Dr. Brenda Hayes was raised in Brocton on a bucolic lakeside property which her father, Douglas Hayes, the Chevy dealer in Dunkirk in 1959, chose because he loved the sturdy and handsome barn. The land had belonged in the mid-1800s to a small utopian community, The Brotherhood of the New Life. The group nurtured the vineyards here before moving on to California's Sonoma Valley, the start of a whole new wine industry. The farm today is known as Vine Cliff. Here Hayes and her mother, Rosemary, continue to farm the land and harvest grapes. Her sister, Laura, also lives on the property raising and riding Arabian horses.
It was Hayes who returned to her home base in 2006, seeking a simpler style of living and reconnection with family and community. She had earned her MS in marriage and family counseling and her Ph.D. in human development at Virginia Tech. She went on to a successful 35-year career as an individual and family mental health professional and consultant to schools, businesses and community organizations in Philadelphia where she also raised her two children. She returns frequently to enjoy her new granddaughter and follow up with clients.
But it is here in Chautauqua County where she has recommitted herself and her new practice as a personal coach, promoting positive health and wellness.
Dr. Brenda Hayes of Brocton.
The focus of her work addresses everyday issues of problem solving, conflict resolution, life transitions and individual growth and relationship building. She offers practical workshops such as "Building and Maintaining Positive Relationships with Our Adult Children" and "Becoming a More Positive Thinker." Hayes describes her work as specializing in "personal coaching to facilitate effective management of change."
Hayes' commitment to personal growth moves far beyond that personal arena as is demonstrated in her dedication to community and the development of Chautauqua County. Her energies are devoted to a diverse group of associations such as the League of Women Voters, Fredonia Rotary, American Association of University Women, the Chautauqua Chamber of Commerce and the Westfield Memorial Hospital Foundation Board. It looks like she is well on her way to fulfilling her goal of "getting involved in community, finding ways to contribute and giving back to the family and community" which started her on such a positive track.
Hayes is currently applying her own personal experience of moving back to the area to a new endeavor with David Bryant. They are in the process of interviewing 100 people who have moved to Chautauqua County in the past 10 years. Their survey seeks to identify why these people decided to move and stay here and what they love most about living here. An enticing introductory draft reads: "A quiet movement has begun in the county. Slowly, and without fanfare, people are choosing to relocate here, in some cases to their roots, and in some cases as relative newcomers."
Reasons for relocation are grouped into themes of: lifestyle/connection with family, friends, community; small town and rural ambiance; beauty of natural resources/outdoor activities; affordability/cost of living; employment opportunities/technology advances; agricultural base; cultural and educational opportunities.
We will have to stay tuned for the results. Thirty-two interviews are categorized already. For Hayes, the grape harvest is in and secure. Her new practice is up and running. For those of us in the area there are still many benefits to harvest from Hayes' return to Brocton. Welcome home, Brenda Hayes: parent, grandparent, family caretaker, home rebuilder, farmer, counselor, business consultant, personal coach, board member, Rotarian, Leaguer, professional altruist. Welcome home to Chautauqua County!
Skeeter Tower is a Dunkirk resident. Send comments on this column to firstname.lastname@example.org