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.
You could say that it was Rachel Hye Youn Rupright’s green thumb that led her to Troy-based nonprofit Capital Roots six years ago. “I started out as a community gardener,” she says. “We had a plot for several years in Albany.” That, and her sense of civic duty: She had also been working for an anti-hunger nonprofit, and when her personal and professional interests collided, boom! Rupright is now currently the executive vice president of the board of directors and will be assuming the role of chairwoman in January.
So, what exactly does Capital Roots do? “It’s all about connecting people and communities with fresh food and green spaces,” says Rupright. The organization focuses on outreach, whether that be delivering fresh produce to underserved areas via its Veggie Mobile or literally having doctors write patients suffering from chronic health issues fillable “vegetable prescriptions.” That work has helped build stronger, healthier communities. Rupright says that Capital Roots’ food deliverers, who have been “essential” for the duration of COVID, have even been able to deliver PPE to residents in need.
While the pandemic has certainly presented challenges to Capital Roots, the organization’s built-in outdoorsy-ness has also allowed it to thrive. “We still have the Produce Project, which is our youth-powered farm for high school students,” says Rupright. (It’s a year-round program.) And Capital Roots is even in the process of expanding its Urban Growth Center in Troy, having purchased the land adjacent to it. Add in a $25,000 donation from Saratoga’s philanthropic power couple, Ed and Lisa Mitzen, this past fall, and Capital Roots has a lot of room to grow.