This week we pause to think about everyone and everything we have to be thankful for. As East Aurora Co-op member-owners, we are thankful for the momentum that has been building over the last few months and for the prospect of being an integral part of something truly unique in a very special community. And we are grateful that the coming year is going to see our grand opening and our growth as a locally owned and locally supported business.

We are also thankful for the dedicated core group of volunteers who have been with this project since the very beginning. Key among that group is Sheila Conboy, former board president and current project manager. Sheila was there with Mary Aiken when the idea of a co-op in East Aurora was first articulated. And she was the one who went home and googled “how to open a co-op.” Every day – every single day – since then she has worked to help build a community of member-owners and move this project forward. Her dedication to the East Aurora Co-op Market is an inspiration and her leadership has often been the bridge that allowed the project to traverse some choppy waters.

Photos: 500 Member-Owner celebration; Site announcement (photo courtesy of Natalie Hofert Photography); Food Co-op Initiative Visit (with Stuart Reid, Lissa Mann, Mary Aiken); Capital Campaign (with Norm Uhteg, Greg Goggins, David Schultz); Renovations and design (with Colby Smith and Alix Martin); choosing finishes with Terry Wittenrich.

Her commitment, passion, and spirit have been noticed beyond the East Aurora Co-op as well. Sheila was officially voted on to the Food Co-op Initiative’s (FCI’s) Board of Directors at their November 2 annual strategic retreat in Boston. FCI provides training, guides, networking, and financial assistance to the 200+ communities that are organizing new food co-ops in urban and rural areas.

“We’re thrilled to have Sheila on our board,” said Stuart Reid, FCI executive director. “We chose her for her incredible commitment to both East Aurora and FCI. She will provide invaluable insights into the ‘on the ground’ issues that startups face. And, she’s just so damn smart and fun.” We could not agree more, Stuart.

We are so thankful for everything you do, Sheila, and congratulations on your FCI board election. You deserve it!

Food Co-op Initiative Executive Director & Board:  Stuart Reid Executive Director, Allan Gallant Board, Anya Firszt Board Vice President, Marilyn Scholl Board Secretary, Patrick Connealy Board Treasurer, Sverre Roang Board President, Christina Clamp Board, Rochelle Prunty Board, Richard Dines, Sheila Conboy, Leslie Mead, Gerardo Espinoza