SARATOGA SPRINGS — Brightly colored snow pants and children’s winter coats cling to rows of metal racks against a far wall. Bundles of bedding and kids’ comforters, stacks of young reader’s books and an assortment of toy trucks and stuffed dolls sprawl across the tabletops.
Nearly one year to the day since securing a building on the city’s west side to help its growing programs, Franklin Community Center has officially opened the doors of its newest facility, located at the intersection of Franklin and Washington streets.
The organization’s new building provides more than 10,000 square feet of expanded space, features individual offices, common areas, large meeting rooms, and stands a few yards from its 10 Franklin St. building, which remains active.
By relocating the non-profit human service agency’s administrative offices from 10 Franklin St. to Washington Street, it provides space to back-stock donations and goods distributed through its meal assistance programs and allows the organization’s food pantry to grow triple its previous size.
“Food insecurity is not going away,” says Mary Beth McGarrahan, development director at Franklin Community Center, which serves hundreds of individuals at its food pantry every week. “It gives us the space to continue to grow the food pantry.”
Franklin Community Center has served as a social service hub for the less fortunate in and around Saratoga since 1983. The Center’s programs include the food pantry, a free after-school prevention program for local students and affordable housing for low-income individuals, as well as assisting with furniture and clothing and household needs, among others.
FCC’s newest building had previously served as a cutting-edge center of 21st century global technology under the guidance of Elliott and Cathy Masie. The couple built the Masie Center just over 20 years ago.
Aiming to build an addition to one of its existing buildings to create more space, FCC raised about $1 million toward its goal of raising $2.5 million when the coronavirus started making its way across the globe, slowing fundraising efforts, even as the need for the services the center offers increased exponentially. Meanwhile, the nearby Masie building was listed for sale at $2.6 million. When the Michael and Stacie Arpey Family stepped forward to donate $1 million toward FCC’s purchase of the building, and the Masies agreed to lower their original asking price, a deal was struck. Today, a plaque that hangs outside the building reads: The Franklin Community Center/Michael and Stacie Arpey Family Community Center.
Through the month of December, the new building also houses goods for its Holiday Assistance Program.
“This is our giving program where you ‘adopt’ children, you ‘adopt’ a family,” McGarrahan explains. “Holiday assistance - It can be toys, clothes, bedding, electronics. Fun things for a girl or boy. It might be hygiene products that they may not normally get in their shopping trips, or winter clothes, books, musical instruments,” she says. “It could be anything their family is not able to purchase on their own.”
Families contact the center and fill out an application which lists the needs and desires of the child. Those needs are then matched up against a list of donors who have offered their support for the holiday program by “adopting” a family.
Looking forward, Franklin Community Center’s next focus will be on its Project Lift Summer Camp Assistance program.
“We do summer camp scholarships for all our Project Lift kids, so if anybody is looking to support a child and send them to a camp for a week or two, they can support that with our scholarship fund,” McGarrahan said.
For more information about Franklin Community Center and its programs, go to: www.franklincommunitycenter.org