BATAVIA — Brenda Richardson’s love of the city goes back a ways.
The 1985 Oakfield-Alabama graduate did not grow up here but her late father Dan Stack was quite involved in the community. He worked for the city school district and did everything from deliver goods to maintain the football field, she said.
It’s a path Richardson, store manager at Coffee Culture, now follows.
“I have always considered Batavia my hometown,” she said. “I like to see things grow and prosper. My dad was a big part of Batavia.”
Her dedication and that of Regional Director Rob Robinson has earned them and their coffee shop the Business Improvement District “Spirit of Downtown Business Award” as a new business downtown.
That and other “Spirit” awards will be presented during a BID lunch noon Friday at City Church Generation Center on Center Street.
Coffee Culture’s site at 6 Court St. began with a search by company Vice President of Real Estate and Franchise Development Jim Geiger for an ideal locale. That was in the spring of 2009, when he contacted BID Executive Director Don Burkel to scope out suitable properties.
By December 2009 the former optical store at the corner of Court and Ellicott streets was completely renovated at a cost of over $225,000, Burkel said. Robinson and Richardson have participated in several downtown BID programs such as Jackson Square, Summer in the City, Taste of the Holidays and the Wine Walk.
This year Richardson also plans to have a booth at Cinema in the Square and the Downtown Public Market, plus continue to have a presence at Picnic in the Park and weekly concerts in Centennial Park. The business has also signed on as a sponsor of Batavia’s Peace Garden and has been chosen as “restaurant of choice” for bus tours visiting the historic West Main Street site.
“We’re getting more involved,” she said.
Described as an “ardent supporter” of downtown efforts the last 11 years, it would seem as if Sue Blanchard was ripe for the “Spirit of Downtown Business & BID Volunteer Award.”
The chief executive officer at Tonawanda Valley Credit Union has served on the BID board for more than a decade and as treasurer and “financial watchdog” for nine of those years.
She was chosen for her dedication of “endless hours” for the good of downtown Batavia. Nancy Harding, a member center manager at the Credit Union, spoke on behalf of Blanchard, who was out of the office this week.
“As a member of the board she believes in downtown Batavia and feels that our presence is important,” Harding said. “That Batavia is prosperous and well received to local and visiting people in the community.”
The Credit Union, which is also getting a nod “as a huge supporter of BID activities and programs,” helped pay for advertising for Christmas and Summer in the City events, to name a few of its endeavors.
Now that Blanchard is resigning from the BID board, she will leave behind a sorely missed vacancy, Harding said.
“She will be missed,” Harding said. “They are going to be very hard-pressed to find anybody as dedicated as she is.”
Blanchard was one of the initial founders of BID in a team of nearly a dozen other business people. She “truly exemplifies what the word volunteer means in our downtown and community,” Burkel said.
Dorian Ely is not one to take credit but to give or at least share it equally with the many volunteers who have given service for downtown events. As aging specialist at Genesee County’s Office for the Aging, Ely has been chosen to represent them all with a “Spirit of Downtown Community Volunteer Award.”
Thanks to her recruitment of senior volunteers, the BID has had volunteers to help out at Christmas in the City and at the Downtown Public Market the last five years, Burkel said.
“We are thankful to know her, both professionally and personally, because she makes working together a truly enjoyable experience,” he said.
Likewise, Ely has been happy to have the kind of job that connects her to “talented volunteers” for downtown efforts, she said, especially the market.
“Don Burkel and Tony Condello are always great to work with and I am grateful that they have given me the opportunity to be part of something which contributes in a positive fashion to the health of our community,” she said. “To me, the Spirit of Downtown means having a recognition of the importance of shopping locally and supporting the efforts which draw people to the very center of our community. It has been a joy to see the look of our streetscape become more appealing with time and wonderful to have quality goods and services available so close to home.”