Saratoga County rebuilding group has packed weekends ahead
Conversion of duplex for shelter among projects
SARATOGA SPRINGS Volunteers from Rebuilding Together Saratoga County were gutting the interior and knocking out walls Friday at 20 Walworth St., a former duplex on the city’s West Side.
Over the next two weekends, volunteers from the nonprofit community building group will convert it into a 13-bed adjunct to the Shelters of Saratoga, located next door. The shelter is often full and needs the extra space.
“We are fielding between five and six calls a day that we’re not able to provide a positive response to,” said Peter Whitten, Shelters of Saratoga’s executive director.
The shelter project is just one of three dozen being done this weekend by Rebuilding Together Saratoga County. Today is National Rebuilding Together Day; tens of thousands of volunteers in 200 affiliates across the nation will take on rebuilding projects, large and small.
“It’s a national day of service, and it gets a little more attention because everything is happening at once,” said Michelle Larkin, executive director of Rebuilding Together Saratoga County.
In Saratoga County, there are 38 projects planned, in Malta, Ballston Spa, Mechanicville, Clifton Park, South Glens Falls and Saratoga Springs. “We expect 400 to 500 volunteers,” she said.
The local organization was launched in 2003 and has grown dramatically. At its first Rebuilding Together Day in 2004, Larkin said, about 100 people worked on six projects.
Most of the projects take place at the homes of people who are elderly, disabled, low-income or veterans. A few are for community organizations like Shelters of Saratoga.
Last year, Rebuilding Together did 82 projects, relying mostly on volunteers. It has an annual budget of about $250,000 and can often buy building materials at a discount.
At the Shelters of Saratoga work site, about 25 employees of Roohan Realty of Saratoga Springs are expected to donate their time this weekend.
“We all get together and have fun,” said Tom Roohan, president of the company, taking a break from cutting through drywall. “Not every day at Roohan Realty do we get to use a Sawzall and a sledgehammer.”
Like all of the other volunteers, Roohan was wearing a sapphire blue T-shirt with his name hand-lettered on the front and back.
“It fits in nicely with what we do as Realtors,” he said.
Rebuilding Together does numerous small improvement projects, rather than one big project like Habitat for Humanity.
The Showcase of Homes put on each year by the Saratoga Builders Association is the largest single fundraiser for Rebuilding Together, Larkin said.
The shelter renovation project is being overseen by Jeff McLellan, a retired superintendent of the Schalmont schools. He and his wife have been volunteering with Rebuilding Together for the past four or five years.
“It expands the base of volunteers because our friends volunteer, and then the next year their friends will volunteer,” McLellan said.
Whitten said the expansion of the homeless shelter — the only emergency shelter in Saratoga, Warren and Washington counties — wouldn’t be possible without Rebuilding Together’s assistance.
“Clearly, with reductions in public funding for operations and capital, it has created the need to find other resources,” he said.
Rebuilding Together Saratoga County is the only Capital Region affiliate of the national organization.
It recently moved into space provided by D.A. Collins Construction at its headquarters in Ballard Road in Wilton.