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April 7 Ribbon Cutting to Celebrate the Sweet Life

Finger Lakes Cookie Co. proprietor Lori Bush is working her usual magic, transforming ingredients such as pure vanilla, local butter and eggs, and Ghirardelli chocolate into thick, soft, chewy cookies like your grandma used to make.

There will be fresh batches of chocolate chip, molasses, peanut butter and other sweet treats available for today's customers, and more planned for the shop's official ribbon cutting, presented by the Livingston County Chamber of Commerce at 1:00 pm this Friday, April 7 at 94 Main Street, Suite 101 in Geneseo.

Just when you thought it couldn't get any sweeter, along comes Heather Bump. All of a sudden, a ribbon cutting takes on the added significance of a graduation of sorts.

Heather lives within walking distance of Finger Lakes Cookie Co. at a group home operated by The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming, a not-for-profit agency that provides services to people with developmental disabilities. For the past month, she has participated in an internship at Finger Lakes Cookie Co. that concludes on Thursday – just one day prior to the cookie maker's big coming out ceremony.

“Heather and I have had a connection since day one,” Lori says. “On her first day we talked about all the different things that happened in my shop that she could help with, so the experience not only allowed her gain some different job skills, but it also would help the daily functioning of the shop.”

At Finger Lakes Cookie Co., Heather has done everything from cashing out customers to washing dishes, boxing cookies to coordinating complex orders. It has provided real-world work experience with the right ingredients for continued success; Heather feels confident about achieving her next goal of paid employment in the community.

"On one of her very first days at Finger Lakes Cookie Co., Heather just went up to a customer and waited on them," says Darlene McMullin, Heather's job coach from The Arc. "Through this opportunity, Heather has reached a potential that she didn't even know she had. Lori gave Heather a chance, and it has been amazing."

The Finger Lakes Cookie Co. slogan is "We make life sweet, while promoting hope." For Lori, the business is a way to continue a family legacy of support for The Arc, where her sister, Linda, has received services for more than 35 years. In addition to internship opportunities, the shop donates a percentage of its proceeds to The Arc, and has held special fundraisers for The Arc, sports booster clubs, and others. It is Lori's goal to employ individuals served by The Arc in the production of cookies.

"The Arc and its wonderful staff are dedicated to providing all the resources a handicapped adult requires including housing and employment," she says.

While it is hard to overstate Finger Lakes Cookie Co.'s philanthropy, it's the premium cookies that keep customers coming back for more. A visit to the company's Facebook pages reveals a perfect five star rating and comments that range from "amazing" to "the best cookies I've ever had." One reviewer contemplates camping outside the shop to be the first in line for a treat of the oatmeal raisin variety.

Representatives from The Arc will join Lori, Finger Lakes Cookie Co. staff, Chamber employees, and members of the community at large for the ribbon cutting. The event is open to the public, and will include cookie tasting. Heather will be available for cookie consultation – although she insists that taste testing was never "officially" among her responsibilities.

"My favorites are the cheesecake," she says.