Mercy House of Saratoga, Inc., a new non-profit created to provide temporary residences for a wide range of people in need, has received a pledge of $25,000 from the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association (NYTHA) to support and dedicate accommodations for Race Course backstretch workers, it was announced by Gordon Boyd, President of Mercy House.
Representatives of NYTHA, Mercy House and the Backstretch Employee Service Team (BEST) gathered Wednesday at the future site of Mercy House to announce and commemorate NYTHA's pledge.
The funds will be put toward the construction of a 6,000 square-foot suite of rooms to serve backstretch workers from Saratoga Race Course, within a four-story, 30,000 square-foot building to be built on Washington Street by Bethesda Episcopal Church. In addition to Mercy House, the new building will serve as the parish house for Bethesda.
The suite will be dedicated to the late Rick Violette, longtime president of NYTHA and a tireless advocate for the Backstretch Employee Service Team (BEST). BEST will provide recovery and counseling services to the backstretch workers accommodated in Mercy House. Violette, a successful thoroughbred trainer who celebrated a win with Diversify in last year's Whitney Stakes at Saratoga, passed away in October 2018 after a lengthy battle with lung cancer.
“NYTHA is pleased to support Mercy House's development of accommodations for backstretch workers who are being helped by BEST for counseling, recovery and recuperation,” said Joe Appelbaum, president of the NYTHA Board. “We believe that Mercy House will help further BEST's mission, which is to meet the health and social welfare needs of the backstretch workers at Saratoga Race Course through alcohol or substance use counseling and other assistance.” See https://nytha.com/ for more about NYTHA.
Paul Ruchames, the executive director of BEST, also expressed strong support for Mercy House. “Our partnership with Mercy House is a big win for our workers and another example of the commitment of the Saratoga County community to help track workers,” Ruchames said. “The importance of a caring community to the healing process cannot be overstated.” See www.bestbackstretch.org/ for more about BEST.
Mercy House was established last year by Bethesda to provide and manage a new housing resource for people in need of shelter or supportive housing. In addition to BEST, Mercy House is partnering with agencies that serve victims of domestic violence and their children, homeless military veterans including women with children, and people living with mental health and substance use disabilities.
These Mercy House partner agencies include BEST, Transitional Services Association, Veterans and Community Housing Coalition, and Wellspring (domestic violence). The agencies will identify and refer individuals and families — people already in the Saratoga community who are homeless or at risk of becoming so. A fifth organization, In Our Name, will offer a “pay as you are able” café for guests and the community, a center for discussion and discovery, employment readiness and other amenities.
See https://mercyhousesaratoga.org/ for more about Mercy House.
“We are grateful for NYTHA's generous support, and this will be a fitting memorial to Rick Violette's example and leadership on behalf of the workforce,” said Gordon Boyd, president of the Mercy House Board of Directors. “Serving BEST's clients at our location, just off Broadway in downtown Saratoga, will mean a place for workers to recover and eventually resume their jobs, in a safe, clean and focused environment.”
Darren Miller, Senior Warden of Bethesda, added, “providing accommodations for workers from the Saratoga Race Course who need recuperation or recovery is central to Bethesda's religious mission of caring for people in need, as scripture instructs us to do.” See www.bethesdachurch.org for more about Bethesda.
Construction of the $9 million building, at 26-28 Washington Street, is expected to begin in the coming year.
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