April 08, 2020 Healthy Living

Seven Ways to Support Your Upstate New York Community during the Coronavirus Outbreak

The impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is being felt throughout the communities where we live and work. Many of us are feeling powerless and isolated in its wake. One of the best ways to overcome those feelings is to find a way to make a difference in your community. Here are some general suggestions to get you started, along with a list of community organizations in need of help.

Help those at highest risk of disease who should be sheltering at home

Older adults, those with chronic conditions or disability, and people with compromised immune systems are at increased risk of getting seriously ill from coronavirus and should avoid public settings. They still need food and necessary medicines, though, as well as social interaction. Before you venture out to the grocery store or pharmacy, or place your online food delivery order, reach out to see if they have any immediate needs for food or medicines. If they’re feeling lonely, make it a point to call, text, email, or video chat with them, or arrange a time when you might visit them – at a safe distance, and preferably, staying outside.

Contribute to your local food bank or food pantry

Food insecurity is a significant concern as schools, which often serve as a food lifeline for students in need, are closed, and many families are struggling due to the loss of a job or reduced hours as a result of coronavirus.

Give blood

There is an urgent need for blood donations, so if you’re healthy, and especially if you’re young, the U.S. Surgeon General is urging you to give blood. Blood centers have instituted extra safety measures and are observing social distancing guidelines to help ensure your safety.

Donate to “safety net” organizations

People with limited means, diminished mental or physical capacity, or those who do not have health insurance must feel especially vulnerable during this COVID-19 crisis. Consider donating funds to the local organizations that exist to serve this population.

Help provide personal protective equipment for health care workers

Masks, face shields, disposable gowns/shoe covers, and ventilators are in extremely short supply, and health care workers are deeply concerned about contracting the virus or exposing their families to it. Do you have any of these items at your home or business that you could donate? If so, contact your local hospital to see if they are accepting donations, or consult this webpage. New York State has created a listing of products and services that can support the statewide response.

Support your local businesses

Because of government directives aimed at reducing the risk of exposure to coronavirus, many businesses deemed “nonessential” have had to close. Others, like restaurants, have had to limit their offerings to take-out meals (for “no-contact” delivery or pick-up). Consider ordering take-out or purchasing gift cards that can be used when they are permitted to reopen.

Support your local animal shelters

This may be an opportune time to adopt or foster an animal, not only to help reduce the increased strain on animal shelters and rescue organizations, but to alleviate your own feelings of loneliness during this difficult time. Shelters are experiencing increased demand to care for pets as their owners are fighting illness or hospitalized. Likewise, as people shelter in place, donations of food and supplies may be dwindling. Check with your local shelter or rescue organization to see how you can support them during this crisis.

CDPHP has compiled the following list of organizations that directly support children, adults, families, and animals throughout upstate New York. Links are provided with information about immediate needs and services provided during the coronavirus crisis.

This is only a partial list of nonprofit organizations that are offering services or in need at this difficult time. If you are part of an organization with an urgent need, or are looking to spread the word about the services you are currently providing, please contact us with your organization’s name, location, your immediate need, and a link to your organization’s website.

Organization Name Location Need
A Block at a Time (ABAAT) Albany ABAAT is helping older adults 60+ years of age and other at-risk residents in the Albany area who may not be able to go out for essential items, such as food, toiletries, medicine, and pet needs, because of risk of exposure to COVID-19.

Persons in need of assistance can email ABAAT or leave a message at (518) 227-0012, and a volunteer will contact you as soon as possible. Please include your name and phone number in all emails and phone messages.

Helpers: Please visit abaat.org/covid19/helper to fill out the HELPER form and the organization will respond by email within 48 hours with additional information.
Addictions Care Center of Albany (ACCA) Capital Region ACCA touches the lives of more than 10,000 people each year, providing programs and services for those impacted by addiction.

Donations can be made through the ACCA’s website.
Adirondack Foundation Northern NY Adirondack Foundation’s Special and Urgent Needs Fund (SUN) was established to assist Adirondack communities during times of crisis. This fund is mobilizing resources specifically in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Albany Damien Center Capital Region The Albany Damien Center provides programs, services, and resources for individuals and families living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. The center’s operations are continuing at this time with adjustments.

Donations are being accepted to the Albany Damien Center’s COVID-19 Response Fund.
American Red Cross Eastern NY The Red Cross has a critical need nationwide for blood donations during the pandemic. Financial support is also needed; donations can be made through the Red Cross website.
Boys and Girls Clubs of the Capital Area Albany, Rensselaer counties The Boys and Girls Club is offering free breakfast and lunch to youth 18 and under at locations in Albany and Troy. Donations can be made through the Boys and Girls Club website.
Capital District YMCA Capital Region The Capital District YMCA is providing emergency childcare services for first responders and medical professionals. The organization is seeking financial support for these efforts.
Capital Roots Capital Region Capital Roots’ essential food access services, including their Urban Grow Center and mobile markets, are still operational, with appropriate infection-control safeguards, during the coronavirus crisis. The organization provides community residents with healthy and affordable food while supporting local farmers and food businesses. To support these efforts, visit the Capital Roots website.
Catholic Charities Capital Region, Mohawk Valley Catholic Charities continues to offer critical services to those most in need across its service area. Donations can be made at the Catholic Charities website.
City Mission Schenectady The City Mission has compiled a wish list to support nearly 100 men, women, and children living at the mission. The organization is also accepting monetary donations.
Colonie Senior Services (CSSC) Capital Region Due to concerns regarding COVID-19, CSSC programs, classes, and gatherings are closed or cancelled.

In response to the pandemic, CSSC has been delivering “Grab & Go” meals seven (7) days a week to seniors 60 years of age and older throughout the community.

Additionally they are making thousands of telephone reassurance phone calls to seniors, as well as hundreds of grocery and pharmacy runs

To inquire about how you can help Colonie Senior Services, call (518) 459-2857.
Comfort Food Community Washington County Comfort Food Community is continuing to operate their food pantries, student weekend food program, and fresh food collective. Monetary donations are being accepted, and information is available regarding donations of food.
Commission on Economic Opportunity (CEO) Troy CEO provides services and support that help to lift Capital Region residents out of poverty. The organization’s community sites are closed, but food pantry and WIC programs are operating with limited hours. Online donations can be made through the CEO website.
Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region Capital Region Donations are being accepted to the Capital Region Community COVID-19 Response Fund, which is supporting nonprofits that serve disproportionately affected and at-risk communities.
Concerned for the Hungry Schenectady County Run entirely by volunteers, this organization works to fight hunger in Schenectady County through direct food program services. The organization's needs current are listed on their donation page.
Equinox Capital Region Equinox assists adults and youth with chemical dependency, victims of domestic violence, adults, youth, and families living with mental illness, and homeless youth. The organization has modified its services in response to COVID-19, but there are still a variety of ways to give.

Note: If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse or needs to leave an unsafe home, programs and resources are available across New York State.
Family and Child Service of Schenectady Capital Region Family and Child Service provides employment, family support, and senior services for more than 500 clients throughout seven counties. Financial support for these programs and services is welcome.
Family Promise of the Capital Region Capital Region FPCR has adjusted its model of care during the COVID-19 crisis and is currently serving two homeless families who are sheltering in place at the Day Center. Additionally, they are helping 16 families who are either at risk of losing their homes because of job loss/illness or in great need of support during this challenging time. Your donation will make a big difference.
Feed Albany Capital Region Feed Albany is repurposing commercial kitchens in the greater Capital Region by using the spaces to produce and package food that can be distributed by volunteers to at-risk and in-need individuals. Donations are welcome.
Food Pantries for the Capital District Capital Region The Food Pantries are a coalition of more than 65 food pantries in Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga, and Schenectady counties. Currently, the organization has the following needs:

- Monetary donations

- Donations of food, personal hygiene, household products, and diapers to your neighborhood pantries. Find your neighborhood pantry and call ahead so that your local pantry can inform you of their specific needs.

- Volunteers. Individuals can submit a volunteer application.

- Corporations, organizations, or other groups looking to lend a hand can call Kathy Marco at (518) 458-1167, ext. 104.
Fulmont Community Action Agency Fulmont and Montgomery Counties Fulmont Community Action Agency provides services and programs for the socially and economically disadvantaged in their two-county area. Donations by check can be mailed to: Fulmont Community Action Agency, Inc., PO Box 835, Fonda, NY 12068.
HATAS (Feed & Read) Capital Region HATAS works to combat, reduce, and prevent homelessness across the Capital Region and operates programs such as Feed and Read, which supplies food and support to children in need. To support these programs, visit the HATAS website.
Hope 7 Troy Hope 7 provides life-essential services, resources, and programming for the community, particular for those in need.

Currently, they are accepting monetary and food donations to help them continue to operate their food pantry and youth programs.
LifePath (formerly Senior Services of Albany) Albany County LifePath has closed dining and adult day programs as well as senior centers. The organization continues to contact seniors in the community, assist with immediate needs, and link them to programs, such as Meals on Wheels. Donations are welcome.
Meals on Wheels Nationwide Meals on Wheels America supports more than 5,000 community-based programs across the country that are dedicated to addressing senior isolation and hunger.

The organization is grappling with dual challenges during the COVID-19 crisis: an influx of older adults who are self-isolating due to the outbreak and far fewer helping hands, since the bulk of their volunteers are 55 years of age and older, so are themselves at risk for the virus. Find a local program in your community and reach out to see how you can help.
Mohawk Hudson Humane Society and other Animal Welfare Organizations Capital Region and beyond Mohawk Hudson Humane Society continues to operate, but with a number of changes.

Their biggest need is for monetary donations. For donated items, no used items can be accepted. New items should be donated through a delivery service (Chewy.com or Amazon).

You can view the organization’s wish list at their website, or find your local animal welfare organization here.
National Alliance on Mental Illness – New York State (NAMI-NYS) New York State NAMI-NYS is offering a number of mental health resources during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can support their efforts by making a donation through the NAMI-NYS website.
Open Door Mission Glens Falls The Open Door Mission provides support for homeless and low-income individuals in the Glens Falls area. The organization has urgent needs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to wish list donations, you can also offer monetary support.
The Red Bookshelf Albany The RED Bookshelf provides access to free books for children in Albany. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization has suspended all collections and community engagement, but will be continuing operations in the near future.
Regional Food Bank of NENY Regional The Regional Food Bank is accepting monetary donations to support specific efforts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Select COVID-19 Response/Disaster Relief in the dropdown menu.)
Ronald McDonald House of the Capital Region (RMHC-CR) Albany RMHC-CR has had to curtail many of its programs, suspend its volunteer program (including its daily meal partner program), and cancel several major fundraisers in the wake of COVID-19. Help is needed to continue to serve and care for seriously ill children and families during this challenging time. You can support the organization by making a donation or dropping off items on our wish list. If your child’s school participates in the Read for Ronald McDonald House program, encourage them to keep reading. Visit rmhcofalbany.org to learn more.
Salvation Army Upstate NY The Salvation Army is accepting online donations to support at-risk children, struggling families, vulnerable adults, and neighbors impacted by disaster.
Saratoga EOC Saratoga County You can help to support the Saratoga EOC food pantry through their current online fundraising campaign.
Schenectady Inner City Ministry (SiCM) Schenectady SiCM is a partnership of 50 congregations for ministries of social service and social justice serving thousands of high-need individuals per year. Donations of food and personal care items, as well as financial support, are welcome. Learn how you can help.
St. Catherine’s Center for Children Albany, multiple counties St. Catherine’s offers services, treatment, and education for children and families across the region. To support their programs, consider a financial donation.
Things of My Very Own Schenectady Things of My Very Own provides crisis intervention services to children impacted by extensive abuse and/or neglect. Services are also available to children who are, solely due to the lack of items necessary for sustainability, at risk of a Child Protective Services intervention.

In addition to their regular services, the organization is also providing emergency services to children 17-and-under who are affected by quarantines, precautionary quarantines, and those who are deemed high-risk due to other COVID-19 related concerns. The organization is accepting monetary donations and has an urgent need for certain supplies.
Trinity Alliance Albany Trinity Alliance provides a number of services to families, adults, and children in need in the Capital Region. Currently, the organization has a specific request for donations of face masks, but financial donations are also welcome.
United Way of the Greater Capital Region Capital Region Donate to the United Way’s Capital Region Community COVID-19 Response Fund, which is supporting nonprofits who serve disproportionately affected and at-risk communities.
Unity House Troy Unity House continues to provide food, housing, and clothing resources during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can make a donation online, or email them about volunteer opportunities.

The organization is also accepting the following items: gift cards; non-perishables for the organization’s pantry, and personal care items.
Veterans & Community Housing Coalition Ballston Spa, Regional Veterans & Community Housing Coalition provides housing and support services to all homeless military veterans and their families.
YWCA of Northeastern NY Schenectady The YWCA continues to provide critical services during the COVID-19 pandemic

You can support their efforts by making an online donation.

*This blog was co-written by Gregory Fry and Adele O’Connell.

Greg joined CDPHP® in February 2018 as a communications specialist. Originally from Philadelphia, Greg moved to upstate New York in 2007, and married his wife, Julia, in 2013. For 12 years, Greg worked in radio and print journalism roles, and has received multiple state and regional broadcasting awards for his role as an on-air anchor, and for his coverage of breaking news. Greg also brings a background in working with nonprofit organizations, having served in various marketing and fundraising roles in the Finger Lakes.

Adele O'Connell
About Author

Adele joined CDPHP in 2004 as an internal communications and event specialist. She then spent eight years coordinating the company’s community relations and corporate events program, in which capacity she worked with a host of non-profit organizations and co-chaired the CDPHP annual Charity of Choice campaign. Currently, she is a communications specialist and coordinator of corporate member engagement and serves on the boards of two local charities. Prior to CDPHP, Adele served as a legislative assistant for a trade association and as an acquisitions and developmental editor, specializing in educational and medical publishing. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Rosemont College.

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