With summer just around the corner, people flock to the outdoors any chance they get. Boating and swimming on the beautiful Finger Lakes, hiking at the region’s nature destinations, and camping wherever they can start a campfire or pitch a tent — New Yorkers love the outdoors and take full advantage of any good weather. While enjoying the sunshine and seasonal beauty can be great, summer can also bring a slowdown for many retail locations and indoor-operating businesses. That’s why now is a great time to showcase some of our local businesses and what they do! From fitness and music to movies and community improvement, the Fingerlakes Mall is home to an array of diverse businesses and organizations.
Sleep in Heavenly Peace is a nonprofit organization with a chapter here at the mall. Opened in 2020, the SHP Auburn chapter provides beds for children in Cayuga County who are in need. Following the organizational motto, “No kids sleep on the floor in our town,” SHP Auburn has built and delivered over 250 beds since opening their workshop. As a volunteer-driven organization, 100% of donations go toward the supplies for children’s beds. Each bed starts with basic lumber and is transformed through simple, easy-to-follow steps into a safe and rugged frame. These frames are then delivered to the home of each child and assembled by volunteers at each destination. Mattresses, pillows, blankets and other bedding materials provided through donations and sponsorships are then added to the frame, creating a comfortable, sleep-ready bed. Drew Scharoun, the co-president of the Auburn chapter and Northeast disaster relief coordinator, has routinely held “build days” at our location, where volunteers work to reach a certain number of beds completed in one day. Build days are open to anyone who wants to help and require no prior experience with woodworking. Volunteers also come and go as they please on these days, which allows for flexibility in scheduling and takes advantage of even short periods of availability some people may have. When asked what the most fulfilling part of working with the organization is, Drew said, “It’s about the interactions with the donors and our volunteers — being able to not only create and also nurture those connections and friendships is important, especially in a world where we are constantly bombarded by negativity in our media, and sometimes feeling unworthy or that there is no good in the world. This is a way to show collaboratively and through grassroots organizations that there truly is a force for good and great people that truly care.” Sleep in Heavenly Peace is having their next build day on June 11, and welcomes anyone who is interested in participating. For more information on SHP, visit shpbeds.org or call (844) 432-2337 ext. 5951.
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Fingerlakes Mall is also home to Studio G, an educational and inclusive music studio run by Gena D’Agostino. Created in 2019, Studio G has been a proud tenant of the Fingerlakes Mall since fall 2021, when they moved to the new space here for a fresh start after COVID-19. Gena has been teaching music for decades and is ready to accept new students and grow her business! After studying music privately in New York City, Gena spent years as a musician and vocalist, touring and performing anywhere from local gigs to stadium shows. She originally began teaching on the side when she wasn’t performing, until she eventually decided to follow teaching as a career. When asked why she teaches music, Gena said that music is therapeutic, and the connections made through it are incredibly fulfilling. “What do I enjoy about it? Watching people who thought they couldn’t, actually do something they enjoy doing.” When asked about her decision to start her own business revolving around music, and what sets her apart from her competition, Gena stated, “I’m not like many other teachers. I could never work in a public school because it’s one-size-fits-all, and that’s not my approach at all. You want to rap? We can do that. You want to do classical? We can do that. Anything in between? We can do that too! It’s comfortable here. I enjoy all genres, and that translates into being able to teach it all. Everyone is welcome.”
The mall is home to many unique businesses, each with their own story and history. We support local and small business owners and encourage our patrons to do the same. For more information on what our businesses have to offer and our upcoming events, visit fingerlakesmall.com.
Elizabeth Hebbard is director of marketing for Fingerlakes Mall in Aurelius. For more information, visit fingerlakesmall.com or call (315) 255-1188.