In a city where homes regularly sell for more than $1 million and luxury condos seem to be sprouting up like weeds, it’s easy to imagine that no one in Saratoga struggles to put food on the table…until you look at the numbers from the Franklin Community Center (FCC) food pantry.
“Every town hides its disadvantaged to a certain extent,” says FCC Development Director Mary Beth McGarrahan. “But in Saratoga, the wealth is so showy. All of the amazing cultural attractions and tourism really highlight the affluence.”
And yet, just a couple of blocks off Broadway sits FCC, a lifeline for Saratoga’s poorest individuals and families that is 40 years strong. FCC’s food pantry serves about 1,000 people monthly, its free store (which McGarrahan compares to a TJ Maxx of donated clothing and home goods) serves about 500 people annually, and Project Lift (a free after-school program for elementary-aged children) serves 130 students every school year.
McGarrahan—who says she felt immediately “at home” at Franklin when she was hired during Covid after a stint as operations manager of Universal Preservation Hall—is especially proud of FCC’s adopt-a-family program, which provides some 650 children with gifts around the holiday season. And while she loves her job, she wishes she didn’t need to do it. “Wouldn’t it be great if we could figure out as a community how to support those who are going through difficult times?” she says. “The goal for Franklin was to be out of work by 2024. I believe we’re going to have to reassess that one.”
Join Mary Beth and the nine other 2023 honorees at our annual Capital Region Gives Back event on December 6 at Putnam Place.