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Don’t miss this holiday light display

10 Dec

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If you and your family like traveling around the neighborhoods during the holidays to see the different Christmas light displays, read on, because I want to tell you about one that you shouldn’t miss.

It’s at the home of Charlie and Cora Venishel, 100 Henderson Drive in Penfield (across from the library and Penfield Recreation Center).  For years, in addition to an incredible front and back-yard light display, the Venishels hosted a magical Christmas town inside their home, with a gingerbread house toy shop, miniature villages, hundreds of nutcrackers, electric trains, exquisitely decorated dining rooms, and more. For a small donation to the Ronald McDonald House Charities, families could enjoy the front yard decorations, tour the village, then wander out into the backyard where thousands more lights twinkled. (Click here to read the D&C column I wrote about it.)

The couple hosted the event for ten years, raising more than $30,000 for Ronald McDonald House. After the 2015 season, they decided to hand off the villages to their children. But they’ve continued to set up their amazing front yard display in the years since, and have added something new every year.

Visitors will see all varieties of Christmas trees, trumpeting angels, icicles, lighted walkways, huge “Season’s Greetings” sign on the roof, Santa’s mailbox, and an Ice Princess’ castle, all illuminated with somewhere around 25,000 twinkling lights. There are also giant candy canes and life-sized snowman, and an antique, refurbished sleigh with Santa and Mrs. Claus, led by eight reindeer (and Rudolph, of course).

Like many private home Christmas light displays, the effect is breathtaking. But what’s different is the Venishels’ continued commitment to helping others. They’re encouraging visitors to help them raise money for AutismUp, a local organization dedicated to supporting those with autism spectrum disorder. They’ve put a mailbox at the end of the driveway for anyone who might like to drop in a dollar or two for the cause.

So make sure to stop by the Venishels’ display, 100 Henderson Drive. Park for a bit and actually wander down the sidewalk to the Ice Princess’ castle. Then tuck a few bucks into the mailbox before you leave. It’s a great way to share the joy and love of the holiday season.

 

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Rec Cross has announced a severe need for blood. Here’s how you can help

24 Nov

You have an opportunity TODAY to honor a life ended too soon, while helping to save others.

A blood drive being held today (Saturday) from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Webster Schroeder High School honors the memory of Schroeder graduate Colin Montesano, who passed away suddenly last year at just 21 years old.

colinColin had wanted to dedicate his life to helping others by becoming a physician and studied at the University of Pittsburgh. He was also an active community volunteer and talented athlete.

Here are the details of today’s drive:

Blood Drive in honor of Colin Montesano
Saturday, November 24, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Webster Schroeder High School
875 Ridge Road, Webster. Walk-ins are welcome.

Aside from this being a great thing to do in Colin’s memory, this is also a critical time of year for blood donations. Donations decline significantly from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day as people get busy with holiday activities, so the Red Cross really needs your help.

If you can’t make today’s drive, here are several other local opportunities coming up in the next several weeks:

  • Fairport/Webster Elks Lodge, 1066 Jackson Rd., Webster: Thursday Nov. 29, from 3 to 7 p.m.
  • St. Martin’s Lutheran Church, 813 Bay Rd., Webster: Tuesday Dec. 11 from 1 to 6 p.m.
  • Webster Knights of Columbus, 70 Barrett Drive: Wednesday Dec. 12 from 1 to 7 pm.
  • Kent Park Arboretum, 1700 Schlegel Rd., Webster: Thursday Dec. 20 from 2 to 7 p.m.
  • Visiting Nurse Service, 2180 Empire Blvd., Webster: Friday Dec. 21 from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
  • Dunkin Donuts, 2100 Empire Blvd., Webster: Sat. Dec. 22 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Penfield Community Center, 1985 Baird Rd.: Friday Dec. 21 from 1 to 6 p.m.

Walk-ins are welcome, but appointments are encouraged (and help you get in and out a little faster). Call 1-800 RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or log onto RedCrossBlood.org.

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Webster community mailbag

14 Nov

Santa is beginning to make his rounds!

santa St. Martin

Santa got a little story time help at last year’s St. Martin Christmas party.

Generally one of the first times we see him in Webster is at St. Martin’s Lutheran Church for their holiday party, and this year is no different.

On Friday night November 30, Santa will arrive by fire truck at St. Martin’s, 813 Bay Road in Webster, at about 6 p.m. Then he’ll settle into the church’s community room in his big Santa chair until 8 p.m. where he’ll chat with the children, read a story, and be available for photos with both children AND adults.

Other activities that evening will include cookie decorating, Christmas bingo, making a reverse Advent calendar and presentation of the Christmas Story. Free pizza nd beverages will also be provided.

There’s no charge for this great holiday event, but please bring a canned food item.

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The First Baptist Church of Penfield’s next Saturday Flapjack Breakfast is scheduled for November 17 from 8 to 10 a.m. at the church, 1862 Penfield Road.

For just $5 per person, you get all-you-can-eat pancakes, pure maple syrup, scrambled eggs, sausage, and beverages. All are welcome, and the venue is handicapped accessible.

Proceeds this month will benefit the Penfield Ecumenical Food Shelf, a supplemental food relief organization serving the 14526 and 14625 areas and families of children in the Penfield school district since 1997.

Donations of stuffing packages will be gratefully accepted for holiday meals as well. And make sure to mark your calendars for the next flapjack breakfast on December 15 — word is that a special visitor from up north might just stop in!

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Here’s a quick follow up and some adorable photos from the spaghetti fundraiser dinner held at the Webster-Fairport Elks Lodge on November 3 to benefit little Liam Goggins.

Liam, who’s just a little over one year old, has been struggling with severe health problems. On his first birthday, he stopped breathing, and was ultimately diagnosed with a congenital heart problem. Doctors inserted a mechanical valve, which will need replacement one or two more times as he grows.

The dinner, which was held to help offset his family’s medical costs, was a great success, selling 276 tickets. So many friends, family members came together to help little Liam.

The Goggins family would like to thank community members who supported the event, and the many local businesses, friends and even strangers who donated cash, goods and raffle items.

Here are a few photos from the evening, courtesy Kathy Beltrone:

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Adopt a family this holiday

7 Nov

hope ministry

HOPE Ministry in Webster, our town’s only food cupboard, is asking our very generous local community to help them out this holiday season by “adopting” a family.

HOPE Ministry provides Christmas every year for more than 100 families in Webster. Through their program, individuals, families, organizations and businesses can adopt a family by providing at least two gifts per child (you will get some suggestions provided by the families) and if possible, also provide food for a Christmas dinner and/or gift cards with which the family can purchase food. The family’s wish list will be sent to you along with other details.

Items are needed by Wednesday, December 12, so if you’re interested in helping out you should contact Hope Ministry ASAP so you have plenty of time to shop and gather the gifts.

For more information or to sign up, contact Chris at shrtstp701@aol.com or call HOPE Ministry at 265-6694.

HOPE Ministry is located at 1450 Ridge Road, Webster. Even if you can’t adopt a family, please consider donating toiletries, diapers in sizes 4-6, laundry and dish detergent, because those items are always needed.

Check out HOPE Ministry on Facebook here.

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Local laxer Dick Baran inducted into Hall of Fame

5 Nov
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Dick Baran making his acceptance speech Friday night.

Dick Baran, Long-time Webster lacrosse player, coach and all-around cheerleader, was recognized for his dedication to the sport Friday night when he was inducted into the Greater Rochester Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

Known affectionately as the “Box-Father,” Baran is the prime designer and fund-raiser  of the “box” for small-sided lacrosse at Ridgecrest Park in Webster, and one of the leading promoters of the Webster Lacrosse Club.

The induction ceremony was hosted by the Rochester Chapter of US Lacrosse at the Burgundy Basin Inn. The 2018 class includes five individuals and two teams.

The Boys’ Lacrosse Section V website has this to say about Baran:

Dick Baran is a long-time lacrosse proponent, having served the Webster community for many years. In the 1990s he helped to secure funds for “after school at the box.” He organized trips to see college games at Syracuse University, where his charges would meet with Roy Simmons Jr. and tour the locker room facilities. More recently he has served a director of the Webster Micro-lacrosse program and in 2001 was named Citizen of the Year.

Baran is be the seventh Webster laxer to be honored by the local chapter. Also inducted on Friday night were Andrew Copelan, a stand-out Pittsford high school player and award-winning college coach; Terry Cotten, life-long Victor resident and three-sport athlete who continues to play in adult leagues; Canandaigua Academy head lacrosse coach Ed Mulheron; Brighton player, college coach and Team USA member Danielle Spencer; The 2009 Canandaigua Boys’ Varsity Team; and the 2004 Penn Yan Girls’ Varsity Team.

box father

Dick Baran (in the orange shorts) on the lacrosse field with some of his young players.

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What did YOU do this weekend?

15 Oct

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Boy, wasn’t Sunday just a picture-perfect autumn day?

The firefighters at the West Webster Fire Department really lucked out with the weather for their open house, allowing them to pull all their rigs out of the bays, set up SO MANY food tents and give-away tables, and give little wanna-be firefighters a chance to go through an inflatable fire-safety house (never seen one of those before) and use a real fire hose to extinguish some not-so-real flames.

I popped by the event and snapped some photos, making sure to give a wide berth to the free hot dog table and free doughnut table. Click here to see a gallery.

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The annual Webster Fall Festival held Saturday afternoon didn’t have quite as good weather. An already cool day was made even more so by a lot of clouds and a stiff wind. But the brisk temperatures didn’t seem to bother the large numbers of families who attended.

The event was held at Gosnell Big Woods Preserve on Vosburg Road, which provided plenty of open space for kids’ games, pony and wagon rides, classic cars, food trucks, a live entertainment stage, and a few community agency information tables.

The event benefited Rochester Challenger Miracle Field, which is a great cause not only because it’s right in our own Webster back yard, but it’s simply an awesome facility for the differently-abled.

Click here to see a gallery of photos from that afternoon.

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Bella’s Bumbas gets a boost

24 Sep

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I am tickled pink to tell you all about the latest good news from Webster’s very own Bella’s Bumbas, one of the most caring organizations I have ever known, run by two of the most caring individuals I have ever met.

I won’t go into much background into this great organization. You can read more about it in this blog I wrote back in 2017, and this follow-up blog earlier this year. But briefly, 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. In just their first year of operation, they shipped more than 300 “Bella’s Bumbas” around the world, often adapting the chairs for each child’s individual needs, and charging the families only for shipping.

Since starting Bellas Bumbas in 2017, the couple had been working out of their small Webster home. Rebecca handled the administrative chores on a laptop at their kitchen table, and Marty assembled the chairs in a cold, cramped workshop behind the garage, which doubled as storage for all the Bumba seats, wheels, platforms and hardware.

But thanks to the kindness of a friend, those days are finally behind them.

IMG_9386Last Saturday afternoon, at a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by Bella, her family and  several volunteers, Marty and Rebecca celebrated the official opening of their brand new workshop. The new space is actually a house belonging to a longtime friend and Bella’s Bumbas volunteer.

“Miss Lee,” as Rebecca and Marty call her, is a 97-year old woman who has been helping the couple out since they began, folding brochures and informational materials which were sent out with each chair. Recently, she had to move from her home into assisted living. When she did, she offered the use of her house to Rebecca and Marty to use as Bella’s Bumbas’ center of operations, asking only a little bit of rent in return.

It took a couple of weeks to move all of the building equipment, supplies and inventory to the new workshop, but by last week everything had been schlepped, sorted and set up. The house’s kitchen is now a workshop, the dining room is inventory storage, and the living room is the shipping center.

It’s really a dream come true for Marty and Rebecca.

“We have room to function now,” Marty said. “When we built (the wheelchairs) before we had no place to put them but on the floor. Picture 15 Bumbas on the floor. You had to move everything to get to them. It was getting to be more and more effort. It’s still a huge effort, but it’s a little more effortless because we have the space.”

Production barely slowed down during the move. These days they’re shipping out 15 to 20 chairs every week, all over the world. This week they’re shipping ones to Malaysia and Indonesia.

The chairs have come a long way since the first Bella’s Bumba. The seats are much more supportive, the wheels bigger, and very often they’re adapted specifically for a child’s special needs. A recent model, for example, was for a child with no legs and only one arm with which to drive it. Another was for a child whose legs are frozen in a frog-like position and can’t fit in a regular seat. 

“So far every challenge we’ve been given, we’ve met,” Marty said. 

When Miss Lee offered them use of her house, Rebecca said “I was surprised but not surprised.” Apparently, only a month after they had created Bella’s Bumbas, Miss Lee told her about a dream she had had.

“She told me, I had a dream,” Rebecca said. “You guys would have a building, and someday I hope it’s my home.” 

At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Miss Lee had another surprise for them. “I had another dream,” she said. “You’ll have a big building that will take care of everything —  workshops, all the things we need. Room to box it up.”

Let’s hope she’s right.

Here’s a short slideshow of photos from Bella’s Bumbas new space:

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Bella’s Bumbas could really use your help to continue their good work.

Since the organization officially began in early 2017, Marty and Rebecca have shipped almost 600 of the custom-made mini wheelchairs all around the world. Since they charge families only for shipping, they rely on donations of building and shipping supplies, and cash to purchase hardware. Now, even though the rent on their new workshop is reasonable, it means additional overhead.

There are several ways you can help.

  • Make a direct donation through the GoFundMe page;
  • If you do a lot of shopping on Amazon, you can select Bella’s Bumbas to receive a percentage of your purchase price through the AmazonSmile program.
  • Donate through PayPal
  • Donate shipping supplies
  • Send a check directly to Bella’s Bumbas, 1170 Ridge Road, #208, Webster, NY 14580
  • You can even buy some of the chairs for them. There are three different places you can get them: 1) This design from Kmart, 2) this other design from Kmart, and 3) this one at Amazon.com.

You can connect with Marty and Rebecca through the Bella’s Bumbas Facebook page if you’re not sure how to help or have any questions, or email bellasbumbas@gmail.com.

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Images from the Living History Tour

22 Sep

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I had a chance Saturday afternoon to pop by Webster Union Cemetery and catch the final half hour of the Living History Tour sponsored by the cemetery and the Webster Museum.

The event was an opportunity for local history buffs to “meet” and chat with several of Webster’s citizens from olden times, portrayed by museum volunteers. They included John Fielding Whiting, Charles and Sabrina Wright, Helen Tompkins, Mark Curtice, Mae Strowger Wright, Jennie Strowger Woodhull, and Abram and Patience Woodhull Foster.

The event’s organizers were positively giddy about how successful the day was. They estimated about 100 people — adults and children — visited the tour’s half dozen or so stops, taking photos and videos, and listening intently to the actors.

The gorgeous first-day-of-autumn weather might have had something to do with the large turnout, but I like to think there are simply a lot of people here in town who care about our local history. I’m sorry that I wasn’t able to attend the entire tour, but am hoping that the Webster Museum will consider doing another one of these next year.

By then, the volunteers’ voices will have rebounded, after their non-stop afternoon of talking.

Here’s a short slide show of some of those volunteers.

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First Responders 5K a great success

2 Sep

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More than 600 runners and walkers participated in the inaugural First Responders 5K on Friday night, enjoying gorgeous (albeit somewhat warm) weather and a party atmosphere to support a good cause.

The race was organized, according to the website, to “recognize the strength, perseverance, and courage of police officers, firefighters, EMTs, and their families in our local community.” Funds raised will go to create a local charity to “provide support, awareness, assets, and services to first responders seeking assistance in dealing with the effects of PTSD.”

The race began and ended on Sanford Street, at the south side of Firemen’s Field, and wound three miles through neighborhood streets on the village’s east side. Every finisher received a medal, and enjoyed plenty of post-race food, a free beer and live music. Runners came from all over the area, including representatives from fire companies, police departments and EMS companies from all over Monroe County and beyond.

Of course many of our very own Webster Volunteer Firefighters participated, completing the entire race in full turnout gear. I even saw a Webster policeman running in his full uniform — including his dress shoes.

The number of people who signed up for the race was a delightful surprise. Even the race organizers, Fleet Feet, noted that more than 600 participants is pretty much unheard of for a first-time race, especially on a Friday night. AND on Labor Day weekend.

But that’s who we are in Webster — a strong, supportive community. I fully expect that given this year’s success, the First Responders 5K will be back again next year, and Webster will come through again.

Click here to see a small gallery of photos from the race. You can also check out a short video which Channel 8 News ran after the event, featuring one of our very own Webster volunteer firefighters.

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The Village Bakery a welcome addition

17 Aug

 

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It took me a little while, but I finally got a chance to check out the brand new Village Bakery, which just opened up in the Village of Webster.

I’m fairly certain you’ve heard that the bakery is finally here; its arrival was highly anticipated. And judging from the number of people who’ve been streaming through its doors — and from my own experiences there — it has not disappointed.

I’m not going to rehash the whole history behind the decision to bring the bakery and its baking operation to Webster. That story has been told pretty well in several stories published in the D&C (here’s one, but just search for “Village Bakery” on their website to see more.) I’ll just pass along some of my thoughts from my recent visits.

The place is spacious, for starters. There’s a large dining room inside, and several tables outside, so even though the place was very busy each time I went, everyone could find a seat.

There’s a wonderful selection of breads, muffins, cookies and assorted baked goods, of course, but there’s also a nice display of Village Bakery merchandise (hats, t-shirts, mugs, etc.) and specialty food items (sauces, pasta, butters…). The breakfast and lunch menus are extensive, with lots of open and closed-face sandwiches, but with enough other offerings to keep diners happy.

Probably one of the biggest impressions I got from the Village Bakery is that it’s going to be a very popular village gathering spot. For that matter, it already is. When I was there a few days ago, I ran into six friends and acquaintances. Kind of like whenever I go to Barry’s Pub, I almost expected to know everybody who walked through the door.

THAT is the mark of a great village business. And THAT is what this village needs to help re-energize East Main Street.

The only problem I see with the Village Bakery and its new location is parking. That parking lot down immediately behind the East Main Street shops is not a big one. The few times I was there I was lucky to find a free spot. That problem might solve itself as the initial excitement wears off and crowds lessen a bit, but until that happens, you might have to park behind the Harmony House.

But basically, that’s no big deal and the effort will be well worth it.

The Village Bakery & Cafe is located in the lower level of shops at 44 East Main Street in the Village of Webster, off that street that runs next to the Harmony House (don;t know if it has a name). You can also reach it from Kircher Park and North Ave. They’re open Monday to Friday 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Check out these photos below:

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email me  at missyblog@gmail.com“Like” this blog on Facebook and follow me on Twitter and Instagram

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