Discover ‘Northern Chautauqua Discoveries’

So much has happened since my Mother’s Day column, but I’d like to continue with that theme. Maybe this story will explain the source of my positive thinking. I owe it all to my mother and “Pollyanna.” My oldest sister, Grace, had polio and was homebound as a result. This led to her becoming an avid reader to occupy herself. She used to tell our mother about everything she read and our mother would pass it along to us. One of her books, “Pollyanna,” featured a young girl who would look on the bright side no matter what happened. For example, if someone broke his or her left leg, Pollyanna would say “Thank goodness it wasn’t your right arm,” etc. So whenever we had problems, our mother would say “Let’s play Pollyanna.” Attitude means a lot.

Would you believe that I was married with two sons before I found out that this story was English, and not Italian? But the message is the same in any language.

On Thursday our group on promoting the Northern Chautauqua area met. I introduced the new helpers. Mary Jane Starks will be co-president with me and Beth Benchley is our new secretary. The first was to work on our group’s name. Our first thought ended up being too close to the name of another group. We’ve decided on “Northern Chautauqua Discoveries.” This name was suggested by Josiah Lamp. We will begin our local program with the theme of cleaning up and beautifying Fredonia. Rose Mary Mancuso will be in charge of a flower garden contest and a veggie garden contest. We also want to plant trees. We have no money, so we’re hoping local businesses will volunteer along with other organizations. We would gratefully accept donations of money, materials, or labor. Of course, if there’s one generous philanthropist out there, our problems could be solved! If any of you want to enter the flower garden contest or the veggie garden contest, contact me at 679-4772.

The group decided we can be effective if we work locally, and then we would look good collectively. For example, Skeeter Tower from Dunkirk has headed flower garden contests and she will help our group.

I said, “We are here to complement (make us complete), not to compete.” We’re looking for a change of attitude and we’re going to work together. In each community, we need volunteers to become captains for each street and then volunteers to help each captain. This is what I did for White Street. I made a sign-up sheet with the following columns: Name, address, telephone number and email address. Then I asked the questions: What do you like about living on this street? What would you like to see changed? How would you change it? Would you be willing to help? When? For how long? I got wonderful responses. Most of them were college kids being nice. Ask positive questions. Don’t accuse. It works like a charm. I’m going to do it again. Now we just need an army of volunteers! Are you ready to join the army? Don’t forget the definition of a volunteer is “someone who is good for nothing and is priceless!” We need you.

Then the next thing that happened to me took place on Saturday. The AAUW, the American Association of University Women, presented me with a plaque for outstanding contributions to the community. I couldn’t believe it! It was this column that introduced us. They like what I write about. One lady said to me, “You make a difference.” My eyes filled with tears. Isn’t that what we all want? Now reread this column and call me on the contests and call me up about your street and how you are going to do your part to clean it up and beautify it.

We are special because of our helpful attendees. Everything starts with an idea and then it takes people to implement the plan. Remember leaders without help are helpless! Together, we can do this.

Lastly, here’s an idea. If the people on each street would agree to mow their lawns either on Thursday or Friday, just think of how beautiful continuous mowed lawns would look!

Wouldn’t that be nice?

Margaret Valone is a Fredonia resident. Comments may be sent to