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10 Franklin Street, Saratoga Springs, NY

Franklin Community Center Blog

I definitely got more than I gave!! By Gina Peca

January 28th, 2016

I definitely got more than I gave!

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I am now settled in my new old house on Catherine Street in Saratoga and loving it. But I felt that I needed to do something meaningful with my time.  So I started volunteering at the Franklin Community Center.*  (https://www.franklincommunitycenter.org/)  The more I learn about the place, the more I realize that this is the right fit for me.

There is a food pantry, a clothing store, a furniture matching program, Project Lift University for kids in the Saratoga schools and so much more. (They even had Halloween costumes that had been donated – I wish I knew that when my kids had outgrown theirs!)  This agency provides much needed services to individuals and families.  Often when we think of Saratoga, we think of affluence.  But there are many people in need.

Today I worked in the food pantry. Staffed by volunteers, there is a concerted effort to provide people with healthful food and real choices.  People whose food stamps allot them $4 a day for food.  People who need baby formula and diapers and deodorant and shampoo and tampons and sanitary pads and toothpaste and soap.

I saw donations come in from companies like Panera and from individuals. I saw beans and pasta and peanut butter, which is to be expected.  But I also saw chicken and apples and potatoes and beef and onions.

It made me realize that we can do so much. We can purchase extra tuna fish or a package of diapers.  Pick up some shampoo and soap and deodorant.  How about peanut butter and crackers or those tuna packets for the homeless.  You know there are sales and coupons.  What if we picked up a few extra items when we went to the supermarket.  Do you have any idea what a difference we could make?

I left there today feeling humbled and grateful. People from all walks of life can fall on hard times.  And sometimes we need a helping hand.  I want to be that hand.  I want to remember to be grateful for the things I have.  And I want to remember to think of others when I am at the supermarket shopping for my family.  I can certainly pick up shampoo and deodorant.  And if chicken or beef is on sale, I can pick up that too.

Today I gave a few hours of my time. But I got so much more in return.

 

*Donations of Food, Clothing or Household Items
Donations of non-perishable food items for our food pantry can be dropped off at 10 Franklin Street, Monday – Wednesday from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and on Thursday’s from 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.  Please use handicapped entrance through fence gate.  Clothing and household items can be dropped off at our Distribution Center, located at 101 Washington Street, on Tuesdays from between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. We must limit clothing donations to two bags of in-season clothing.

From Francine… A Voice In Our Community

January 13th, 2016

We are proud to share Francine D. Grinnell’s story with you…

Writers are often encouraged to write about what they know. As a local freelance multimedia journalist for the past 15 years, I covered local news throughout the Capital District in print, photographs and on video for most of the local news publications. With a reputation as “a one man band”, I had to do it all. I enjoyed every moment; it was the work I love to do, and anticipated the long run I was blessed to have to continue for years to come.

In 2014, I received a letter from the managing editor of a regional news organization informing me that financial constraints necessitated deep cuts to staff and freelance budgets that would impact me directly. Six of my vendors were gone seemingly overnight. I so loved the work, the people I encountered daily that shared their stories with the readers through me and the adrenalin driven pace that I didn’t realize I was one step away from having the rug pulled out from under me. In a very short period of time, I lost the home I loved in Greenfield, two apartments, and my vehicle was repossessed twice in a 6 month period. As I tried to get re-established with work and a roof over my head, an extended period of struggle ensued. If it had not been for the generosity and compassion I experienced directly at community and faith based organizations such as the Franklin Community Center, I cannot imagine how I would have survived without their caring presence.

Shortly before I found myself in dire straits, I had written and photographed a series that appeared in two local newspapers during the Thanksgiving season in which I interviewed guests at SOS, visited local food pantries, and sources of clothing and household goods for those in need. I also videotaped and wrote about a homeless tent community in a local city that exists immediately alongside I-787 North, just past and in sight of an affluent rehabbed downtown shopping district. I have seen first hand that it exists adjacent to our blessed, comfortable communities throughout the region and we must choose to acknowledge the need. 

The theme that kept emerging and that I have experienced directly is that there but for grace go any one of us. I have personally encountered neighbors, managers and co-workers, and people from all demographics that never imagined they would have to approach the Franklin Community Center for food and basic necessities. The volunteers and Food Program Administrator Julie Slovic have been endlessly welcoming and even patient with the special requests of a largely vegetarian diet. I can honestly say at this point that my struggle has been an eye-opening, heart changing experience. I hope anyone reading this will contribute or offer to volunteer at the Franklin Community Center, because they are truly neighbors serving neighbors.

Francine D. Grinnell

Say No More Multimedia Services

fgrinnellg@gmail.com