our horticultural therapy program, which runs once a month. In the program we run a wide variety of activities ranging from flower pounding to vinegar making to sachet creation. Flower pounding is one of the most popular with first-timers a bit incredulous that the task at hand is to take a hammer and pound a flower with it. (Yes, that is why it is called flower pounding.) But rather than get a mere mush of vegetation, with a little care and practice, clients are able to extract artwork from a collage of flowers whose images are realistically transferred to the paper they are using.

It has also been known to expel a frustration or two in the process.

Key to our HT program is surprising clients with unusual plants or crafts that they have never experienced before.  One of the more fun activities in late spring is the creation of a wild salad from greens that are growing at Ann’s Place, my yard, or nearby woods. Everyone is surprised how succulent and sweet “weeds” can be. 

Though I have been practicing HT for well over a decade it was only when my father had contracted lung cancer that its healing powers demonstrated themselves to me dramatically. He was undergoing chemotherapy and my mother needed a break from being with him so we took a small side trip to a local nursery. Once we entered a greenhouse at the nursery, my mother’s stress and unhappiness evaporated. She was hit with a waft of highly oxygenated, humid air. She came across a group of scented geraniums and I had her “scratch and sniff” each one. “This smells like mint. . .this one chocolate.” And so for about 20 minutes or so, she was able to immerse herself into a beautiful, peaceful environment forgetting her troubles for a time.

This is what we attempt to do in our HT classes: Bring our clients to a better place showing them the beauty and majesty of nature in ways they may have never experienced before.

This coming month we will be creating sundials that will be designed and calibrated for the Danbury area. Most people don’t realize this, but the geometry of a sundial is highly dependent upon location, which is why most sundials you buy never are even close to telling time properly.

This is one of many different nature based experiences that we share with our clients at Ann’s Place. I hope to see some of you join me in the coming months.

Writing & Drawing Workshop

Ann’s Place had the pleasure of hosting a Writing and Art workshop in January led by teacher and writer, Joe Lambert.  Joe lead the participants through several writing exercises that helped clients creatively express their life experiences including each one’s journey with cancer.  This was a wonderful addition to the robust array of wellness programs already offered at Ann’s Place.  We look forward to continuing this program with a five week series starting in March which will cover many types of writing- poetry, non-fiction, memoirs and character development.  

Coldwell Banker Cares

Above: Scott Cooney & Marie Borner of Coldwell Banker, Anthony Zeolla, CPA, President of Ann's Place

Above: Scott Cooney & Marie Borner of Coldwell Banker, Anthony Zeolla, CPA, President of Ann's Place

Marie Borner and Scott Cooney of Coldwell Banker presented Ann's Place with a check for $962 on January 13. Coldwell Banker Cares is a program in which local real estate agents donate a small portion of commission to go to a charity.  This year they chose Ann's Place.

Marie Borner is a dedicated Ann's Place volunteer and has worked on Festival of Trees since its debut 13 years ago.

Parent-Child Art

Parents and children had the unique opportunity to spend some quality time working on an art project over Christmas break.  There were 14 parents and children who are impacted by cancer who came together on December 30 to create something special.  The ages of children spanned from 7 to 16 years old and a great time was had by all.  All participants felt it was a true gift to be able to spend time away from the stresses and challenges of daily life doing something fun and meaningful.  The class was lead by our talented art teacher, Nancy Chapman. 


An Update on Wellness with Peggy O'Shea

In January 19, Ann’s Place was excited to welcome Peggy O’Shea, RN, as a guest speaker once again. The event, An Update on Wellness Practices, was hosted by our three breast cancer support groups and was open to all.

Peggy is a holistic practitioner and the Clinical Leader of the Complementary Medicine Program at Danbury Hospital. She has studied complementary medicine for decades, and has been trained in many different modalities.

Peggy’s background means that she is grounded in Western medicine, yet has a curiosity and openness to healing practices from many different traditions.  It is always a delight to hear Peggy speak as we hear a variety of practices that have proven helpful for many.

Introducing ClientTrack

Supporting our existing and expanding community is of the upmost importance to us here at Ann’s Place.  We’ve been working hard for the past several months thinking of ways to use technology to give our clients the best experience possible at Ann’s Place.  And now, we are excited to introduce our new client support software - ClientTrack!

The clients of Ann’s Place can look forward to online registration for clinical programs and activities.  This new system, which is quickly wrapping up development, will lead to a better and faster activity sign up experience at home and in the building - as well as improved insight about how we can better serve our clients. 

It will put the ownership of our clients’ wellness plans directly in to their hands; by giving them access to the portal anywhere and on any device that has access to the internet. ClientTrack will serve to provide an opportunity to strengthen client-clinician relationships, a better way to explore all the services that Ann’s Place offers, and a chance to create even more personalized service. 

Barnes & Noble Holiday Gift-Wrapping

Volunteers Betty Brown and  Michelle Frosch    

Volunteers Betty Brown and Michelle Frosch


In December 2015, 64 volunteers from Ann’s Place wrapped books and gifts at Barnes and Noble in Danbury at the annual Gift Wrapping Fundraiser. 

Thank you to all the volunteers who gave up their time during the busy holidays to wrap gifts, and to represent Ann’s Place with such dedication, fun and enthusiasm.  Thank you to Barnes and Noble for allowing Ann’s Place volunteers to be there once again this year.  And thank you to all the customers for all of your donations and generosity.  All of this in the spirit of giving, and giving back.  

Service Spotlight: Joe Gilotti

Joe Gilotti

Joe Gilotti

Joe started the first Hatha Yoga class in October 1997, when Ann's Place was located in Peacock Alley.  The Tuesday night Hatha Yoga class is still active today, additionally Joe now offers a Chair Yoga class (more suitable for seniors) on Fridays. Additionally he helped form the men's prostate cancer group in 1998.

Joe is a certified Integral Yoga Teacher.  He has been teaching Hatha Yoga (Bodily Postures) and Raja Yoga (Yogic Philosophy) since the early seventies.  His teaching experience includes a wide variety of volunteer classes, including those for mentally challenged adults, classes at Regional Hospice, and classes for both male and female inmates in the State and Federal Prison System.  Joe has also taught yoga to young people of all ages up through the college level and several Adult Education Programs in the greater Danbury area.   Through the years he has been invited to speak on the topics of Hatha Yoga (Yoga postures), Raja Yoga (Yoga Philosophy), Laughter Yoga and Yoga for stress management. 

Joe's Yoga teaching philosophy is a simple combination of slow, steady, stress less and comfortable Hatha Yoga Poses, breath control, laughter yoga, deep relaxation and meditation practices.  All of these yoga techniques, practiced over time, are designed to help people expand their practice, to build strength and steadiness, and to feel rejuvenated and calm.  After learning these yoga practices, people are in a much better position to make comfortable positive lifestyle changes.  When practiced sincerely, these yoga movements will help the practitioner change the way they think and feel, and help them move forward to maintain their natural condition of a healthier body. Finally, by practicing these movements, a person will eventually translate into getting control over, and creating, a much more peaceful mind.

Healing Hearts of Newtown

Ann’s Place is so grateful to be the recipients of 50 Hearts of Hope, created for our clients by a kindergarten class from Newtown, CT.  Hearts of Hope are beautiful hand painted ceramic hearts which are offered as “a token of caring and compassion”.  We are so grateful that these gifts were given to Ann’s Place and we hope that those who painted them feel a special sense of fulfillment, knowing that these hearts will lift the spirits of many.