Funds will go to summer programs for at-risk youths By Paul Grondahl
Published 9:48 pm, Thursday, September 3, 2015
VIEW ON TIMESUNION.COM
Albany- September 4, 2015
Hannaford Supermarkets has donated $80,000 to eight local summer programs for at- risk youths as part of a $115,000 donation that targets youth development, child nutrition and student resources. The money will have a tangible impact on the lives of hundreds of local children from low-income families who face disadvantages and often struggle with food insecurity, behavioral problems and other difficulties.
Andy Gilpin, associate executive director of CAPTAIN Youth & Family Services in Clifton Park, said the gift allows his organization to add a fourth week to a summer camp that serves disadvantaged youths in southern Saratoga County.
For the past 19 years, CAPTAIN has run the free, three-week CAPTAIN Peace Camp each summer for about 40 children in elementary and middle school. The $10,000 gift will increase the camp’s budget by more than 25 percent and also be used to increase the number of campers, staff and activities. Peace Camp teaches the children, many of whom have had disciplinary problems in school, new conflict-resolution strategies. “The camp provides the students with positive social skills along with fun activities,” Gilpin said. “There is a large need in our community, which has many pockets of poverty.”
The grant recipients were selected with the help of the Times Union Hope Fund, a not-for-profit organization run by newspaper employees who volunteer their time. Since 2008, the Hope Fund in partnership with The Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region has distributed more than $700,000 in grants to 90 after- school programs and summer camps run by 60 not-for-profit organizations who assist underprivileged children.
“We’re gratified that Hannaford chose us to help facilitate these grants. We’re excited that so many area children will benefit from Hannaford’s generosity,” said Ruth Fantasia, director of human resources at the Times Union and president of the Hope Fund. “We know that these groups are deserving of this extra assistance and hundreds of kids will be helped by it.”
The eight recipients are: Hope 7 Community Center Traveling Summer Day Camp, Troy; Unity House Traveling Day Camp, Troy; Schenectady Inner City Ministry’s Urban Camp at Steinmetz Park, Schenectady; Underground Railroad History Project of the Capital Region’s Young Abolitionist Teen Scholars Initiative, Albany; Capital Roots’ Produce Project, Troy; Grand Street Community Arts YouthFX,
Albany; Franklin Community Center Project Lift, Saratoga Springs, and CAPTAIN Peace Camp, Clifton Park.
“We’re super-excited for this gift. There are many ways we’ll be able to put it to use,” said Bhawin Suchak, program director of YouthFX. The $10,000 equals the largest gift ever received by the six-week summer camp film program that trains teens in filmmaking skills and helps them create their own movies. The Hannaford donation will allow the program to expand its after-school program at Albany High School and free workshops offered at the Albany Public Library. “This donation is really important to us at a key time as we expand from a summer program to a year-round one,” Suchak said. Since its founding in 2008, about 300 teens have completed the summer program and YouthFX also works with about 50 Albany High students each year. Several alumni have landed jobs in film production. A student film, “Falling,” received an award at the Los Angeles Film Festival that students attended, and it will be featured at this month’s Harlem International Film Festival.
The $115,000 donation is part of a new initiative called Hannaford Helps and includes a donation at the start of this school year of $35,000 worth of classroom supplies and nutritious snacks to Capital Region schools. “This will help many of our families that may not be able to afford school supplies for their children,” said Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard, superintendent of the Albany school district.
Hannaford Helps distributes $400,000 annually in donations to youth programs across five New England states.
“Hannaford is proud to support the work of educators, counselors, coaches and volunteers who are so impressive in their commitment to develop young people in the communities where our associates live and work,” said Mike Vail, president of Hannaford Supermarkets. He said the donations “are focusing on the fact that a community is only as strong as its next generation.”
“It’s a great surprise and a great boost to our Produce Project,” said Amy Klein, executive director of Capital Roots in Troy, which runs a year-round training program. About 50 underprivileged and at-risk students from Troy High School get a stipend and school credit for operating a three-acre farm. “This is a nice shot in the arm that will help us expand the program and help more students,” Klein said.
“We were surprised and honored to be chosen,” said Mary Liz Stewart, co-founder with her husband, Paul, of the Underground Railroad History Project of the Capital Region. “It’s a significant vote of confidence in the quality of our program.”
The organization runs the Young Abolitionist Teen Scholars’ Institute each July at the 19th-century Arbor Hill home of Stephen and Harriet Myers, leading abolitionists whose home was a stop on the underground railroad. About 30 student and six facilitators completed the four-week program. She said the Hannaford donation will help it grow next summer for the fifth edition by adding more students and facilitators and possibly extending it another week. “It’s a big boost for us,” she said.
“We’re beyond thrilled. We’re over the moon,” said Diane Cameron, director of development for Unity House, whose Traveling Summer Camp just completed its 43rd year. A total of 150 children between 6 and 13 living in poverty in Troy were given breakfast and lunch and transported by bus to local attractions, including Grafton Lakes State Park, Moreau Lake State Park, the State Museum and Albany Institute of History & Art. “These are kids whose families never had the money to send them to camp,” Cameron said. “It’s an experience that can change their lives.”
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