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Saratoga’s Code Blue… Miracles happen just off Broadway in Saratoga Springs Too.

"Miracles don't only happen on 34th Street"
Nancy Pitts probably never imagined herself as a catalyst for community change. Indeed, while she was known and seen by many locally every day, it was through her tragic death that she rallied our community to open their hearts and take action to help the homeless. Nancy was a homeless woman who lived on the streets in a city that is know for wealth, tourism, community spirit  and citizens who give back to their community.


Nancy, who grew up locally, had once had a different life. She was married, a stay-at-home mom raising children (now grown)... until a series of life circumstances launched a downward spiral into  alcohol that ended with her dying on the streets of Saratoga in a frigid December night last month.


Nancy could be outspoken. In fact, just a month before her death I heard her speak at a Homelessness Awareness Week event  about how hard it is living on the street. She talked about people ignoring you and not even caring... and others who mock, harass, and assault the homeless. Her words reached an audience of about 40 participants at the event... an event held annually to increase awareness of homelessness in a community that finds it hard to believe that there are homeless persons in our city. Nancy's voice was  one of the most memorable that night, but it reached just 40 people. It was just a foreshadowing of her impact just one month later in bringing the plight of homeless into our consciousness.


When her body was found frozen behind the Senior Center, that message about hardship shifted from our heads to our hearts. The community immediately came together to launch a Code Blue shelter to afford a safe , warm place for the homeless on bitter winter nights. A meeting was held on Friday and the shelter was operational for  the next night where temperatures would fall to 10 degrees. Not only was this just 4 days later, it was also Christmas  Eve; yet people altered their plans to volunteer.  My son and I volunteered several days later, as 15 Code Blue guests gratefully accepted the warmth and safety of the temporary shelter at St. Peter's Church, the camaraderie of volunteers who played games, watched videos and chatted with the guests throughout the night, and the sustenance of food donated by our local restaurants and home baked treats brought in by volunteers.


And the unseasonably chill temperatures   led to a series of Code Blue nights on those first two weeks. In the 16 days between Christmas Eve and January 8th, there were 10 Code Blue nights, offering a total of 119 warm beds for folks who would otherwise be sleeping on the streets.  In today's Saratogian, Elizabeth Powers writes her moving account of a brief encounter with Nancy just days before her death... and the wonderful initiative that our community launched in response to this tragedy. Elizabeth concludes, "Miracles don't only happen on 34th Street."


I've worked for years with the Saratoga County Housing Committee to increase awareness and services for the homeless. We're regularly surprised that, despite our efforts, in a community that is so giving and compassionate,  many people don't realize there are homeless people in our county. Through Nancy's familiarity, her voice and her tragic death we are all aware of homelessness now... and working together to end it.









Saratoga’s Code Blue… Miracles happen just off Broadway in Saratoga Springs Too.

"Miracles don't only happen on 34th Street"
Nancy Pitts probably never imagined herself as a catalyst for community change. Indeed, while she was known and seen by many locally every day, it was through her tragic death that she rallied our community to open their hearts and take action to help the homeless. Nancy was a homeless woman who lived on the streets in a city that is know for wealth, tourism, community spirit  and citizens who give back to their community.


Nancy, who grew up locally, had once had a different life. She was married, a stay-at-home mom raising children (now grown)... until a series of life circumstances launched a downward spiral into  alcohol that ended with her dying on the streets of Saratoga in a frigid December night last month.


Nancy could be outspoken. In fact, just a month before her death I heard her speak at a Homelessness Awareness Week event  about how hard it is living on the street. She talked about people ignoring you and not even caring... and others who mock, harass, and assault the homeless. Her words reached an audience of about 40 participants at the event... an event held annually to increase awareness of homelessness in a community that finds it hard to believe that there are homeless persons in our city. Nancy's voice was  one of the most memorable that night, but it reached just 40 people. It was just a foreshadowing of her impact just one month later in bringing the plight of homeless into our consciousness.


When her body was found frozen behind the Senior Center, that message about hardship shifted from our heads to our hearts. The community immediately came together to launch a Code Blue shelter to afford a safe , warm place for the homeless on bitter winter nights. A meeting was held on Friday and the shelter was operational for  the next night where temperatures would fall to 10 degrees. Not only was this just 4 days later, it was also Christmas  Eve; yet people altered their plans to volunteer.  My son and I volunteered several days later, as 15 Code Blue guests gratefully accepted the warmth and safety of the temporary shelter at St. Peter's Church, the camaraderie of volunteers who played games, watched videos and chatted with the guests throughout the night, and the sustenance of food donated by our local restaurants and home baked treats brought in by volunteers.


And the unseasonably chill temperatures   led to a series of Code Blue nights on those first two weeks. In the 16 days between Christmas Eve and January 8th, there were 10 Code Blue nights, offering a total of 119 warm beds for folks who would otherwise be sleeping on the streets.  In today's Saratogian, Elizabeth Powers writes her moving account of a brief encounter with Nancy just days before her death... and the wonderful initiative that our community launched in response to this tragedy. Elizabeth concludes, "Miracles don't only happen on 34th Street."


I've worked for years with the Saratoga County Housing Committee to increase awareness and services for the homeless. We're regularly surprised that, despite our efforts, in a community that is so giving and compassionate,  many people don't realize there are homeless people in our county. Through Nancy's familiarity, her voice and her tragic death we are all aware of homelessness now... and working together to end it.









The Excitement of the Roaring 20’s is back in Saratoga

Reliving the Roaring 20's at the Saratoga Automobile Museum


Need to perk up from the mid-winter blues? Imagine this- tantalizing hors d’oeuvres, a full dinner buffet,  martini bar, craft beer bar, chocolate fountain.… and all-night dancing to live music by the Audiostars! And the excitement of the Roaring 20’s continues with gaming in the casino room and entertainment by Holly and Evan. That’s what you can expect at the 17th annual Bartenders' Ball on Saturday, February 8th from 6:30pm to midnight at the Saratoga Springs City Center.

Dress for fun and dancing as this year’s theme is the Roaring 20’s Gatsby Era. Year after year, the Bartenders’ Ball is still the best event in town! Come and find out who is Saratoga County’s best bartender as we announce the winners of the most Valuable Bartender Contest.

All proceeds support Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Services of Saratoga County’s emergency domestic violence shelter. Last year alone the shelter provided 2,612 bed nights of safe housing to domestic violence victims and their children fleeing abuse.

Tickets are just 60 dollars per person. The ball is always a sellout, so advance reservations only. Call 583-0280 for information and reservations.

Parents… Here’s the Cliff Notes on How Alcohol Affects your Teen’s Brain

We all know the risks of underage drinking: addiction, car crashes, unwanted sexual activity, risk taking. Some of these consequences apply to adult drinkers also.But we sometimes forget that alcohol affects developing bodies-- and developing brains-- very differently than adult ones.


Mike Nerney is a renowned expert on adolescent brain development. In this short video he packs in everything you need to know about why underage drinking  is such a concern (and also some tips to mitigate some of those risks.) At the 7 minute mark he gives parents 3 basic strategies to guide their teens safely around decisions about alcohol use.

Parents… Here’s the Cliff Notes on How Alcohol Affects your Teen’s Brain

We all know the risks of underage drinking: addiction, car crashes, unwanted sexual activity, risk taking. Some of these consequences apply to adult drinkers also.But we sometimes forget that alcohol affects developing bodies-- and developing brains-- very differently than adult ones.


Mike Nerney is a renowned expert on adolescent brain development. In this short video he packs in everything you need to know about why underage drinking  is such a concern (and also some tips to mitigate some of those risks.) At the 7 minute mark he gives parents 3 basic strategies to guide their teens safely around decisions about alcohol use.

The Real Face of Homelessness

This season resonates with what is perhaps the most well known story of homelessness...that of a child born in a manger who was to be the salvation for all our sins. In some ways this story glamorizes what it means to be on the streets. While Joseph and Mary were only temporarily without shelter as they traveled, I think we forget the pain, frustration and panic they must have felt. A pregnant woman traveling days upon  a donkey only to have nowhere safe indoors to give birth. Finally the only protection from the elements they could find was in a feeding stall amid animals. In desperation this is where their baby was born.

When we envision the manger scene we see a clean stall with gentle docile animals watching over the infant Jesus...with a guiding star illuminating the beatific parents and their small swaddled child...and three royal kings bringing precious gifts. In my mind I see a frightened young couple, shunned time and again by the community, trying to protect their baby and stay safe.

Thankfully for most of us homelessness is an abstract;. Trying to understand, we ask ourselves,  "What choices or misfortunes lead to homelessness. Why do some people actually choose homelessness when other option are available?  Seeking Solace in Homeless Shelters gives us a glimpse into this descent into homelessness and how for some people a shelter or even   living on the streets is actually a choice for safety.

The Real Face of Homelessness

This season resonates with what is perhaps the most well known story of homelessness...that of a child born in a manger who was to be the salvation for all our sins. In some ways this story glamorizes what it means to be on the streets. While Joseph and Mary were only temporarily without shelter as they traveled, I think we forget the pain, frustration and panic they must have felt. A pregnant woman traveling days upon  a donkey only to have nowhere safe indoors to give birth. Finally the only protection from the elements they could find was in a feeding stall amid animals. In desperation this is where their baby was born.

When we envision the manger scene we see a clean stall with gentle docile animals watching over the infant Jesus...with a guiding star illuminating the beatific parents and their small swaddled child...and three royal kings bringing precious gifts. In my mind I see a frightened young couple, shunned time and again by the community, trying to protect their baby and stay safe.

Thankfully for most of us homelessness is an abstract;. Trying to understand, we ask ourselves,  "What choices or misfortunes lead to homelessness. Why do some people actually choose homelessness when other option are available?  Seeking Solace in Homeless Shelters gives us a glimpse into this descent into homelessness and how for some people a shelter or even   living on the streets is actually a choice for safety.

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