Shatiki Beatty’s job takes her out into the community. She meets with patients in their homes and finds ways to remove the barriers that are keeping them from getting the kind of health care that will meet their physical, mental and emotional needs.
It’s a fulfilling job, and one that wouldn’t have been possible without the Health Profession Opportunity Grants (HPOG) at Schenectady County Community College, a program that provides funding and support for training low-income individuals in the fast-growing world of health care.
“I’m just happy, you know?” said Beatty, of her new job with Ellis Medicine. “Poor is defined as lack — a lack of something, of resources or quality. And once you have addressed the lack and connected someone with resources, that person, that individual, that community will then come together and feel whole.”
Every year, the Chamber of Schenectady County likes to honor local businesses and organizations that are doing good work or making waves in the community at its annual Good News luncheon. During Thursday’s ceremony at the River Stone Manor in Glenville, the chamber honored 10 such groups — all whose work helps others and a few in particular whose work helps the underserved.
HPOG project director Tiziana Rota said the program that Beatty recently completed has trained more than 1,100 low-income individuals since its start four years ago.
“We have an astonishing 95 percent completion rate and 82 percent employment rate after they are trained,” she said.
The Community Loan Fund of the Capital Region was another group honored Thursday. The Albany-based nonprofit just opened a satellite office in Schenectady’s Hamilton Hill neighborhood last month to provide more access to the area’s low-income business owners and nonprofits. It’s been providing service to Schenectady since 1985, in the form of loans to nonprofits, micro-enterprises and homeowners.
“We offer loans to low-income individuals, but we focus on minority, women-owned businesses,” said Executive Director Linda MacFarlane.
The driving reason behind its new satellite office was, of course, the need.
“We are in the Hamilton Hill area now where Census data shows that 50 percent of families with children live below the poverty level,” she said. “That’s staggering.”
The nonprofit has committed to providing at least $1.9 million worth of new loans in Schenectady over the next three years.
Other award winners included:
• Alessandro Gerbini, president of Gatherer’s Gourmet Granola in Schenectady. Gerbini has grown his business over the past four years from a one-man show to a 13-employee operation in the city’s Broadway Commerce Park. The granola company is experiencing 15 percent growth each month with distribution in 11 states.
• The Capital Region Maritime Center. This center on the banks of the Mohawk River in Alplaus almost closed in 2011 due to budget cuts. Since then, it has rebounded and become home to a private middle school, boat-building classes for at-risk youth and an Erie Canalway tourism program.
•Collision Experts. Last year, the company’s 27-year owner Rick Bowman died. His wife, Maryann Bowman, is now CEO and has continued her husband’s legacy of helping the community. The company has sponsored fundraisers and raised more than $7,100 for renovations and a new apartment at the City Mission, which will be named in Rick’s honor.
•Dan Crowley, president and founder of Printz & Patternz in Rotterdam. When a friend of Crowley’s was diagnosed with kidney cancer, the Schenectady native and University at Albany graduate made custom T-shirts to help raise funds for the medical costs. The idea for a custom apparel company grew from there, and today the company has a production facility, retail store and marketing business.
•The Homes Ownership Made Easy in Schenectady (H.O.M.E.S.) team. This private-public partnership has helped revitalize the city by increasing home ownership and reducing the number of vacant and dilapidated homes in the city.
• MiSci. The former Schenectady Museum has just completed its first year since rebranding with a new name, logo, mission and executive director. In that year, it has increased staff, expanded hours and hosted national exhibits like the indoor Butterfly House.
• Mohawk Honda. Since its move and expansion to Glenville several years ago, the Honda dealership has invested more than $120 million and doubled the size of its staff. It has also gone green, adding solar panels to its building on Freemans Bridge Road.
• Visiting Nurse Service of Northeastern New York. The health care organization recently expanded its service areas from Schenectady and Saratoga counties to include Albany, Essex, Franklin, Schoharie and Warren counties. It works with area health care providers to offer palliative and coordinated care to the community.
For the second year in a row, the chamber also honored organizations that have been in business for more than 100 years. The following were named Centennial Honor Roll Inductees: Buhrmaster Energy Group (101 years), Trustco Bank (112 years), Northwestern Mutual (125 years), Ballston Spa National Bank (175 years) and Perreca’s Bakery (100 years).