Courtesy Shoreline Times as reported by
Sarah Page Kyrcz
July 26, 2021
WESTBROOK — Yellow picnic tables, complete with multi-colored umbrellas, and planters filled with flowers will soon enhance the round, brick patio at the Westbrook Senior Center.
As part of his endeavor to earn his Eagle Scout ranking, Ethan Franco, a Life Scout from Boy Scouts of America Troop #38, has stepped forward to lead the project.
The Westbrook Garden Club has volunteered to fill the planters with flowers.
Franco estimates the project will total $2,500 and is seeking donations.
While Franco, 15, currently lives in Wethersfield, he lived in Westbrook until two years ago and his whole family called it home for years. His mom, Cari Montano, graduated from Westbrook High School in 1993.
“He wanted to do his project in the town that he started (Boy Scouts),” says Montano.
The idea for the project came about as the town considered how to safely reopen the center, located in the basement of the town hall, post COVID.
“When we were getting ready to reopen, after being closed for 14 months, the state was initially saying senior citizen programs should be outside,” says Courtney Burks, director of the senior center.
With no designated space to gather, the plan was put in place to redesign the patio to make it comfortable and accessible to the senior citizens.
Franco explains that there will be two handicapped accessible picnic tables, with three benches and a space to park a wheelchair. They are Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant.
The square picnic tables will arrive in pieces and be assembled by Franco, with assistance from his fellow troops members, his mother, Cari Montano and his grandparents, Al and Bev Johnson.
He chose a coated metal picnic table because “it lasts longer and it’s easier to clean.”
Everyone involved with the project is excited to see it completed so that the seniors can enjoy the space.
“It makes me feel amazing,” says Franco, as he contemplates the project.
“I’m glad that they’re going to be able to use that patio, because right now there’s nothing there,” he adds. “It makes me feel happy, like I’m giving back.”
Montano echoes this.
“The seniors need to be outside,” she says. “They need some fresh air and we just thought it was such a wonderful idea.”
Burks says the patio will be a welcome addition to the center.
“The hope is that we will have a nice spot where seniors can sit outside, either eat lunch, play cards, socialize, have coffee and just be able to utilize the beautiful space that’s outside,” she says.
Burks envisions that once the upgrade is complete, the seniors will be able to enjoy the space early spring and fall and, in the summer, when it isn’t hot and humid.
She says the center serves about 200 individuals a week for activities, programs and socialization.
“We are slowly reopening,” she says. “We’re adding more and more programs.
“So, this is just very important for them and for us, the senior center staff, that they can socialize again with their friends, make those connections, feel safe outside,” she adds. “Finally, just be able to get back to where we were 14 months ago, like we haven’t skipped a beat.”
Donations can be sent via Venmo to spydercari (Cari Johnson) or mailed to Al Johnson, 17 Forest Glen Road, Old Saybrook, CT 06475; checks can be made out to Ethan Franco, Troop #38 Eagle Project.
Sarah Page Kyrcz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sarah Page Kyrcz