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Flower shop earmarks donation to Blind Association

Fresh and Fancy Floral Designs awarded $10,000 to the Chautauqua Blind Association, a gift from Deluxe Brands and Salesforce on Friday. From left is Fredonia Mayor Doug Essek, Chautauqua County Executive PJ Wendel, New York state Sen. George Borrello, Fresh and Fancy owners Charlotte Herlong and Michael Herlong, Chautauqua Blind Association Office administrator Priscilla Shoup, vision rehab therapist Debra Liddell, Assemblyman Andrew Goodell and former Chautauqua Blind Association Director Lisa Goodell.

In a year plagued by COVID-19, one shining beacon came through for an organization in Chautauqua County — The Chautauqua Blind Association. A $10,000 donation by Deluxe and Salesforce was made on behalf of Fresh and Fancy Floral Designs in Fredonia.

A winner for a spot in the Small Business Revolution series taped last summer, Fresh and Fancy was allowed to select an organization for a donation. They chose the Chautauqua Blind Association, which has a special significance to owner Charlotte Herlong. Her son has vision difficulties.

“We could never be what we are without people like you in our community. That help and support and are always there for us,” former director of the Blind Association Lisa Goodell said at a presentation on Friday afternoon. “We thank you for everything you’ve done for us especially for getting us this $10,000 grant. It came at a time when things were pretty bad last year, funding had stopped and we were really worried so the grant that you were able to help us get helped us maintain what we were doing.”

“Small businesses are a critically important part of our community and when you see what’s going on with small businesses during this pandemic,” New York State Sen. George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay said of the flower shop. “You’ve gone above and beyond … in so many ways to be a critical part of this community. You’ve been a great example for others to act in the same manner.”

Other elected officials at the event included Chautauqua County Executive PJ Wendel, state Assemblyman Andrew Goodell and Fredonia Mayor Doug Essek. Each presented a proclamation to Herlong and her son, Michael, as a thank you for what they have done in assisting the Chautauqua Blind Association.

“You don’t always realize that small businesses are the ones we lean on, you don’t see the big box stores with a logo on it for a soccer team or a youth program and what you’ve done not only for the Blind Association, but for other small businesses too says amazing things about who you are as people,” Wendel said as he declared Friday as Fresh and Fancy Floral Designs Studio Day.

“You’re the heart of our community, whether it’s a wedding or a funeral or a birthday or an anniversary, you are here for the community,” Essek said. “The village of Fredonia would like to recognize Fresh and Fancy Flowers for their involvement and commitment to citizens with sight issues and the Chautauqua Blind Association.”

“Your contribution to the Blind Association means the Blind Association can help others as well,” Assemblyman Goodell noted, rounding out the day’s recognition. “It’s like a ripple in a pool. It spreads out and has an impact on so many other people, so what’s really important about your contribution both in the community and to the Blind Association is that you’re affecting people you’ve never met.”

When asked how the organization has weathered the pandemic, Lisa Goodell responded that these funds were essential. “We got it last year and it was right in the middle of COVID when a lot of our funding had stopped and the staff was still willing to work,” she said. “They were still willing to be there, so this money helped us continue working during 2020 when everything was shutting down and we had no money.”

Things are now going well for the organization. Debra Liddell, vision therapist for the Blind Association stated, “We are welcome into the majority of our client’s homesnow. Referrals are a little down, but we actually feel however that this COVID opened up some opportunities for people to come in and experience job placement.”

The Chautauqua Blind Association is a not-for profit located in Jamestown. For information you can reach them at 664-6660 or visit their website at chautauquablind.org for more information.

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