Karin Giannitti Honored with Millie Best Environmental Award

On April 25, the Weston Kiwanis club presented its 16th annual Millie Best Environmental Award to lifelong Weston resident Karin Giannitti.

Ms. Giannitti was cited for decades of contributions to the town's beautification, the Norfield/Coley cemetery, the Old Post Office, the Weston Garden Club, Beautification Committee, the Weston Historical Society, and Weston Women’s League.

The presentation was made during the Kiwanis weekly online Zoom meeting. Ironically, this is about the time the club would be holding its annual Green Up Day, a townwide cleanup that originated with an idea by Millie Best.

For Ms. Giannitti, Green Up Day is every day on her long walks on Georgetown Road near her family home. She is an enduring figure as she gets daily exercise and picks up litter along the way.

As a child, she skated on the Felton’s Pond on Steep Hill Road. In Middle School, she walked with friends from the Hurlbutt School to the Weston Shopping Center, where she treated herself to a cream soda at the drugstore’s soda fountain. A bus ride to high school was a ten-mile trip to Staples High School.

The early years

Born in Norwalk Hospital, Ms Giannitti lived much of her young life with her family on Cedar Hill Road. She recalls that she was away at Centenary College in New Jersey when the Hurlbutt School caught fire, and she missed the excitement of that major town event in the early 1960s.

She married Sal Giannitti at St. Francis, and the wedding reception was held at Cobb’s Mill Inn. She and Sal settled on Christopher Hill in Weston where they raised three children and where they still live today.

Ms. Giannitti worked for decades at the Weston Historical Society, where she served on countless committees, organized dozens of events, was editor of numerous volumes of The Chronicle Quarterly, and protected thousands of Weston’s treasures as its collections manager.

Praise from peers

Sharon Gilbert, a longtime friend, said, "I consider it an honor to have worked closely with Karin Giannitti at the Society for years. A 'people person' with impressive organizational skills, she was the face of the Society for many years. And, her sense of humor goes unmatched."

Ms. Giannitti serves on the Town’s Beautification Committee and is president of an organization her mother founded decades ago, the Weston Garden Club. Until now, her unflagging commitment to the Norfield/Coley Cemetery went without notice. She has quietly worked behind the scenes to ensure the preservation and restoration of the cemetery.

Bill Lomas, Weston Tree Warden and past Millie Best Award recipient, said, "With her deep knowledge of all things historical in town, Karin has been an excellent source of information and assistance as the town works to reclaim the historic Norfield/Coley Cemetery from its overgrown condition. Karin has always taken pride in living in Weston, and is one of our most valuable resources."

Claudia Hahn, of the Weston Garden Club and Beautification Committee, described Ms. Giannitti as "a steadfast servant of the environment, serving with energy and commitment. She has taken care of the Old Post Office property near Bisceglie Park for a very long time."

Tom Failla, a Kiwanis past president, said, "With her wonderful sense of Weston and love for our natural forest surroundings, Karin always leads the charge for the Garden Club on Green Up Day, taking special interest in the former Jarvis Academy."

The award

The first Millie Best Environmental award was bestowed in 2005, named for Ms. Best, a Weston resident whose idea of Green Up Day in the early 1970s was meant to encourage volunteers to clean up litter along roads. Over the years, her efforts engaged thousands of volunteers. In the mid-1990s, Green Up Day was declared an annual statewide observance on last Saturday of April.

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