Thursday, 16 July 2020 13:50

NY Race Track Chaplaincy, Saratoga Community Enhance Living Conditions For Backstretch Families

Volunteers pitch in to improve housing condition for backstretch families at Pine Grove Camp, on the west side of Saratoga Springs. Photo provided. Volunteers pitch in to improve housing condition for backstretch families at Pine Grove Camp, on the west side of Saratoga Springs. Photo provided.

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Relocating to Saratoga for the summer meet, many stable workers have traditionally stayed at rudimentary cabins at the Pine Grove Family Camp on Pine Road, located between Washington Street and Grand Avenue on the city’s west side. 

This year, Nick Caras, Programs Director of the NY Chaplaincy, Kim Weir, a Saratoga Volunteer Coordinator, and Mark Kehrer, Pastor of Revelation Church, initiated a collaborative effort with volunteers and community sponsors to improve housing conditions for backstretch families who have traveled to Saratoga for the duration of the meet.

“For a long time, I’ve wished that when the families come up from Belmont to Saratoga, those cabins they stay in would be clean, fresh and welcoming,” Caras says.

By mid-June, 12 families and businesses from the Saratoga community stepped forward and the cleanup began. This week, the crew celebrated completion of the cleanup and the families moved in.

Masks and hand sanitizer were provided by the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, Impressions of Saratoga donated one tote bag full of goodies to each cabin, and Temple Sinai donated one loaf of Challah bread to each cabin. 

“This will be a very different Saratoga racing season than any that came before it but at least it will be a little bit better for these families,” Weir said. “To see so many different entities within the Saratoga community come together to help some families they don’t even know was really heartwarming,” 

Among those who pitched in: Impressions of Saratoga; The Dominguez Family; Habitat for Humanity of Northern Saratoga, Warren, and Washington Counties; The Brown Family; The Brindle Family; The Lautenberg Family; Saratoga Springs Friends of Recreation; The Weir Family, The PNECC Social Concerns Committee, The Saratoga Immigration Coalition, Temple Sinai; and Friends of Spa City.

The New York Race Track Chaplaincy ministers to the heart and soul of the backstretch community at Saratoga Race Course as well as Belmont Park and Aqueduct Racetrack with children’s enrichment, social service, recreational programs, educational opportunities and non-denominational social services.

“Champions Talk,” a virtual benefit for the organization featuring Saratoga’s own Tom Durkin along with

Hall of Fame jockeys Ángel Cordero Jr. and Ramón Dominguez, Kentucky Derby winning owner Terry Finley of West Point Thoroughbreds, Churchill Downs’ all-time leading trainer Dale Romans and Pro Football Hall of Fame and two-time Super Bowl winning coach and Thoroughbred owner Bill Parcells will premiere on Facebook and YouTube at 7 p.m. on  Aug. 5. For more information, go to:

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