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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, June 5, 2008

Caregivers will move to Route 20 office

By Zach Simeone

GUILDERLAND Community Caregivers is preparing for a change in scenery, and will be relocating by the end of the month.

The not-for-profit agency, whose volunteers aid the elderly, the chronically ill, and single and teen parents, will be moving from Altamont to Route 20 in Guilderland.

“We’ve been growing a lot over the past 18 months,” said Executive Director Diane Cameron. “We grew into Bethlehem about two years ago and began serving New Scotland. Now, our volunteers come from all over, so we wanted to be more centrally located.”

Most of Community Caregivers’ clients are elderly, so its volunteers provide services like light housekeeping, and rides to medical appointments.

After setting up shop in the basement of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Altamont in 1994, and then moving to Fountain View Senior Assisted Living Center in Guilderland, Caregivers moved into its current home at the former Helderberg Bible Chapel on Gun Club Road in February of 2006. All of these locations were rent-free.

Now, in its 15th year, and with more than 560 volunteers, Community Caregivers is planning its fourth move to 2113 Western Avenue.

The space at Gun Club Road, dubbed the Community Care Center, was donated to Caregivers by local developer Jeff Thomas, who received a letter from Cameron on June 1 informing him of Caregivers’ plan to move.

“I’m happy that church was part of their growth, and I was happy to be part of that with them,” said Thomas. “They’re a great organization, and I’ll be helping them out as much as I can.”

While Caregivers operates out of the chapel rent-free, this will not be the case in their new space. “I think rent will be about $7,000,” Cameron said. She thinks that there are several factors that make it well worth it.

One is the agency’s education and training program. “It was on and off until about a year ago, and we’ve been doing it steadily ever since,” Cameron said of the program. “We decided that this is really important for both client families and caregivers. We’re helping caregivers learn about the state of health care, and we even have yoga classes for our caregivers.” This, in conjunction with Caregivers’ ever-expanding coverage area, is good reason to relocate, she said.

“We now serve all of Guilderland, all of Bethlehem, Slingerlands, New Scotland, we reach into the Hilltowns, and also the Carman Road area. They have a Schenectady address, but they’re actually in the town of Guilderland,” she said. “If we can make it more central, we can cover all these places better.”

The centralized location will also be more convenient when Caregivers starts to bring in more volunteers from these new coverage areas to help with office work, Cameron said.

Additionally, Cameron said that the need for caregivers is growing fast. “In the next five years, there’s going to be a quadrupling of the number of people over 60 in the area, and we think we’re going to need more services, more volunteers, and more trainers,” she said. “Plus, the small difference between the new location and current location will make a big difference in gas, since we’ll be that much closer to everyone we serve. This is huge if you think about gas prices and our economy.”

As the organization expands, Cameron said, it continues to receive support for its efforts. “We received a grant of $15,000 from the Women’s Fund for a collaboration we’re doing with Jewish Family Services and Catholic Charities,” she said.

“The other wonderful thing is that it’s the headquarters for the Foundation of New York State Nurses,” said Cameron of the building that will house the new office. “They really support caregivers and nurses that have retired, so there’s a wonderful compatibility of mission between us and them.” She anticipates the two organizations will work well together to benefit the community.

As for the future of the space when Caregivers moves out, Thomas is unsure. “I renovated the building to serve the community, and hopefully it will continue to do so,” he said. “Another organization has expressed need of office space, so I’ll be interviewing them.” Thomas declined to name the organization.

“Any other not-for-profit organizations who express interest will be potential candidates for the space,” Thomas continued. “There’s a large gathering room, too, so maybe the town or village will use it for gatherings,” he said.

“The Caregivers used the church well,” Thomas concluded. “I’d like the building to continue to serve the community, as they did.”

As of right now, the actual date of relocation is unknown. “I hope to have the exact moving date soon,” Cameron said. “We’re looking forward to the move. I think it will only benefit everyone.”

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