A previous version of this story incorrectly identified the Galesi Group as the recipient of a $10,000 grant from The Schenectady Foundation, based on information provided in a news release. The foundation awarded the grant to the YMCA's downtown Schenectady branch in Galesi Group COO Dave Buicko's honor.
SCOTIA — They’ve fed the hungry, sheltered the homeless, steered families out of poverty, rebuilt flood-devastated homes and poured millions into the revitalization of downtown Schenectady. They advocate for girls, for the sick, for the disabled, for youth.
They are this year’s “community heroes” — a title of distinction earned by 10 local charitable organizations this year, as determined by The Schenectady Foundation. As a thank you for their work, the foundation gave them each $10,000 grants at an awards ceremony Tuesday evening at the Glen Sanders Mansion.
A total of $100,000 was awarded to the following organizations to use for key projects, training or development initiatives:
• Schenectady YMCA: This award was made in Galesi Group COO David Buicko's honor for his company's work redeveloping the future home of the YMCA's residential program at 845 Broadway..
• Schenectady Inner City Ministry: A partnership of congregations run by Phil Grigsby, SICM runs the largest emergency food organization in the county, a drop-in center for people living with HIV/AIDS, a free lunch program for local youth and wellness initiatives, among other programs.
• STRIDE Adaptive Sports: A Rensselaer nonprofit that provides more than 8,000 adaptive sport and recreation lessons to individuals with disabilities, its goal is to remove boundaries, fulfill dreams, enhance self-esteem and empower special-needs youth.
• Schenectady Bridges out of Poverty: This program helps families navigate their way out of generational poverty to self sufficiency, in large part by raising awareness of the “hidden rules” of one’s social and economic class.
• Ellis Medical Home/Navigator Team: Ellis Medicine, with the help of numerous community organizations, has used “navigators” to coordinate the care for particularly needy and repeat ER patients, connecting them with services traditionally outside a hospital’s scope.
• Flood Recovery Coalition for Schenectady County: Formed after the massive flooding of 2011, the coalition has coordinated the county’s long-term flood recovery efforts, helping residents rebuild homes and livelihoods.
• City Mission of Schenectady: Under the leadership of Michael Saccocio, the mission provides community outreach, emergency shelter services, transitional housing and other programs to the city’s homeless population.
• Community Fathers: The Schenectady nonprofit works to reunite fathers with their families.
• Daily Bread Food Pantry: Sponsored by St. Luke’s parish, the second largest food pantry in the county provides food to the parish’s most needy and the wider community.
• Working Group on Girls: This volunteer-based community organization helps girls manage friendships, build healthy relations, communicate effectively and plan for the future.
Local philanthropists Walt and Anne Robb were also honored at the awards ceremony for their dedication and commitment to the region. They were inducted into the foundation’s inaugural Visionary Circle, an exclusive group for those who have had “a truly exceptional impact” on the community.
The Robbs have made major donations to educational institutions, nonprofit groups and local businesses throughout the Capital Region over the years. A Pennsylvania native and former General Electric executive, Walt Robb is a revered figure in the community, not just for his brilliant and innovative work as a chemical engineer in Schenectady, but for his seemingly endless contributions to the community since he retired in 1993. He has launched a business incubator, invested in various small businesses and high-tech companies in the Capital Region, served on various local boards and even owned the Albany River Rats minor league hockey franchise.
Tuesday’s awards are among several grant opportunities the Schenectady Foundation has made available as part of its 50th Anniversary Golden Celebration, launched last spring. In sum, the foundation will provide $2 million in grant opportunities, new scholarships and special programs to celebrate the anniversary.