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Conference Room Opened At Expanded Shelters Of Saratoga

Lucas Willard

Shelters of Saratoga, the only year-round homeless shelter in Saratoga, Washington, and Warren Counties, has expanded to allow for more room for services and storage.

A ribbon cutting was held inside Shelters of Saratoga’s brand new conference room Wednesday afternoon.

The conference room at SOS’s 14 Walworth Street location, along with new space for a cooler and freezer downstairs, make up a new 720-square-foot expansion.

SOS Executive Director Michael Finocchi says the expansion will go a long way in providing confidential services to residents.

“Prior to us having this, individuals, service providers would come in and meet with houseguests, they’d have to meet at the kitchen table or at the living room. And confidentiality kind of goes out the window when you’re meeting in a public space.”

SOS provides services to up to 35 residents. Another important part of connecting the formerly homeless to a permanent place to live or a job is an internet connection. Before the expansion, all houseguests had to share one computer.

“That’s a very slow process, so we built in three computer workstations, so now we’ll have three computers. It’ll expedite things for the houseguests. Things will move a lot quicker,” said Finocchi.

SOS Board president Lynn Bradley says the expansion plans began about three years ago when the organization decided it needed new food storage.

“The board said, ‘Well, why don’t we make this more efficient in terms of office space, in terms of office space and having counseling space.’ And so we started going down the road of talking to our architect and redrawing the plans for going from just a walk-in cooler with one grant, to the whole room,” said Bradley.

$100,000 was raised through donations and grants to make the project a reality.

Meantime, with the colder weather here, Shelters of Saratoga continues its push to host a permanent daytime adult drop-in center, which now operates on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and to also find a permanent home for Code Blue.

The Code Blue program opens its doors to the homeless on freezing nights no questions asked.

After some objection from local residents — and after two years at the Salvation Army’s Saratoga Springs building and one season at a church — Code Blue is ready to open at its new location at the Soul Saving Station on Henry Street.

Mayor Joanne Yepsen, who helped organize the Code Blue program after the freezing death of a homeless woman in 2013, said the search will continue for a more permanent solution.

“And I am just grateful for the Shelters of Saratoga board and staff for taking this program under their wing so that we could be sure to continue it in our community,” said Yepsen.

Freezing temperatures are in the forecast next week.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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