In Hilltown resource center, taking makes way for giving 

Hilltowns Community Resource Center

The Enterprise — Michael Koff
Winifred Seymour, left, stands with program assistant Brenda Burke at the Hilltowns Community Resource Center, surrounded by donated food and goods.

HILLTOWNS — Winnifred Seymour knows that to be in need does not mean there is nothing to be given in turn. 

Before the coronavirus became a pandemic and forced the Hilltowns Community Resource Center to operate on an as-needed basis for faster turnaround, Seymour came once a month to the Westerlo church where the organization is based and, observing a piece of paper that let her know how many items from each shelf she was allowed to take, fed herself and her husband using the charity of people who had more than the Seymours did. 

“We first came [to the resource center] last August,” said Seymour, who is 63. After the couple “fell on some hard times due to family health issues,” she said, a friend guided Seymour to the resource center.

Seymour, who grew up in Albany, first used a food pantry when she was a young single mother, raising three kids.

Now she lives with her husband, William Lovelace, 67, in Greenville. Lovelace had worked as a groundskeeper for the Catholic Diocese before retiring a few years ago.

Seymour does not work and the couple subsists on a fixed income. Seymour said that Lovelace is “unhealthy” and suffers from emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. 

The couple was introduced to the resource center in Westerlo by a friend of theirs, a gesture and opportunity that Seymour said was “a blessing — a true blessing.”

To return the favor, Seymour offered back what she could: her time. 

Just as Seymour is a client who has become a volunteer, many former donors to the resource center have, with coronavirus shutdowns, become clients as need has increased by 75 percent, according to Mary Beth Peterson who runs the center.

“I volunteered because, without the help of the pantry, people like us would be having a hard time,” Seymour said. “They’re here for you 24/7.”

The resource center is supported by Catholic Charities.

Seymour said that some clients have been coming to the center regularly for 15 years.

“I’m making friends,” she said. “The tightness of the people who work here, not just clients, is amazing.”

Volunteering for the center means sorting donations, making deliveries, reaching out to the community, and whatever else the resource center — and the community — needs. 

“I think more than anything, the seniors are the ones who have trouble asking for help,” Seymour said. “And that’s why we do outreach.”

“As a client, I understand how they feel,” Seymour said of those who struggle to ask for help more generally. “I try to explain to them, ‘You’re just as normal as I am.’ Everyone needs help sometimes.” 

Addendum

Seymour adds, “We’re there for anyone, anywhere, even out of the county, especially during this time of crisis. We’re delivering to anyone who can’t make it to the resource center. All you have to do is call. We are there; we understand.” The phone number for the Hilltowns Community Resource Center is 518-966-7380.

 

More Hilltowns News

  • Westerlo Supervisor William Bichteman laid out a worst-case-scenario fiscal plan Tuesday that would see the 2021 tax levy increase anywhere from 10- to 15-percent. Bichteman stressed that the scenario was projected using “best-guess” budgeting based on a lack of information regarding sales-tax revenue from higher levels of government and that the probabilities are almost entirely unknown, but that he wants to start having the conversation before it’s too late.

  • Although the coronavirus has created a lapse in funding for Westerlo’s Comprehensive Plan Committee, Supervisor William Bichteman said that budget transfers will ensure that the $5,000 lost in grant money after the state retracted its offer will get to the committee, which will begin to hold meetings with the public next month, one way or another. 

  • In the midst of questions and controversies surrounding the Berne Planning Board in the past four months, Councilman Mathew Harris says it may not exist in the first place.

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