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Neighborliness transcends town borders

11 May
Julia Meyers and Sophia Elias ready to work.

Last Saturday May 8 was the Terry Rothfuss Memorial Good Neighbor Day in Penfield. This annual event, organized by Penfield Recreation, gathers volunteers to help Penfield seniors, veterans and those who are disabled do light yard work and spring cleaning.

The event honors the memory of Terry Rothfuss, a farmer in east Penfield who was always ready and willing to help anyone at any time. After he passed away in 2014, his friends and family wanted to carry on Terry’s legacy of friendship by continuing to help their community and inspire others to do the same.

The annual event has grown every year, and I was pleased to find out recently that its influence has even spread beyond Penfield’s borders, as neighborliness should.

Webster resident Linda Meyers read about Good Neighbor Day when I posted a blog about it in early April. That same day, Linda messaged me to tell me how much she loved the idea and was going to sign up with her daughter Julia.

I was so happy to hear her say that. I’ve written about Good Neighbor Day several times in my blog and when I was writing my column for the D&C. Never did I even consider that anyone outside of Penfield would want to take part. But of course, the event is all about neighborliness and community. And when it comes to both those things, town borders mean nothing.

When she first read about the event, Linda wrote, “I was super excited because I love yard work and weeding.” She even recruited her neighbors Chris Elias, Kim Mead and their daughter Sophia to join them.

(We) went to the opening at Rothfuss Farm on Salt Road and it was awesome to see all of the volunteers and meet Sabrina (Renner) the coordinator. We got Good Neighbor T-shirts, donuts and bags for our day and it was wonderful hearing more about Terry Rothfuss from his daughter Molly.

We were assigned to a lady’s home and raked a ton of pine needles and did some weeding in a few of her back gardens. She was incredibly appreciative and even had water bottles, bagged apples and cookies as treats for us.

After all the work was done, participants were invited to Rothfuss Park for some post-event activities sponsored by Browncroft Community Church, including food trucks, mini-golf, a pitching inflatable and other games.

“Overall we had a great experience,” Linda said. “My daughter says she wants to go back to the same lady’s house next year!”


So, this is an awesome story on so many fronts.

First, we’re talking neighbors helping neighbors, just for the fun of it. Second, it’s so heartening to see kids get involved. What a great way to help them learn about compassion and giving to others. (And a little hard work never hurts, either.) And seeing the even expand beyond the Penfield borders just warms my heart and gives me renewed confidence that maybe we can all work together and keep this world running for a long time.

Finally, on a personal note, I’d love to see this event come to Webster. There are certainly residents in our town who could use this kind of help. It just so happens that our current Commissioner of Parks and Recreation, Chris Bilow, was the former director at the Penfield Rec, and oversaw Good Neighbor Day for years.

So what do you say, Chris? Can we make this happen?

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Young artists create a garden on Baker St.

15 Apr

Do you know what our kids were doing around this time last spring? Chalking beautiful pictures on our sidewalks and driveways, turning our neighborhoods into art galleries. For a while it seemed that around every corner was a colorful new surprise — a rainbow, flower, smiley face, or inspirational message. The artwork was a welcome distraction from the stresses we were feeling from the worsening pandemic.

Well, I’m pleased to report that the artists are back. They’ve returned to Baker St. in the village, anyway. When my husband and I were taking our after-dinner walk last night, we came up Baker and were delighted to find that some artist — or artists — had chalked flowers along almost the entire length of sidewalk.

We counted more than 75 flowers, one on each sidewalk block. It must have taken a lot of time. And a lot of chalk.

This spring, fortunately, is not dawning as dismally as it did last year. Things finally seem to be inching back toward normal again. So we really don’t need the distraction as much.

But I for one am delighted to see it. Thank you, young artists.

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Village neighborhood hosts some Easter fun this week

19 Mar

Children — and adults — are invited to enjoy some socially-distanced Easter-themed fun this week, courtesy your Village of Webster neighbors on Curtice Park.

Curtice Park resident Jennifer Cave has designed a neighborhood scavenger hunt to celebrate the upcoming Easter holiday, give kids something fun to do, and help them get a little exercise (but don’t tell them about that part!). The idea is simple: with scavenger hunt card in hand, participants can walk up and down Curtice Park and look for different Easter pictures displayed in the houses’ front windows.

Jennifer writes that she got the scavenger hunt idea from an email she received and decided to do it in her neighborhood as well.

I thought, I want to do something fun for the kids who have had so much cancelled on them this year. With that said, I printed out pictures with a small explanation (for the neighbors) asking if they would hang a picture in their window to help make this Easter special. I wanted to respect everyone’s comfort levels, so I just put it in people’s doors and left. To my surprise there was a large turnout, over 75% of the houses put up pictures within a day or two.

On Saturday and Sunday, the first few days of the scavenger hunt, several neighbors even put some Easter treats at the end of their driveways for the kids. That idea came from one of Jennifer’s neighbors, and the idea quickly caught fire. A neighbor on a nearby street even donated some candy. But that’s the way Webster rolls.

I’ve been blown away by the support of my neighborhood and really hope to bring some joy to families. It doesn’t have to be just kids, if adults want to get some exercise and do the scavenger hunt I’d love to see that as well!

Just print off the scavenger hunt paper you see here and you’re good to go. The pictures will remain posted through Easter.

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Webster community mailbag

9 Mar

Two opportunities to help our neighbors in today’s mailbag, and some reader memories from the ice storm of ’91.

Immanuel Lutheran Church at 131 West Main St., in the Village of Webster will hold a food and underwear drive on Saturday March 20 from from 10 a.m. to noon.

The food collected will be shared with needy families via Immanuel’s Weekend Backpack Food program and their Little Free Pantry.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the Weekend Backpack Food program. It began with 16 students at one elementary school, and was just a 6-week commitment. It currently supports more than 70 students across all seven Webster elementary buildings.

In his recent email, Ed Huehn from Immanuel explained,

A referral from a teacher, school nurse or social worker and consent from a guardian/parent makes (a student) a part of the program. The food provides support to the student on the weekend. Some, but not all of the kids receive free or reduced breakfast and lunch during the week. The foods included are kid-friendly and easy to prepare. Each bag contains 4-6 food items for meals or snack. They are a supplement for the weekend and easy to prepare. …The Webster School District transports the food from the church to each building and a coordinator there distributes the bags! Many thanks to all involved in this program and their support over 10 years.

Immanuel also maintains one of the many little free pantries in the Webster area, located in the parking lot. The concept is “take what you need and leave what you can.” Some of the donations collected on the 20th will be used to restock the pantry. If you choose to bring donations at other times, please limit them to commercially prepared, non-perishable goods.

Oh, yeah! And remember they need underwear, too. Underwear is one of the most needed and least donated items in community programs. Pleease bring only new underwear and socks, in orginal packaging.


If you happen to be closer to Penfield’s four corners on that Saturday, Penfield First Baptist Church is also holding a drive-up, drop-ff food drive that day, also from 10 a.m. to noon. They’ll be set up in the church parking lot, 1862 Penfield Rd. Donations will support the Penfield Ecumenical Food Shelf “feed the kids” program.


The Webster Public Library has a Puzzle Swap Shelf!

I’m actually bouncing in my chair as I write that, because I am an off-again on-again jigsaw-puzzler (when I can find the time and space) and have burned through all the ones I own. And I fear my good friend Patty will get tired of loaning me ones from her expansive collection.

So when I heard that I can take some of my old standbys (some of which I have done several times) and swap them out for new ones, I was delighted. So grab your ond ones and stop by the library for some new ones. I might just see you there!

The Webster Public Library is at 980 Ridge Rd., at the back of the plaza.

Finally, I would like to share with you a few reader responses I got after my blog on the 30th anniversary of the 1991 ice storm. I invited everyone to send in their memories from that day, and I received a few. Thank you for sharing!

At that time we lived in Country Manor apartments. And we were lucky because power was restored to that complex quickly. (Xerox was busy back then and I think that our close proximity to the plant helped get the power back later that day on the 4th) But it was one heck of a night listening to the branches cracking and falling in a nearby wooded area and also seeing the flashes of the transformers blowing up. I would rate this storm as probably the worst storm that I have experienced in this area in my life. The blizzard of ’66 was wild, but we did not have the loss of power or the outright destruction that the ice storm of ’91 had. Our county looked like a war zone for sure ! — Bob B.

We were living in the Maplewood area of the city. A branch in our backyard took out our power but we were able to run a large extension cord from our neighbor’s garage for minimal power. We were low priority for the power company so didn’t get power back for a week. My sons wanted to take a walk so I made them wear football helmets because of the ice falling from trees. It was beautiful! — Karen T.

We had moved to Irondequoit by 1991. … Our ice storm experience in Irondequoit similar to yours. Had power, so Greece family moved in. Crowded but fun. Lost some trees, no house damage. Beautiful wind-chime sound of ice-laden branches moving in wind until wind picked up and turned into crashing sounds as branches and limbs fell. — Kathy T.

On a side note, it was fun to discover through these memories that Kathy and I were apparently neighbors back in the late ’80s and early ’90s, living perhaps 10 houses away from each other on the same city street.

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What can be done with that ugly West Webster corner?

20 Jan

Every once in a while I remember to log onto the Town of Webster website and check in with Supervisor Flaherty’s weekly column. Usually I find something interesting and perhaps even learn something I didn’t know.

When I was doing that recently, I came across a column he wrote back in September which addressed a thorny issue I’ve thought about often: cleaning up the corner of Ridge Rd. and Gravel Rd. in West Webster.

You know the place: the Jade Palace Restaurant sits on the northeast corner and the old Webster Furniture Strippers on the northwest corner. The restaurant itself is pretty unslightly and overgrown, but the former Furniture Strippers shop is even worse. It’s downright decrepit, an embarrassment to the hamlet.

I had heard for years that the reason the Furniture Strippers shop has not yet been razed was due to environmental concerns regarding the chemicals they used, which seeped into the ground. Basically, the property is a toxic waste site, and no one wants to take responsibility for it.

Supervisor Flaherty goes into a lot of political background in his column about how the owners have defaulted on their taxes, meaning the county can take possession of the property. But because of the environmental issues, the county wants nothing to do with it. You can read all of that background here if you’d like. But I was interested in the bottom line: when will someone bulldoze that building?

Here’s what he had to say about that:

The first part of the plan is to get the DEC reports on the building in the last 30 years and if they show that the environmental issues at the site are “minimal or non-existent,” the County may take title to the property and market it for sale. At that point, a developer most likely would want to buy it if they saw the cost to take down the building was NOT going to have hundreds of thousands of dollars of environmental remediation. If the DEC reports are not definitive enough to have Monroe County take title, we will move on to plan B which most likely entails a phase 1 or 2 environmental study of the property to determine the true environmental risk and what needs remediation.

All of which means this issue is STILL not going away anytime soon. But Supervisor Flaherty does assure us that he’s still working on it, writing,

I am not comfortable just throwing my hands up and saying “oh well… nothing we can do. It’s Monroe County’s decision.” Fact is, the property is IN Webster. It is an eyesore at best, and a safety risk at worst. It also is impeding the development of that corner and all neighborhoods that spawn off of it.

Let’s hope his commitment stays strong. West Webster deserves better.

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Webster woman runs for Bella’s Bumbas

9 Nov
Kim Rosdahl with a Bella’s Bumba

Here’s a great story about a woman who took her passions and used them to benefit a very worthwhile organization.

Webster resident Kim Rosdahl is a runner, the kind who last year signed up for a 50K trail race in hilly Mendon Ponds because she thought it would be a fun challenge. Her normally packed fall racing calendar has mostly been cancelled due to the pandemic, however, so she decided to create an event of her own: a charity run to benefit 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’ve shipped about 1500 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.

Kim found out about the organization at work, where she provides early intervention services to young children. Bella’s Bumbas’ mission to offer mobility for children struck a chord with her.

If I’ve learned one thing through the past seven months of this global pandemic, it’s that running and movement in general have not only kept me physically healthy but emotionally and mentally strong at the same time. …

During my 15 years working in early intervention I’ve worked with many children who have limited to no mobility due to various health reasons. It was last year that I was introduced to the Bella’s Bumba chair and learned that it was developed and made right here in the town of Webster, where I live.

It didn’t take her long to come up with the perfect way to bring her two passions — running and her work with children — together.

She reached out to Bella’s Bumbas for permission to organize a run to raise funds and awareness. Then she spread the word to her neighbors and friends: join her as she ran for three hours around her neighborhood for Bella’s Bumbas.

Many people did. From 9 a.m. to noon yesterday morning, Kim Rosdahl ran in never-ending laps around her Tuscany Lane neighborhood. She was sometimes accompanied by friends and family, often times accompanied by children. By the end of the run, more than 20 different people ages 4 to 62 had joined her for at least one lap, and Kim estimated she’d completed more than 17 miles.

Many others who didn’t participate have donated to the Bella’s Bumbas GoFundMe page in support of Kim’s run.

After the run Kim wrote in an email,

This organization has made an impact across the globe for children who would have never had the opportunity to become more mobile and engage in play with their peers. Knowing the impact movement has made in my life and the ways it’s helped me through the past few months, I know the impact for these children is even larger!

It made me so happy to see many of the kids and families within my neighborhood join me during my 3-hour run. It makes me even happier to know that we helped to provide more opportunities for so many children both inside and outside our community, to laugh and play and engage in movement activities making life just a little bit better.

It was a wonderful day, not only because the weather was glorious. It was also an inspiring testament to the fact that one person can really make a difference in our world, especially when you follow your passion.

To find out more about Bella’s Bumbas and the difference they’re making for children all around the world, check out this YouTube video. You can also connect with them on their Facebook page. And definitely connect to Bella’s Bumbas GoFundMe page to show your support for Kim’s run!

Some of the morning’s youngest runners (L. Currier)
Kim’s neighbor friends Olivia, Abby and Ellie help her hold the finisher ribbon they made for her to break through at the end of the run.

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Edna Struck Memorial Park is getting fixed

16 Oct

You may think you have no idea what the Edna Struck Memorial Park is, or where it’s located. But if you live in the village, chances are very good you’ve passed by it many a time, especially if you live on the east side.

Edna Struck Memorial Park is the grassy median where Lapham Park makes a slight jog at the corner of Elm St. It’s named in honor of Mrs. Struck, who made it her passion to tend the plants on the island for years.

In February of last year, someone was driving down Lapham Park much too fast and — instead of navigating the jog in the road — decided to drive right through the park, mowing down the trees and plants, and inflicting significant other damage.

Since that unfortunate incident, the village has been tossing around ideas about how to refurbish the median, including reinstalling the two memorial plaques honoring Edna Struck.

On my walk yesterday afternoon, I saw that work had begun. A handful of village employees were busy putting down and smoothing out some new topsoil. Jake Swingly, the village’s Superintendent of Public Works, told me the next step will be to plant some trees, then finish up the rest of the gardens next spring (as seen in the project proposal below).

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Village block party brought music to the streets

14 Sep
The Red Hot and Blue Band performed a porch concert for about 100 village residents Saturday afternoon.

I have come to realize that one of the main things I miss most during this pandemic is the opportunity to see live music.

Fortunately, those opportunities have begun to present themselves again in the last several weeks. For example, the Village of Webster held three Friday night concerts at the gazebo, and Barry’s Old School Irish is back to hosting its regular traditional Irish music sessions every Saturday night.

I consider yesterday’s live music event a bonus, however. It was a village block party held on Park Ave., just around the corner from my house (OK, two corners).

A portion of Park Ave. was blocked off for the party.

I’m not sure who organized the event, but I’m sure my Park Ave. neighbor Doug Pucci had something to do with it. It was on his porch that his rockin’ Red Hot and Blue Band performed for almost three hours to an appreciative audience of almost 100 adults and children.

The organizers distributed flyers all over the surrounding neighborhoods, but everyone in the village was invited, regardless of whether they got one of the “invitations” before they ran out.

The sun was shining, the children were dancing and making chalk drawings in the middle of Park Ave., and neighbors were meeting neighbors. It was a quintessential village experience.

Thank you to everyone who helped pull this together. It was exactly the thing all us music-starved and socially-deprived people needed.

At one point, almost 100 adults and children were watching the concert, dancing, or playing in the street.

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More cheerfulness in the neighborhoods

13 Jul

You may recall a few weeks I posted a blog titled “Finding Cheer Amid Adversity,” in which I encouraged everyone to look around while we’re walking or cycling, and see some of the fun, creative and beautiful things in our communities.

My list that day included yarn creations wrapped around trees, a fairy garden, and an aggressive lawn Zoomba. Today I’d like to add a few more to that list.

This first one is a nice segue from my recent blog about Little Free Libraries. I saw this one on a bike ride yesterday morning which took me down Apple Orchard Lane on the north side of town. It’s especially creative, with an actual chalkboard so people could leave notes. It looks like some children had a hand in its construction, so, well done!

IMG_20200712_091627616

Next, on a bike ride around my neighborhood a few days ago, I came across this sign posted to a tree which caused me to come to a complete stop.

It tells the story of the “Teddy Bear Hunt,” an effort begun during the pandemic which has spread all around the country. It’s kind of like a scavenger hunt. The idea is that homeowners put teddy bears in their windows, and kids can “go on a bear hunt,” walking through their neighborhoods in search of the elusive teddies.  Remember when we were all encouraged to put up rainbows in our windows for kids to find? It’s kind of like that.

Click closer into this photo and you can read the story for yourself. (And take a closer look at the other photo to see the bear in this home’s front window.) You can also click here for an article I found in the New York Times.  If you run up against a paywall and can’t read the article, simply Google “Teddy Bear Hunt” and you’ll find several others.

Now, get your bear and let’s all be part of the hunt!

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Seniors are getting celebrated in a big way

1 May

senior 1

Webster Schroeder senior Anya Swinson with her lawn sign.

If you’ve been on Facebook at all today, guaranteed you’ve seen some videos of a great event that’s happening all over town today.

Webster School District representatives are driving all around town today in a mini-parade led by a loudly-honking school bus, handing out lawn signs recognizing every single one of our high school seniors — more than 700 of them.

The school bus is being followed by Webster Schroeder teachers/staff, Webster Thomas teachers/staff, and PTSA volunteers in their cars. The parade is expected to continue until about 3:30, so keep an eye out in your neighborhood!

Click here to see video of the delivery to the home of Webster Schroeder senior Anya Swinson, who will be attending Mercyhurst in the fall. The Webster Central PTSA purchased the signs.

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