For the first time in our magazine’s 17-year history, Capital Region Living is honoring the five people in the local nonprofit and charity orbit that we feel are at the apex of the giving game. (Five others are being honored on the Saratoga Living side to make it an even 10.) There’s no doubt that if there ever was a perfect time to honor the region’s top givers, it would be right now, at the end of this year, when there was so much need.
These five individuals couldn’t be giving at a more crucial moment in time. The pandemic has tried and failed to send them off course; they’ve forged ahead, working longer hours to break new ground and keep their respective organizations afloat.
We’re hoping that, besides reading their wonderful stories within the pages of this magazine, you will feel equally compelled to support them in their causes. A great place to start? At our hybrid virtual-live Capital Region Gives Back event, which takes place on December 10. (To get tickets, click here.)
Who are these five supreme do-gooders? Allow us to introduce you to our 2020 Capital Region Gives Back honorees.
For Dominick Purnomo, wine director and co-owner of Albany restaurants Yono’s and dp An American Brasserie, cooking and delivering meals to those in need isn’t that much different than running an upscale restaurant. “It’s still hospitality,” he says. “It’s still taking care of people. Maybe we’re not doing it under a crystal chandelier, serving expensive champagne and wearing nice suits. But at the end of the day, it’s about making people feel better—feeding people’s bellies but also feeding their souls.”
This past March, Purnomo co-founded Feed Albany, at first a grassroots effort to feed those who had been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Using kitchen space donated by area restaurants, a team of volunteers cooked, packaged and delivered food to thousands of Capital Region residents, including out-of-work restaurant employees and hospital staffers, as well as families in need. In April, Feed Albany became a registered charitable organization, and by June had handed out more than 100,000 meals. Now, with two part-time employees, the nonprofit is on track to hit 200,000 meals by the end of the year.
Now the president of the board, Purnomo is still very involved in the organization’s day-to-day operations and has been able to see, firsthand, how Feed Albany’s work has impacted the community. “I can’t tell you how many people have broken down in tears when they came to pick up meals, because they weren’t sure how they were going to feed their family that night,” he says. Likewise, Purnomo’s seen how the community—from businesses and banks to individual volunteers—has come together to take care of its most disadvantaged members. “Most of us are able to put a roof over our heads and food on our table,” he says. “But there are people who can’t, and they need help. And if we have that ability to help, we’re gonna do it.”