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Mission 443 Provides YMCA Memberships to Those in Need
SARATOGA SPRINGS – The Saratoga Regional YMCA (SRY) has a goal: to make sure that everyone who wants to go to the Y is able to. Through their Annual Scholarship Campaign program, SRY has provided countless memberships over the years to those who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford it. This year, the Scholarship Campaign is called Mission 443, and represents the goal of the 443 memberships SRYMCA hopes to provide in 2016.
Mark Ventra has been going to the YMCA Saratoga Springs Branch for over five years, sometimes going five days a week. As a traveling salesman, the Y staff was sometimes the only people he would see on a regular basis besides his family, and he loved how welcoming and caring they all were. However, if it wasn’t for the Y’s Scholarship Campaign last year, Ventra would have had to stop going.
“A year ago, I was diagnosed with a form of leukemia. At the same time, my job was going through financial difficulties and couldn’t afford to pay me any longer, so I was let go,” explained Ventra.
When Ventra approached John Higgins, Director of the Saratoga Springs Branch, and explained to him how he wasn’t going to be able to afford to renew his membership, Higgins simply told him, “We’ll take care of it.”
“I never thought I’d need a scholarship,” said Ventra. “I always thought the scholarships were for people that weren’t as well off as I had been. I used to never give it a second thought about volunteering or giving $100 to the scholarship fund, and now, I couldn’t even pay for my own membership. I wasn’t looking for a handout, but they helped me anyway, no questions asked.”
Stories of Inspiration and Survival
Saratoga Regional YMCA Celebrates LIVESTRONG Program
By Arthur Gonick
SARATOGA SPRINGS – The skies had been gloomy all day, but the sun burst through just in time, sending shining rays of optimism down on all who were at the Union Gables Bed and Breakfast on the afternoon of Tuesday, August 11. The sunshine was welcome, but hardly necessary, as the attendees brought enough good cheer to brighten and enlighten anything.
The occasion was a luncheon gathering of well-wishers and participants in the Saratoga Regional YMCA’s LIVESTRONG program, who came together to share their experiences, but mostly to celebrate. Those who spoke, trainers in the program or cancer survivors, gave their own personal messages that were united in spirit under the keyword: HOPE.
LIVESTRONG at the YMCA is a 12-week exercise program, offered at little to no cost, to help survivors improve their strength and physical fitness, diminish the severity of therapy side effects, develop supportive relationships and improve their quality of life.
Following a greeting by Interim CEO Kelly Armer, Lauren Frankford and Nicole Griffiths, two LIVESTRONG coaches, detailed their experiences. Frankford noted, “…for every story of hardship, there are 15 positive ones.” Griffith cited the inspiration of her father, who passed at an early age after a long struggle with cancer. “I now coach the program to give others what I wasn’t able to give my dad,” she said.
Cancer survivor Carol Bataglia lauded the LIVESTRONG program at the YMCA, saying “… it was helpful on so many levels. It truly ‘takes a village’ of support to move ahead on a cancer journey, and this program provides it.” Her story shows “you should never be afraid to ask for help.” Survivor Cindy Swaba observed that the LIVESTRONG program at the Saratoga Regional Y was an aspect of their program offerings that she did not know about prior to having cancer, but, once enrolled, found the staff and program so motivating that “… no matter how I was feeling (because of her treatment) I made the commitment to go to my classes twice a week.”
Other speakers who shared stories of inspiration and survival included: Ann Lawton, a community liaison nurse at St. Peters Hospital’s Cancer Center; NYS Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner; Ellen Salerni, who is both a survivor and chair of the event committee; Susan Rhoades, development director at the Saratoga Regional YMCA and John Higgins, LIVESTRONG project manager.
The community at large was motivated to help the program, as evidenced by the afternoon’s 57 silent auction items, which Armer said valued $12,000 collectively. The proceeds of this afternoon’s celebratory luncheon would fund the LIVESTRONG program into the future, and guarantee some measure of sunshine for those in the community facing cancer’s darkness.
For more information about LIVESTRONG at the Saratoga Regional YMCA and their other programs, visit www.srymca.org
Fire at Wilton YMCA Branch
WILTON — A late night fire on Monday, October 28, which may have suspicious origins closed down the Saratoga Regional YMCA’s Wilton branch building on Old Gick Road.
There were no injuries reported from the fire, which was reported to begin about 10 p.m. The branch was open at the time and a total of about a dozen members and staff were evacuated without incident.
The building affected by the fire was the oldest at the Wilton complex, which led to a complete closure of the branch on Tuesday.
However, the tennis court building and additional facilities which were part of a $7.5 million expansion of the branch were reopened the next day.
At the scene, Greenfield Fire Chief John Lant was quoted as calling the fire” very, very suspicious,” saying that State Police dog had found something at the site that is being investigated as a possible accelerant.
Trail to Connect West Side with State Park
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The trail for walkers and bikers that will connect the west side of Saratoga Springs with Spa State Park and their trails is nearing completion.