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Memorial Day celebrated in chalk

25 May

Happy Memorial Day!

Some friends from my old street, Anytrell Drive off of Hatch Rd., came up with a fun way to help all of their neighbors celebrate the weekend.

It’s a street-long chalk art project, organized by Jessica and Tim Ellsworth, my former across-the-street neighbors. Last Friday, Jessica and her three daughters trundled up and down the street with their wagon and delivered packages of chalk to 48 of their neighbors — pretty much every house on the street. Each package had instructions encouraging the residents to get out on Sunday and decorate their driveways.

Jessica said she came up with the idea as a way to encourage community during these difficult times. She wrote,

I just wanted to unify the neighborhood a little bit since we are so spread out. It would be a bonus to inspire other people in other neighborhoods to do something similar. We all need to be kind and support each other especially in a time like this.

By Sunday evening, almost 20 driveways had been decorated with flowers, rainbows, smiley faces and inspirational messages. Chances are, by the end of day today, several others will have joined them. Check out this slideshow to see them all:

What a great way to bring people together!

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We all have a story. This is mine.

23 May

My regular blog readers may remember a post I wrote in November about a wonderful exhibition created by my friend, teaching colleague and exceptional portrait photographer Linda Hayes of Hayes Photography.

It was called We All Have a Story: The Stories Continue. It was a follow-up to Hayes’ first We All Have a Story exhibit in spring of 2018.

You may have seen the exhibit when it was on display in December at the Webster Public Library. It took a closer look at the lives and stories of several Webster Central School District staff members to help illuminate the people inside the classrooms and offices who work with our children every day.

I was honored to be a part of the exhibit, and proud to be among a dozen other heartfelt and touching stories written by WCSD colleagues.

Linda is now posting those stories, and the beautiful portraits she took to accompany them, to her website and Facebook page. (You should go there and read the other stories!) At her suggestion, I shared my story recently on my personal Facebook page. It has received so many positive comments that I thought I should also post it to my blog. After all, it is all about how I became a writer, so this platform is rather appropriate.

The power of words

I was a junior in high school when my English teacher said four words that changed my life.

She told me, “You’re a good writer.”

I still remember exactly where I was standing after class that day, and how proud those simple words made me feel. But I didn’t realize then how powerful they were, how much they would shape my future. Because from that day forward, I knew what I wanted to do with my life: I wanted to write.

After graduating high school, I pursued that dream, studying communications at Cornell University and landing jobs in radio and public relations. Even as a stay-at-home mom, I wrote newsletters for my karate school, My Moms Club, and the Rochester Irish community.

Then, in 2008, my writing reached a new level when the Democrat and Chronicle invited me to write a Webster community blog, followed several years later by the weekly East Extra community column. I had finally found a place where my written words could reach a larger audience, giving them even greater meaning and purpose.

As a blogger and columnist for the D&C, I visit new businesses, post stories about community events, and spread positive news about our east-side Rochester towns, villages and residents.

My words have helped launch new businesses and shined a spotlight on inspirational people. They’ve helped our community through times of unbelievable tragedy and mourning. They’ve spread good news about good people in a time when positive stories are few and far between. They’ve prompted tears and laughter, helped old friends reconnect and new friends meet.

I am a busy, multi-faceted person. I’m a wife and a mother, and a full-time teaching assistant in two elementary schools. I’m a martial artist, a volunteer, a community activist. I enjoy sharing a pint with friends.

But writing defines my life. It’s my hobby, my outlet. Writing fills the empty corners of my day.

Four simple words. “You’re a good writer.” They transformed a talent into a passion, and now my words enrich others’ lives every day.

And as long as people keep reading, I will keep writing

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Schlegel teachers and students reconnect at drive-by

22 May
Even Whiskers, the Schlegel Rd. mascot, came to the event. Here he greets students with Schlegel Assistant Principal Robin Jennings,

Last night was a really fun night.

The administrators at Schlegel Rd. Elementary School got permission from the district Powers That Be to hold a drive-through event at the school so that staff members and students could reconnect.

The event officially began at 5:30, but staff members started showing up a good hour early to festoon their cars with signs and balloons and set up bubble machines and music. By the time families started driving in, cars were lined up around the school’s parking lot and bus loop. More than 80 staff members were there, representing pre-K through 5th grade, OWL, custodial staff, paraprofessionals, band and orchestra, secretaries and district sentries.

Everyone practiced proper social distancing — parking at least 6 feet apart and staying with their cars — and everyone wore masks. The masks made it hard to see all the smiles, but the distance didn’t damper the excitement at all as family cars streamed by for a full hour and a half.

Schlegel is one of the two schools where I work as a library teaching assistant, so I got to be there. Let me tell you, it was a delight to see all those little faces again in person (not on Zoom) and it was heartwarming to see those faces light up when they saw us.

It was a perfect way to ease the ache in our hearts from not seeing our students every day, and was something that both students and teachers desperately needed.

The slideshow below doesn’t capture the party atmosphere completely, but you get a good sense of how many people were there and how much everyone misses everyone else.

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Facebook group dedicated to celebrating Webster’s senior class

18 May

Three Webster friends have come up with a great way to help recognize our Webster High School seniors.

It’s a Facebook group called Adopt a Webster Senior, and it’s dedicated to bringing a bit of celebration back to the Class of 2020.

The group’s organizers — Shanna LaDelfa, Jenn Birdsong-Ng and Janice Richardson — are all Webster residents with students of their own at several Webster schools. Although none of their kids are seniors, they understand what a huge disappointment it’s been for the class of 2020 to lose out on the last three and half months of their high school career.

They explain on their page,

This year has been very challenging for everyone, especially our graduating class. They have missed out on many traditional high school experiences such as sporting events, spending time with friends with whom they will soon be leaving behind when they go off into the world, senior ball, walking the stage at graduation, and sadly, graduation parties that have not yet been celebrated.

The Adopt a Webster Senior group hopes to help soften the blow.

The idea is to “adopt” a senior and surprise him or her with a care package or some other memorable gift. There really are no guidelines, no minimum or maximums and no mandatory purchase items. It’s all about having fun and bringing a smile to a senior’s face.

Shanna, Jenn and Janice originally began their effort after hearing about similar groups being organized in Greece and East Irondequoit, where two of the friends are teachers. They started small-scale, first surprising some of their Webster friends. Once they got it going, however, word spread and “it became a hit,” Janice said.

“We literally went from 20 members to almost 300 in two days,” Jenn added.

It has been extremely rewarding to see all the proud and hopeful parents sharing their children with us. Not to mention how emotionally comforting and encouraging it has been during these challenging times for families and communities. The teachers and retired teachers who have so graciously jumped in to help is heart warming.

It’s easy to join the effort. Simply go to the Adopt a Webster Senior Facebook page and leave a note that you’d like to help. You can also go there to nominate your own senior to get adopted.


Webster Schroeder senior Maggie Nagar with the surprise basket she received.

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Fireman’s Carnival and parade have been canceled

18 May

… and another one bites the dust.

It is certainly no surprise, but this morning the Webster Volunteer Fire Department announced that this year’s parade and Fireman’s Carnival will not happen.

Here is the official announcement:


This must have been a very difficult decision, as the carnival is the department’s biggest fundraiser. When their fund-raising campaign kicks in a bit later this year and donation envelopes start appearing in our mailboxes, we need to remember all that they do for us, and all the birthday parades they’ve participated in lately, brightening people’s lives.

For more information, visit the Webster Volunteer Fire Department Facebook page.


Bridge construction will close portion of Salt Rd.

15 May

This coming Monday May 18, a portion of Salt Rd. will be closed to vehicle and pedestrian traffic as crews work on the Salt Rd. bridge over Fourmile Creek.

The bridge in question is located between Morley Way and Lake Road. Beginning at 9 a.m. Monday morning, Salt Rd. will be closed at the intersections with Morley Way and Lake Road for normal traffic. Residents will still be allowed access.

A detour utilizing Woodard Road, Basket Road and Lake Road (see map below) will be in place during construction, which is expected to be completed within three months.


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Schroeder Theater will present Clue! on Zoom

12 May

Theater lovers, rejoice!

Thanks to COVID-19, most high school theatrical productions (along with a lot of other things) have been cancelled. But this coming weekend, you can get your fix, when the Schroeder Theater Co. presents:

clue on stage

You’re probably familiar with the cult classic 1985 film, based on the Parker Brothers’ board game, but here’s the plot summary from the website:

Creatively re-staged for these unique times, it’s a dark and stormy night, and you’ve received an invite to a very unusual Zoom. Each of the guests has an alias, the butler offers a variety of weapons, and the host is, well . . . dead. So whodunnit? Join the iconic suite known as Scarlet (Katie F.), Plum (Zach G.), White (Ashley M.), Green (Brendan M.), Peacock (Bridget M.), and Mustard (Liam C.) as they scramble alongside the butler (Luke S.) to find the murderer in Boddy Manor before the body count stacks up to the top of your screen!

This is a very funny comedy, and it sounds like it’s going to have some unusual twists; the website, for example, mentions a final “join.”

It sounds like it will be extremely entertaining, and if I know Schroeder productions, very well-acted.

Clue: On Stage (High School Edition) will be performed on Zoom by the Schroeder Theater Co. on Friday, May 15  and Saturday May 16 at 7 p.m. There’s a suggested donation of $5.00.

Click here for ticket information and Zoom link access. I’ll “see” you there.

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Knuckleheads help others in need

12 May

The Knuckleheads continue to show us why they’re such a valued part of our Webster community.

For the last few weeks Len Dummer and the folks at Knucklehead Craft Brewing they have been collecting food and toiletries for people in need. Patrons have been delivering bags of donations  which staff members have been organizing and distributing to the homeless and refugee families.

And they’re not done yet. They’re asking everyone to continue to drop items off. Len Dummer writes on his Facebook page,


Items for homeless should be individual servings like peanut butter cracker packs, packets of tuna (can be opened by hand), nutrition bars, beef jerky, Slim Jims, raisins, dried fruit, any kind of nuts, single rolls of toilet paper, bars of soap, etc.

Items for families could be: canned goods, pasta sauce, dried pasta, salsa, corn chips, canned soups, snacks of all sorts, drinks (like Gatorade or other), toilet paper, bars of soap, boxes of mac & cheese.

Check out their Facebook page for more information, and consider lending a hand! Helping others out during these scary times helps us all. 

Knucklehead Craft Brewing is located at 426 Ridge Rd. in West Webster.

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Need a face mask? Get one free

9 May


Today and this coming Wednesday May 13, the Town of Webster, in partnership with Monroe County, will be handing out face masks for anyone who needs one.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today, just drive up to the Webster Town Court House, 1000 Ridge Rd.

If you need any assistance, or have any questions, contact your County Legislator, Matthew Terp at 585-753-1922 or at

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Just steps from the court house, in that small stand of woods by the library, Webster’s newest trail is in bloom.

Sharon Galbraith from the Friends of Webster Trails recently reported that trout lillies, coltsfoot, marsh marigolds and spring beauties are now blooming, with toad trillium, hepatica and others close behind.

And don’t worry about the wet conditions; all of the wildflowers can be enjoyed from the trail’s long boardwalk, which ends at a spacious platform. It’s a beautiful, short trail, and you’ll be right in the neighborhood when you’re picking up your mask, so why not stop and take a look?

The Hickory Bark Woods Trail is located across the parking lot from the Webster Public Library on Van Ingen Dr. The trail head is located on the east side of the park. There’s plenty of parking, and remember to keep your distance from others!

hickory bark

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Barry’s Runners find fun way to stay connected

3 May

Shannon and Jess

Jessica Barry, right, owner of Barry’s Old School Irish, even joined in the relay. Here Shannon Tipper, left, hands off the next leg of the relay to Jess. (J. Barry)

This was a lot of fun.

Barry’s Runners, my running club that meets every Tuesday night at Barry’s Old School Irish in the village, recently found a great way to reconnect with fellow runners during the pandemic, while still maintaining social distancing: a 12-hour virtual relay.

The group normally meets at Barry’s Old School Irish every Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. for group runs or walks, followed by social time at the pub.

Thanks to the current pandemic, Barry’s has had to curtail its hours, and group activities like the weekly runs have been put on hold indefinitely.  The Barry’s Runners 12-hour Virtual Relay was a fun way for group members to stay connected — and motivated — during the crisis.

The event ran from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on what would have been a regular Tuesday running night, April 21. The day was split up into 24 half-hour slots. Participants asked to sign up for one or more of the spots, and during their allotted time get out and run, walk or even bike. As soon as one person’s half hour was complete, he or she texted the next person in line to begin the next leg of the relay.

After the event was posted on the Barry’s Runners Facebook page, it only took a few days for all 24 half-hour time slots to fill up. A handful of participants even took two adjacent spots, hitting the streets for an hour straight. By the end of the relay, 28 adults, plus a few kids and dogs participated, logging more than 70 miles.

The event even got a long-distance participant. Jill Belluco, a former Webster resident and Barry’s Runner, signed up for the first time slot even though she moved from Webster to South Carolina a few months ago. She said it was a great way to stay in touch with her old running buddies, while juggling the challenges of a new home and new job.

Several of the runners took photographs documenting their runs and posted them to the Barry’s Runner’s Facebook group, further enhancing the community experience.

The relay idea actually came from a similar event held earlier in the month by another running group, Rochester Running Club, who organized their own virtual running relay on Monday, April 13. Originally planned for the 24 hours spanning Sunday night through Monday night, that relay is still going on.

Chances are Barry’s Runners couldn’t manage to keep up a relay that long. But another 12-hour relay is definitely in the cards, cause everyone had so much fun.   

Lesley and Larry Johnson

Lesley and Larry Johnson completed a 6.5-mile leg with their running and walking buddy, Cullen.

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