Photograph: Julie Bidwell
Above: Greenwich residents come out to cheer on entrants at the annual sailboat regatta.
In 1943, while our nation was in the middle of World War II, thirty Old Greenwich and Riverside families realized the importance of community and how their teens could benefit from a recreational program close to their homes. From that germ of an idea the Old Greenwich-Riverside Community Center (OGRCC) was born
Now 1,800 families strong, the organization attracts more than 2,000 people annually to its sports, arts and lifestyles programs. It gives out thousands of dollars of college scholarships annually and draws a loyal base of more than 100 volunteers who coach, manage and lead a wide-range of program offerings.
At OGRCC’s helm is executive director Tom Casazzone, who not only took part in its programs as a child, but whose children have been participants. Casazzone was a member of the start-up team of Pencils of Promise, a $10-million nonprofit founded in 2008 by Greenwich native Adam Braun—a compelling reason for the OGRCC board to hire him.
Kirk Schubert, board president, has been active in OGRCC since the oldest of his five sons started competing on sports teams two decades ago. For him it’s the perfect place to stay connected with his kids while giving something back to a community he loves.
“We have fantastic board members who are willing to invest time, and in some cases a significant amount of time, to ensure that OGRCC will be around for another seventy-five years,” he says. “And it is very gratifying each year to see way over 100 volunteers coaching and managing teams.”
“Currently, two-thirds of our members are from Old Greenwich and Riverside,” Casazzone adds. “Our goal is to expand into central and western Greenwich. We want everyone in town to know what we offer.”
The main event is the regatta—now in its fifty-fourth year—when model boats take over the pond for an hour of competition. The boats are mostly hand built, some sailboats, some sails with motors, others just motors. Races are broken down by age, model and size categories. This year, the OGRCC will schedule a day (to be announced) when an instructor will guide participants—of all ages—in making their own boat to race.
All proceeds from the day’s event benefit OGRCC’s scholarship fund, which awards between $40,000 and $70,000 need-based scholarships annually to 100-plus member families.
Sunday, October 14 2–5 p.m
All events (crafts, sports clinics, the regatta, food)
$40 per person; $10 per child; $100 for two adults and two children
$300 to $5,000
BE A SPORT
Sports are the main draw at the OGRCC with more than 900 youths participating in travel and recreational soccer and more than 650 playing baseball. Other activities include:
- Youth and adult rugby teams
- Adult soccer
- Girls’ basketball
- Tennis, field hockey and fitness classes for youths and adults
- Dance classes for youths and adults
- Creative classes, such as visual art, chess and leadership
- Sandpipers Beach Camp at Tod’s Point, which includes art, games, music, swimming and exploring
- OGRCC before- and after- school programs on the east side of town for elementary and middle- school age children
EASTER GREENWICH CIVIC CENTER
90 Harding Road
Family, $100; single, $50