Our annual Capital Region Gives Back event returns this December 9! Read up on the 10 charities our honorees are representing, then visit our Capital Region Gives Back event page to purchase tickets to the fundraiser. At checkout, you’ll be able to choose which of the 10 you’d like to support with 50 percent of your ticket price.
Janet Abrahamson, Joy US Foundation
#1: Ten thousand new cancer cases are diagnosed in our area every year.
#2: Abrahamson carries around a (fake) $10 million check made out to the Joy US Foundation, to represent what an angel donor might give her someday.
#3: “I’ve always viewed my job as what I do to pay the bills,” Abrahamson says, “and my volunteer work as what I do to make a difference in the world.”
Dennis Moench, SPAC Education
#1: Presidential Inaugural Poet Richard Blanco will serve as the first visiting artist at the SPAC School of the Arts and a mentor for the 2022 Festival of Young Artists.
#2: “We have programs where students can create and express themselves through music and then three weeks later they’ll have dance instruction and then three weeks after that they’ll have theater instruction,” Moench says of SOTA. ”It really highlights the idea that the arts are all interconnected.”
#3: Many people know SPAC as a venue for pop, rock and country Live Nation shows. It is that, but it’s also a nonprofit organization that hosts a vibrant classical season and educates thousands of students in the arts each year.
Lisa Mitzen, Shelters of Saratoga
#1: Shelters of Saratoga first opened a 19-bed, year-round shelter on Walworth Street in 1997.
#2: Through the Business for Good foundation that they co-founded, Ed and Lisa Mitzen, who owned the historic 1 Franklin Square building in Saratoga, recently donated long-term use of it for affordable apartments to Shelters of Saratoga.
#3: Lisa Mitzen wrote a popular online column for saratogaliving.com about her experiences volunteering at SOS, focusing each one on a different person she met through the shelter.
Lois Celeste, Saratoga Senior Center
#1: Adults over 50 can join Saratoga Senior Center for just $25 per year.
#2: In spring 2020, construction will begin on a new 17,000-square-foot Senior Center located on the property of the Saratoga Regional YMCA’s Saratoga branch.
#3: Celeste envisions the new center as a one-stop shop for Saratoga’s senior community, with a cafe, salon, on-site services and more.
Zippy Chippy, Old Friends at Cabin Creek
#1: Zippy Chippy is one of just 16 horses at Cabin Creek, each of which has acquired new fans in retirement.
#2: At the grand opening of Old Friends at Cabin Creek in 2010, the farm’s JoAnn Pepper set up a winner’s circle for Zippy to stand in, but he threw a fit and kicked over the sign and had to be taken back to his paddock.
#2: “I don’t think people realize that they have to learn how to become a horse after being a racehorse,” Pepper says about new Cabin Creek residents. “They have to learn to make up their own minds and to relax and understand that flies aren’t going to kill them.”
William Trigg, Make-A-Wish Foundation of Northeast New York
#1: Make-A-Wish’s local chapter wasn’t able to grant any wishes between early March 2020 and July 1, 2020.
#2: “What brings me joy is helping families in crisis,” Trigg says. “We’re focused on granting the heart-felt wish of that critically ill child or teenager, but we’re also mindful that the entire family is suffering and dealing with this dark period in the child’s life. And so we involve the entire immediate family.”
#3: In addition to granting wishes to critically ill children in 15 counties around the Capital Region, the Northeast New York chapter has also hosted Wish Kids from other chapters, including a Miami Springs child who had never seen snow.
Christina Arangio, Down Syndrome Aim High Resource Center
#1: Aim High was forced to cancel its reading program for kids with Down Syndrome (DS) due to lack of funds. “Being able to read,” laments Arangio, “is the key to the future.”
#2: “Giving back is one way I show my gratitude,” Arangio says. “I want people to know that life is so rich for people with DS. I can’t imagine my life without my son, Luke.”
#3: The life expectancy for people with DS has increased dramatically in recent decades—from 25 in 1983 to 60 today. Aim High offers services for all ages, from newborn on up.
Taylor Nichols, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
#1: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255 and can be called 24 hours a day.
#2: Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent study, suicide was the 10th leading cause of death overall in the US, claiming over 47,500 lives every year.
#3: “[Working out] is a second chance at life,” says Nichols. “It keeps my head on straight, and it’s a place where you can zone out from something that haunts you.”
Ron Gardner, Hamilton Hill Arts Center
#1: As part of Gardner’s role for the City of Schenectady, he heads up a community panel that has a say in whom the city hires to its police force.
#2: “I enjoy every day of it,” says Gardner of his role as Schenectady’s director of diversity and affirmative action, “because you really have a true opportunity to impact people’s lives in a variety of ways.”
#3: The Hamilton Hill Arts Center was founded by Margaret Cunningham, an
artist inspired by the Black pride and arts movements.
Rainbow Doemel, Arthritis Foundation, Northeastern New York
#1: More than 300,000 children have juvenile arthritis in the US.
#2: “Giving back is doing something with your whole heart and expecting nothing in return,” Doemel says. “Connecting with families and helping them feel empowered is very moving for me.”
#3: Doemel has a goal to sign up 50 new local people to the free VIM app by December 31. The pain management app allows users to report and record symptoms to report back to their physicians, set goals and network with other people with arthritis.