Happy New Year 2024
2024 promises to bring additional programs.
Paper Bag Ladies of Rochester will continue to focus on assisting those who need to work in identifying interpersonal strengths, mental health goals and general wellness and personal stability.
We offer a variety of online programs as well as in person programs which include open studio art, farming, hiking, and creative writing.
In addition, we have a forest and nature program available for those seeking inner peace and reflection.
All programs are of no cost to participants.
Land of Misfit Toys
November 1, 2023 - January 6, 2024
A program where we collect used toys and redistribute to inner-city children in Rochester, NY so they have new adventures.
September 2023 - Ongoing
This outreach program provides hats, scraves, gloves and socks that are either new or hand-made which are then distributed to persons in need.
I loved Frank so very much.
Everything about him. He was the most successful relationship I had ever had with a male.
He was truly an unconditional friend and mentor, I was most fortunate to have had him for 12 years and he affected my life in such a way,
that I am sure with certitude he has changed me forever.
Just like these buildings and brick, mortar and sweat in construction, Frank was a pillar of strength and constancy.
He has been gone about a month now. We both had the chance to say goodbye before he passed away, maybe to some heavens where he can meet up with his various loves, his parents, his siblings and most of all he beloved dogs.
I look at these buildings time and time again and study the particulars of their assembly, as I did Frank. He was something.
Some would have mistaken his gentleness for weakness, but he was no fool. His heart was almost too big for his chest and when he smiled the world stopped because he had an engaging smile, even through the tears, our many conversations about death and dying.
Over the last several years when we realized he was dying, or as we agreed living with cancer we had holidays, dinners, lunches, we watched television from our respective homes on the phone.
He was the keeper of my secrets, all of them, like this picture of the bricks cemented within a window frame.
He was safe for me and my emotional life and well-being. When he passed away, I was happier for him than sad for myself, but the void is like a curtain-less window.
In some way Frank was forever childlike and authentic. He loved to create installations; he had a piece of candy for everyone. He always smelled like Vicks vapor rub. He sliced little baguettes with precision angles.
We would talk about similar places we traveled, TWA, Manhattan, Florida, and Puerto Rico. Some Friday nights towards the end we had a hobby; we would have a chocolate pie, followed by the next Friday with a vanilla pie, followed by another Friday with a custard pie or a cheesecake.
I would think quietly what would happen if I ran out of pies, which was our distraction for death, I just supposed there were more pies I could find, the key lime, the lemon chiffon and if fate worked our way we would just repeat the pie roster.
This is the shit cancer does to you and the people you love; it makes you resort to pies. Thinking of them. Discussing evaluative methods for discerning which pie is better than the next.
I suppose if I could, and had to I would have found as many pies as you see bricks. I just didn't want him to go.
We worked for a period of time at an outreach center within the crescent section in the City of Rochester.
He would wait for me to come back to the center after I was out doing outreach, he would have a cup of tea or coffee ready and he would move the heater close to my water and ice logged feet.
Our most important and meaningful day ever, which we recaptured through discussions subsequently over and over again. Like the position and security of these bricks surrounded 9/11.
That day I thought it was strange that I was on the way to work and there wasn't a soul on 531, or on 490 or interstate 390. But I had a feeling as I came closer and closer to the city there was some kind of problem.
It wasn't weather as it was a late summer day and relatively warm. I got to the outreach center and was greeted immediately by frank who looked as if had been kicked in the stomach.
He took my hand and said "you heard about our hometown?" and I was confused if he was referring to Rochester or New York City.
I must have looked puzzled as he took me to the kitchen where there were 20 or so homeless and underrepresented persons huddled over a small television watching the aftermath of just the first plane that went into the tower.
We were all so silent and the hungry souls could give a shit that the wanted eggs and toast were burning.
We weren't moving from that spot.
Frank and I stood like children watching all this destruction, each plane like another dodge ball blow.
Playing mean and foul. The police came and suggested we close for the day and go home.
Frank just stared at them and said he was serving breakfast, followed by lunch and then we would close.
Though I was his supervisor, I took his lead, maybe because I was numb, maybe because he was a war vet, maybe because he was Frank and maybe because I didn't know what else to do.
So we did. eggs, toast, jelly, tea, coffee. Idle chit chat. I caught a glimpse of him at one point with a tear streaming down his face as he hurried the toast and threw those eggs liberally onto the plates.
Later after lunch we closed the center. Almost said nothing to one another. We were like zombies, like the rest of the world. The police kept driving by to check on us. He would just simply wave.
When we went to part ways that day he hugged me so tight and said maybe he would see me tomorrow as the whole world was unsure what daybreak would bring.
We just stood there, like these bricks, strong, gray, forever, staring at one another for a few moments. One of the most challenging and intimate moments of my life and then parted ways.
This is a hard loss for me. I loved him dearly. Everything about him and I know he felt the same about me.
Frank, Frank come out wherever you are.