March 17, 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SHELTERS OF SARATOGA RESPONDS TO COVID-19
[Saratoga Springs, NY] – Individuals experiencing homelessness include many older adults, often with compounding disabilities, who here in Saratoga Springs reside in small, congregate shelters or in unsheltered locations with poor access to sanitation. Their age, poor health, disability, and living conditions make them highly vulnerable to illness. Once COVID-19 is introduced to this high-risk population, further transmission will be very difficult to contain. As such, Shelters of Saratoga has initiated a rapid response plan for this crisis.
“People experiencing homelessness not only are challenged to do what we are asking like, washing hands, staying indoors, talking to their medical providers when they are not feeling well – but many are already impacted with health issues, thus putting them at-high risk of contracting the virus.” said Karen A. Gregory, Executive Director of Shelters of Saratoga, Inc.
SOS’s Case Managed Emergency Shelters house up to 32 individuals a night in a congregate-style setting. They also sponsor the Emergency Winter Shelter – Code Blue which houses up to 61 individuals each night between October 15th through April 15th. It’s Executive Director, Karen Gregory said quarantining someone inside the building is not an option.
“Across all of our programs, we will be working unconventional hours to secure coverage. Until this passes, we will not be doing business as usual – the safety of the team and all of the guests are of utmost importance to me. This is a difficult time and we do not have the luxury of working remotely. We are here, present and in the trenches – side by side the individuals we are serving,” Gregory stated.
Shelters of Saratoga also operates an outreach program for the many individuals living in motels scattered throughout the county, parking garages and those who do not come indoors. The SOS outreach team is working to get critical information about the virus to people, who are in many cases unaware of the dangers posed by this virus.
Shelter staff are monitoring guests for symptoms and encouraging people to self-report if they’re not feeling well. But in the event of an outbreak, Gregory said she would need support from the Department of Health, the Local Department of Social Services and area hospitals to treat and house the sick, as well as to make sure that they are connected with food and other services they depend on the shelter for.
In an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19, Mayor Meg Kelly convened a special meeting of the City Council on Monday to pass a unanimous motion to convert the Senior Center at 5 William Street. The location will serve as emergency shelter for the homeless currently staying in the Code Blue Shelter at 4 Adelphi in the face of COVID-19.
“Our team is so grateful to Saratoga Spring’s City Council and Mayor Meg Kelly for their unanimous vote. In this new location, we will have three rooms which will easily allow for separation. I am proud and grateful to work in a city that cares so deeply for its most vulnerable,” Gregory stated.
About Shelters of Saratoga:
Shelters of Saratoga’s mission is to provide individuals with safe shelter, supportive services and sustainable strategies to end homelessness in the Greater Saratoga region. Since 1991, Shelters of Saratoga has been providing assistance to people who are facing homelessness by offering a path to self-sufficiency and helping these individuals to get back on their feet through:
Service referrals and resources
Positive social interaction
Learn more: http://sheltersofsaratoga.org/
May 7, 2019
For Immediate Release
Karen A. Gregory, Executive Director
Shelters of Saratoga
Saratoga Springs Restaurants and Groups Served 8,500 Meals To Homeless This Winter
Code Blue, Saratoga’s emergency winter shelter in partnership with local restaurant establishments and groups prepared and served over 8,500 meals to guests of the shelter this past winter. The effort shows the breadth of collaboration in the Saratoga Springs community to ensure individuals experiencing homelessness are connected with the basic need of shelter and food during periods of cold weather. The shelter operates from November 15-April 1 at Soul Saving Station Church on Henry Street in the city.
“The nightly effort to provide nutritious meals for people experiencing homelessness is a heartwarming reminder that Saratoga is a community who leaves no one behind,” said Karen A. Gregory, Executive Director of Shelters of Saratoga. “The groups which prepare meals and feed guests do so without expecting anything in return. It’s a true example of generous community spirit and love for those lacking basic human needs and who may otherwise go hungry.”
Providing food security to shelter guests is supported by Longfellows Restaurant, Olde Bryan Inn, The Brook Tavern, Druthers Brewing Company, PJ’s BBQ-SA, Esperanto, Cantina, Dominos, and The Mercantile Kitchen and Bar. Additional contributors include Saratoga Stronger, Hands and Feet Ministry, Knights of Columbus, Presbyterian New England Congregational Church, The Giving Circle, Knights of Columbus, Saratoga Elks Club, Saratoga Casino and Hotel, United Methodist Church of Saratoga Springs, and Fingerpaint
Code Blue will resume shelter operations in late Fall 2019. Guests who were displaced by the recent closing of the seasonal shelter are connected to daily living supplies and services through the SOS Outreach Program and Drop-In Center on Walworth Street. Monetary contributions and supplies to support these efforts can be made in person or online. Visit www.sheltersofsaratoga.org for a full list of current program needs.
ABOUT: Shelters of Saratoga’s mission is to provide individuals with safe shelter, supportive services and sustainable strategies to end homelessness in the Greater Saratoga region. Shelters of Saratoga has operated shelters in the city since 1991. Today it serves over 800 clients through community outreach, it’s Drop-In Center, two case managed shelters located on Walworth Street, Code Blue emergency winter shelter and two affordable housing units in downtown Saratoga Springs.
March 12, 2019 : Robin Dalton to accept Shelters of Saratoga’s community service award at the March 28 Brighter Days Gala.
Recipient of Help, Hope, and Humanity Award Announced
March 12, 2019 — Saratoga Springs, NY — Robin Dalton embodies the word community and Shelters of Saratoga is proud to announce she has been selected as the recipient of this year’s Help, Hope and Humanity award. She will accept the award at the Brighter Days Gala on Thursday, March 28 from 6-9 pm at Longfellows Restaurant.
Dalton has immersed herself in the Saratoga community she and her family have called home since 2007. While Robin is busy raising a family of four small children, she’s also an accomplished commercial real estate agent for Roohan Realty. However, when speaking to Robin, it’s evident her real pride comes from volunteering, raising awareness and advocating for community services that are the foundation of Saratoga Springs. Robin has worked tirelessly to promote and grow community services. Since 2009 Robin has been contributing her energy to the Saratoga Hospital Foundation, raising money to expand hospital services and open the Community Health Center which offers low or no-cost health services to individuals and families. Additionally, she serves as a board member and mentor for Saratoga Sponsor-a-Scholar. Robin’s recognitions include: 2017 Outstanding Parenting Award and Saratoga Woman of Influence.
In 2016, Shelters of Saratoga announced it’s winter emergency shelter, Code Blue would take up temporary residence at the Soul Saving Station Church, just feet from Robin’s family home. Initially hesitant to embrace the increased foot traffic a shelter for 40 people would bring, Robin reached out to city leaders, Shelters of Saratoga staff and her neighbors to learn more about the need the program is filling for its participants. Soon after the shelter opened in November 2016, she and her family began volunteering, cooking and contributing supplies to the program. “I’ve embraced my new neighbors and have a greater understanding of the challenges they face each day” says, Dalton. “My eyes have been opened to the true need for a permanent shelter in Saratoga. It will give people a stable environment and opportunity in which they can move forward and out of homelessness.” Putting her words into action, Robin recently joined the Code Blue Solutions Task Force which primary objective is to find an accessible and permanent location for the winter shelter.
Please join Shelters of Saratoga on Thursday, March 28th as Robin accepts this honor. Reservations and sponsorships for the Brighter Days Gala are available starting at $100 and can be purchased at www.sheltersofsaratoga.org
December 18, 2018
Shelters of Saratoga Names New Executive Director
Shelters of Saratoga (SOS) board of directors and staff welcome Karen A. Gregory to lead the agency as the new executive director. A veteran of nonprofit leadership for the Columbia-Greene Domestic Violence Program, Gregory has excelled in public and private sector roles throughout her career of more than 20 years.
Gregory joins the organization with a breadth of experience in nonprofit and public service agencies and corporations. As executive director of the Columbia-Greene Domestic Violence Program, Gregory led the agency through its growth with the acquisition of two agency-owned shelters and two transitional apartment buildings. In addition to her nonprofit experience, Gregory served as a law enforcement officer for five years. Most recently, she served in an operational leadership role for Target Corporation.
Gregory’s experience will further SOS’s efforts to materially reduce homelessness. Initiatives aimed at minimizing barriers to housing for the chronically homeless remain a priority for the agency.
“Simply putting a roof over one’s head does not address the supportive care some people need to retain housing,” stated Gregory. “The Housing First model of care removes the pre-conditions and barriers to housing some face. It provides stability through permanent housing then works to address health conditions, substance use and financial stability.”
SOS works to support individuals with housing, care and a path out of homelessness. Each year nearly 700 individuals use one of the four shelters, outreach, drop-in center, and low-income housing programs. Code Blue, a program of SOS, also works to house over a hundred individuals in an emergency shelter during frigid winter weather,
“Financial stress and trauma can disrupt or define one’s path,” stated Gregory. “As a community, it is critical that we work towards supporting livable wages, access to housing and support services to ensure people remain housed.”
Gregory attended SUNY Stonybrook and Zone 14 Police Academy. She is currently pursuing a degree in Educational Psychology. She has remained committed to human services through her volunteerism at St. Paul’s Center in Rensselaer and the YWCA in Troy. In 2017, Gregory received the Resourceful Women’s Award from the YWCA of the Greater Capital Region recognizing her community and professional efforts for advancing the empowerment of women and girls.
Karen can be contacted at email@example.com or 518-581-1097
ABOUT SHELTERS OF SARATOGA
Shelters of Saratoga is a non-profit organization which provides individuals with safe shelter, support services and sustainable strategies to end homelessness in the Greater Saratoga region. For more information on SOS, visit sheltersofsaratoga.org.
##September 25, 2018
Code Blue Permanent Shelter Blocked On Walworth Street
A decision has been made in the lawsuit against The City of Saratoga Springs which seeks to block a permanent Code Blue shelter from being built on the property of Shelters of Saratoga (SOS) at 14 Walworth Street. In an order dated September 17, 2018, a Saratoga County Supreme Court judge has vacated and nullified all City approvals granted to SOS in response to a lawsuit filed by surrounding neighbors. The order vacates and nullifies the determinations by The City of Saratoga Springs Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) and Planning Board in 2017 and 2018 which would have allowed the shelter to be built.
In 2017, it was announced that the Code Blue shelter was to be built as an addition to SOS’ Walworth Street location. Ed and Lisa Mitzen generously dedicated funds to establish a permanent home for Code Blue after witnessing the instability caused by the program operating out of multiple locations around the City. The Mitzen Family actively volunteers at SOS and Code Blue. Through volunteering they witnessed first-hand the effectiveness of the programs utilized to assist the homeless in the City.
“From our perspective, building a permanent Code Blue shelter on Walworth Street is a smart and effective solution to providing the care and comprehensive case management people need.” commented Ed Mitzen. “The program would not only provide shelter and access to basic supplies during extreme weather, but help provide a coordinated approach to long-term stabilization and housing.”
The 2017 and 2018 approvals from the ZBA and Planning Board were challenged based upon the opposition to the City’s administrative determination that the proposed Code Blue shelter met the definition of a “neighborhood rooming house” as set forth in the Saratoga Springs City Zoning Code. Following the administrative decision, the ZBA voted in favor of the interpretation that the proposed shelter was zoning compliant. The decision revoking the most recent approvals resulted from the combination of two lawsuits filed by the neighbors in 2018 which is in addition to a 2017 lawsuit neighbors filed following the ZBA dismissal of their case as untimely.
Code Blue, a program of SOS, is a restriction-free winter shelter that operates from November until April when the temperature drops below 32 degrees or more than 12” of snow is predicted. The temporary shelter was located at Soul Saving Station Church on Henry Street in Saratoga Springs for the winter of 2017-2018. During the 2017-18 winter season, Code Blue provided meals, clothing and support to 144 people. An average of 53 people used the shelter for 162 evenings and 44 daytime openings. Forty-five individuals transitioned into treatment, reconnected with family, entered another program, or found permanent housing.
“Our plans to shelter people for the upcoming winter season are well underway thanks to the commitment of Soul Saving Station Church and Presbyterian New England Congregational Church as temporary locations for Code Blue.” says Marcy Dreimiller, SOS board president, “We are disappointed in the decision and will now need to evaluate what options exist for a permanent, long term solution for the Code Blue program.”
The mission of Shelters of Saratoga is to provide individuals with safe shelter, support services and sustainable strategies to end homelessness in the Greater Saratoga region.
July 24, 2018
2017-18 Code Blue Season Longest in History of the Program
Code Blue, a program of Shelters of Saratoga, is a restriction-free winter shelter that operates from November until April when the temperature drops below 32 degrees or more than 12” of snow is predicted. The shelter is located at Soul Saving Station Church on Henry Street in Saratoga Springs.
During the 2017-18 winter season shelter, meals, clothing and support were provided to 144 people. An average of 53 people used the shelter for 162 evenings and 44 daytime openings. To accommodate the demand 15 cots were setup at an overflow shelter at Presbyterian New England Congregational Church on Circular Street.
Local businesses, organizations and community members helped serve 8,074 meals. A warm hearted thank you to Longfellows Restaurant, Olde Bryan Inn, Druther’s, The Brook Tavern, PJ’s BBQ-SA, Elks Club, Knights of Columbus, Hands and Feet Ministry of Saratoga Abundant Life Church, Saratoga Springs United Methodist Church, Presbyterian New England Congregational Church, and many individuals and groups in the community. A warm thank you to DePaula Chevrolet and Saratoga Casino Hotel for keeping the pantry stocked throughout the season.
Shelter operations were supported by 164 community volunteers. Assistance was provided to help setup the shelter, serve meals and organize supplies. We are grateful for their assistance and continued compassion for the guests at Code Blue.
This winter, 45 individuals transitioned into treatment, reconnected with family, entered another program; or found permanent housing. Now that the warmer weather is here, outreach staff and volunteers stay connected with those who utilized the winter shelter. We are working toward additional positive outcomes before the start of the 2018-19 season.
We are currently awaiting a decision from the Supreme Court regarding multiple Article 78 challenges by neighbors against both the City of Saratoga Springs Zoning Board of Appeals and Planning Board regarding approvals awarded to Shelter’s 20 Walworth Street addition. A decision affirming the approvals from the City would allow the Mitzen Family to build a permanent Code Blue shelter on the property SOS owns at 14 and 20 Walworth Street.
February 12, 2018
Shelters of Saratoga Maintains its Position for a Permanent Code Blue Shelter on Walworth Street
The City of Saratoga Zoning Board is being challenged with a new lawsuit opposing its determination that the proposed Code Blue shelter on Walworth Street meets the requirements of a “neighborhood rooming house.” At its January 8, 2018 meeting, the Zoning Board of Appeals determined that the project, as proposed by Shelters of Saratoga, was consistent with the definition in the City Code and thereby renders the proposed shelter zoning compliant. The lawsuit is the second time neighbors have challenged the ZBA on the issue of definition; the first in the summer of 2017 when the ZBA dismissed the neighbors’ appeal as untimely and now they seek to challenge ZBA’s unanimous interpretation. While Shelters is saddened by the delay in moving forward with the project, we will participate in the legal process with the hope to break ground as soon as possible.
With support of the Mitzen Family, who generously dedicated personal funds and time, along with supporters of this project, Shelters maintains its position that Walworth Street is the smart and effective solution to providing the comprehensive care management people need, not only to find shelter in extreme weather, but to stabilize their lives for the long term. Shelter operations on one campus will provide a coordinated approach through central access to basic needs, extended shelter and case management for those facing homelessness. Project plans include the installation of additional lighting, fencing and the creation of a neighborhood watch program.
The ongoing advocacy for a permanent shelter has depleted resources dedicated to Shelters of Saratoga’s core programs: sober shelter, drop-in center and community outreach. These programs have provided a pillar of safety to the Saratoga community since 1991.
February 14, 2017
Shelters of Saratoga has announced a gift by the Mitzen family to build a new Code Blue homeless shelter
New Facility to open by next winter
Shelters of Saratoga has announced that the Mitzen family will pay for the costs of a new Code Blue homeless shelter to be built on the current Shelters of Saratoga property at 14 Walworth Street. The new shelter is expected to be open by next winter.
For the past few years, the shelter has had temporary residence at St. Peter’s Parish Center, the Salvation Army building and the Soul Saving Station Church in downtown Saratoga Springs.
Initial plans call for a two-story building with large kitchen, laundry room, men’s and women’s sleeping rooms, multiple showers and bathrooms, a large storage area for donated food and clothing, and a small Code Blue office. Bonacio Construction will be handling all the construction and appropriate permits, with assistance from the LA Group, and both have agreed to forego any profits to keep the costs as low as possible.
Code Blue is a walk-in, emergency homeless shelter that offers a hot meal and a warm and safe place to sleep when temperatures in the city are below 32 degrees or there is significant snow fall.
“We are absolutely thrilled with the generosity of the Mitzens and can’t wait to get started on this critical project. Our goal is to have the new building operational byNovember 1, 2017,” said Michael Finocchi, Executive Director. “It is our belief that having Code Blue in close proximity to the case managed shelters maximizes the opportunity for Shelters of Saratoga to provide the full continuum of homeless services to the individuals we serve. This project will allow us to more easily connect homeless individuals with the support services they need, including case management, mental health counseling, and alcohol and drug rehabilitation. Our ultimate goal is to get them stable and housed.” Over the past 4 years, 36 individuals who have used Code Blue services have successfully transitioned into the Shelters of Saratoga case managed shelter.
Finocchi continued, “This phenomenal gift solves the consistent challenge we have faced over the last few years of providing a permanent home for Code Blue. We can now focus on our fundraising efforts to secure community support in addition to local and state government funding to cover the operational expenses, which are necessary to successfully run the Code Blue program and other instrumental Shelters of Saratoga homeless programs.”
Since November 2016, Code Blue has been open 79 nights and 15 days. The program relies heavily on the over 200 volunteers to help staff both day and evening shifts. Volunteers assist with such tasks as meal preparation, set up and clean up.
“Ed and I have been two of the many volunteers at Code Blue over the years. We have seen firsthand the challenges of the prior buildings and feel a new facility built for Code Blue would allow for better care of the guests. We are truly so thrilled to be able to help the community in this way,” said Lisa Mitzen.
“Our family feels incredibly blessed to be able to help others,” said Ed Mitzen. “We recognize that Code Blue has been a community effort, and it is our belief that this new building will further the care of the homeless in our area. We hope that the city government comes together and expedites all the proper zoning and approval requirements, so we can get the shelter built quickly and efficiently. We also want to send a huge thank you to Sonny Bonacio of Bonacio Construction and Mike Ingersoll of the LA Group for stepping up to help see this project through.”
The mission of Shelters of Saratoga is to provide individuals with safe shelter, support services and sustainable strategies to end homelessness in the Greater Saratoga region. For more information, please contact Michael Finocchi at Shelters of Saratoga at 518-581-1097 or visit www.sheltersofsaratoga.org.
June 6, 2016
SOS OUTREACH AND DROP-IN CENTER SERVE HOMELESS YEAR ROUND
Homeless Services Remain Vital During Warmer Months
SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, June 6, 2016 – The needs of those impacted by homelessness do not lessen during the warmer seasons. From the streets to affordable housing, Shelters of Saratoga (SOS) provides a full continuum of homeless services for individuals seeking a better future.
“Individuals living on the street, including the chronically homeless and at-risk youth, are harder to reach and get lost in the shuffle,” stated Michael Finocchi, SOS executive director. “This population does not have the support and skills necessary to navigate the services available to meet their needs so they can safely exit the streets.”
To tackle this complex issue, SOS has increased its presence on the street through its Outreach program and through its Drop-In Center held at its 20 Walworth Street, Saratoga Springs location. The goal of these programs are to serve as a conduit between the streets, and facilitate movement towards stability and permanent, independent living. They supplement the SOS Code Blue emergency shelter and case managed shelter programs.
The SOS Outreach Program, which made 167 contacts in May 2016, has two primary components – Street Outreach and Motel Outreach. Deanna Hensley, the SOS Outreach Coordinator, has a presence Monday through Friday on the streets. As she makes her way on foot along the streets of Saratoga and through local parks, Hensley develops relationships with the homeless individuals she regularly encounters. “You never know when someone will decide that they no longer want to be homeless,” said Hensley.
This program meets critical needs by providing food, clothing, shoes and personal care products. Hensley also educates the homeless men, women and youth she works with about the services available to them, which will ultimately help them move toward stability and self-determination. These contacts serve as a conduit to the SOS Drop-in Center and case managed shelter.
Hensley visits families and adults temporarily lodged in outlying motels in the Greater Saratoga region. Critical supplies and connections to resources are provided to them as needed.
In December 2015, SOS initiated an adult drop-in program. The goal is to assist homeless men and women with finding potential housing options, as there are no other such services being offered within the Saratoga Springs region. The average attendance at the drop-in is 33 guests per month. With Thursday being added as an additional drop-in day at the end of May, it’s anticipated this number will increase significantly.
The green bandana tied to the 20 Walworth Street porch indicates that the drop-in center is open. Hours of operation are Tuesdays and Thursdays 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. The drop-in provides a safe, comfortable, and friendly environment where participants can get something to eat, take a shower, and do laundry. Individuals have access to personal care items, clothing, sleeping bags and other essential items at any time at the 14 Walworth Street shelter. Most importantly, Andrea Behan, SOS Drop-In Coordinator, works with drop-in attendees to gain access to critical resources and researching housing and employment options.
“Providing a positive first contact either on the street or at the Drop-In Center, let’s the individuals accessing these services know that these programs are safe,” stated Finocchi. “This will increase the likelihood that they will seek further assistance.”
During the summer months, SOS typically sees a drop in the number of donations it receives. If the community would like to become involved, some of the items needed to support the current demands within these critical programs include: new men’s underwear, new men’s tees, nutritious grab and go foods (e.g. protein bars or peanut butter crackers), pop top cans of soup and fruit, water, and sports drinks.
Shelters of Saratoga is a non-profit organization which provides individuals with safe shelter, support services and sustainable strategies to end homelessness in the Greater Saratoga region.
May 24, 2016
Code Blue Saratoga Seeking New Location
Shelters of Saratoga would like to extend its gratitude for your support of Code Blue Saratoga, emergency shelter. On May 24, 2016, The Salvation Army announced they would not renew the contract for the upcoming 2016-2017 season. For the last two seasons, The Salvation Army Worship and Community Center located at 27 Woodlawn Avenue, Saratoga Springs has provided safe respite for those who were homeless during periods of hazardous winter weather.
We understand The Salvation Army’s position with the growing demands of this program. In light of the new regulations implemented by the Governor’s Executive Order 151, which directed emergency shelters to operate when temperatures dropped below 32 degrees, it is expected that there will be an increased number of Code Blue days and nights in the coming season.
Shelters of Saratoga, the City of Saratoga and other local agencies are invested in the future of this program. While no immediate plans are in place, efforts will be underway to locate a suitable location for the Code Blue 2016-17 season.
February 1, 2016
Executive Order No. 151
On January 3, 2016, Governor Cuomo signed executive Order No. 151 to protect homeless individuals during inclement winter weather where temperatures decline to 32 degrees or below. SOS and the Code Blue Saratoga Steering Committee are working closely with the City of Saratoga Springs, county and state agencies to initiate a plan that would accommodate the new protocols.
For the time being, the Code Blue shelter will continue activating on nights predicted for 20 degrees or below and /or 12 inches of snow, as forecasted by Accuweather.com. The year-round, one day per week SOS Adult Drop-In Center, which opened in November 2015, will continue to serve individuals living on the street by providing them with a safe location to shower, launder their clothes, get something to eat and to connect with critical resources. Options for expanding both of these programs are being explored, however each requires adequate space, manpower and financial resources to do so.
Want to take action? Here are some ways you can help:
- Contact your local and state officials
- Continue supporting Code Blue and SOS financially
- Volunteer your time at one of these two critically needed programs
SOS and Code Blue Saratoga are very grateful for the community’s generous support of these vital programs through volunteerism, financial and in-kind contributions.