Giving thanks, working harder for social equality

The last few months been full of new experiences for me as a reporter. Many have been positive ... milling with city officials during my first election night in the field, shooting video for a story on nanotechnology in Ballston Spa, rocking out to the Beatles as interpreted by Skidmore College students, are just a few recent events of many I could name.

Some have been negative experiences ... standing next to blood-stained cement at the scene of a near-fatal motorcycle accident, picking up the phone to call the parents of a young woman killed in horrible car crash, taking flak from people who didn't pay their taxes, drove while drunk or were charged with various crimes.

But taking the good with the bad is all part of this job.

I want to take a moment to reflect on two very different experiences I had within one short week during October that struck me because of the incredible polarity between them.

This fall, I visited the Shelters of Saratoga homeless shelter for adults on Walworth Street and spoke with good people who have faced more adversity than most. I was welcomed into and ate lunch several times with fellow Saratogians at the EOC Soup Kitchen at the Presbyterian Church on Circular Street. There, I listened to their eye-opening, often gut-wrenching stories of abuse, addiction, violence and poverty, interviews that eventually served as the foundation for a series of stories on homelessness in Saratoga.

A few days later, I toured 38 High Rock, a luxury condominium project that I have literally watched rise from the ground, from the view out of my apartment window during the last 10 months. I was whisked from floor to floor as officials touted the glamorous amenities residents there can enjoy when they move in this winter -- private indoor garages, tens of thousands of square feet of custom designed rooms, private patios complete with a bar and lounge ... the list goes on and on.

These new condos are nice for sure, and continued development in hard economic times is one of many good things Saratoga's got going for it -- but anyone who's willing to pay $1.3 million to live in one of them for 6 weeks out of a year ultimately, I think it is safe to say, doesn't have any sense of many year-round residents' struggle to make ends meet.

Visiting the shelter one day and then touring the condominium project a few days later felt like it might to immerse your head in a sink full of hot water and then immediately plunge it into a sink full of ice water.

In short, I would have rather been taken on a tour of a new, affordable housing project that will meet the needs of people who make less than half of the city's median income. Hopefully that will happen one of these days in the not too distant future.

The experiences reminded me to approach every day and every tough interview with gratitude and compassion, because I have a lot to be thankful for. So, here's giving thanks to all those compassionate people and organizations in our community that work hard to help those for whom a million dollar condo will never be attainable.

Thanks Franklin Community Center, Shelters of Saratoga, the Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Services, Mother Anderson's Shelter, Saratoga Housing Authority, Saratoga County Housing Alliance, Gloria LaPorta at the soup kitchen and everyone at the Economic Opportunity Council.

Feel free to add your comments below to express thanks for the many I've left out.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

well put

Friday, November 27, 2009 5:08:00 PM 

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