Displaying items by tag: Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce

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Published in Business
Thursday, 13 February 2020 11:09

Habitat for Humanity’s Leap of Kindness Day

MOREAU — Habitat for Humanity of Northern Saratoga, Warren and Washington Counties (“Habitat”) is teaming up with Curtis Lumber and the Saratoga Chamber of Commerce for Leap of Kindness Day. Leap of Kindness Day is a chance for you to spend the extra day of 2020 to do something special for your favorite local charity. Habitat is asking for the community to purchase 2x4” pieces of lumber at all Curtis Lumber locations in the Capital Region throughout the month of February. Each 2x4 can be purchased for only $3. You'll also get the opportunity to write a message about home ownership and/or affordable housing on a piece of lumber at each store. Curtis Lumber will then deliver all donated 2x4s to Habitat on Leap of Kindness Day. 2x4s can also be purchased at Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore at 1373 US 9, Moreau NY 12828.

All the lumber will be used to help build affordable homes in your community! In 2020 Habitat for Humanity will be building an affordable home for a hard working family in Saratoga Springs, Glens Falls and Granville.

Published in Neighborhood Buzz
Thursday, 23 January 2020 13:01

Saratoga County Chamber’s Leap of Kindness Day

SARATOGA COUNTY — What will you do with the extra day we all get this Leap Year, on Saturday, February 29? The Saratoga County's Chamber's idea — take part in Leap of Kindness Day and do something kind for someone else.

To help you participate, The Saratoga County's Chamber reached out to local nonprofits in Saratoga County and asked them for some ideas. While you can wait to deliver any items you might donate, you are encouraged to start collection activities within your workplace or organization as soon as possible to maximize your participation and community impact.

The Chamber is also inviting their members and other local organizations to share their own creative ideas for participating in Leap of Kindness Day this year.

Leap of Kindness Day now happens every four years. The idea is to get as many people in our community as possible to use the extra day we all get in a Leap Year to do something kind for someone else. Our first Leap of Kindness Day was in 2016.

Locally across Saratoga County, hundreds of people take part in this celebration of kindness. Some cooked breakfast or delivered lunch for first responders. Others delivered flowers or socks to residents in local retirement homes. Local employers collected clothes, food and money for a wide range of local charities. Others acted individually sending a thank you card to someone who meant a lot to them.

Beyond Saratoga County, there were more than 50 chambers in 30 states that joined the Leap of Kindness Day celebration.

And now as we inch closer to Leap of Kindness Day 2020, our goal is to see that even more individuals and employers come together to do something kind for someone else using the extra day they will get on February 29.

Below are what some local nonprofits are requesting:

Habitat for Humanity
We are asking for the community to purchase a 2x4x8 or 2x6x8 and write a message about home ownership and/or affordable housing on it. Please drop it off at the ReStore, at 1373 Rt 9,  Moreau NY 12828. Contact Adam Feldman for details at 518-793-7484.

Mechanicville Area Community Center 
We could use any items, but what we are and will continue to be short on is cleaning products (laundry items, sponges, cleaning sprays, dish soap), personal care items (toothpaste, mouth wash, hand soap, full size shampoo / conditioner, deodorant) and pet supplies (dog and cat food, kitty litter, treats). Contact Megan Quillinan for details at 518-664-8322.

Franklin Community Center
A major need we have this time of year is individually packaged snack items to provide snacks to our 150+ Project Lift participants, as well as hygiene items like shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream, soap, toothpaste, toilet paper, paper towels and tooth brushes. These items are even more helpful than food items because they are things that SNAP benefits do not cover. Contact Kari Cushing at 518-587-9826.

CAPTAIN Community Human Services 
We have four offices that could use painting at our Glenville location. Painting help or donated paint would be appreciated Contact Ava Martin if you can help at 518-399-4624.

Shelters of Saratoga
Canned goods drive for our outreach program. Contact Rosemary Royce at 518-581-1097.

The Wesley Community 
Flowers, stuffed animals, etc. for residents. Contact Greg Dixon at 518-691-1419.

The Salvation Army
Collecting sock and underwear donations for all ages. Contact Bree Barker at 518-584-1640.

Backstretch Employee Service Team
Donation of jeans for backstretch workers at the Saratoga Race Course. Contact Nancy Underwood at 518-587-3720.

Below is a list of "acts of kindness" our member organizations are planning to do to join our Leap of Kindness Day celebration.

The Rotary Club of Saratoga Springs
Participate through the Rotary Home & Lifestyle Show by making donations of items at the show: Saturday, Feb. 29 will be socks and underwear, and Sunday, Mar. 1 will be pet items such as unused dog and cat beds, food, treats, toys and other pet paraphernalia. Bring your donations to the show and place them in the receptacle near our entry table.

First New York Federal Credit Union 
Collecting donations for Blue Star Mothers of America at all of their credit union branches.

The Chamber's Veterans Business Council
Collecting donations for STRIDE, a veteran organization assisting disabled veterans.

The Clifton Park Halfmoon Public Library
Working with CAPTAIN to collect funds to support their outreach programs, including their Street Outreach Project and Youth Shelter. Patrons can donate funds and they will receive a “frog” where they can write their name. It will be hung up on their window to create a visual frog pond.

The Saratoga County Chamber's Board of Directors
Bringing fruit and vegetable platters to the overnight staffs at the Ellis Medicine Urgent Care Center in Clifton Park, and the Albany Med/Saratoga Hospital Urgent Care Center in Malta.

Please email or call the Saratoga County Chamber at 518-584-3255 to let us know how people can help your nonprofit organization as part of Leap of Kindness Day 2020. Please also share what you are doing with the chamber on Facebook. Every effort will be made to thank and publicly acknowledge all of the acts of kindness taking place in Saratoga County and beyond.

Published in Business
Thursday, 09 January 2020 10:31

A Century of 20/20 Vision

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Locally owned Family Vision Care Center celebrated its 100th anniversary on Wednesday, Jan. 8 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Friends, family and supporters in the local community filled the event to acknowledge a century of eye care. 

“This is a great community to be a small business,” said owner Susan Halstead while speaking at the ceremony. Halstead thanked the Adirondack Trust for their support, and Wally Allerdice. “He went to bat for me, and made my dream possible.” 

Attendee Todd Shimkus, President of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, congratulated Halstead on the accomplishment along with a representative from Senator Daphne Jordan’s office, who presented Halstead with a Certificate of Recognition from the Senator. 

The practice was first owned by Cline Zachariah Miamoto in 1920, and was located on Broadway where deJohnge Original Jewelry currently sits. Cline’s stepfather, Charles Haskins, was a jeweler, and it was common at the time for jewelers to make glasses frames out of silver and gold for eye doctors. At the time of World War II, Cline was afraid that people would not see an Asian doctor, and proceeded to change his name to Dr. Cline Z. Cline.

The next owner, Dr. William Ling, purchased the practice in 1955, and moved its location to the Arcade Building on Broadway. After a major fire, during which he was able to rescue equipment and his accounts receivable against the advice of firefighters, Dr. Ling moved the practice to a former surgeon’s office on George Street. Three years later, the practice moved to its current location on the corner of Lake Ave. and East Ave. At this location, Dr. Ling had an office built onto the home.

In 1993, Halstead began to work for Dr. Ling as an optician, and later purchased the home and office with her husband Jeff in 1997. Since then, Halstead has renovated the practice, house and added a handicap accessibility parking lot in 2015. 

Looking towards the future, Halstead is very excited about the practice’s specialization in ortho-keratology, which helps prevent the progression of near-sightedness in children and prevent future eye disease. She also looks forward to Family Vision’s continued service to the local community. “People can go to eye care places out at the mall, but it’s not the same as here. We know everybody. We probably took care of your grandfather,” said Halstead. “It’s that kind of small town community feeling that makes us accountable as a practice, and grateful for the support of our community.”

Throughout the coming year Family Vision will partner with other small businesses in Saratoga to host monthly raffles, with prizes including Maui Jim sunglasses and a 45-minute private training session with Reform Pilates. They will also be posting weekly Throw Back Thursday videos on their social media to showcase the history of the practice. For more information on Family Vision Care Center, visit the practice’s website: www.familyvisioncarecenter.com


Published in Business

SARATOGA SPRINGS —The Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce will celebrate its 102nd year of being a Visible and Vocal advocate and promoter of its members and Saratoga County, at our 2020 Annual Dinner on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020, from 6 -9:30 p.m. at the Saratoga Springs City Center. 

You're invited to join the nearly 1000 business professionals for an evening of networking, celebration, and dinner provided by Mazzone Hospitality. The evening will start with a cocktail reception, from 6-6:45 p.m., followed by the program running from 7-7:30 p.m. Dinner will immediately follow along with networking with local business leaders.

During the program, we will honor Theresa Agresta, Owner of Allegory Studios and Culture Talk and our 2020 Chair of the Chamber Board of Directors, for her leadership and service to the Chamber and the Saratoga County community. In addition to celebrating Theresa's leadership, the Saratoga County Chamber will again present the Joseph Dalton Community Service Award to an individual who has an extraordinary record of volunteer leadership and action for the betterment of Saratoga County. Past recipients of this award are Steve "Sully" Sullivan and Tom Roohan. We will also celebrate the Chamber's leading role in building a new 7,700 square foot field house to provide a safe and secure place for local Navy personnel and their families to learn, recreate, drill and graduate as well as kick-off our Leap of Kindness Day 2020. 

Cost is $125 and sponsorship starts at just $750. For a complete list of sponsorship benefits, please click here. If you have any questions, or have issues registering, please contact Keith VanVeghten. Registration deadline is Friday, Jan. 17 by 4 p.m.

Published in Business

SARATOGA SPRINGS —The Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors has elected Kevin Hedley to be the volunteer Chair for 2020. In this position, he will serve as both the chair of the full Board of Directors and the Executive Board.

Kevin Hedley previously served in 2019 as the Chair-Elect of the Chamber’s Board of Directors, as well as the organization’s Treasurer in 2017. He was first elected to serve on the Chamber’s Board of Directors in 2014. He is also the owner of Hedley & Company in Clifton Park.

Joining Hedley on the Chamber’s 2020 Executive Board are: Immediate Past Chair Theresa Agresta, of Allegory Studios and CultureTalk in Wilton, Chair-Elect Skip Carlson, of the Saratoga Casino Hotel in Saratoga Springs, Vice Chair Tara Pleat, of Wicenski & Pleat in Clifton Park and Secretary and Treasurer Amy Smith, of Saratoga Arms Hotel in Saratoga Springs.

We will celebrate the work and leadership of our Board at our 102nd Annual Dinner presented by Adirondack Trust, on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020.

Published in Business
Thursday, 05 December 2019 12:32

Council Announces 2020 Schedule

The Business Owners Council of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce has announced its 2020 meeting schedule. Meetings will take place on the first Tuesday of every month at the Saratoga County Chamber Offices. Speakers and meeting topics will be announced closer to meeting times. The first meeting will take place on Jan. 7, 2020 from 4-5 p.m.

Published in Business
"It takes creativity to get people to think about change," says Todd Shimkus, president of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce. 

Crowdsourcing Kindness

February 29th is the reason we have the Olympics and the Presidential Election every four years. Because the calendar is actually 365.25 days, we need it to keep the calendar aligned with the earth's rotation around the sun. 

February 29th is a quadrennial oddity that ought to be in the pantheon of great holidays but is vastly under-appreciated. So it occurred 20 years ago to Todd Shimkus, president of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce. He filed the thought away, determined some day to do something creative with it. 

Many will remember the great Saratoga Lip Dub, a mass of Saratogians marching down  Broadway to Congress Park to a medley of songs by Train, whose drummer Scott Underwood is a native of Saratoga Springs. That was a classic Shimkus production that brought together hundreds of organizations and thousands of people and produced a YouTube video that generated 90,000 views. 

Shimkus saw in February 29th the potential for doing something similarly compelling and motivating, a catalyst for some form of collective action. 

But what? 

With 2016 approaching, Shimkus convened a small creative group in 2015 to brainstorm. It was Bo Goliber, director of community relations and philanthropy at Fingerpaint, who came up with the idea, Shimkus recalls. 

"She just blurted out, 'Leap of Kindness Day.' 

It was perfect. And so it was that the Chamber launched a campaign to imbue February 29th with new meaning, a special call every four years to perform an act of compassion, appreciation, or altruism. 

The First Leap of Kindness Day was celebrated not only in Saratoga Springs on Monday, February 29th, 2016 but in 50 communities in 30 states around the country, thanks to the support, logo, and #leapofkindnessday hashtag provided by the Saratoga Chamber to other local chambers that embraced the idea. 

"We had thousands of posts from all around the world of people that did something kind," Shimkus recalls. "Here in Saratoga, companies made breakfast for their local fire companies, crossing guards got coffee, teachers got apples, flowers were delivered to residents of nursing homes, and donations were made to local non-profits." 

The Saratoga Chamber also created Leap of Kindness cards to be mailed to those who have made a difference in your life, imparting long overdue thank you's. 

"Two months later, 'Are you going to do it again?' was the top question people would ask me," Shimkus says. 

Of course. The website for Leap of Kindness Day 2020 is already up,  an organizing committee has formed, and a potentially massive outpouring of kindness eight months from now is metabolizing. The 2016 initiative just won the National Chamber of Commerce Award at the National Association's Leadership Conference. 

"As a result, we've already doubled the number of chambers across the US and Canada expected to participate in 2020," says Shimkus. 

Bringing Together The Best and the Brightest

Shimkus has worked as a Chamber of Commerce executive in three regions over the past 23 years. 

"What I love the most about this work is that we have the opportunity as Chamber executives to bring the best and the brightest together to take action to overcome any challenges our communities are facing or to take advantage of any opportunities for improving our quality of life," he says. 

"The Chamber is uniquely positioned to convene because we have members in the private, public and nonprofit sector," he continues. "They have all joined the Chamber in keeping with our mission to ensure that the region we represent is a great place to live, work and play." 

"That connection and engagement means that we're uniquely informed as to their needs and capabilities. So when we convene a group for an event such as Leap of Kindness Day, we're typically inviting people we know can act and are passionate about doing so." 

"The fact that we are connected and engaged with leaders across these three sectors also means that we're uniquely informed as to their needs and capabilities. This means when we convene groups we are typically inviting people we know can act and are passionate about doing so. 

"We've built roads, visitor centers, parks, trails, parking garages, and helped hundreds of businesses to get started," he continues. "None of this was possible without collaboration and it was the Chamber's role as convener and expert facilitator that has made a huge difference." 

Focusing on Employment

Shimkus says he came into chamber work because of some of the advocacy he had done as a volunteer. "The local chamber in my area needed someone to do government affairs work, so they hired me." 

When Shimkus came to Saratoga nine years ago from Glens Falls, he found a large chamber with "a lot of resources and good people."

"It was an opportunity for me to use what I'd learned in my prior two roles and put it to use in a bigger community and a bigger operation. Saratoga is unique in its large proportion of locally independently stores and restaurants that make it a great year-round destination and especially prime in the summer."

"We have a few chains, but it's mostly independents who depend on local residents to patronize and support them. We need local people to be involved in the local economy, not just visiting these establishments, but buying." 

Shimkus never buys from Amazon. Instead he frequents local establishments to the max. 

"Saratoga is one of those special places where people want to live. We need to make it more of a place where people also want to work. If you're not growing, you're dying. I think we're one of the top ten most vibrant small cities in the country, but the challenge is: How do you stay here? That's what we're trying to figure out now." 

Generating Change

"Getting people to think about change in the first place requires creativity," Shimkus observes. "Saratoga is a special challenge because everyone who lives here thinks it's a great place to live, work and play just as it is now. We have to challenge people to see beyond their own self-interest and their own experiences."

When Shimkus approaches a problem, he always strives to achieve a maximum of diversity. This begins with the Chamber's Board of Directors, which recently expanded from 24 to 27 members. 

"This allowed us to have more diverse voices from our membership: small firms, large firms, and members from the private, public and nonprofit sector. Members from all over Saratoga County and from firms in a range of economic sectors. They've had different experiences and are asked to be vocal as we seek to determine the best new policies and programs to advance to improve our community."

"We've done the same with our employees. We have different spheres of influence and difference passions. We don't agree on everything and that's fine. We're invited to think creatively and to take risks. We've failed but when we do we learn from this. We've also had tremendous success and when we do we celebrate. 

"Our creativity also is based on the fact that we travel often and study what other communities across the world are doing. We've invented new initiatives but we've also adapted great ideas from other places to help our local community here. In this way, creativity is not just inventing something new but often something new here." 

Advice for Young People

Asked the single piece of advice he would give to a young person embarking on life after high school, Shimkus thinks for a moment and says, "Learn to become more resilient."

"Resilience is the ability to overcome or to adapt to any trauma or challenge. resilient people can climb any mountain or, perhaps more importantly, climb out of any hole. We can all learn to be resilient. It's a process not an outcome." 

"I'm not talking about a capacity for going at life's challenges alone," Shimkus emphasizes.  "The most resilient people tend to have support systems with at least one person who can be trusted and provides love and support. Tragedy, trauma and challenges can be large or small but they are inevitable in life. So those who can continually become more resilient, are likely to be the ones that will really change our world and make the lives of those around them better."  

The SMARTACUS Creative Group is a student-driven creative agency dedicated to supporting the economic development of Upstate New York. Dan Forbush is its publisher. 
Published in Lifestyle

SARATOGA SPRINGS – The mysterious man you may have noticed creeping across the fringes of city neighborhood lawns in the pre-dawn hours last weekend has been identified.  

“I cooked up an idea that I thought would be a little bit of fun,” admits Todd Shimkus, who in his weekday role serves as president of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce. “It actually turned into a lot of fun.” 

Shimkus and city resident Susan Halstead have engaged in a traditional April Fool’s Day duel that dates to Halstead’s time as chamber chairperson. At that time, Halstead contacted board members about a special Executive Session being called to inform them that Shimkus was embezzling funds. “He was on a golf course in Florida and his phone just started blowing up,” Halstead laughed.

“April Fool’s Day is her favorite day of the year and she is ruthless,” said Shimkus, who hatched his plan several weeks ago, by ordering political-style lawn signs to announce Halstead was running for mayor.  “I thought adding “A Vision for The Future,” was pretty funny,” Shimkus said, referring to the word-play that points to Halstead’s ownership of a local vision center.

“I identified friends of hers in the city and at five o’clock in the morning I got up, drove around and put signs in their yards. I didn’t tell anybody what I did and then (on Facebook) pretended to be in Virginia for the day.” 

Shimkus eventually fessed up, a day later. “She texted me and had a sneaking suspicion that it was me.” In November, city voters will head to the polls to elect a mayor for the next two years. Halstead was asked if she, after all, was considering tossing her hat in to the political ring. “De-fin-ite-ly NOT,” she said with a laugh. “It was a Todd Shimkus April Fool’s Day prank. And he paid me back big-time.”  

Published in News