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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 family puts a puzzling twist on their Little Free Library

10 Mar

Plenty of Little Free Libraries have popped up in Webster, those mini libraries packed with books and magazines free for the taking. But I recently discovered one that’s different from any other you’ll see — maybe anywhere. That’s because it’s stuffed with puzzles, not books.

The Puzzle Exchange, located at 1440 Plank Rd., is the brainchild of Brian Roode, his wife Janine, and kids Simon and Lucy. They came up with the idea early on in the pandemic as a way to share their love of jigsaw puzzles with a larger audience.

“We were at home so much, doing puzzles,” Brian said. “We were doing a lot of trading of puzzles back and forth with a few different families. We said, why not make someplace where lots of people can enjoy the puzzles?”

So about a year ago they erected their Puzzle Exchange, basically a Little Free Library for puzzles. The library compartment is surprisingly spacious; in one photo on the Puzzle Exchange Facebook page, I counted a dozen puzzles stuffed inside. And the box is marked with a handsome flag, emblazoned with a puzzle piece, so it’s kind of hard to miss when you’re driving by on Plank Rd.

All the family members pitch in to check it regularly and keep it stocked, and over the winter everyone helped shovel snow to maintain a clear path to the street.

The Exchange has clearly been a hit. When they first put it up, they started out with just two or three puzzles. But since then, word has spread enough that the collection has populated itself quite nicely, so much so that the Roodes have had to put a large tote near the box to handle the overflow.

“There’s a few people a day that stop and hit it,” Brian said. “The puzzles usually change over pretty quickly. There’s a range of adult puzzles and kid puzzles and little kid puzzles, like 10 pieces.”

Being puzzle stewards has been so much fun for the Roode family that they’re even thinking of branching out and doing a game exchange.

Stay tuned.

The Puzzle Exchange is an officially registered Little Free Library. You’ll find it at 1440 Plank Rd., between Fairport Nine Mile Point Rd. (Rt. 250) and Harris Rd. Look for the flag! To stay up to date on the puzzles you might find inside, follow the Puzzle Exchange Facebook page.

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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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The village lights are still twinkling

3 Mar

Any day now, the village’s Public Works Department will be taking down the snowflakes on the light poles along Main Street and the twinkly lights in the trees. And I, for one, will be sorry to see them go.

I’m sure there’s been some grumbling about why the “Christmas” lights are still up when St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner. Even I become a bit judgmental when I see reindeer and Santa still decorating the occasional front yard. But when it comes to our downtown, I’m a bit more forgiving.

The way I see it, even though these decorations go up just before the holidays, they are snowflakes, after all. So they could just as easily be winter decorations, not just holiday decorations. And as for the twinkly lights in the trees, I think they should be left up all year long. They add a special small-town charm after dark.

So one evening soon I’ll be running or walking through the village and notice that the lights are gone, and it will make my heart sad. But in the meantime I’ll enjoy and appreciate the little bit of magic they bring to the village.

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Local athlete makes a splash in North Dakota

14 Jan

I received a Proud Momma email the other day from one of my most faithful readers, AnnMarie Johansson, who knows I like to highlight Webster’s young people and their accomplishments.

AnnMarie wanted to let me know that her son Dan, a 2013 Wester Thomas graduate, is making a name for himself as the equipment manager for the University of North Dakota.

The local newspaper there, the Grand Forks Herald, recently featured Dan in a long article on the front page of its Friday sports section. It describes how the very physical job keeps him in constant motion, leads to a lot of late nights and early mornings, and very few days off.

Ann Marie wrote that back in the day, Dan played a for the Webster Cyclones youth hockey association and “maybe a year or two for JV,” adding, “He was never ‘good enough’ for varsity.”

She and her husband Eric are, naturally, very proud of their son.

Click the “Download” buttons below to check out the article yourself.

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Library, Hope House collaborate on successful clothing drive

13 Jan
HOPE Ministry Director Margery Morgan with a carload of donations. (Photo provided)

The Webster Public Library and HOPE Ministry joined forces recently to bring a little bit of happiness and warmth to local families during the holidays.

The organizations teamed up to host a two-month long winter clothing drive to benefit the families who rely on Hope House, located at Holy Trinity Church, for food and clothing.

The library hosts this giving event every year, and library patrons and staff members always come through in a big way. This year, enough hats, mittens, scarves, coats and socks were collected to fill a large SUV floor to ceiling.

“There was just SO much,” said Margery Morgan, Director of HOPE Ministry. “A lot of it was hand-knitted and hand-crocheted,” she added, and seemed especially pleased with all of the socks and brand new items they received, items they can’t always offer to their clients. All of the donations will be distributed to low-income Webster families during the Hope House’s regular food distribution hours.

This year’s clothing drive has ended, but the Hope House continues to accept donations of personal hygiene items, cleaning items and food. The need is especially great as the pandemic continues to devastate families’ lives. Illness and unemployment have driven many people into a place they never dreamed they’d be: needing assistance just to put enough food on the table.

If you’d like to help out, visit the Hope House website or Facebook page to see a wish list of items the ministry especially needs. Contact-less drop-off for donations is available. And if your family needs the kind of support the Hope House provides, give them a call at 585-265-6694 to discuss your situation, or stop by during their normal hours of operation.

“We’re here because we want to help people,” Morgan said. “Nobody should be hungry.”

Hope House is located at Holy Trinity Church, 1450 Ridge Rd., Webster. Hours are Monday 4 to 7 p.m, Tuesday 9 a.m. to noon and Wednesday 2 to 5 p.m.

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Two stories of holiday kindness

19 Dec

Here are a few quick stories that will brighten your day.

The first comes from one of my faithful readers, whose daughter Julia dances with the local studio Dancing With Denise, located on Gravel Rd. in Webster.

Owner Denise Baller has always supported our community in so many ways, most recently participating in the recent Webster Holiday Parade of Lights, where she and her dedicated dancers kept going through rain and snow until the very last car drove through the parade.

Last week Sunday she and her “Happy Feet Dancers” dancers took that commitment to The Maplewood senior living community and created their very own Dancing Parade around the outside of the building. Each resident was treated to their own private dance show right outside their windows.

The photo above is of the dancers in their holiday gear. Go on over to Denise’s Facebook page to see more photos and a really cute video.

I picked up this next tidbit from a Facebook post created by Jamie Nodine about her son Josh.

I wrote about Josh back in March when he was treated to a very special birthday parade past his house, kind of a consolation prize for when his Dream Factory trip to Walt Disney World got canceled.

On nice days, Josh likes to sit outside his State Rd. home and wave at the cars and trucks driving by. When he was doing that a little more than a week ago, he was surprised by a very special visitor.

Jamie wrote,

The weather was beautiful yesterday! It was a perfect day for Josh to sit in the driveway and wave to passersby. As I looked out the front window, I saw a truck slow down and stop in the driveway. Much to my surprise, Santa hopped out to greet my son! Josh was beside himself! With a “ho ho ho,” he handed Josh some candy canes and wished him a Merry Christmas.

Josh was thrilled, Jamie added, and talked about the experience all night long. A big thank you to the the kind Santa in the pickup truck for taking the time to make a special memory this special young man.

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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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