Brookside Residents Reach Out
September 21, 2012
By: Tom Levy
Client: United Church Homes
Brookside Community’s annual rummage and bake sale does more than raise money to improve life for residents; it benefits the less fortunate people of Olean, N.Y., and the surrounding Cattaraugus County area.
The annual rummage and bake sale is a good example of how Brookside’s 40 residents constantly reach out to their neighbors.
After the rummage sale, residents donate leftover household goods such as glassware, dishes, pots and pans, flatware and bedding to Genesis House, a 24-bed shelter for homeless men, women and families in Olean. Whatever items Genesis doesn’t need are distributed to former shelter residents
to help furnish their new homes.
“Brookside residents are kind of like our cheerleaders,” says Linore Lansbury, executive director of Genesis House. “They’re always faithful; they’re always helping us.”
Other area agencies benefit from Brookside residents’ generosity, as well. Worn bedding goes to the local SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). Lightly used medical supplies such as walkers and hospital-style beds are given to the Medical Loan Closet at Cornerstone Full Gospel Church. Suitcases are donated to foster children, who otherwise would have to use plastic garbage bags to hold their belongings.
Every June, volunteers from Rebuilding Together, a national nonprofit, gather in neighborhoods across the country to make repairs, modifications and improvements to residences of low-income homeowners. Last year, Brookside residents prepared lunches for the volunteers.
A popular event for Brookside residents for 17 years was the annual Halloween parade of costumed trick-or-treaters from Ivers J. Norton Elementary School. The school recently moved, so the tradition ended last year.
“For some of those kids, it’s the only Halloween candy they would get,” says Ruth Gabriel, 89, a Brookside resident for 15 years.
Times change, but Brookside residents stay connected to their community.
“Brookside has completely changed our neighborhood,” says Gabriel, who has lived in Olean since 1957. “This building has brightened up the neighborhood.”
This year’s rummage and bake sale raised $950, the most ever in 15 years. The four-dozen orange cookies, mini pecan pies and two batches of fudge that Gabriel baked helped Brookside reach that total.
“People show up just for Ruthie’s fudge,” chuckles Brookside manager Barbara Beckman.
Beckman was also pleased that the five boxes of flower vases left over from the sale were given to a local florist.
“Helping small businesses is as useful in a small town as helping nonprofits,” says Beckman. “It all works.”
Brookside residents are certainly working to make their community the best it can be.