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SARATOGA COUNTY — David DeMarco, president and CEO of Saratoga National Bank and Trust Company, has made a commitment to represent Saratoga County throughout the month of October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, by wearing pink every day, all 31 days, of the American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer’s Real Men Wear Pink campaign.
DeMarco, one of a dozen prominent men throughout the Capital Region, will take a stand against breast cancer by encouraging the community to take action, raising funds and awareness about this life-threatening disease. Each Real Men Wear Pink candidate is charged with a fundraising challenge and will compete to be the top fundraiser among the other candidates by the end of the campaign.
"It’s a first time event in the Capital Region, but it’s been done in other parts of the country with some success,” said DeMarco. “I’ve been involved with the American Cancer Society for most of my career, on the board of directors in Glens Falls and shared the first Relay for Life up in Queensbury when I lived there, so when they asked me to participate, it was kind of a no-brainer, an easy decision to get involved. I thought it would be fun for a great cause.”
Starting October 1, the 12 participants must wear pink every day, a task that will not be too difficult for DeMarco. “Luckily, I have a number of pink ties and some pink shirts,” he said. “Every couple of weeks or so I’d wear pink anyway. I hope to take a picture every day, make it fun. Since we’re doing it to raise awareness, there’s a little bit of a competition, though. We’ve been asked to raise $2,500 primarily through social media and personal asks.”
DeMarco hopes to engage Saratoga’s business community, as well, to support this initiative. “Our company is certainly supporting me. Once a month, we have a dress-down Friday where people pay $5 and it typically goes to United Way, but in October our parent company is encouraging people to do it for my campaign against breast cancer,” said DeMarco. “Hopefully all of our employees will be in pink on Friday, October 21.”
The 2016 Real Men Wear Pink participants are:
Carm Basile – CEO, CDTA
Bob Blackman - Vice President Business Development, Realty USA
Dr. Rufus Collea – Oncologist, New York Oncology Hematology
David S. DeMarco - President & CEO, Saratoga National Bank & Trust Co
Corey Ellis – President, Corey L. Ellis Consulting & Management, CECM
Jason Gough – Meteorologist, WNYT-TV
Andrew Guelcher – Director of Variable Operations, Mohawk Honda
Dr. Richard MacDowell, Breast Surgeon, Albany Medical Center
Dr. Lee A. McElroy, Jr - Director of Athletics, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Chad O’Hara – Program Director, B95.5
Dr. Duncan Savage - Radiation Oncologist, St. Peter’s Cancer Care Center
Bill Sherman - Vice President Government Relations, American Cancer Society.
According to the American Cancer Society “Cancer Facts & Figures 2016,” an estimated 246,660 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer and an estimated 40,450 will die from the disease this year. In New York, over 16,000 women will be diagnosed this year and 2,410 will die from the disease. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, and it is the most common cancer diagnosed in women other than skin cancer.
“I’m not sure there’s anyone around these days whose lives haven’t been touched by breast cancer,” said DeMarco, “My wife’s grandmother died from it, and we have a couple extremely close friends, one who is a 13-year survivor and one just diagnosed recently. We aren’t asking for large contributions – just whatever you can give. I’m the only Real Man Wearing Pink from Saratoga County. I’m hopeful people here will support me, that we’ll have a good showing that Saratoga cares about supporting breast cancer research, that people who don’t even know me but care about this will support me.”
For more information about breast cancer or the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk, visit MakingStridesWalk.org/Albany or call 800-227-2345. To support the Real Men and read their stories, visit MakingStridesWalk.org/RealMenAlbanyNY. To support David DeMarco’s Real Men Wear Pink Campaign, click here.
SARATOGA SPRINGS —Saratoga Springs just became home to 32 Mile Media, a video production company now located at 46 Congress Street. 32 Mile Media develops compelling video content for commercial and non-profit organizations locally and nationally, offering an array of video products, including online videos, promotional videos, TV commercials, animation, and video graphic packages.
“This is a thriving town with so much going on,” said Dale Mattison, co-owner, chief video producer, and founder of 32 Mile Media. “You can’t pick a better spot. The main reason we moved here from Glens Falls is because this is where PEP is located, but I’m so happy to be in Saratoga – the perfect place to have a new business.”
Under a new co-ownership partnership agreement with the Patient Experience Project (PEP) at 19 Railroad Place, 32 Mile Media has become a sister company to the full-service, patient-centric communications firm serving the healthcare, pharmaceutical, and biotech industries.
“We’ve grown to about 35 people here and do a lot of content marketing, with a lot of written content and video,” said PEP owner Dan Bobear. “We’ve been outsourcing a tremendous amount of video.”
But rather than create an internal video production studio from scratch, PEP connected with 32 Mile Media, which was already serving local clients.
“It was a natural fit for us to expand laterally,” said Bobear. “We invested significant amounts of cash into equipment and a studio in town, and we have a nationally known guy, so the local market is getting a high-end video production quality pretty affordably. The [community] side benefit is now there’s great production capability right in their back yard with national talent.”
“We are really confident it [PEP’s investment] will yield a quick return with the unique storytelling approach we have,” added Mattison. “We begin every project that we do with a conversation. We take the time to listen to the stories of the company or individual, and bring to the surface the most meaningful story that they have.”
This approach matches PEP’s emphasis on storytelling as marketing. “I think you see scripted and formulaic pharmaceutical marketing out there,” said Bobear, “and we have introduced a way to keep them regulatory-compliant, but at the same time let people talk and tell their stories naturally, authentically.”
“It’s a perfect marriage,” said Mattison. “It makes sense for a company that tells stories through video to join a company that tells stories of people who are struggling and need their stories told out into the world. We are super focused on storytelling that gets to the root of what makes our clients unique. So is the Patient Experience Project.”
32 Mile Media has created many television commercials and video for web-based platforms. “We not only provide the video, but we can coach clients as to what to do with the video after we make it for them. We really work with any and all types of companies. We want to highlight Saratoga and the Capital District, and show the beauty of the area as much as we can.”
In fact, the company’s name is in homage to Mattison’s hometown, Lake George. “There’s a lot of beauty in upstate NY, and there’s no better way to capture it than through video. I want to inspire everyone to never overlook the beauty right in front of us,” said Mattison.
Mattison is especially proud of his team. “Our people that we have working for us are so talented,” he said, “the production manager and editor are the best around, and really continue to make 32 Mile an incredible company. With PEP and all of us together, the sky’s the limit and we’re excited to see what the future holds.”
Mattison is an award-winning videographer who founded 32 Mile Media with a mission to help companies tell their brand stories and convey their messages through video. His videography experience is extensive. He has worked on everything from backyard home videos to Oscar-nominated films. With each assignment, Mattison ensures quality and authenticity is apparent in the final video. Mattison earned a bachelor’s degree in TV and Video Production from SUNY Plattsburgh, Plattsburgh, New York. See next week’s Saratoga TODAY to learn about the new, national talent hired at 32 Mile Media. Learn more about the Patient Experience Project at www.the-pep.com. For more information about 32 Mile Media, visit www.32mile.com.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Meeting Deanna Hensley for the first time is like meeting an old friend, a great quality in a homeless outreach coordinator. Her giant heart shows in her welcoming smile and gentle, fierce protection of Saratoga Springs’ homeless neighbors. On Friday, August 12, Hensley invited me, Congressman Paul Tonko (NY-20), and congressional staffer Marilyn Smith to ride along with her during her outreach work for Shelters of Saratoga (SOS).
We began in Congress Park, meeting at the park’s north entrance in front of her white van. “I usually have the RV, but it’s in the shop,” said Hensley. “I park in the same spot so they know to look for me here. It’s not rare for me to make 25 contacts in a day.”
It was a beautiful morning, a summer breeze lifting spirits while cooling the temperature across the green, tree-dotted grassy expanse. Mothers were pushing strollers, a visiting family was tasting the spring waters at the pump, and joggers were getting their morning exercise. And here and there, among the typical Saratoga Season crowd, a few men slowly walked in, found a shade tree, and lay down to sleep. One here, one there, seemingly random but some had their favorite spots. We watched as Hensley walked over to each of them, checking to see if they needed medical assistance or water or even a pair of socks. “Sometimes they’ve been drinking and are sleeping it off,” said Hensley. “Sometimes they are angry, or sick, or just have headaches. They don’t pay attention to hydration. They appreciate someone out here noticing and saying ‘hey, drink water.’” Hensley is careful, and listens well to the homeless neighbors in her care so she can keep them and herself safe. “We do have people who take advantage and try to prey on the weaker ones,” she said. “You never know what you might find walking up to someone, just have to be ready for anything. I do my research, so I know whether or not I’m walking up on a sex offender or someone with a violent history. So far I have not had anyone threaten me, and I think it’s because you have to show you care. They know me out here, know I can stand this close, and they have nothing to fear from me. If they ask for a hug, I’ll give it. One guy told me he hadn’t had a hug in 8 years. Can you imagine?” She opened the back of the van (filled with water bottles, t-shirts, baby wipes, foot powder, ramen noodles, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and sometimes tarps and sleeping bags) as Shawn walked over, a former roofer suffering from alcoholism and other issues. “Hi, Shawn, how are you feeling today?” asked Hensley, as if she’d known him forever. “Want some raviolis?” Shawn stood a little hesitantly at first, unsure of us strangers around the van, but Tonko reached out to shake his hand and learn a little more about him. Shawn had once had a family, a home in Ballston Lake, and a job roofing and siding, but one mistake led to another, and like many in trouble who lack support, he tried to find solace in alcohol, and has been homeless 9 years and 7 months as a result. His daughter, Michaela Rose, is 10 now. “It makes me not think,” he said about the drinking. “I don’t want to think anymore.” He sat down on the pavement between the van and a parked car to empty his sneaker. Hensley put a bottle of water by him and some food in his backpack. His blue eyes would make Sinatra proud, and his ready smile belied the serious resignation in his eyes. “I’m going to die soon,” the 34-year-old told us with an unnervingly quiet calm that made me want to check his pockets for anything he might hurt himself with. “I gave up on myself. I’m in such rough shape. It is what it is.” And he smiled, as if he were trying to make us feel better. Hensley and Tonko stepped aside and spoke urgently with him, and later Hensley told me that she wished she could throw a burlap sack over his head and just take him to a doctor, but she can’t take him unless he wants to go. According to Hensley, 85 to 90 percent of the people she meets tell her they have a pain inside that they can’t kill, so they try to kill it with alcohol. “There are so many like Shawn,” she said. “Good people, locals. That guy over there was an engineer at GE, worked 31 years. His wife got sick, and he lost everything to debts. Now he’s on the street.” Tonko told me he felt it was important to see the situation with his own eyes. “There are too many faceless discussions about homeless solutions,” he said. “Anecdotal evidence is a powerful tool to get things done. If our neighbors are homeless and struggling, we need to find a way to address their needs with care and dignity.” Hensley has so many stories to tell the Congressman. She talked about Alex, a Saratoga native who turned 21 on Thursday, Aug 25. His mom moved him from home to home, until he finally ended up in foster care, “…where bad things happened,” said Hensley. “He was severely abused in foster care.” “Locally?” I asked. “Locally,” she answered seriously. After that, she said, Alex didn’t feel safe in any system, not even SOS. Another man walked up as well as a teenager and a woman. Shawn and the three additions all knew each other and they all knew Hensley. The scene could almost have been a family out for a picnic, but one was joking one minute and crying the next, and the youngest played it cool, showing me his prison tattoo. He had good news – he had just landed a job putting labels on bottles at a local brewery. They needed care, though, including showers and a safe place to sleep. One homeless man reached up to his head, politely excused himself, and bent down to swipe the dust from his scalp, which showered down as if he’d spent a week at the beach. Even he was surprised and said he had been careful to sleep on the sleeping bag and not in the dirt. Not one of us stepped back from him, though, and it was clear that even those of us just visiting couldn’t help but have our hearts reach out to this fellow needing a little human compassion. Hensley began her work with SOS in March of this year, and has already built trust and helped many members of the local homeless community. Her vast experience stems from her work with the homeless in Las Vegas, Nevada, where she worked in a few different capacities, including in an adolescent acute unit for several years. When asked what she hopes to gain from hosting ride-alongs with reporters and elected officials, Hensley said, “We need easier access to detox and rehabilitation facilities, places that won’t keep them for only a few hours.” Currently, Hensley drives her “guys” to either St. Peter’s in Albany or St. Mary’s in Troy for those services. Anecdotally, she hears from homeless individuals that local places will take them in for three or four hours and then discharge them. Hensley hopes that legislators at the state and federal levels will understand that health coverage for the homeless population needs to cover longer-term detoxification, so it is out of their systems and they are given education and support to keep it out, as well as counseling services to address the underlying problems that made them become addicted to substances or alcohol in the first place. “Once you treat the addiction, you have to treat the person, and we need that. I will put them in the RV and take them, then and there, if they say they are ready for rehab,” said Hensley. “I don’t want to risk losing that window.” Hensley was glad Tonko came along and spent so much time on the ride along. At one point, she told him, “Normally they clam up around strangers, but they really opened up with you. You could be an outreach person.” After a couple hours, we left Congress Park in her van to visit an abandoned encampment, a home for the homeless. She surprised us when she pulled to the side of a road in a well-known section of the city, and took us to a hidden path through the woods we would never have seen without someone showing it to us. We climbed over a fallen tree; slipped a little down a hill; crunched through dead leaves, mud and underbrush; and found ourselves in a small clearing. The trees muffled the sounds from the road, and the beauty of healthy green plants and trees seemed incongruous next to the broken bottles of vodka and overturned shopping carts. As I stood there surveying the empty food wrappers, a torn tarp, tufts of grass peeping up around shards of glass and a moldy pillow, I imagined people sleeping here. It was peaceful, a hiding place from everything about the world that could scare you, a place where you could hide even from yourself. Someone like me, educated and with years of work experience, or even someone like Tonko, who has dedicated his career to public service, could one day find ourselves in a hidden home like this. One mistake, one economic downturn, one house fire, one illness – and everything I – or Tonko – or Hensley – or anyone – had built could disappear. That could be me, numbed to sleep by alcohol and rustling leaves, on that pillow, grass, and glass. In that quiet place, Hensley asked us what it would be like to have to live with nothing but our own thoughts, regrets, frightening memories. What it would be like to have to choose to live, not just day by day, but hour by hour. “Some people say they should just get up and get a job,” said Hensley. “They say it as if a homeless person just decided one day they’d be more comfortable sleeping and drinking on the ground, that it would be more comfortable than having a home or a job. It’s sad to see that stigma. People only see the aggression, but not what’s behind the aggression. They [the homeless] are not the bad guys. These are mothers, fathers, brothers, daughters.” Bottom line, human resiliency depends on a support system, meaning people who care, who have giant hearts like Hensley. If such a person, friend, relative, neighbor doesn’t exist in your life, it’s that much harder to get up from a fall, especially a tragic fall. There but for the grace of God and the caring people in my life, go I. Hensley said the one thing she wishes everyone would take to heart is, “Just because someone is unshowered and sitting against a tree with a backpack doesn’t mean they should be judged; it doesn’t mean they don’t deserve your kindness. Be kind to everyone, because, as the saying goes, you don’t know what battle they are fighting.” And no one could be kinder than Deanna Hensley. To support her work and the countless other volunteers and professionals working with the homeless in Saratoga, a series of colorfully-painted drop boxes have been placed along Broadway to accept check and cash donations. [See our story “New Donation Boxes Hit the Streets of Saratoga Springs” by Allison Capasso in Saratoga TODAY’s August 19 edition.] For more information about Shelters of Saratoga or how you can help, visit sheltersofsaratoga.org or call 518-581-1097.
WORLDWIDE — Paramount Pictures’ latest installment of Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek universe is an exciting ride for everyone except Trek purists. It is well worth the extra bucks for surround sound, but if you go 3D you might miss the extraordinary detail in the cinematography and computer-generated imagery (CGI).
The spaceport is especially impressive and a far cry from Star Trek DS9, showcasing an estimated budget of $185 million well spent. Sure, we’ve seen similar twists of gravity in other movies, but none with this attention to living, breathing detail of people and vehicles and day-to-day activities. The visual artistry and design in this film will surely gain awards at the Oscars and Golden Globes.
The entertaining plot derives from the creative talent of Simon Pegg, who also stars in the film as engineer Montgomery “Scotty” Scott. Co-written with Doug Jung, fans are being treated to a new Star Trek adventure, a refreshing break to the story rehashes of the first two films. The humor is spontaneous, natural, and continues to poke a little fun at the original Trek television series, including a scene redolent of the “I see you managed to get your shirt off,” line from “Galaxy Quest.”
Pegg does a good job of character development, with a reflective Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) facing a “now what?” realization of the consequences of accepting a dare to get through Starfleet Academy. Pine is entirely believable as a young man questioning his motives as he is maturing into leadership, but Zachery Quinto could not quite pull off a Vulcan caught between duty to his Starfleet promise and duty to the remnants of his endangered species. The actor’s portrayal of the inimitable Spock lacked the logical confidence of his earlier portrayals, making Spock seem more vulnerable and, well, human in a disappointing way.
Without giving anything away, the villain continues the theme of personal consequences, and the tale’s solution is a little reminiscent of “Shaun of the Dead,” also written by Pegg, but that can be forgiven in the glorious treatment of it by director Justin Lin, of “Fast and Furious” fame, with spectacular space explosions to the screeches of the Beastie Boys.
And speaking of music, there is nothing like sitting in a darkened, surround-sound theater listening to the magic of Oscar-winner Michael Giacchino’s genius. His original score from the 2009 Star Trek continues to thrill audiences, beginning with its distinct oboe’s long, trailing note that awakens a hint of heartbreaking solitude before it moves into a building percussion of edge-of-seat anticipation. The score’s emotional transition is so natural that the audience doesn’t even realize it has been set up to love the movie before it’s even begun.
Kudos also goes to actress Sofia Boutella, who expertly brought to life new character Jaylah in the film. With the brains of an engineer, a tragic backstory, and the dangerous beauty of a ninja warrior, there’s no doubt that Comic Cons and Halloween will be making a killing off of Jaylah costumes this year.
And for the “shippers” out there, as far as budding romance, well, Mel Brooks said it best in “History of the World Part I.” Let’s just say, “It’s good to be the king (er, writer).” Cinematographer Stephen F. Windon has worked with Lin on Fast and Furious movies, and their teamwork shows in the thrilling action sequences that will satisfy the modern Trek audience, but true Trekkers will note the flash replacing substance in the plot.
For a series that was leading the way in social debate, such as airing the first interracial kiss on television in 1968, the new Star Trek seems to be just trying to keep up. The leaked pre-release spoiler that helmsman Hikaru Sulu, played by John Cho, is gay was a nod to the original Sulu’s George Takei. It is tastefully done, but it underscores the plot’s lack of challenging themes such as world economics, man versus technology, and human (species) rights that made the original Trek so compelling despite its low budget and overacting.
Paramount seems content to stick with tried and true formulas that make good money feeding a sugar-high audience – and this film is great fun and among the best in that category. But is the studio risking audiences will leave the film feeling the emptiness of enjoying a high-calorie dessert with nothing thought provoking to sustain them and bring them back for more?
It would have been easy to make the artifact in the story a rare item that survived the destruction of Vulcan in Star Trek 2009, which would have provided a little depth to the plot. And where are the Ferengis who are likely making enriching deals left and right off that disaster, but neither J.J. Abrams (director of Star Trek 2009 and Star Trek Into Darkness) and his writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman nor the Lin/Pegg/Jung team thought to capitalize on the wealth of potential original stories such a tragedy could create. Humor, action, pioneering science, and depth is the real money-making Trek formula, and this film comes painfully close. The next movie will make or break this reboot.
“Star Trek Beyond” was dedicated in memoriam to two lost stars – Leonard Nimoy, actor, director, and original Spock, who died February 27, 2015 at age 83, and Anton Yelchin, (ship navigator Pavel Andreievich Chekov) who died June 19 this year at age 27.