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A book group at the Monroe Senior Center discusses "Until Tuesday" by Carlos Montalván during a session last week.

MONROE, CT — Luis Montalván, a highly decorated captain in the U.S. Army, struggled with physical wounds, traumatic brain injury and crippling post-traumatic stress disorder after returning home from a tour of duty in Iraq.

It seemed like he would never recover, until Tuesday, a sensitive golden retriever trained to assist the disabled, came into his life.

Montalván tells his story in the book, “Until Tuesday,” which was the recent topic of discussion in the Monroe Senior Center’s book group.

One senior said he thought the book was like two biographies, one about Montalván and another about the dog.

Two women in the group agreed there was a lot of repetition in Montalván’s story telling, and one said she had to skip some pages to get through it.

Another senior said she was interested in the political aspect and how leaders, no matter the political party, send young men to war.

Others said the book made them recall the days of Vietnam, when veterans were not embraced upon returning home, which they found upsetting.

The book topic also sparked a discussion of the alarmingly high suicide rate in the military since 9/11.

Any member of the Senior Center interested in joining the book discussion group can ask the front desk for a book or just come to the center on the second Wednesday of the month at 2 p.m.

Historical Society Christmas Fair

The Monroe Historical Society will host its annual Christmas Fair at the East Village/Barn Hill Methodist Meeting House, 433 Barn Hill Road, in Monroe, on Friday, Dec. 3, from 3 to 6 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 4 and 5, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The sale will feature a large variety of new and donated ornaments and decorations, baked goods, and a sampling of Monroe Historical Society collectibles. Vintage items will also be available. There is something for everyone.

This is the Society’s largest fundraiser of the year. All proceeds fund ongoing programs and the maintenance of Monroe’s historical properties.

Those in attendance are asked to wear a mask.

For information, call 203-261-1383.

Senior newsletter

The Monroe Senior Center’s latest newsletter is out, click here to open the pdf file.

Connex cares 

This holiday season, Connex Credit Union is collecting items for the Women and Families Center in Meriden, a nonprofit organization that promotes equity and quality of life through services that foster empowerment and independence.

As part of its ConnexCares philanthropic program, Connex’s eight branches will have collection bins for donations of basic household items and toys through Dec. 10. Its Monroe branch is at 155 Main St.

Among the needed items are plates, glasses, silverware, utensils, pots, pans, cooking supplies, napkins, cleaning supplies, soap, detergent, mops, pillows, towels, full/twin bedding, bathroom supplies, paper goods and trash bags.

Supplies are also needed for elementary school students, including books, toys, crayons, coloring books, arts and crafts kits and games.

For more information on the Women and Families Center, visit womenfamilies.org.

Parks & Rec. programs

Monroe Parks and Recreation is offering fall and winter programs.

The Masuk Pool is available for open swim. Schedules, rates, and memberships are located on the department website.

The Ski/Snowboard Program will offer bus trips to Mohawk Mountain students in grades 6-12 for six weeks from January through February.

Students in grades 1-5 are invited to register for Tom O’Brien’s Wizards School of Magic at Jockey Hollow Middle School on Nov. 30.

Youth Basketball Leagues are still open for girls in grades three and four, boys in grades seventh and eighth, and high school students between November and March.

The Future Stars Basketball Winter Clinic is open for registration for students in grades K-2. Sessions will be offered Tuesday evenings and Saturday mornings.

For applications and registration options, visit the website by clicking here. Be sure to check back frequently for upcoming programs. To speak with a staff member, send an email to [email protected] or call 203-452-2806.

Monroe Giving Tree Program

Every year, the Monroe community generously purchases gifts for town residents in need during the holiday season. Those wishing to help by purchasing a gift should click here and sign up for a specific gift.

Gifts should be wrapped and returned with the tag number (i.e. 101A) clearly marked on the outside by Dec. 1.

Drop off locations are inside the Monroe Police Department lobby, which is open 24 hours a day, and in the Edith Wheeler Memorial Library Lobby, open Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

To make a monetary donation instead of buying a gift, click here. For information, call Mary Ann Kalm, the town’s social services coordinator/clinical coordinator, at 203-452-2813.

Newtown Holiday Festival

NEWTOWN,CT — Newtown’s 36th annual Holiday Festival is coming back to Main Street. It will be held at Edmond Town Hall, Trinity Episcopal Church and at C.H. Booth Library.

It will be connected by an outdoor holiday market and stroll, featuring local food merchants and vendors selling handmade goods.

There will also be a kid’s activity, Superhero Academy, at Newtown Hook & Ladder, which is right behind Trinity Church, and a historic trolley ride through the Newtown Borough.

For all of the dates and details, click here.

No Shave November … and December

Monroe Police Chief John Salvatore will have to wait an extra month to enforce his department’s policy requiring all officers to be clean shaven.

After the COVID-19 pandemic cancelled police officers’ participation in the annual No Shave November CT fundraiser last year, the chief decided to give them an extra month to raise money for the Connecticut Cancer Foundation’s fight against pediatric cancer.

“The guys like doing it, because we have to shave every day and it’s in our orders to be clean shaven,” Officer Nicholas Franzago said. “It’s fun and it’s for a good cause.”

This year, 20 Monroe police officers will not pick up a razor in November and December. Each donated $50 to participate and all are welcome to joint their effort by making donations on the No Shave Connecticut website on behalf of the Monroe Police Department.

To donate, click here.

We have a goal of $2,000 and are at $1,635 now,” Franzago said.

The 2021 Ambassadors.

He said the fundraiser will directly benefit Connecticut families with basic living expenses, such as rent, mortgage, utilities, and food, as they strive for the children to be cancer free. The families of four children known as ambassadors will receive significant grants this year.

There will be a contest for the best facial hair with prizes from Schick, and weekly prizes of autographed MLB baseballs awarded for the top five individual fundraisers. Prizes will also be awarded to the Top Fundraising Team and Top Individual Fundraiser.

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