Saratoga County

Mazurek to head veterans programs

A.C. “Budd” Mazurek, former director of the Carver Community Center in Schenectady, has been name

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A.C. “Budd” Mazurek, former director of the Carver Community Center in Schenectady, has been named the new executive director of the Saratoga County Rural Preservation Corp., which oversees a shelter for homeless veterans and other veterans’ and low-income housing programs.

Mazurek, who started work this week, is succeeding Dottie Nixon, who has worked with homeless and troubled veterans for more than 30 years, and is in the process of retiring. She established the veterans shelter at 36 Church Ave. almost 20 years ago.

The 10-bed shelter and other programs are still used most often by Vietnam era veterans, but Mazurek said the Iraq war will lead over time to a new surge of homeless veterans — men and women who have a hard time readjusting upon their return from a war zone.

“You’re seeing people going back for three or four tours, and it’s going to have an effect,” Mazurek said. “I think you’ll see an upswing the next couple of years in vets with problems.”

The shelter is almost always filled, he said.

Mazurek, 63, of Schenectady, is a veteran himself. He served in the Army from 1967 to 1970, working in military intelligence. He described himself as a “Vietnam era veteran.”

“I was in Southeast Asia on trips in and out a number of times, but I never served a full tour,” he explained.

He said he’s always had a problem with the lack of appreciation for veterans in this country, and that’s one of the reasons he took the job.

“In other countries, you go into a place and say you served in that country’s army, you don’t have to buy another drink all night,” he said. “Here, nobody cares.”

The Rural Preservation Corp. receives funding from a variety of government programs, grants and private funds. In addition to running the transitional shelter, it manages a program for subsidies to lower the rent on close to 400 housing units and owns a 12-unit veterans housing apartment complex in Wilton.

The agency has 11 employees, including a case manager and two staff counselors who help veterans deal with any emotional and psychological issues that contributed to their becoming homeless. It also provides transportation to the Veterans Administration hospital in Albany for treatments.

A homeless vet typically stays in the Church Avenue shelter about nine or 10 months, Mazurek said, while the agency works on getting them clean and sober, gets them into counseling, provides treatment and training programs, works with them on developing their self-respect and then helps them get a job and independent housing.

Mazurek, who formerly worked in sales, served as director of the Carver Community Center in Schenectady from 2000 until leaving for the new job. Carver provides a variety of human services to the community, including child care, drug and alcohol treatment counseling, and youth and family services.

Mazurek is on several community boards in Schenectady, and is chairman of the Schenectady Civilian Police Review Board. He said he plans to continue living in the city with his wife, Carole Merrill-Mazurek.

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