Archive | August, 2020

Rochester Rhapsody offering free singing lessons

31 Aug

If you ever wished you could get some professional singing lessons, but didn’t know where to go, or were afraid of what they’d cost, here’s some great news:

Rochester Rhapsody Chorus, a Webster-based non-profit a cappella women’s chorus, will offer a free singing education workshop to men and women musicians, singers and choral groups to expand their musical knowledge and vocal skills.

The workshop, called “Enrich Your Voice: A Cappella Singing Workshop,” will be taught via ZOOM on three consecutive Monday evenings in September from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Participants may attend one or all classes.

The schedule is:

  • Sept. 14, “A Cappella 101: From Basics to Brilliance”
  • Sept. 21, “Voice Building: Techniques to Improve Your Singing”
  • Sept. 28, “The Heart of Singing: Authentic, Emotional Performances”

The workshops will be conducted by musical clinician Sue Melvin, Director of Rochester Rhapsody.

The workshop is free, but registration is required. To register go to Participants will receive a confirmation email with the ZOOM meeting link. For questions please email

Rochester Rhapsody Chorus is the Rochester chapter of Harmony, Incorporated, an international organization of female a cappella singers. Their focus is to empower women through vocal performance education. In addition to performing frequently for both public and private functions, Rochester Rhapsody is a competing ensemble and has qualified for International competition each year since inception. Friendship and FUN are also an important part of the group. The chorus welcomes women singers to contact them at for information about visiting one of their Monday evening rehearsals.

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New Webster cookie shop a dessert-lover’s delight

30 Aug

There’s a new cookie shop in town, and be forewarned: it’s downright dangerous. (At least for anyone trying to stay on a diet.)

It’s called Kiss Me Cookie, and it opened on July 1 in the small plaza at 696 Ridge Rd., Webster (where The Garlic Pit is located). And if you like cookies even a little bit, this is going to become one of your favorite shops — EVER.

Webster residents Pam and Steve Bouteiller run Kiss Me Cookie, both juggling full-time jobs and a one-year old son to do so. While Steve comes in to manage the shop most days, Pam does the baking. It’s something she’s done for a long time, and for the last several years she’s been selling her baked goods wholesale, online and at festivals.

But it was only recently that the young couple decided to take the leap and open a physical storefront.

“I was always way too cautious to do something like this,” Pam said. (Steve’s) been wanting to open a store for years now and I was always too nervous. So we discussed it and we decided that when we had enough money saved up from just our cookie enterprise to open a store then we would open a store.”

As it turns out, that happened right in the middle of the pandemic. Undaunted, however, they started looking for a place in April or May, considering opportunities in Fairport and downtown Rochester before discovering their current location, which is conveniently just down the road from their home.

Then the real work began.

“This kitchen had to be built from the ground up,” Steve said. “We painted, did ceiling tiles, I put in 50 to 60 hours a week in June, but we got it done in a month and opened July 1.”

The Webster community has enthusiastically welcomed Kiss Me Cookie. And for good reason; the variety of baked goods they offer and the creativity and love that clearly go into each one is making everyone who walks in an immediate fan.

Just the aroma that fills your senses when you enter the shop is enough to make your mouth water.

Right now, Steve said that their most popular cookies are the Golden Dough, Salted Caramel and Big Reveal Peanut Butter Cup (this last one is a chocolate chip cookie with a peanut butter cup inside). They’ve got plenty of traditional favorites, like snickerdoodles, chocolate chip and butterscotch oatmeal, but if you’re not afraid to try something new, I recommend the magic bars (graham cracker crust with white chocolate, marshmallows, coconut and fruity pebble topping), Oreo bars, s’mores bars, or any one of a dozen another fanciful varieties.

“We’re trying to keep it fun,” Steve said. “We have a few traditional flavors but we’re always trying to do something new, innovative….We have a lot of flavors that people haven’t seen before but nothing that’s unapproachable and strange. We’re trying to make an experience where people can come in and have fun.”

But Kiss Me Cookie is more than just cookies. There are cookie cakes, cookie pizzas, coffees, cheesecakes, homemade hot chocolate mix, even dog treats. And they’re trying to work with local producers as much as possible to keep the operation small-business oriented.

Pam and Steve also offer catering services and individually-wrapped cookies (the extra wrapping fee, by the way, is waived during the pandemic). This fall they hope to introduce fudge, pies and holiday treats as well.

Kiss Me Cookie is located at 696 Ridge Rd., Webster, in the little plaza just west of Hatch Rd. They’re open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, and are closed Monday and Tuesday.

Next Sunday Sept. 6 would be a great time to check them out, when they host a “Goodbye to Summer” party from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., with summer–themed giveaways, 20% off everything in store, free drinks, freeze pops and more, and a chance to win a gift card. To find out more, check out the Facebook event here.

If you can handle some super-glam cookie photos, check out their Facebook page here, and for a full list of their cookie selection, visit their webpage here.

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Our village summer is ending on a high note

29 Aug

If you happened to walk or drive by Veteran’s Memorial Park last night while the Friday Night Gazebo Concert was happening, you might have thought we were having a regular village summer after all.

That is, if you disregarded the fact that audience members were all grouped into individual, socially-distanced white squares spray-painted in the grass.

Regardless of how weird it looked, the arrangement didn’t seem to bother anybody; the large number of people who had gathered to enjoy the smooth jazz tunes from Judah Sealy just seemed very happy to be able to enjoy a Friday Night Concert again on a beautiful summer evening.

The last of this summer’s three concerts is scheduled for next Friday night, Sept. 4, featuring one of the Webster Jazz Fest favorites, the Bill Tiberio Band. The concert begins at 7 p.m., and you’re welcome to come earlier in the day to choose a square and set up your chairs.

Veteran’s Memorial Park is located on North Ave., just steps from the village’s four corners.

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Immanuel Lutheran food drive a big success

28 Aug

Thank you to everyone who took the time to stop by Immanuel Lutheran Church last weekend to donate to the church’s food drive. Ed Huehn, one of the drive’s organizers, reports that it was a great success.

Immanuel Lutheran, located at 131 W. Main Street in the Village of Webster, has been a longtime sponsor of the Webster Schools’ Weekend Food Backpack Program, which provides bags of food for more than 70 children in all seven of the district’s elementary schools.

The church also is home to one of the town’s several Little Free Pantries. These tall cabinets, which resemble very large Little Free Libraries, are placed in parking lots or other public places, and packed with food and toiletry items. Based on a “take what you need, leave what you can” philosophy, community members in need can stop by at any time and help themselves to whatever they can use.

When the schools all closed in March, and backpack food deliveries could no longer be made, the church community shifted distribution to the Little Free Pantry in their parking lot.

Before last Saturday’s food drive, Ed said, both their pantry and storeroom were almost empty. But by the end of the day, they were full again thanks to the generosity of our Webster community members. All the donations will be used to restock the pantry daily, and start up the Weekend Food Backpack Program again when school buildings reopen.

WHAM-Channel 13 stopped by and posted a short story on the effort. You can see that here.

How you can help

If you missed the food drive but would still like to help out, the church continues to accept donations for their hunger ministry initiatives. According to their website,

Items that can be donated to the pantry include non-perishable foods such as pasta, cereal, pancake mix, soups, canned fruits and vegetables, peanut butter, sugar, and flour. Personal hygiene and toiletry items such as soap, tooth paste, deodorant, toilet paper and diapers. Children’s coloring books and crayons can also items that can help out a family.

Just recently, Immanuel Lutheran added a large produce stand next to their pantry. If you have an extra garden vegetables this summer, they would also be very welcome.

Immanuel Lutheran Church’s Little Free Pantry, located in the church’s parking lot, with a brand new companion produce stand.

Webster’s other Little Free Pantries are located at St. Martin on Bay Road, Webster Baptist Church in the Village of Webster and the United Church of Christ on Klem Road. Any one of these organizatons would greatly appreciate your donations.

Find out more about Girl Scouts at this weekend’s fun day

25 Aug

Let’s hope this beautiful late-summer weather continues to hold through this weekend, because the Seneca Waterways Council has planned a pretty cool get-to-know-your-Girl-Scouts event this Saturday Aug. 29.

They’re calling it a “community fun day,” an opportunity for interested families to get a taste of the programs that Girls Scouts offer.

Local Scouts and BSA Girl Troops will host two hours of activities and events, this Saturday Aug. 29 from 11 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. at the Penfield Wesleyan Church, 1580 Five Mile Line Rd. The event is free but participants are asked to register ahead of time (so they know how many people to expect). To do that, click here.

For more information, you can email Brendan Flaherty at, call him at (585) 241-8530, or check out the flyers attached here.

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White Christmas a no-go (for now)

23 Aug
Chances are very good we’ll not be seeing this scene on Main Street this year.

I’ve been getting a few questions recently regarding the status of upcoming Village of Webster events, especially White Christmas and the Parade of Lights.

Not knowing the answer myself, I dropped an email to Robyn Whitaker, my contact on the Webster BID (the business group that organizes these events) and confirmed what I suspected would be the case.

2020 has officially become (almost) a complete washout.

Robyn wrote,

We had a discussion with the fire department and there will be no White Christmas this year along with no Trick-or-treat Trail, no Wine Walk, no Bourbon Bash.

She did add, however, that if things change (meaning if we can really get Corona under control I suspect), “we are willing to modify (our plans) so we can connect the community.”

Not all Village events have bitten the dust, however. Last night, the gazebo at Veterans Memorial Park played host to the first of three Friday night summer concerts, featuring Prime Time Funk. The series continues this coming Friday Aug. 28 with Judah Sealy and concludes on Sept. 4 with the Bill Tiberio Band. The concerts run from 7 to 9 p.m., and socially-distanced family-sized spaces will be marked in the grass.

For more information, visit the BID website.

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Time to show our love to the WVFD

22 Aug

If you live in the Village of Webster or on the town’s east side, you probably got one of these flyers in the mail recently.

Don’t throw it out. Or if it already has made it to the recycle bin, go grab it. Because this year more than ever, we need to support our Webster Volunteer Fire Department.

These are the men and women who will drop everything at a moment’s notice when they hear that one of their Webster neighbors is in trouble, rushing to help out in any way they can to — hopefully — make one of the worst days in your life a little better. And not a one of them is paid for their service.

This year, as you know, the annual Firemen’s Carnival was canceled due to the pandemic. That event has always been the fire department’s biggest fundraiser, and losing that influx of cash leaves a huge funding gap.

If you and your family has never required the services of our Webster volunteer firefighters, consider yourself blessed. But if and when that time should come — when you might be having one of the worst days of your life — it’s comforting to know that these dedicated volunteers will rush to your side.

So let’s all show them some love, and throw them some money. It’s pretty easy. Simply log onto, or complete and mail the envelope that was enclosed in the mailing.

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A few village business notes

19 Aug

Did you have a chance to stop by The Village Quilt Shoppe a little while ago for the anniversary celebration?

Owners Vanetta and Monique have a lot to celebrate, having weathered more than their share of first-year difficulties. Given what they’ve been through, it was perfectly ironic that the cake experienced its own mini-disaster on the way to the party.

So now they’re charging ahead full speed into their second year and already have tons of classes and special events on the books. They’d also like to get a handle on what their customers would really like to see in the shop. So if you have a few minutes, please help them out by filling out their on-line survey.

The Quilt Shoppe is also offering curbside pickup or postal mail if you’re not comfortable coming into the store, or you can schedule a private appointment during their off hours. Visit the shop’s webpage for more information.

The Filling Station Pub & Grill, 77 East Main, is adding a big new patio.

The beautiful new space will eventually be used for outdoor seating, adding to the existing outdoor dining space under the drive-through. But manager Wendy Antes can’t pinpoint when that might be, saying it is “a work in progress.”

Stay tuned.

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Webster community mailbag

18 Aug

There is NO reason to not have a good book to read during these last few weeks of summer. Not when the Webster Public Library keeps making it SO EASY to borrow one, or in this case, get a bunch for really cheap.

The library’s next pop-up book sale is this Thursday Aug. 20 from noon to 4 outside the library, at the back of Webster Plaza, 980 Ridge Rd.

All books are just $1 each (cash only please). Check out the poster for more details.

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Immanuel Lutheran Church , 131 W, Main in Webster, will hold a food collection on Saturday, Aug. 22 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The collection will be in the parking lot behind the church, which can be accessed off of Daniel Drive. Volunteers will take the food from your car.

Immanuel has run the Weekend Food Backpack Program in the Webster Schools since 2011, with generous support from other Webster churches, community organizations and residents. At the close of school they were providing bags of food to more than 70 children in all seven of the elementary schools. When the school buildings closed, they shifted distribution to the Little Free Pantry in the Immanuel Parking lot.

Immanuel Hunger Ministry manages a Little Free Pantry in the church parking lot. The Little Pantry is available for anyone who is need of some food. The philosophy behind the Little Free Pantry is “Take what you need and leave what you can” This Little Pantry is seeing support from people in the community as well as our church members.

Please donate non-perishable items, no glass containers or out of date items.
Suggested items are kid friendly foods such as:
Peanut butter
Jam of Jelly
Macaroni and Cheese
Tuna Fish or Canned Chicken
Pasta and Sauce
Soup and Ramen Noodles
Cereal or Instant Oatmeal
Shelf Stable Milk and Juice Boxes
Canned Vegetables and Fruit
Individual Applesauce, Pudding or Fruit Cups
Granola Bars and Other Snack Items
Canned Pasta – Spaghetti-O’s, Ravioli & Similar

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A five-year effort to clean veterans’ headstones at Webster Union Cemetery, spearheaded by Webster resident Stephen Cataldi, will conclude this Sunday, Aug. 23, from 9 a.m. to noon.

Interested volunteers are asked to meet at the cemetery, 345 Webster Rd. Read more about the project on the Facebook page here.

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Bella’s Bumbas’ mission is spreading worldwide

17 Aug

(A young boy in the Philippines learning to use his Bella’s Bumba.)

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, then you’re very familiar with Bella’s Bumbas.

Bella’s Bumbas is a non-profit organization run by Webster residents Marty Parzynski and Rebecca Orr, dedicated to building miniature wheelchairs for children with a wide variety of mobility issues. To date they have shipped more than 1400 chairs to children in at least 27 countries, often adapting the chairs for each child’s individual needs, and charging the families only for shipping.

Although the world has in many ways come screeching to a halt these last several months, children’s need for these special chairs has not slowed, and neither has Rebecca and Marty’s commitment to filling that need.

On the contrary, they’ve devised a plan to get even MORE chairs shipped worldwide, more economically, by packing and sending international “kits.”

Rebecca explained in an email,

Bella’s Bumbas has been trying out sending “kits” internationally to a few countries, and having success with it. We can UPS all the needed assembly parts, minus the seats, for three to four Bella’s Chairs. (We’ve sent them) to Indonesia, Philippines, and now we would like to start in Malaysia.

In Indonesia, they receive a box of parts from us, purchase a comparable local seat to attach and send within the country to the family in need. The family pays a portion of the international shipping of the parts, and the local shipping from our volunteer in Indonesia.

The kits are saving everyone money all around. 

If we were to ship one completed Bella’s Bumba to each Indonesian family that requests one, it would be approx $350.00 USD. We can send the same size box with three to four kits to our volunteer for nearly the same price.

What started just three years ago, when Marty cobbled together the first Bumba for his niece Bella, who was born with spina bifida, has now spread across the world, enriching thousands of children’s lives with newfound mobility. 

How you can help

Even though many of their parts are donated, Bella’s Bumbas does have to buy parts and cover some overhead expenses. If you’d like to help out, visit their GoFundMe page, where you can also read more about their background and continued efforts.  

They could also use boxes. The perfect sizes are 50 cm. x 45 cm. x 28 cm. (Rebecca uses two of these for the small chairs); 28″ x 20″ x 14″, and 29″ x 14″ x 24″ are great for the large chairs. If you’re getting Amazon deliveries regularly, you might also have the boxes they need; the ones that say P5 on the bottom are perfect (25.75″ x 20.75″ x 16.5″).

So if you have any boxes that are the right size, and would like to donate them, please connect connect with Marty and Rebecca through the Bella’s Bumbas Facebook page or email


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