10 Franklin Street, Saratoga Springs, NY

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

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