Donation from late churchgoer amazes Johnstown organization

Red brick building with One Church St. sign

A look at One Church Street in Johnstown.

JOHNSTOWN — An undisclosed churchgoer left $25,000 in stock certificates for a faith-affiliated community organization after his death last summer.

Or so they thought.

Over time, estate attorneys discovered more and more funds left for One Church Street. It took about six months to uncover the full $600,000-plus sum.

“I mean, it certainly is a lesson for me personally,” said Rev. Laurie Garramone of the St. John’s Episcopal Church and One Church Street. “There’s a lot you can do, even if you are no longer walking the Earth to sustain things that are important to you.”

The donor spent decades with the church, but became more involved within the last eight years while splitting his time between Florida and Johnstown, according to Garramone.

Stock certificate funds were earmarked for sustaining One Church Street in the old Johnstown YMCA building post-renovation. Upon completion, the $2.3 million building is expected to have a free-food pantry, a community kitchen and event space for twin cities residents.

St. John’s Episcopal Church bought the building in 2013 while knowing that additional renovation expenses were needed to make the space more accessible. Inflation-spiked costs moved the original price tag from $1.5 million to $2.3 million in 2020, resulting in a yearslong delay.

Individual community donations, along with large contributions from companies, like the Wesson Group construction firm and Stewart’s Shops charity arm, in December boosted the firm’s capital campaign kitty by $373,000.

“One of the things that’s so fascinating about this money, including this bequest, is that this is all money from our local community, which is astonishing to me,” said Garramone. “So we are looking at other local community partners that may want to donate money to One Church Street in order to help us complete the construction.”

Now at $1.97 million, One Church Street is about $380,000 away from completing the project. After its completion, Garramone said that the organization will resume fundraising efforts to keep up with groundskeeping, food and other operational expenses.

Roughly 30 years ago, the church launched its free Sunday meal program (NOAH) and food pantry program at 1 Market St. Needs have grown exponentially as a result of COVID-19-induced inflation, serving 52,000 more meals and 1,200 more households over a two-year-period.

“The key point for that [NOAH] meal is community, as well as food, because people hang out, they have coffee, they tell stories, they catch up,” said Garramone. “We have regulars who claim their regular table and eat together every Sunday.”

NOAH has roughly 65 volunteers and the food pantry has about 15.

The organization recently started making meals for Gloversville’s Code Blue shelter every Sunday as well.

“It is a big change for teams who are not used to working with people in person,” said Garramone. “Some of our teams are relatively new and when we serve restaurant-style — we serve on China plates with silverware — there’s all these dishes that have to be done.”

Tyler A. McNeil can be reached at 518-395-3749 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @TylerAMcNeil.

Categories: Fulton | Montgomery | Schoharie, Fulton Montgomery Schoharie, News

Leave a Reply