After the west wall of the Opera House in Attica was heavily damaged in a windstorm last week, Pavilion resident Jolene Coots found her business, Hands of Time Massage, displaced.
It didn't take long for the community to find out and the outpouring of support has been overwhelming, said her husband, Jesse Coots.
"Because of the damage, the county has deemed the building unsafe so she was instantly out of business," Jesse said. "Feeling crushed, we went to Attica yesterday (Monday) to remove what we could then we went for lunch at local diner and people were amazing to Jolene. They gave her hugs and words of encouragement and offered any help we needed.
"We took a walk down Main Street looking for a place to rent. Nothing was advertised for rent and feeling desperate we just walked into a couple of local businesses and asked if they knew if anything. Everyone, and I mean everyone, offered space to Jolene. They offered to share a room and offered to make room for her!
"We were really shocked. We thought she would be out of business for a few months but the community has literally rallied behind her."
Talking about it makes Jolene tear up.
"It's amazing," Jolene said during a phone interview. She started to sob and confessed she thought she had told the story often enough already that she wouldn't cry during the interview.
"Everybody knew," Jolene said. "It's a small town. Word spreads quickly. The expressions of concern when we went out, messages on Facebook, Jesse's friends had spots available, even in neighboring towns, they'd say they have spots available and though know it's not close for a majority of my clients, but they have space. It's been great."
That's the advantage of small-town life, both Jesse and Jolene noted, and why they wanted to share their story.
Jolene has been a massage therapist for 20 years and had her own business in Attica for more than 19 years. The Coots are known, of course, for the Hardcore Happening, which they host at their home in Pavilion every August.
While Jolene is hopeful the Opera House can be repaired -- she believes her landlord expects to repair it -- she now has space for her practice.
On Monday, while she and Jesse stepped into the Tompkins Insurance office and asked if the staff new of open space downtown. Manager Mike Hardy came out and right away offered a space upstairs. Jolene said it was the most move-in ready space they had seen and Hardy allowed her to move her business into the room immediately.
"The words of encouragement have meant the most," Jesse said. "I don’t think she ever realized how loved she is or how powerful and supportive a small town can be.
"We’ve had offers from people all over once word got out -- friends who own building in Batavia, Le Roy, Pavilion and Attica have reached out. Other massage therapists have offered space. It really made us feel good to live in such a caring community and feel loved by so many."