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Photo by Mel Hunt

Karen and Chan Whitford are inspiring unity using the family barn

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The picturesque barn on Cuba lake has taken on a new role

By Andrew Harris, photos by Dan Whitford and John Kucko Digital

Regardless of the season, if you glance up the hillside along Cuba Lake you see a postcard scene: A big old barn, trimmed out with durable red, and complete with a steeple. It’s hard not to notice and owner Karen Whitford has turned that iconic farm-scape into a way to send a message.

At the beginning of the pandemic with social political divisions causing real harm to communities and families, Whitford decided to use the barn to communicate to her neighbors, friends, and community: WE ARE STRONGER TOGETHER. As Whitford explained, “The barn is very visible from the Lake Road and we thought it would be nice to use the barn for anything that inspired unity.”

Western New York photographer John Kucko captured this image of the barn on his last trip through town:

As you can see from the feature photo provided by the Whitford family, Karen has changed the message to reflect the latest challenge of our times: Ukraine. Karen, Chan, and family have very close ties to Poland and are keenly aware of the crisis unfolding.

“We have had very close friends in Poland since the 1980’s. They have accepted 2 million refugees from this crime against humanity. I can hardly get to sleep at night thinking about those poor people who have been left with nothing,” Karen explained with a tear in her eye.

Karen, who spoke with the Wellsville Sun today, wants the community to know that this message of unity with Ukraine will evolve.

“We will be planting sunflowers again this year in the field because that is the national flower of Ukraine.”

Photographer and journalist John Kucko, who graciously provided us his images, plans to document the barn with the new sign as soon as possible. He quipped, “You know how much I love that barn!” Kucko recently raised some very big money with his post card fundraiser project, “Sunflowers for Ukraine:”

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