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New York Assembly Speaker announces $250,000 grant for Lake Placid food pantry

New York Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie
Pat Bradley
New York Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie

A food pantry in Lake Placid is getting a quarter of a million dollars to help build a new facility thanks to a visit to the village by the New York state Assembly speaker.

Speaker Carl Heastie visited the Adirondack village on Thursday to tour its Olympic venues. Often during his annual post-session statewide tour, he distributes money to community non-profits. While he was inside the Olympic Center he was asked if he planned to announce any special funding and indicated he had no such plans during his Lake Placid stop.

“At this point the great Assemblyman Billy Jones just wanted me to come and see the state’s investment over the years to refurbish this classic place,” Heastie said.

Later, Speaker Heastie was outside the Olympic Center chatting with a number of local officials. After a while, Assemblyman D. Billy Jones, the Democrat representing the 115th District, ambled over to a group of reporters and said the Speaker had decided to provide funds to a local charity.

“The Speaker has been very generous this trip as he is often when he comes up here to the North Country and he just announced a $250,000 grant to the food pantry here that they’re building for the community," Jones announced. "Like I said he’s being generous and this will be able to complete the project.”

Heastie says the money can have major impacts.

“It’s your money. It’s taxpayer money and it should go for taxpayer purposes and I can’t think of anything more community minded and community based than a food pantry," Heastie said. "The Bible says you have to take care of the least of us. So I just think it’s great and it’s doing God’s work.”

Heastie explained that the $250,000 grant comes out of state budget discretionary funds.

“We have discretionary funds that sometimes you guys in the press call it pork, but this is what it is," asserted Heastie. "And sometimes when we allocate pots of money it’s for these purposes. After the budget passed needs arise that you don’t want to wait until next April to tell people who need the services of a food pantry oh you’ve got to wait until next April when we put it in the budget. That’s why. It’s for purposes like this. And just one day I hope the press realizes that’s a good thing when you’re able to come to communities and see a need and take care of the need.”

The new Lake Placid Food Pantry and Thrift Shop will be a 3,000-square foot facility. The pantry currently operates out of the St. Agnes Church and the thrift shop closed last fall after more than three decades.

Lake Placid Baptist Church Pastor Jim Koenig, president of the pantry’s new board of directors, says the infusion of funds means all they hoped to accomplish will become possible.

“The one thing that we’re most excited about is that not only are we going to have thrift, we’re going to have furniture. And so we can both offer that to people in terms of assistance but also just the whole idea of upcycling and recycling we’re excited to be able to offer that," said Koenig. "And then the food pantry will be such a nice facility. No longer any handicapped accessibility issues. I mean we’re so thankful for the Catholic Church and their basement but it’s going to be a neat change. And we’ve even talked about adding in a meeting room where we can do educational classes and other things. So it just kind of continues to open the door wider and wider to us having a bigger and larger impact in the community. So we’re very excited.”

Pantry director Linda Young says the funds recognize the work that has been done for years to help the community.

“We have a great rapport with the community, with the churches, with the town, the village," noted Young. "They know what we do and how we do it and that we’re doing an accomplishment for everyone that are in dire need. But we’re there to help.”

Koenig says pantry officials are blown away by the grant announcement.

“To see it’s bigger than just a thrift store and a food pantry. There’s also this underlying sense of emergency assistance that we have done for years, not just for transients but for local people, that is just a quiet part that maybe even the local people don’t completely understand. But it’s an anonymous and very important thing in a community to be able to do. We’re not starting something new. We’re just getting to do something better that we’ve been doing since 1985,” said Koenig.

Pantry officials hope the new facility can open by October.

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