Rising Stars – Absolute Care Aurora Park

Rising Stars – Absolute Care Aurora Park

Rising Stars Reflect New Management, Leadership at

Absolut Care of Aurora Park


East Aurora, NY – Absolut Care of Aurora Park is under new management and making notable strides to improve the quality and services it offers to those in East Aurora, Buffalo and the surrounding communities. 

In October, the federal government updated its Nursing Home Compare website with the latest star ratings highlighting survey results, staffing and quality measures for every facility in the nation.

Results can be found at www.medicare.gov.

Absolut Care of Aurora Park earned a new star in the survey category, bringing its overall rating to three stars.

This improvement is significant given the fact that it had a one-star rating when RCA Healthcare Management took over administration of the bankrupt facility in March of 2020.  At that time, RCA’s takeover was highly regarded to be the only viable option for saving Aurora Park and four sister facilities from potential closure. Currently, the facilities are being operated under an administrative services agreement while a formal change of ownership takes place. 

One of the keys to a successful acquisition is having dynamic, progressive leadership to facilitate the transition. As such, RCA appointed industry leader Stacy Bastian, RN, as administrator in March of 2020. Since that time, she and the professionals at Aurora Park have been committed to improving the quality of services at every level within the facility. A modification in the culture isn’t something that matures overnight; it’s the result of deliberate changes focused on investing in staff expertise, implementing technological advancements and adhering to best practices in order to improve the quality of services provided.    

The rise in star ratings is important because it places a quantifiable value on some of the most important aspects of care, including Aurora Park’s Department of Health surveys, staffing levels and quality measures. “Our team of exceptional caregivers understands what it takes, both clinically and operationally to improve our star ratings as we strive to achieve five stars,” Bastian stated. “We are committed to seeking new and innovative ways to deliver services, mentor one another and most-importantly provide the best care possible to our residents.” 

Absolut Care of Aurora Park provides 24-hour skilled nursing care, subacute rehabilitation, secured memory care, hospice care and in-house dialysis services. Learn more at www.absolutcare.com.

Absolut Care of Aurora Park is an Annual Sustaining Sponsor of the Greater East Aurora Chamber of Commerce.


Sometimes the Simple Things Make the Biggest Impact

Sometimes the Simple Things Make the Biggest Impact

Very few times as a Chamber of Commerce do we take the opportunity to toot our own horn.

We go about our daily work – planning events that bring in visitors from across the region, state, and country; working with members to fulfill their business needs; creating new programming; and of course answering emails, phone calls, and talking to visitors from the local region and around the world – with our heads down, quietly moving from task to task.

We let people know when our events, meetings, and other programs are occurring so they can attend and participate.

But what does all this activity mean? Are all these efforts an end in themselves?


Everything we do, plan for and carry out; on our own or in collaboration with like-minded partners (businesses, sponsors, local government and elected officials, various service groups, agencies & organizations) has the goal and purpose of promoting and encouraging the success and growth of our businesses and community.

From the simple things of answering phone calls, emails, or Facebook requests to the big things such as events like the Sidewalk Sale and Taste of East Aurora, we are directing attention to our businesses and community by driving people and dollars here to support our local economy.

Our efforts in the marketing and promotion of the community, creation of events, development of tourism and business development initiatives as well as a strong focus on workforce development through partnerships with our schools and businesses are things that help to ensure a vital and vibrant community.

It is due to the continuing efforts of the Chamber – small as they may sometimes be – that drives tens of thousands of people to our area each year and brings in millions of dollars in economic impact, which drives the local network of payroll, taxes, and disposable income.

In any other non-covid year this would also impact job creation but we’ll do our best to continue to address that.

I’m not overstating when I say the East Aurora community you see today is not the same community it was 20 or 30 years ago, and that the Greater East Aurora Chamber of Commerce has played a role – and still is – in that growth and development.

There is no other organization locally that consistently addresses these issues as a whole.

We as a Chamber – from the Board of Directors to me as Executive Director and Victoria Sturman as Associate Director – stand committed to carrying on this work to ensure the continued growth of the Greater East Aurora community.


Gary D. Grote

Executive Director

Greater East Aurora Chamber of Commerce

Carolcade is BACK!

Carolcade is BACK!

49th Annual Carolcade to be held Saturday, Dec. 18

Carolocade is BACK in East Aurora!

 Join us for the 49th Annual Carolcade celebration in the Village of East Aurora on Saturday, Dec. 18 from 7 to 8 p.m. along Main Street, between Elm and Olean Streets.

 The street will be closed to traffic starting at 6:30 p.m. and will reopen at approximately 8:30 p.m.

 The Salvation Army Band will provide musical accompaniment while Carolcade Choral Director Rob Goller will lead the gathering in some favorite holiday songs. Music books will be provided by the East Aurora Advertiser.

Carolcade is hosted by the Greater East Aurora Chamber of Commerce and supported by Chamber Sustaining Sponsor Absolute Care, Title Sponsor Bank of Holland, and Presenting Sponsor Vidler’s 5 & 10.

More details will be announced as the event gets closer.

Even though this is an outdoor event, the Chamber is working with the Erie County Health Department to ensure this event meets all current COVID guidance.

In order to insure a safe, healthful environment for all attendees, and, in compliance with the NY State Hero Act, masks are encouraged at all Chamber events, but not required. With the same considerations in mind the Chamber also kindly asks that if anyone is having symptoms of COVID-19 that they not attend this event.

For questions, please contact the Greater East Aurora Chamber of Commerce at (716) 652-8444 or eachamber@eanycc.com.



Thank you to our 2021 Carolcade Sponsors!!

Sustaining Sponsor

Title Sponsor

Presenting Sponsor

And the Best of the Taste of East Aurora are……

And the Best of the Taste of East Aurora are……

The Greater East Aurora Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce the winners of the 10th Annual Taste of East Aurora “Best of” Awards.

The winners are:

  • Best Bite – Holland Willows for its Banana Pepper Soup
  • Best Sweet Treat – Rosie’s Handcrafted Ice Cream for its Peach Sundae
  • Best Healthy Option – East Aurora Cooperative Market for its Greek Orzo Salad
  • Best Vendor Booth Presentation – The Griffon Gastropub

Voting this year was done online.

More than 10,000 people visited the village for the Taste of East Aurora this year and sampled food from 20 of our local restaurants. The Taste of East Aurora was held on Saturday, Sept. 11.

Congratulations to our Best of the Taste of East Aurora winners! From left to Right: Megan Kelley of Holland Willows; Joel Arcadipane, pastor of I-61 Church (Title Sponsor of the event); Sue Greis of the Griffon Gastropub; Cassandra and Deacon Tasker of Rosie’s Handcrafted Ice Cream; Jessica Armbrust, General Manager, and Rachel Haas, Prepared Foods Manager, both of the East Aurora Cooperative Market; and Gary D. Grote, Executive Director of the Greater East Aurora Chamber of Commerce.

East Aurora High School to host Mike Lutzenkirchen, executive director of the Lutzie43 Foundation, for a talk about driving safe & making responsible choices

East Aurora High School to host Mike Lutzenkirchen, executive director of the Lutzie43 Foundation, for a talk about driving safe & making responsible choices

On September 20th and 21st, Mike Lutzenkirchen, executive director of the Atlanta-based Lutzie 43 Foundation, will be in East Aurora to speak to students, teachers, and staff about the effects of distracted and impaired driving. Lutzenkirchen built his foundation after the loss of his son, former Auburn University football player, Philip Lutzenkirchen and the circumstances around his death that could have been prevented.

Lutzenkirchen will address the EA community on Tuesday, September 21 at 7:30 p.m. in the EA high school auditorium. Masks are required and all are welcome.

Distracted and impaired driving is an epidemic. The number of lives lost or injured on the roads continues to rise as cell phone usage and other distractions in vehicles increase. Currently, distracted and impaired driving incidents are the leading cause of death for ages 16-19.

“Our entire district will hear and feel the power of Mike Lutzenkirchen’s message about the importance of the decisions we make, that not only affect us, but those we love as well,” Bill Roberts, East Aurora High School principal said. “Forty-three seconds is all it takes to make sure you or someone you are driving with is driving distracted free.”

Mike’s address to the community about the foundation’s safe driving initiative, 43 Key Seconds, is personal. His goal is to reach as many people as he can with The 43 Key Seconds safe driving initiative. The Lutzie 43 Foundation’s 43 Key Seconds initiative focuses on creating the first nationally recognized symbol for distracted and impaired driving. The physical 43 Key Seconds key serves as a physical reminder to drivers to have a clear head, clean hands, clear eyes and click their seatbelt before driving. Each student will receive a lanyard, key, and keycard with these messages.

Philip won over the hearts of the Auburn community before he lost his life as a passenger in a drunk driving accident. He was not wearing his seatbelt and was ultimately thrown from the car and killed on impact.


Since Philip’s death in June 2014, Mike has traveled to schools and organizations across the country to deliver hard-hitting truths about Philip’s accident in hopes to prevent drivers from making similar mistakes that might cost them their lives.

“Philip’s story and the 43 Key Seconds initiative is in place to protect the East Aurora community,” said Lutzenkirchen. “For the younger students, my message is how to be a great friend versus a good friend and how to focus on smart decisions.”

The East Aurora Schools Lecture Series Committee (EALSC) is coordinating Lutzenkirchen’s visit to the district with the hopes to reach all community members on the importance of distracted and impaired driving. In March 2022, the EALSC will welcome Dr. Delaney Ruston for a student and community conversation about screen time and technology for kids.


The Lutzie 43 Foundation aims to encourage and empower all drivers to be positive ambassadors for safe driving through character development, mentorship and real-world application. The Lutzie 43 Foundation was established in loving memory of former Auburn football player Philip Lutzenkirchen, shortly after he lost his life in a car accident in 2014. In his memory, the foundation’s 43 Key Seconds safe driving initiative aims to create the first nationally-recognized symbol for distracted and impaired driving awareness and prevention. The foundation’s motto for youth is to “Live like Lutz, Love like Lutz, and Learn from Lutz,” reflecting its desire to help others live out the many positive character attributes that Philip displayed while learning from the circumstances that led to his death. For more information, visit lutzie43.org.

All are welcome to the Tuesday, September 21 talk in the East Aurora High School Auditorium. Masks are required.

Marilla Country Store Celebrates 170 Years in Business!

Marilla Country Store Celebrates 170 Years in Business!

Marilla Country Store, the longest continually-operating store in New York State, celebrates its historic 170th year this September.

The store bears the proud distinction of having never closed its doors since its opening in 1851. Even during the Coronavirus pandemic, when many businesses were forced under, Marilla Country Store held firm to its core mission: to serve the needs of all who visit; from the earliest settlers, to modern Western New York families, to travelers from all over the world.

“To say the store has seen a lot in 170 years would be an understatement,” says owner Sandy Grunzweig. “We have been through 33 U.S Presidents. 8 global pandemics, 6 major blizzards, and more than 100 wars.”

“But no wars, blizzards, or even global pandemics have been able to keep us from fulfilling our promise to meet the needs of the people of Marilla, and all who pass through.”

The anniversary will be recognized on Saturday, September 18th as part of “Ag Day,” the Town of Marilla’s annual celebration of its deep agricultural culture.  On that day, the store will offer a free basket raffle and free Mayer Brothers cider and donuts while supplies last.

“Marilla Country Store was established when agriculture was emerging in this region,” says Grunzweig. “Since our heritage is so steeped in Marilla’s agricultural community, the store’s anniversary is truly something for the entire town to celebrate.”

Grunzweig’s family, the Gingerich’s, are the third to have ownership of Marilla Country Store since it was established in 1851. In fact, the store is older than the town of Marilla itself. Marilla wasn’t incorporated until two years later, in 1853.

The site was acquired in a trade between a local shopkeeper and a logger named Harrison T. Foster. Foster found himself on the brink of losing his business after his oxen got loose in a nearby cornfield and ate themselves to death.

Fortunately, the shopkeeper was willing to trade his business for Foster’s land. The new store that Foster and his partner, Charles Walker, built in place of the old one is the original site of what would eventually be known as Marilla Country Store.

The store has remained family-owned over its entire 170 year history. In 1916, Louis Monchow, the son of Harrison T. Foster’s partner Gustav Monchow, took over the business from his father. It remained in the Monchow family until 1979 when the Gingerich’s bought the store, following Mildred Monchow, Louis’ wife’s, retirement.

It was the Gingerich’s who gave Marilla Country Store its name.

“Especially given the past year and a half, my family is eternally grateful to still be here, going strong,” Grunzweig says. “We couldn’t do it without our incredible staff, who has worked so hard to keep us going, even during a global pandemic. And, of course, to the Marilla community who has supported us for 170 years, and continues to this day. We are excited to share this historic milestone with all of you!”

Since 1851, Marilla Country Store has been a destination for Western New York families and travelers passing through the area. The store features three floors, teeming with unique gifts, stunning home decor, bulk foods and candy, and so much more. Join us for the day, and leave with something you will treasure for a lifetime.