By Jill Nagy
Directors of three human services agencies
have been putting their heads together to
share ideas, information and, most recently, a
fundraiser. They refer clients and volunteers
to one another and, recently, two of them
These cooperative efforts benefit the agencies
and help save money. They also involve
other agencies in the area that could benefit
from shared information or services.
“I’ve always been a big fan of not duplicating
services and we want our sponsors to know that
we are trying to work together and collaborate,”
said Lois Celeste, director of the Saratoga Adult
and Senior Center, one of the organizations
active in the collaboration.
Linda Toohey, then with the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, was the catalyst for getting them together about three years ago, according to Celeste. It was then that “we started talking about what we could do together,” she recalled.
A joint fundraiser last July — on the first dark day of the Saratoga Race Course meet — was their first major project, noted Michelle Larkin, director of Rebuilding Together Saratoga, an organization that provides free home repairs to elderly, disabled or low-income people or veterans.
Her organization, the Senior Center, and the Franklin Community Center, jointly sponsored a barbecue catered by Brooks Barbecue. They charged $10 or $12 for a ticket, modest amounts by fundraiser standards, and ended up raising close to $6,000 for the three organizations.
The Senior Center and Franklin Community Center are “almost neighbors, they are right in our back yard,” Celeste noted, and her organization often sends members to the Community Center for assistance the Senior Center does not provide. The Senior Center also worked together with the Domestic Violence organization on a project on elder abuse, she recalled. Kari Cushing, who directs the Franklin Community Center, sees the collaboration as a natural.
“We work closely together, we have similar clienteles, and our supporters like the idea of collaboration and pooling resources,” she said. On an informal basis, they share volunteers and refer clients to one another. When the Community Center building needed repairs, Rebuilding Together sent volunteers. They also sent painters to help spruce up the Senior Center.
Recently, when the Senior Center was closed for emergency repairs, Rebuilding Together volunteers donated baked goods to the Community Center.
Cushing also recalled that, in the past, her organization and the Employment Opportunity Commission (EOC) each provided Thanksgiving and Christmas food gifts to community members; now, the EOC looks after Thanksgiving and the Community Center is responsible for Christmas.
There is day-to-day collaboration among the three entities, Cushing noted, and every few months, the directors of those organizations, and others, meet. They discuss topics like salaries and benefits, resources they may be able to share, where to get the least expensive routine supplies — all the nuts and bolts of operating a not-for-profit social service agency.
The groups will next meet at Captain’s Youth Shelter in Malta, a facility operated by Captain Youth and Family Services in Clifton Park. They will tour the facility and catch up on one another’s activities, said Celeste.
Invitations have gone out to Saratoga Center for the Family, the Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Center in Saratoga Springs, Shelters of Saratoga, and EOC, but, Celeste emphasized, it is not an exclusive group. The more organization that get involved, the better.
Rebuilding Together is about to celebrate its 10th anniversary with a party at the Saratoga Polo Club on Oct. 10, called “10 on 10/10,” Larkin pointed out. Proceeds from the celebration will be used to purchase building supplies. The organization expects to complete 100 projects this year.
“Our goal is to help people in their homes and to keep them warm, safe and dry,” she said. The Community Center attempts to provide such basic services as food, housing, household goods, counseling and after school child care.
Rebuilding Together is located in Gansevoort and can be reached at 587-3315. The Saratoga Adult and Senior Center in Saratoga Springs can be contacted at 584-1621. Franklin Community Center in Saratoga Springs can be reached at 587-9826.