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.
In 2016, Kristen Garzone gave birth to her daughter, Ellie, a moment that society tells us should be a pink-confetti drop and champagne toast of happiness. But she felt anything but those things. “I had a lot of anger,” says Garzone, “and I didn’t feel connected to my daughter at all.” She later learned that what she was suffering from was Postpartum Depression (PPD), a mental health affliction that affects millions of women in the US annually.
One of Garzone’s great escapes from life has always been long-distance running. In May 2017, feeling lost as a mom and at that point, still not knowing why, she took on a half-marathon to raise money for an organization she had discovered called Every Mother Counts (EMC). The nonprofit was founded by supermodel and entrepreneur Christy Turlington Burns, whose mission is to secure all mothers quality, respectful and equitable maternity care. Then, two weeks later, personal tragedy struck: One of her closest friends, who had herself been struggling with PPD, died by suicide. It was a wakeup call for Garzone. “It jolted me into realizing that not only did I have Postpartum Depression, but I had it very badly,” she says. She sought out help—while also ramping up her running game.
By 2018, Garzone had launched her own virtual Run to Believe to honor her friend’s memory and continue raising funds for EMC. Her work for and with the nonprofit has only expanded, especially impactful this year when lockdown was a crushing blow to those battling depression of any kind. She’s now an EMC ambassador and had the chance, pre-pandemic, to go on a retreat with fellow ambassadors, meet Turlington Burns and present her story. “It’s nice,” she says, “to be able to talk to people, one on one, and share my story to help others.”