Archive | November, 2021

Santa’s visit to Bella’s Bumbas workshop: a follow-up

26 Nov

You may remember a few weeks ago reading a blog about how Santa himself visited the Bella’s Bumbas workshop here in Webster to help build a Bumba for one very lucky child in Connecticut.

During his visit, Santa was assisted by several young elves, who showed him how to craft one of Bella’s Bumbas’ miniature wheelchairs from the wheels up.

I’m happy to report that the special Santa-built Bumba has been received by Tate, the young man for whom it was being built. Check out the photo below; it’s easy to see how delighted Tate is with his newfound mobility. What you can’t see is how Santa and all his elves signed it underneath the seat.

Click here to read the blog I wrote about Santa’s visit to the workshop.

While Santa was there, he also signed another Bumba, specially built for young Josué in Mexico. Josué has also received his autographed Bumba.

Bella’s Bumbas is run by Webster residents Marty Parzynski and Rebecca Orr, dedicated to building miniature wheelchairs for children with a wide variety of mobility issues. In the four years since Marty built the first Bumba for their niece Bella, they’ve shipped close to 2000 chairs to children in more than 50 countries, often adapting the chairs for each child’s individual needs, and charging the parents only for shipping.

Their efforts are changing young lives all over the world.

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The wayward GoPro story made it to TV

25 Nov

If you’re not tired yet of reading about the lost-then-found GoPro camera and how it sparked a wave of kidness, you might be interested in this. The story was picked up by Spectrum News and was finally broadcast yesterday.

For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, a brief summary:

On Nov. 1, DP (Don) Dunn was walking along the pier and found a GoPro washed up on the shore. He emailed me a few photos he was able to pull off the SD card. I posted a blog and within two hours the owner had been located. Ollie Bartholomew, who lives in Westchester County, had lost it in the lake while visiting some friends over the 4th of July holiday. (Click here to see the follow-up blog I wrote.)

The story didn’t end there. Don’s small kindness has spread in ways we never expected.

A few weeks ago, Andrew Freeman from Spectrum News interviewed Don, Ollie and me, and did a very nice job weaving together the many parts of the story.

It’s a heartwarming story perfect for Thanksgiving Day. Click here to check it out. Once you’ve had a chance to do so, please consider helping spread the kindness by visiting Kevin Woolever’s GoFundMe page which you’ll learn about in the video.

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Giving back on this Thanksgiving Day

25 Nov

A reader messaged me the other day, asking where she might find a neighborhood food pantry where her family could make a food donation. It got me thinking that many people out there could benefit from that information, especially at this time of year when we’re feeling so thankful for what we have, and want to help those in our community who are not so fortunate.

HOPE Ministry, housed at Holy Trinity Church, is the largest food pantry currently operating in town. The ministry has an extensive pantry, complete with fresh produce, and is open four days a week for any Webster resident who needs assistance.

Donations of food, hygiene and cleaning products are accepted during their open hours (but please no household donations). Hours are Monday 5 to 7 p.m.; Tuesday 10 a.m. to noon; Wednesday 3 to 5 p.m.; and Thursday 5 to 7 p.m.

Their current wish list includes:

  • chunky soup
  • canned cannellini beans
  • canned mixed vegetables
  • canned pineapple
  • body wash
  • aluminum foil

HOPE Ministry also has two floors of clothing for all ages and in all sizes. They’re always in need of gently used children’s clothing, toddler underwear and socks, and right now would love to get more hats and gloves (especially men’s).

HOPE Ministry is located at Holy Trinity Church, 1460 Ridge Rd., and there’s a cart outside for “contactless” donations.

Webster is also home to four “little free food pantries.” These are small, stand-alone pantries filled with non-perishable food items, where the concept is “take what you need, leave what you can.”

The pantries are hosted by the congregations of four local churches and can be found in the church parking lots. They’re at the Webster Baptist Church on South Ave, Immanuel Lutheran Church on West Main St., the United Church of Christ on Klem Rd., and St. Martin’s Church on Bay Rd.

Donations can be made at any time; just drive up, open the pantry and put in your donations. So maybe next time you head to Wegmans you pick up an extra half dozen cans of veggies, a few boxes of cereal, maybe some extra spaghetti, and swing by one of these pantries on the way home.

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends. May your day be filled with family and the blessings that life brings.

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Musical accompaniment for White Christmas, courtesy Chorus of the Genesee

24 Nov

A few days ago I posted details about this year’s White Christmas in the Village celebration on Dec. 4, but in that blog I neglected to include all the great events and performances the Chorus of the Genesee has planned for that day and evening.

The Chorus will be singing a few Christmas numbers at Gazebo Park that afternoon, and — along with several quartets and other musicians — will be performing at the Harmony House throughout the day and evening. There’ll even be a few community sing-alongs in which everyone is invited to participate.

Not only that, the Harmony House will host a Craft Fair and Bake Sale beginning at 2 p.m., and 30 or more vendors are expected to participate. It should be a great chance to get some Christmas shopping done.

Plan on stopping by for dinner as well. They’ll have lots of food available and a cash bar with seasonal specialty drinks, open before, during and after the parade.

Details for all of these event are still in the works, so stay tuned for more information. The Harmony House is located at 58 East Main St. in the village.

Looking ahead, the Chorus of the Genesee’s popular Soup & Caroling Night will be back this year on Tuesday Dec. 21 at 7 p.m. More details to come about that, too. This is always a fun event, and I like it because I get to sing Christmas carols, in a group that is so large and talented that no one can hear me.

Plus, there’s soup afterwards. LOTS of soup.

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In memory of a village treasure

21 Nov

On March 3, 2018, the Village of Webster lost one of its most precious people, Carol Klem.

I had known Carol for less than 10 years, but we shared a passion for local journalism, and a love for the village. When we first met — I don’t remember when or where it was, but it was probably at some village event — we immediately hit it off.  Aside from bonding over our love of writing and journalism, we recognized in each other the same determination to live life fully, not take life too seriously, and never completely grow up.

For more than ten years, Carol penned the Village Focus column in the Webster Herald, and was basically the village’s biggest cheerleader. On November 21, 2017, the Webster Village Board returned the favor. To show Carol how much her efforts were appreciated, they presented her with a proclamation and named the day after her. Every year hence, November 21 would officially be Carol Klem Day in the Village of Webster.

Given that today is Carol Klem Day 2021, I wanted to post something in memory of my friend. What follows is an article I wrote for the Webster Herald which ran the week before the proclamation.


If you’ve lived in the Village of Webster for any length of time, chances are very good you know Carol Klem — or at least know about her.

It helps that for the last 12 years, as Village Focus columnist, Carol’s smiling face has appeared every two weeks on the village website and in the Webster Herald.

But even if you don’t regularly read her column, you’ve almost certainly seen Carol around town, chatting with fellow journalists at Barry’s Old School Irish or at Golden Boys, visiting with local business owners, or darting back and forth during parades, festivals and other special events, snapping photos for her column.

Basically, the name Carol Klem has become synonymous with all things good about the Village of Webster. For years, she’s been the eyes and ears of Webster, like a town crier, using her column to cheer accomplishments both big and small. She has introduced us to new businesses and old businesses. She has written tender obituaries, announced births and anniversaries. She has told us about upcoming special events and charmed us with personal musings about small-town life. And every Christmas she has delighted us all with her epic holiday poem.

Carol was born in Rochester in 1938, the oldest of three children, and lived with her family in the Beechwood section of the city. While she was attending high school at Nazareth Academy, her parents decided to move to Webster, in a home they built on Basket Road.

At that time, Webster was very rural, and was really considered the “boondocks.” Moving from the city to farm country was a big adjustment, but it gave Carol lots of handy excuses for being late for school. One of them, her daughter Mary Kay remembers, was “the Schreiber cows were loose on Basket Road.”

Carol attended Nazareth College, where she studied English and music, and was hired at Holy Trinity School, where she taught first through third grades.

Carol was the school’s first lay teacher. “It was mom and all the nuns,” Mary Kay said. “It was really quite funny. I think she was very different from the nuns. I can’t imagine a bunch of nuns and my mom!”

It was while she was teaching at Holy Trinity that she met Gene, her husband of 57 years. They were introduced by then-pastor Fr. William Kalb in 1959, married the following year, and immediately started a family. Mary Kay was born in 1961, followed closely by Tom, Greg and Doug. Many years later, in 1978, little sister Meg joined the family.

Carol worked through her first pregnancy, then became a stay-at-home mom. It was only after all the kids had all grown and moved on that she re-entered the workforce, finding part-time work with the Webster Post, writing wedding announcements and obituaries.

At 47 years old, Carol Klem the journalist was born.

“I remember her starting with a portable typewriter,” Mary Kay said. “I couldn’t imagine she would ever be computer-literate, and Word proficient. Although she still has a knack for losing files.”

In 2005 Carol left the Post and was asked to join the Webster Herald as the Village Focus columnist. She had finally found her true calling: writing about the village she loves so dearly.

And she does love Webster dearly. In September 2015, in an interview she recorded for the non-profit Webster Together organization, Carol called the village “the heart of Webster.”

“I just love our town. I love the people in it, and I love the spirit,” she said. “I’d love to see the village definitely take off. I think that whatever happens, we have the right people to make the decisions.”


I think Carol would be happy with the direction the village is going. She’d be sad to see long-standing businesses like The Music Store close, but happy about all of the new shops that have moved into the village. And given the social butterfly she was, this COVID stuff would have driven her up a wall. I don’t think it would have slowed her down too much, though. I can picture her in a mask, swinging her little digital camera as she chronicled life getting back to normal.

I miss her ever-present smile, boundless energy and joie de vivre. I’ll be raising a glass to her today.

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Girl Scouts learn how toys and pirates go together

19 Nov

The Daisies of Webster Girl Scout Troop 60344 got an inside look at the Pirate Toy Fund warehouse on Monday, learning about the great ways this organization gives back to the community, and getting the chance to help their cause.

The Pirate Toy Fund is the only nonprofit organization in the country dedicated to distributing new toys year-round to children in need throughout the Greater Rochester region. It was co-founded by local children’s entertainer Gary the Happy Pirate and Dave and Lorrie Simonetti. Since 1995 it has distributed almost 400,000 toys through more than 70 program partners including camps, the Red Cross, Salvation Army, and law enforcement agencies throughout Western New York.

The Daisies first got a personal tour of the warehouse from Otto Harnischfeger, the fund’s Executive Director. After the tour, they girls were given a snack and special Pirate Toy Fund pins to proudly display on their uniforms.

The Daisies were working on their “Make the World a Better Place” Daisy Petal, one of ten petals on their uniforms, each representing one line of the Girl Scout Law. Troop 60344’s Brownie was also on the tour; she was fulfilling some of the steps for her “Give Back” badge by learning about a business that gives back to the community, and supporting that mission. Every girl brought at least one new toy to donate.

Troop co-leaders Linda Meyers and Daniela Viavattine knew this would be a valuable opportunity for the young ladies. Linda said,

We thought it would be a great idea for our girls to see a wonderful Rochester-based organization that’s helping the community all throughout the year, and especially at the holidays now. Fortunately, our girls come from homes that can generally provide presents for their children, and we thought it would be great for our girls to help out for children and families that maybe aren’t able to do that.

Webster Troop 60344 has 15 Girl Scouts, 14 first-grade Daisies and one second-grade Brownie. The Daisies come from Klem North, Plank North and Dewitt elementary schools. They are Adriana Gringer, Alayna Henrichs, Alexa Weber, Avery Ganter, Charlotte Lloyd, Claire Frisk, Emerson Ganter, Harper Bozzelli, Julia Meyers, Kennedy Kleps, Lily Pettit, Mackenzie Johnston, Natalie Wigton and Penelope Patterson. Brownie Sophia Elias attends St. Kateri.

Click here to check out a great short video from the visit, posted on the Pirate Toy Fund Facebook page.

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The holidays in Webster Village: beer, shopping, Santa and a parade!

18 Nov

It’s getting cold out, but the holiday season in Webster is heating up, with a cool NEW event and some great improvements on an old favorite.

For starters, the village’s brand new “Hops and Stops” beer tasting event invites participants to not only enjoy some great craft brews, while also visiting many of our small businesses for some early Christmas shopping.

Hops and Stops will be Saturday Nov. 27 (not coincidentally Small Business Saturday). Glass pickup is at Finns Automotive, 44 East Main St, beginning at 2:45 p.m. Cost is $20 (tickets here). Please bring proper ID and you can’t pick up anyone else’s glass since they’ll also need to show an ID.

The beer walk itself runs from 3 to 6 p.m. There will be craft beer at some stops and food at others. These businesses will be participating:

  • Bernardi & Co. CPA
  • Webster Interiors
  • Woodland Silkscreen and Embroidery
  • OHHH, LORDEE! Everything Sauce
  • Village Vape or Smoke
  • The Modified Collective
  • Carl’s Pizza Kitchen
  • Crafty Christy’s Boutique
  • Dunkin’ Donuts
  • The Coach
  • BC’s Chicken Coop
  • The Cobblestone on Main
  • Barry’s Old School Irish
  • Lattimore Physical Therapy
  • Filling Station Pub & Grill

Kudos to the Webster BID for coming up with this great idea to get people out and shopping on Small Business Saturday!

Click here for more information and to get tickets.

White Christmas is Back!

Last year’s “reverse” Holiday Parade of Lights was fun, but I think everyone is excited to know that the REAL Parade of Lights will be returning the evening of Saturday Dec. 4. The parade is the highlight of a whole afternoon of holiday entertainment and activities planned during the Village of Webster’s White Christmas celebration.

This year’s event will feature something really fun: the gazebo in Veterans Park will be transformed into the North Pole for the day, complete with twinkling lights, elves, candy canes and much more. Santa will be there to greet the kids from 3 to 5 p.m. Kids can bring their letters and give them right to Santa or deposit them in his North Pole mailbox.

The Parade of Lights will begin at 6:30 p.m., winding its way from Phillips Rd. west down Main Street.

All of your White Christmas favorites will also be back this year, including carriage rides, hot cocoa, cookie decorating, storytime with Jason Poole from the Webster Public Library, caroling, and much more, including a “Toy Land,” for which everyone is encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy to donate.

Put this one on your calendar, folks. (Maybe we’ll actually get some snow this year.)

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Webster community mailbag

17 Nov

I’ve got an important update from the PTSA/One Webster team that’s working on a float for this year’s Holiday Parade of Lights.

They need lights for the float!

They’ve actually been getting a good response from people interested in helping create Santa’s Workshop and who want to help build the float (read more about those opportunities in this blog here) but they desperately need lights for the float. After all, it is the Holiday PARADE OF LIGHTS.

They’ve made it very easy to contribute to the effort. Click this link here to order the lights directly (there are several price options) or donate any amount.


Speaking of fun events, I’ve heard from the organizers of the annual Greater Rochester Peep Show.

This show, which usually takes over much of the Webster Recreation Center in early April, had to go virtual these last few years. Now that it looks like the 2022 Peep Show might be a little more normal, they’re already ramping up to make it the best ever.

They’e currently looking artists to create a poster (rules are posted on the Peep Show website) and prizes will be awareded: $100 for first place, $50 for second place. The deadline for submissions is Nov. 25. They’re also looking for sponsors, vendors, and community groups or entertainers who would like to present demos at the show. Come January, they’ll start asking for volunteers.

As for all you Peep Show display makers, get to the drawing board and start planning your incredible displays. April will be here before we know it!

For more information about the 2022 Greater Rochester Peep Show, click here.


Get your books here, folks!

Now here’s a great chance to pick up some perfect holiday gifts for the reader in your family, and not drop a lot of dough.

The Friends of the Webster Public Library will be holding their Winter Holiday Book Sale beginning Saturday Nov. 20.

Winter and end-of-the-year holiday season books (hardcover, fiction and nonfiction) will be featured at this sale, including music CDs, DVD movies and Blu-Rays for children and adults. And everything is priced between 50 cents and $2.

The sale will run for several weeks (or until the books run out) during regular holiday hours.

Purchases may be made at the circulation desk. All monies raised will go to support library programs and initiatives.


In this month’s History Bit from the Webster Museum, a message of thanks.

NYA-WEH is “thanks” in the Seneca language. If we struggle to find things to be thankful for this year, we would do well to consult the Thanksgiving address of any of our native people, the Haudenosaunee.

A thousand years old, the words are still spoken before and after ceremonial and governmental gatherings. The speakers’ language and words may vary, but the message is the same: we must name and thank everything in the natural world that sustains us.
The address includes the people, the earth, the waters, the plants, the animals, the sun, moon and stars and the creator they believe to be responsible for all these gifts.

Each gift is named and thanked and honored by the refrain “now our minds are one.“ Consensus on gratitude!

The Webster Museum’s permanent Seneca exhibit now includes objects identified in the Seneca language.

The museum is open for your enjoyment (and maybe some new vocabulary…) on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 2 to 4:30 p.m.. Nya-weh for visiting!


By the way, I did mention above that Webster’s White Christmas in the Village will be back this year, It returns Saturday Dec. 4, complete with the Parade of Lights in the evening.

A more complete blog will follow shortly!

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To the Core Pilates opens in Towne Center

15 Nov

Now, I’m no stranger to working out. I walk, run, do a little weightlifting, a little yoga. But Pilates? Had no clue what it was. So when I sat down for a chat the other day with Erin Ferrante, owner of the new To the Core Pilates studio, I thought I should let her know that right off the bat.

To her credit, she didn’t laugh, or even giggle. On the contrary, she assured me that’s not unusual; a lot of people around here don’t know much about Pilates.

I came to realize that that example of non-judgmental acceptance pretty much sums up Erin’s approach to her new business and the people who walk through her door: everyone is welcome, no matter what shape you’re in or where you are in your fitness goals.

Even if you know nothing about Pilates.

To the Core Pilates opened on Oct. 4 in Towne Center plaza (Target plaza) next door to Visionworks. It’s a dream come true for owner Erin Ferrante, who first fell in love with Pilates when she was living in Aspen, Colorado several years ago. When she came back home to Wayne County, she brought that passion for Pilates with her, along with a dream of opening her own studio. She even had her eye on a plaza she knew very well from her Wayne County youth.

She remembers, “I said, ‘Mom I just want to move home and open a Pilates studio in Webster Plaza. A couple years later, here I am.”

She started small, first offering classes in an under-used building at Thornbee Farm in Walworth, owned by her aunt and uncle. The venture was extremely successful. She soon realized she needed more room, and was ready to take the next step. She found an 1800-sq. foot studio space in Towne Center, and started introducing what she calls a “very west coast fitness regimen” to the greater Webster community.

“There’s not really Pilates around here,” she explained.

A lot of people don’t know what it is. I’ve found that’s been one of the biggest things. People know how to lift weights around here or do burn boot camp. Pilates is a type of exercise where we focus on slow, controlled toning exercise. We do things that are high intensity but it’s a very low-impact workout.

So basically, Pilates stresses low-impact flexibility, muscular strength, and endurance. Which is pretty much why everyone can do it, regardless of fitness level.

I’m trying to help people understand that they don’t have to jump around to get a good workout. … The high impact stuff is not good for your joints and muscles. … The awesome thing about Pilates is we use very low weights, very high reps. I want to teach people that good exercise, maybe three days a week, clean eating and a little bit of walking is going to get them to the goals they’re looking for.

“I want people to feel like this is really a welcoming community when they come in the door,” she added. “No matter what their fitness level is, we can help them.”

It’s an approach that’s already winning a lot of fans, like Maria Derks. Packing up from an intense Barefoot Boot Camp class, she agreed with Erin, calling the atmosphere at To the Core Pilates as “very intimate. (Erin) makes me feel special,” she said. “She wants to make us all feel welcome.”

To the Core Pilates is located at 1028 Ridge Rd. (Towne Center plaza), next door to Visionworks in the plaza’s northwest corner. Classes offered include Pilates, core, yoga and high-intensity Barefoot Boot Camp. Plus, this coming Wednesday Nov. 17, Erin will also be hosting a special Nourish: Body & Mind nutrition workshop led by Erica of Revive Your Tribe, designed especially for women.

Visit the To the Core Pilates Facebook page and Instagram (@tothecore_pilates) for more information.

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A GoPro update

14 Nov

I thought I’d give everyone who’s following the GoPro story a quick update.

For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, a brief summary:

On Nov. 1, DP (Don) Dunn was walking along the pier and found a GoPro which had washed up on the shore. He emailed me about it and sent some photos he’d pulled off the SD card. I posted a blog and within two hours the owner had been located. Ollie Bartholomew, who lives in Westchester County, had lost it in the lake while visiting some friends over the 4th of July holiday. It took four months for it to wash up on the shore. (Click here to see the follow-up blog I wrote.)

The second half of this story, and perhaps even more heartwarming, is that Ollie offered to donate $100 in my name and Don’s name to charity as kind of a reward. Don and I chose to donate to a GoFundMe page for a friend of his, Kevin Woolever, who is fighting ALS and is in danger of losing his home.

And now the update:

On Friday Nov. 5, Don had packed up the camera and shipped it back to Ollie, who received it the following Monday and was kind enough to send along some close-up photos of how somewhat battered it was from its time in the drink.

But then he sent the following little video, which is priceless. Ollie actually encapsulated the camera — and therefore the whole fun story — in a display case for his office.

Last Thursday, Andrew Freeman from Spectrum News put in a marathon day interviewing all three of us for a piece which will air sometime this coming week. Don told his part of the story at the lake, where it all started. Andrew came to my house and we talked as I sat at my dining room table/office. Later that afternoon, he and Ollie talked via Zoom from Ollie’s high-rise Manhattan office.

It was a really fun day, and I’ll let you know when I see the story pop up online.

I’m also very happy to report that several very kind people have donated to Kevin’s GoFundMe page as a result of my blog. My sincere thanks to those folks for helping continue to spread the kindness.

Click on the link above to read more about about Kevin’s story.

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