Shelters of Saratoga will have a permanent Code Blue shelter built on its property at 14 Walworth St. in Saratoga Springs, the result of a donation in February by Ed and Lisa Mitzen.
Ed Mitzen is the founder of Fingerpaint Marketing on Broadway. Both are shelter volunteers.
The new shelter is expected to be open by next winter.
For the past few years, the shelter has had temporary residence at St. Peter’s Parish Center, the Salvation Army building and the Soul Saving Station Church in downtown Saratoga Springs.
Michael Finocchi, executive director of the nonprofit group, said initial plans call for a two-story building with large kitchen, laundry room, men’s and women’s sleeping rooms, multiple showers and bathrooms, a large storage area for donated food and clothing, and a small Code Blue office.
Bonacio Construction will be handling all the construction and appropriate permits, with assistance from the LA Group. Finocchi said both have agreed to forego any profits to keep the costs as low as possible.
Code Blue is a walk-in, emergency homeless shelter that offers a hot meal and a warm place to sleep when temperatures in the city are below 32 degrees or there is significant snow fall.
“We are absolutely thrilled with the generosity of the Mitzens and can’t wait to get started on this critical project. Our goal is to have the new building operational by Nov. 1,” said Finocchi. “It is our belief that having Code Blue in close proximity to the case-managed shelters maximizes the opportunity for Shelters of Saratoga to provide the full continuum of homeless services to the individuals we serve.
“This project will allow us to more easily connect homeless individuals with the support services they need, including case management, mental health counseling and alcohol and drug rehabilitation. Our ultimate goal is to get them stable and housed.”
Finocchi said the gift from the Mitzens “solves the consistent challenge we have faced over the last few years of providing a permanent home for Code Blue. We can now focus on our fundraising efforts to secure community support in addition to local and state government funding to cover the operational expenses, which are necessary to successfully run the Code Blue program and other instrumental Shelters of Saratoga homeless programs.”
Since November 2016, Code Blue has been open 79 nights and 15 days. The program relies heavily on over 200 volunteers to help staff both day and evening shifts. Volunteers assist with such tasks as meal preparation, set up and clean up, said Finocchi.
“Ed and I have been two of the many volunteers at Code Blue over the years. We have seen firsthand the challenges of the prior buildings and feel a new facility built for Code Blue would allow for better care of the guests. We are truly so thrilled to be able to help the community in this way,” said Lisa Mitzen.
“Our family feels incredibly blessed to be able to help others,” said Ed Mitzen. “We recognize that Code Blue has been a community effort, and it is our belief that this new building will further the care of the homeless in our area. We hope that the city government comes together and expedites all the proper zoning and approval requirements, so we can get the shelter built quickly and efficiently. “
He thanked Sonny Bonacio of Bonacio Construction and Mike Ingersoll of the LA Group “for stepping up to help see this project through.”
For more information, contact Finocchi at Shelters of Saratoga at 581-1097 or visit www.sheltersofsaratoga.org.