Heaven Sent Again

In a recent posting, I wrote of the financial struggles many of us find ourselves in during this down economy at no fault of our own. In it I  spoke of my personal experiences with Angel Food Ministries (www.angelfoodministries.com)  – a non-profit, non-denominational organization dedicated to providing food relief and financial support to hundreds of thousands of families in 35 states.  I want you to know they are not the only angels in the Holley area. In fact, Holley… and the world for that matter… is full of angels. Today as I received yet another blow to my struggling business, another “angel” came into my life.

While I did not get to see who you are, you stopped by my mail box today and dropped off a message as if it were heaven sent. The “message”, in the form of a $25.00 Wegmans gift card, was a wonderful reminder that many people do love and care for me. While I did not get to see you, I wish to say a very humble thank you from the bottom of my heart. And in a way, I’m glad I did not get to see you for now as I walk around the Village of Holley, I will look in the eyes of each resident,  see the most beautiful angel that is within all of us, and thank God that I live among you.

Not long ago, I created this blog to share with all of you the many “hidden treasures” Holley has to offer; treasures that many of us overlook, take for granted, or do not even know exist. Today Holley showed me that it had treasures I didn’t know existed.  Whoever you are, wherever you are, many thanks. There are indeed many “angels” among us who really do care and are ready to help … even when not asked.

If you know of a treasure that needs to be unburied, contact me at Theresa@tothewhitelight.com. Or, if you ever thought to yourself, “I wish my customers knew…”, visit www.tothewhitelight.com to find out how I can help.

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Eastern Orleans County Community Center

Another one of Holley’s treasures is the Eastern Orleans Community Center, which is a program of Community Action of Orleans and Genesee County (www.caoginc.org). Located at 75 Public Square and servicing Clarendon, Murray, and Holley for over 25 years, it’s more than a place for seniors to go to play cards. In fact, according to Debbie Whittier, Coordinator, it is a multi-generational place where local residents, young or old, go for friendship, a hot meal, guidance, and more. For example, partnering with St. Vincent de Paul Center, they distribute vouchers to low income residents to purchase personal care items and collaborating with the Salvation Army, the help the homeless find emergency shelter and assist low income residents with grants to offset heating and medication expenses. Other services include:

  • A food and clothing pantry for low income residents of Eastern Orleans County
  • Maudie Mae’s Community Kitchen serves lunches Monday, Tuesday, Thursdays, and Friday from 11:30am to 12:30 pm. Open to all residents of Orleans County, a $2.00 donation is appreciated, but not required
  • Case management and family development services
  • Public access to three computers with Internet access with hours are coordinated with the library to maximize their use
  • Senior activities such bingo and monthly crafts
  • A surplus food distribution site for low income residents
  • Thanksgiving and Christmas Dinners
  • An Adopt of Family program, which adopts a family in need for the holidays through the Community Action Angels

Recently, the Community Center expanded with the purchase of an additional storefront. Since July 2009, the Community Center is also home to a Teen Center, which is open Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 2:30 pm to 5:30 pm. A Youth Worker is on staff to assist with daily activities and field trips for youths 11 to 18 years of age. In cooperation with the school district, all activities are announced daily at the middle school and high school. The Teen Center includes two dedicated computers equipped with games and Internet access.

Funding is provided through donations from local churches as well as from grants from Community Action, FoodLink, and Community Service Block Grants. Community donations are accepted and very much appreciated.

Last, but not least, the Community Center is available to the public for group meetings; call (585-638-6395) for details or to make reservations.

If you know of a treasure that needs to be unburied, contact me at Theresa@tothewhitelight.com. Or, if you ever thought to yourself, “I wish my customers knew…”, visit www.tothewhitelight.com to find out how I can help.

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Heaven Sent

Many are struggling financially nowadays by no fault of our own. Yet so often we are too proud to ask for help. It is during these very struggles though that we are meant to reach out to others. In fact, when we do find the strength to ask for help, we learn we are not meant to go it alone and that there are many “angels” out there who really do care and are ready to help when asked.

Like many of you in Holley, I find myself in this position. As a small business owner struggling to make ends meet, I find life these days a very humbling yet very rewarding experience. A friend of mine who knew of my struggles suggested I contact Angel Food Ministries (http://www.angelfoodministries.com) – a non-profit, non-denominational organization dedicated to providing food relief and financial support to hundreds of thousands of families in 35 states.

The cost of Angel Food Ministries’ signature “Blessing in a Box” is $30 per unit and serves a family of 4 for a week or a single individual for a month. The food is all the same high quality one could purchase at a grocery store. The menu varies each month, providing fresh and frozen items with an average retail value of approximately $60. Comparison shopping has been done across the country in various communities using a wide range of retail grocery stores and has resulted in the same food items costing from between $42 and $78. Even recipes are also provided!

I ordered a package of food with pickup scheduled for this weekend. I was overcome with emotion with the warm, caring service the volunteers provided, the abundance of food received, and their caring nature. One volunteer helped me carry the food to the car and inquired as to my well-being at home. I truly felt as though the Lord was walking with me to say everything would be all right.

Please… if you need assistance, do not let pride stand in your way. There are several Angel Food Ministries near Holley:

Albion           Purpose of Heart, Inc.                                 585-682-4348
Brockport    Brockport Free Methodist Church         585-637-9785

There are no qualifications, minimums, income restrictions, or applications.  Cash, credit cards, and food stamps are accepted. Everyone is encouraged to participate.  In fact, some churches even encourage participants to apply the money they save to help someone else in need! I am most grateful to Angel Food Ministries for the wonderful work they do and am pleased to share the good news with all of you out there!

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If you know of a treasure that needs to be unburied, contact me at Theresa@tothewhitelight.com. Or, if you ever thought to yourself, “I wish my customers knew…”, visit www.tothewhitelight.com to find out how I can help.

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Embracing Change

“Change is hard because people overestimate the value of what they have and underestimate the value of what they may gain by giving that up.”
— James Belasco and Ralph Stayer Flight of the Buffalo (1994)

At one time or another, change makes everyone uncomfortable. We often resist change as we overestimate the value and comfort of the familiar and underestimate the opportunities gained by embracing change. It is fear of the unknown that prevents many of us from venturing beyond what we feel comfortable. In fact, it would seem many would prefer a world of stability and continuity even if it has not worked for years, rather than face the uncertainly of change – even if change has the potential for greatly improving quality of life.

Take for instance, the Village of Holley. While it is less than ten miles beyond a bustling Brockport, many drive through this charming village without ever stopping as they travel west down Route 31 towards Albion. A small bedroom community in Orleans County, Holley has many vacant storefronts and an aging infrastructure. Many residents are apathetic and do not see or appreciate their many assets, or their potential. Yet Holley has so many “hidden treasures” – friendly people, a scenic canal park, and a breathtaking waterfall. What’s more, Holley is not only abundant in beautiful architecture, but rich in history too as part of the Erie Canalway.

Holley’s origin is much like many small towns. Originally, covered with a forest of hemlock trees, it was once a place where wild animals roamed through the thick underbrush of shrubs and plants. In fact, back in 1802, travelers reported the trees were so thick that even with the brightest sunshine above, you stood in wooded darkness!

Then one day, New York State made a decision to construct a canal spanning from Albany to Buffalo. From then on, everything changed. Cheap, fertile land available for purchase enticed early settlers to venture beyond their comfort zones and into this vast wilderness. By clearing many trees to make room for the settlers, much light shined on an area once filled with darkness.

Two of Holley’s earliest settlers in 1812 were William Rice and Stephen Lewis. Entrepreneurs, they envisioned moneymaking opportunities and began making plans for this future canal town. One such man was John Reed, who in 1814, discovered a “salt lick” and began boiling salt – a necessity back then to preserve food.

The next pioneer in Holley was Aerovester Hamlin – a man who had big dreams for the village. A visionary, Mr. Hamlin saw Holley’s great potential even when others didn’t and purchased 100 acres of land. In 1822, he had the land surveyed and laid out, with streets radiating from the central square. Soon after Mr. Hamlin erected a warehouse and created a post office. Unfortunately, he overextended his finances and in 1828, Mr. Hamlin sold his holdings, with Hiram Frisbie and James Seymour purchasing most land and improvements known then and now as the Public Square.

Once construction of the Erie Canal began, many workers selected Holley – a new and growing settlement as their permanent home upon the canal’s completion in 1825. Soon Holley began to attract many settlers and businesses; its rich soil planted with vegetable crops and orchards and its abundant harvest shipped on the Erie Canal.

In many ways, this essay serves as a history lesson. It’s also a remarkable story about one small town’s transformation from wooded darkness to the light of a new and growing settlement. History is now repeating itself with Holley once again experiencing darkness; a different kind of darkness that is just as thick and just as dark as an overabundance of hemlock trees. This darkness is apathy; an apathy that has spread not only among many of our residents, but also among some our local business owners too.

Still… we do have a chance to write another remarkable chapter to our village’s story. There are many … myself included… who embrace change and believe change will improve the quality of life of every Holley resident. The new chapter begins right now as Holley is on the verge of another transformation…. the likes of which not seen since the construction of the Erie Canal. It has its beginning with the development of a Comprehensive Master Plan, defining Holley’s vision in four key areas over the next ten years: Infrastructure, Neighborhood & Historic Preservation, Economic Development, and Tourism & Recreation.

To ensure Holley preserves it charm along side progress, I am asking for your support. Change will breathe new life into Holley. Such a transformation though will not come about by the actions of a few; it will require a great deal of hard work and restoration by everyone in the community. There are many great storefronts that must be restored; many codes that must be revised and enforced; many businesses and industries that must be developed; many misguided who must be redirected; and a community of people who must work together for the greater good. While it’s a big dream… much like the one our ancestors had…its realization is possible. We only need to look to Angelica NY as a source of inspiration and a community revitalized in the face of hardship.

Like many of my readers, I am proud to be a resident of Holley with its many possibilities and opportunities. A long time ago, many settled here in search of a better life, each bringing with them the best they could offer to their community. This is the foundation on which Holley was established. I say to those who remain cloaked in darkness from a pain long past, let’s not live in the past. Don’t let apathy stand in the way of progress and growth. Our village and our people have so much potential, so many hidden treasures waiting for the day they can be unburied for all to see in the brilliant sunlight. Let’s move Holley out of darkness and into the light; let’s transform Holley from a place many drive through to one many never want to leave. I’m ready to stand tall and embrace our community’s transformation. Are you?

Vision of Holley

Vision of Holley

If you know of a treasure that needs to be unburied, contact me at Theresa@tothewhitelight.com. Or, if you ever thought to yourself, “I wish my customers knew…”, visit www.tothewhitelight.com to find out how I can help.

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How Sweet It Is…

Long-time chocolate maker, Seaward Candies has been getting a bit of sweet press of late. The latest article about them may be found in the October 6, 2009 issue of the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle Business page. Partners, Grant Seaward and Chad Engert currently manage the business begun by Donna Seaward who passed away a number of years ago. Engert started working for Donna Seaward in her little shop on North Main Street in Holley back in 1989 when he was a teenager and best friends in Boy Scouts with Donna and Grant Seaward’s son, Grant Jr.

Nowaadays, all candy is made by hand in Holley, mostly by dripping with a spoon.  At one time, Engert and Seaward used machines Donna Seaward originally used to make most chocolate treats. They eventually broke down the old equipment  though in favor of hand-dripping because between cleaning and mistakes, they  wasted a lot of chocolate. Hmmm… apparently they did not think of eating their mistakes 🙂 So now they just use the chocolate melter and hand-drip everything. The real benefit of all of this is that it gives them the flexibility to hand-drip Oreo cookies then peanuts or cherries without having to clean in between.

Apparently, chocolate is recession-proof too – even in this economy!  Other than cut backs from some corporate orders, business continues to do well.  They say the great thing about chocolate is that people buy it whether they are up or down. When they are down, they buy it to bring themselves back up again. They then buy it again when they’re up because they’re happy. Life is indeed sweet when chocolate is a part of it!

Seaward Candies has a second location too, at 7 Main Street in Brockport, which is for sales only. And you do want to frequent this place. All it takes is one visit for candy lovers (and who isn’t) to be tempted with their sweets!

Engert and Seaward say their goals are to provide the community with fine quality chocolates and to continue the tradition of hand making chocolates. Keep in mind though October to May is their busy season. So be sure to call early… preferably in the morning…so your order can be filled.

In Holley, Seaward Candies is located at 3588 N Main Street Rd with hours Monday-Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Sunday from noon to 5:00 p.m. The Brockport shop is open Monday-Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

If you know of a treasure that needs to be unburied, contact me at Theresa@tothewhitelight.com. Or, if you ever thought to yourself, “I wish my customers knew…”, visit www.tothewhitelight.com to find out how I can help.

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Fun Facts About the Erie Canal

On Tues Sept 22, I decided to go to the Clarendon Historical Society where Doug Farley, Director of the Erie Canal Discovery Center in Lockport, NY gave an entertaining, interactive presentation on some fun facts about the Erie Canal. During a portion of the presentation, we were quizzed on our knowledge of the Erie Canal to determine whether we were smarter than today’s fourth graders.

For example, did you know?

  • It took 8 years to build the Erie Canal? The original Erie Canal was constructed between 1817 and 1825.
  • The Erie Canal is 363 miles long?
  • The Erie Canal spans from Albany to Buffalo?
  • There are 83 locks to solve the difference in elevation from near seal level on the Hudson River to 565 feet at Lake Erie?
  • More than 300 bridges crossed the canal along its route?
  • Mules and horses pulled the canal boats at 4 mph?
  • Costs to transport goods across the state on the canal vs by road were reduced by 80% to 90%?
  • Toll receipts paid back the $7.5 million construction cost within ten years?
  • The canal was enlarged due to increased traffic demands with construction occurring from 1836 to 1862?
  • Tolls were abolished in 1882 because of increasing competition from railroads? Sadly, the Thruway Authority now manages the state’s canals, with tolls reintroduced.

Bonus… did you know that just northeast of the Medina harbor there is the spectacular waterfall, where the Oak Orchard River actually passes under the canal then over the Falls? In fact, if you go a few miles further east, you can actually drive under the Erie Canal, through the Culvert Road underpass!

At the end of the “quiz, the results were tabulated. The good news was that most of us were smarter than a fourth grader…just barely.

If you know of a treasure that needs to be unburied, contact me at Theresa@tothewhitelight.com. Or, if you ever thought to yourself, “I wish my customers knew…”, visit www.tothewhitelight.com to find out how I can help.

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Community Survey

A community survey was distributed in September to solicit resident’s input on a wide range of topics, including infrastructure (water, electric, sidewalks, etc.), neighborhood and historic preservation, economic development, tourism & recreation, and more. All are being considered and addressed in the Village’s Comprehensive Plan.  This is your chance for your voice to be heard and to be part of the solution. Your participation in this process is vital in ensuring the Plan’s direction reflects your ideas and opinions as to how you want Holley to look and feel 10 years from now. For a copy of this survey, go to http://www.villageofholley.org then print and return the survey to the Village Office, 72 Public Square, Holley NY 14470.

Note: While surveys were due by Sept 23, the Village is still accepting surveys during the compilation period.

For all those who have already participated in the survey, thank you so very much. We’ve received a great response thus far. Finally… this is not your only chance for your voice to be heard. There will be several opportunities coming up for you to express your concerns. So speak up Holley!.

If you know of a treasure that needs to be unburied, contact me at Theresa@tothewhitelight.com. Or, if you ever thought to yourself, “I wish my customers knew…”, visit www.tothewhitelight.com to find out how I can help.

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