Schenectady County

City officials ask community to ‘Adopt a Neighbor’

Schenectady Solid Waste Supervisor Bill Macejka helped start a broad effort to encourage volunteeris

At the Stockade Art Show last weekend, city Solid Waste Supervisor Bill Macejka ran into a former city employee in need of help as a result of the recent storms.

That got Macejka to thinking, and after he spoke with acting Mayor Gary McCarthy, Macejka helped start a broader effort to encourage volunteerism to help residents still cleaning up from the storm through an Adopt a Neighbor program.

“We’re trying to recruit volunteers who can do something for one neighbor, one family,” Deputy City Clerk Chuck Thorne said Friday. “The idea was, everyone sits around and says ‘Geez, I wish I could do something,’ but there’s so much, what do you do?”

Thorne and other city officials believe the new program can help direct that energy.

To help get the word out about the program, city officials will have a booth at the Schenectady Greenmarket outside City Hall from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday and again on Sept. 25. Volunteers will be able to sign up to donate time, money or materials.

Anyone who can’t make it to the Greenmarket can also contact the city clerk’s office at 382-5089.

Residents in the Stockade, near the Mohawk River, were hard hit by flooding from the remnants of tropical storms Irene and Lee. The affected residents have spent the ensuing weeks cleaning muck from their basements, tossing flood-damaged belongings and trying to restore their homes.

A fund has been set up with the City Mission to take donations, which are expected to be used to purchase gift cards for affected residents, Thorne said. Also, survey forms are to be circulated by city crews around the areas hardest hit by the storms, city officials said.

Using the completed forms, volunteers and victims will then be matched. Then, on Oct. 1, a work day has been scheduled.

Thorne said organizers have already gotten a couple of retailers involved and some contractors are making themselves available. Code enforcement personnel, many of whom have trade backgrounds, have also signed up to volunteer, Thorne said.

“It will all be working toward that weekend,” he said.

Thorne said they see the city as a conduit for the help. He also said they also hope to connect residents to other available programs, including the American Red Cross, and efforts to apply for FEMA aid. And they’re reaching out to neighborhood associations.

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