MVP Health Care is donating $100,000 to the Downtown Schenectady Ambassadors Program to support it for an additional five years.
The Ambassadors Program includes 15 participants who assist people downtown when events are happening nearby and shows are playing at Proctors. A dozen people have moved on to full-time employment thanks to the program.
“The Ambassadors Program grew out of a deep understanding that this is about everyone and how we work together,” said Proctors CEO Philip Morris. “It’s how public sector, private sector and nonprofits see that this is the right thing to do. I’m ecstatic MVP has joined us to do the right thing.”
Ellen Sax, MVP’s director of community engagement, said the program “gives people in need an opportunity to succeed.”
“It provides visitors with friendly help as they move throughout the downtown area and provides job training and employment opportunities to people served by the City Mission,” she said.
Seven Ambassadors stood on State Street across from Proctors during the news conference wearing their signature red jackets and hats, which have a new logo advertising the program.
The logo, which was also displayed on the Proctors marquee Thursday morning, features a blue stick figure holding a red traffic baton.
“It’s nice to be able to help people in the city,” said Ambassador Bob Wishart. “It’s a great joy to us.”
Anthony Mayers, 55, said he has been with the program for three years and that it has strengthened his communication skills.
When there’s a show at Proctors, he directs people where to park, holds doors and greets people. Mayers said the reaction from people is always positive.
“When you walk around you say ‘good evening,’ ‘how are you’ and ask ‘how was the show?’ It teaches you how to talk to people,” he said. “It took a while for me, but I’m good at it now.”
Mayers, a New Jersey native who moved to Schenectady in 2002, said he is a graduate from the City Mission and has worked there for about five years. He is five years sober.
“At the mission, I help the guys coming into the program just like me, who were broken just like me,” he said. “I think, how could I lead them? Listen to them? Lift them up in spirit? It makes a difference for everyone.”
After coming out of poverty, he is now looking to purchase a home in the next several years in the city.
“I have an apartment at the City Mission,” he said. “I’m so blessed to be here.”
Mike Saccocio, CEO of the City Mission, said the Ambassadors Program has been effective but there is room for improvement to make it bigger and better.
“Ambassadors see it as a steppingstone for employment,” he said. “Nearly every Ambassador has gone onto higher education or taken on employment in downtown Schenectady or another place in the community.”
During the news conference, Saccocio told a story about an elderly man who visited the City Mission a few weeks ago to make a donation.
The reason he wanted to donate money to the nonprofit, Saccocio said, was because two Ambassadors helped him to change his tire.
“He came to Proctors for an event and he got a flat tire,” he said. “He didn’t know what to do and, as he pulled the car to the side, there were two Ambassadors there ready to help him.”
The man told the Ambassadors, “Let me give you a tip.” But the Ambassadors said, “Serving you is our tip.”