It all started with one of those throwaway statements we all make, where we voice what we really want but know is out of the realm of possibility. We laugh to show we’re just kidding, that we know this isn’t going to actually happen. But you know that old saying, ‘Be careful what you wish for?’ Sometimes… you actually get it.
Eileen GulbrandsenGlenn, president of the New Paltz Community Foundation (NPCF), tells the story of how the nearly two-year-long renovation project at Family of New Paltz on North Chestnut Street came to be. Family’s director, Kathy Cartagena, was invited to a meeting of the foundation board members because they wanted to do something for Family of New Paltz, and wanted Cartagena’s input.
“Initially, we thought, ‘school supplies,'” says GulbrandsenGlenn. The purpose of the foundation is to enhance the quality of life in the New Paltz region and support worthwhile endeavours within the community. Some of the projects they’ve taken on include seed funding for the New Paltz Farmer’s Market, a welding project at the middle school and donations for audio books at Elting Library.
“But when we said that, Kathy said, ‘Well… I have groups helping me with school supplies and that’s not really what I need.’ So we said, ‘Tell us what’s on your wish list. What do you need?’ She kind of laughed and said, ‘What I really need is a new building.'”
Foundation board member George Sifre, whose Seakill Custom Home Builders business is located across the street from Family of New Paltz, was sitting across the table from Cartagena at that meeting, GulbrandsenGlenn remembers. “And he said, ‘We could do that. That would be a great project we could work on.'”
After that, the project took off, eventually coming to fruition these two years later now, with the complete renovation of the interior and exterior of the Family of New Paltz building and the addition of a building in the back. The New Paltz Community Foundation held an open house at the site on Sunday, September 13 to thank the sponsors who made the renovation project possible. The names of all donors who contributed $500 or more are included on a plaque now displayed there.
The renovations ended up costing somewhere in the neighborhood of $200,000, says GulbrandsenGlenn, when you consider the value of all of the construction materials donated along with cash and in-kind volunteer services to actually do the work. The willingness of the New Paltz community to become involved in the project was “tremendous,” she says, with businesses, organizations and individuals all chipping in anywhere from “a couple of dollars to more than $10,000.”
Now Family of New Paltz has a fresh, bright and modern space, much more functional than it was in the past. The environment there will benefit not only the clients of Family of New Paltz, who utilize their services for a range of needs that include food, clothing and counseling, but the many volunteers who make it all happen and donate their time working on the premises.
A tour of the main building reveals that the work done was considerable. There is new flooring, lighting and shelving systems for storage throughout. New energy-efficient windows and up-to-date heating and air-conditioning systems have been installed, and the walls painted a soothing soft taupe color accented with ivory trim, a signature color scheme of sorts that Sifre uses for his high-end home-building clients, too, says GulbrandsenGlenn.
The front entryway was redone, new siding put on and a new roof installed. The old handicapped ramp outside that once led into the building has been replaced by fresh new decking. The separate building out back, dedicated the Andrew J. Babb Memorial Education & Learning Center (by the Babb family in memory of their son who committed suicide) contains donated computers and provides meeting space for community groups with vulnerabilities (i.e. suicide prevention or drug/alcohol counseling groups).
The list of community members whose donations made the renovation project possible is extensive. A complete list of names is on the New Paltz Community Foundation website at newpaltzfoundation.org, where a special thanks is given to Shea O’Brien’s manager, Garvan McCloskey, whose running in the 2014 Boston Marathon raised more than $12,000 for the project. Also named as donating more than $10,000 in funding, services or product are Ruth Lipman, Seakill Custom Home Builders and the Woodcrest Bruderhof community.
Sponsors that donated from $5,000 to $9,999 include the New Paltz Community Foundation, P&G’s Restaurant, Joseph and Olana O’Connor, Apuzzo Kitchens, Associated Abbey Carpet and Floors, Rich Rowley and Marianne Murray and Masseo Landscaping. Those who donated from $2,500 to $4,999 include The Kempner Corporation, Stewart Glenn and Eileen GulbrandsenGlenn, New Paltz Rotary (from cash donations), Douglas and Nancy McBride, the ProBuild Company and Stewart’s Shops.
The New Paltz Community Foundation was established in 1997. The group has resisted merging with larger community foundations, says GulbrandsenGlenn, because by remaining independent they’re able to “have jurisdiction over what we do; we can keep it small and keep it ‘us.'” The NPCF is a nonprofit 501 (c) 3 corporation set up to accept tax-exempt gifts.
And just because the renovations are done at Family of New Paltz doesn’t mean the newly refreshed building and grounds will not have to be maintained. Donations will continue to be welcomed.
Family of New Paltz is located at 51 North Chestnut St. More information is available on their Facebook page or by calling (845) 255-8801 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. (The program in New Paltz operates under the umbrella of the Family of Woodstock organization.)
Donations to support the New Paltz Community Foundation may be mailed to P.O. Box 1112 in New Paltz, 12561. More information is available by e-mailing email@example.com.