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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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Reconnecting with “the boys”

20 Sep

There’s very little that will get me to set an alarm before 8 a.m. on Sunday morning — or set an alarm at all. But if it meant a chance to reconnect with “the boys,” I was happy to make the sacrifice.

I hadn’t seen the boys in more than ten years. I first met them back in 2008. I had to drive my son to Schroeder very early every Wednesday morning for his chorus practice, and since I didn’t have to be at work that early, I’d stop over to Hegedorn’s and have a cup of coffee.

On those mornings, several guys would be sitting in a nearby booth, drinking coffee and having lively conversations. For a few weeks, I would just sit and listen to their conversations as I read the paper.

In my first blog about “the boys,” on June 6, 2008, I wrote:

The talk bounces from politics to the best hunting and fishing spots, from the weather to the stock market. The conversations are always animated, the opinions always presented with conviction and an “I-don’t-care-if-you-agree-with-me-or-not” attitude. And if I keep my ears open, I occasionally pick up a vital kernel of knowledge such as “Never argue with a proctologist.”

But before long, I started joining in the conversations myself, and unofficially became one of the gang.

I started really looking forward to Wednesday mornings, which turned into Thursday mornings the following year when my daughter entered Schroeder and started chorus.

But early that school year, the boys were displaced when Guida’s Pizza moved into Hegedorn’s. I found them only once or twice after that, hanging out at nearby Bill Gray’s, but soon lost touch.

Until this morning. Thanks to a chance meeting with Tony, one of the original boys, at yesterday’s NEQALS groundbreaking ceremony, I found out that the guys are still meeting every morning, most of the time at Burger King on Hard Rd.

So I got up early and headed on over. I hoped they would remember me.

I shouldn’t have worried. As soon as I walked in I saw the smiles and heard some delighted greetings. The group’s grown a bit — they don’t fit in one, or even two booths anymore — and we’re all ten years older. But the conversations have pretty much remained the same.

And, coincidentally, Doug has a proctologist appointment this week. Hoping he remembers that sage advice from years ago.

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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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A visit with my new Webster Village eye doctor

2 Sep

I could probably fill a small notebook with everything I love about living in the village. But no matter what’s on that list — music, shops, pubs, neighbors — one underlying theme ties them all together: people.

That fact was reinforced yesterday when I went for a long-overdue eye appointment.

We were in between optometrists when we moved to the village last year, so we decided to sign on with Webster Eye Care Associates. The office, at 81 East Main St., is about an 8-minute walk from my house. (I LOVE being able to walk to places!)

The place was bustling with activity, and much larger than it appears from outside. The staff members were friendly and efficient, and Dr. Hochreiter, who handled my exam, was very professional and thorough, and patiently answered all of my questions.

But I especially enjoyed my time with the big teddy-bear of a technician who helped me choose my new pair of frames and took the appropriate measurements. We laughed and joked throughout our entire visit. We even discovered at one point that we both used to live in small-town Owego, in the Southern Tier, and shared memories of our old hometown.

My new friend Mike Gustin and me

Only toward the very end of our time together (after learning that I was a new customer) did this very friendly and jovial gentleman introduce himself. All that time, I had been joking with Webster Eye Care co-owner Mike Gustin.

It’s not often that you can walk into a medical office for the first time and leave an hour later feeling like you’ve joined a family. That’s how the folks at Webster Eye Care Associates made me feel yesterday. That’s what small-town hospitality and neighborliness is all about.

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Immanuel Lutheran food drive a big success

28 Aug

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

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

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

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

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

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

How you can help

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

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

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

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

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

Bella’s Bumbas’ mission is spreading worldwide

17 Aug

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

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

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

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

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

Rebecca explained in an email,

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

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

The kits are saving everyone money all around. 

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

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

How you can help

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

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

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

 

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Honoring our first responders

27 Jul

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Better late than never, I’d like to post a follow-up report on the mini-parade that took place along East Main Street on Thursday night.

There obviously was no Firemen’s Parade this year, but Lori Allen and her family was undaunted, setting up their parade chairs outside their Main Street home anyway, at what would have normally been parade time (albeit a week late thanks to the monsoon). They handed out free flags to passersby, accepted donations for our first responders, and welcomed visits by officers from the Webster PD and Webster Volunteer FD firefighters.

I wasn’t able to make the festivities, but Lori posted this on her Facebook page:

Not a bad turnout ! Thank you all who stopped and got a lag, beeped your horn and waved, and those who donated! Thank you Webster Police Dept for stopping and also thank you to the Webster fireman and woman for coming as well and to all the firemen THANK YOU for what you do! 

Before the end of the evening, Lori raised $218 through donations from passers-by.

I don’t know exactly who took all these photos, but here are a few from the evening:

Many thanks to the Allen family for reminding us what community is all about.

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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!

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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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A day of celebration for our seniors

12 Jun

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June is packed with a lot of fun days as we celebrate the last days of school, and especially those students who are moving up to new schools. Tops on that list of fun days for me is the day our high school seniors — in their gowns — parade through the halls of their former elementary schools.

That couldn’t happen this year, but the district was able to come up with something pretty darn close.

This morning, our Webster Thomas and Schroeder seniors were invited to drive through their high schools’ bus loops, where they were cheered and congratulated by their teachers. They they spread out throughout the district to their elementary schools, where they were cheered again by their former elementary school teachers. Most of the cars were decorated to the max with streamers and balloons, and signs indicating the student’s future college or life plans.

The event is always a very touching moment for these teachers, many of whom haven’t seen these kids since they were in 5th grade.

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Plank North teachers lined the bus loop to celebrate their former students.

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Across the “street,” Plank South teachers welcomed their former students at the same time.

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Birthday parade honors former St. Rita principal

13 May

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Birthday parades seem to be popping up every week these days, but this one was an extra special one.

On Monday evening, a parade of cars of cars honoring Sister Katherine Ann Rappl streamed through the St. Rita parking lot, offering gratitude and 80th birthday wishes to the school’s former principal.

It was a complete surprise for Sister Rappl, who clearly enjoyed the parade, which numbered about 140 cars. Thank you so much to Julie Schillaci for passing along the included here.

Julie also sent this write-up about the school’s beloved former principal:

No matter how many years pass, alumni of St. Rita School in Webster will always be “God drops” to Sister of Mercy Katherine Ann Rappl.

Exceptional students at the school are recognized with this honorary designation and receive raindrop-shaped sun catchers to hang in their windows to remind them 84CD1B72-D0E9-48EF-96F8-E6E6EF5CF9F9of how they capture God’s love.

The phrase “God drops” was one that Sister Rappl picked up during a National Catholic Educational Association Conference workshop years ago

“A raindrop is fully made up of what a cloud is made up of,” she always said, noting that people are God drops because they are made up of the same substance as God. God’s life is inextricably intertwined with their lives, she said.

And for the past 30 years, the lives of the students at St. Rita School have been intertwined with Sister Rappl, who began working there as principal in 1983.

She taught at St. Andrew and St. John the Evangelist, Rochester; St. Salome, Irondequoit; St. Louis, Pittsford; and St. Patrick Junior High School and Notre Dame High School, Elmira.

Formerly known as Sister Mary Benedicta, her home parish was St. Thomas the Apostle in Irondequoit, and she attended the parish school. She said the Sisters of Mercy who taught her at Our Lady of Mercy High School in Brighton were very influential in her discerning her vocation, and she became a Sister of Mercy in 1958.

Sister Rappl loves being in Catholic education because she has been able to teach children both academics and their faith, and she has gotten the chance to see students grow.

“That’s a big joy in seeing how they learn to take responsibility and control of their behavior from kindergarten to sixth grade,”

And, she always points out, J.O.Y. — an acronym that stands for Jesus, others and yourself — is the school’s theme.

“I always tell students don’t let anyone take your joy away from you,” Sister Rappl received the “Lighting the Fire Award” from the Catholic School Administrators Association of New York State for her 50 years of service in Catholic education.

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You may have heard some commotion last night in the village around 7 p.m. That was yet another birthday parade, this one for Fritz Sierk, owner of The Coach Sports Bar on West Main.

This one featured not only a fire engine and other emergency vehicles, but also the WFD’s antique engine, and that huge Teamsters semi, blasting music.

Hard to tell if Fritz saw it all; he seemed to have something in his eye for part of it.

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