On Thursday, May 24 and Friday, May 25, individuals from East Aurora Day Program went to the Wyoming County Home Cemetery in Varysburg to prepare the cemetery for Memorial Day. Due to the recent rainy weather, none of sasi’s groups had been able to mow the grass. It was over a foot tall by Thursday when the individuals arrived to mow. Needless to say, mowing was going to be an all day project! However, by the end of their second day, the cemetery was almost completely mowed, and was presentable for Memorial Day. There are some veterans included amongst the people buried at WCH Cemetery, so small U.S. flags were placed on their graves to honor their service.
The Wyoming County Home (also known as a “Poor House” or “Alms House”) was established in 1843. The home housed poor and disabled occupants of Wyoming County; often times, the families were unable or unwilling to care for their disabled family member. In order to avoid embarrassment for their families, deceased residents of the home were buried in graves marked with numbers instead of names.
Individuals and staff from sasi have been volunteering at the WCH cemetery since 2004 when sasi’s Vice President of Finance and CFO Shawn Cunningham became involved. Back then, the cemetery had been abandoned and was overgrown with brush and weeds. Since it was abandoned, people had used the cemetery as a party spot and a dump. There were old tires, beer bottles, junk, and even animal bones strewn all over the old cemetery. Gravestones had been knocked over, or even removed from the cemetery. Within a few years, individuals and staff had managed to clear the brush and haul away the junk. Grave stones were found – some were simply toppled over and covered by a layer of soil. Others mysteriously appeared in the front of the cemetery. Although not verified, local lore stated that some of the stones had been taken and used as stepping stones or porch steps. However, once sasi began restoring the cemetery, gravestones began to return.
Throughout the years, sasi volunteers have built raised flower beds, posted a sign identifying the cemetery, and have continued to mow and landscape at the cemetery. Groups of volunteers have come from sasi Program sites (East Aurora, Elma, Sardinia, and Yorkshire) as well as sasi Residential locations (Darien and Holland/Glenwood).
Pictured at the WCH Cemetery on 5/25/18 are volunteers from sasi’s East Aurora Day Program: David S., Paul F., & Matt L. Not pictured are Tim F., Andy D., and staff Deb Heusinger.