Monday, December 17, 2012

With Heartfelt Thanks

We are enormously grateful to the countless neighborhood residents, government officials and individual and corporate donors who so generously gave of their time and resources this past year. 2012 marked our 44th year of facilitating community development in Troy and Rensselaer County. As in every prior year the credit truly goes to the community. We are impressed and humbled by the trust you have put in us and we look forward to working with each of you in a busy and impactful 2013. Our best to you and your families.

Thanks to our 2012 Donors!

Wallace and Jane Altes, Eric Anderson and Caroline Lee, Anonymous, William Aram, Bank of America, Judith A. Barnes, Diane Bell, Berkshire Bank, Jeanne Bodin, Joseph Boland, Alice Boos, Chris Burke, Capital Bank, Nancy Carroll, Choice Heating and Cooling, Gerald and Marjorie Christiano, Joyce and John Chupka, Citizens Bank, CKYoung, Commission on Economic Opportunity, Community Loan Fund of the Capital Region, Jim and Phyllis Conroy, Andrea Daley, Michael and Rebecca Danforth, DeFazio Imports, Garrett and Shellie Degraff, Geri deSeve, Robert Doherty, Jane Ducatt, Doug Dylla, Lorraine and Jeff English, Carl Erickson, Michael Esposito, Joe and Barbara Fama, First Niagara Bank, First United Presbyterian Church, Joseph and Claudia Fleming, John and Ella Gallagher, Bob Gamble, Marie Gavazzi, Honorable Peter Grimm, David and Katie Haviland, Barbara and Gary Higbee, Hilton Garden Inn Troy & Rensselaer Banquet and Conference Facility, Bill Hope, Hudson Valley Community College Foundation, Rev. David and Mozella Irving, Island View Associates, Honorable Kathy Jimino, E. Stewart Jones Jr., Kaleel Jamison Consulting Group, Marcia & John Keefe, Key Foundation, Lynn Kopka, Hilary Lamishaw, Bernice Ledeboer, Legal Aid Society of Northeastern NY, Leo's Overhead Door, Lomonaco & Pitts Architects, Bob and Janet MacLasco, John Madden Jr., Patrick Madden, Joseph Mangione, Martin Law Firm, Morris and Esther Massry, Kim Mazor, Honorable John McDonald III, Honorable Steve McLoughlin, Thomas McGuire, Honorable Ellen McNulty, Honorable Mike McNulty, Heinrich Medicus, Fredda Merzon, Paul Miyomoto, R. Mihran and Ovsanna Mooradian, M&T Bank, Steve and Mary Muller, NE Health Foundation, Christine Nealon, Barb Nelson, Nigro Companies, Kevin and Pat O'Bryan, Tim O'Byrne, Omni Housing Development LLC, Chet and Karen Opalka, O'Rourke Home Remodeling, Jane Otto, John Pattision, Mark Pattison, Gary Pavlic, Pfeil Hardware, Pioneer Bank, Sandra Reizen, Rensselaer County Regional Chamber of Commerce, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute,  Paul and Barbara Richer, Honorable Lou Rosamilia, Dominic Rotondi, Michael Rynasko and Sue Troll, Dr. Susan Scrimshaw, SEFCU, Christopher Shaw and Bridget Ball Shaw, Patricia Shevy, Ericka Small, Stewarts Shops, Dr. Mary Theresa Streck, Sunmark FCU, Honorable Paul Tonko, Turner Construction Company, Mary Urban, Tina Urzan, Frank Visco, Betsy Voss, and Wojeski and Co.

TRIP depends upon charitable contributions to support its work in community revitalization, affordable housing, and resident leadership development. Thank you for your role in revitalizing Troy and its neighborhoods. TRIP is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.

Please make checks payable to:
Troy Rehabilitation and Improvement Program, Inc. or TRIP 
Mail to:
415 River Street
Troy, NY  12180

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Green Organization Desigination Award

Tuesday, at an awards ceremony in DC, I had the privilege of accepting TRIP’s Green Organization Designation Award from NeighborWorks America.  We are one of just 16 groups nationwide chosen to receive this designation.

I was both proud and humbled to be able to accept this award for TRIP.  Proud because we are again at the lead of an important national initiative and humbled because the credit for getting us to this point lies entirely with our Green Team.  This effort was not based on a directive from me or the Board.  Rather, it arose from the interest and passions of the staff.  It was the work of a core group of staff members who formed the Green Team, embraced the initiative, set and met deadlines, and successfully made application for this designation - and in the process increased our green awareness and changed the way we do business.  This is not my observation alone.  A number of people from NWA in DC who have a hand in this sought me out yesterday to tell me how wonderful it was to work with our team.

So congratulations Green Team.  Job exceedingly well done.

Patrick Madden
Executive Director
Troy Rehabilitation and Improvement Program

Please click here to learn more about NWA's Green Organization Program:

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Faces at TRIP

Danielle Wattsman

If you have called the TRIP NeighborWorks HomeOwnership Center in the last five years, chances are good that you’ve talked with Danielle Wattsman.  As our Programs Administrator, Danielle manages our homeownership program offerings and grants.  She also gets to use her information systems skills as TRIP’s primary web administrator. 

When she’s not at TRIP’s HOC, Danielle enjoys spending time with her family and playing softball.  Her time on the field is spent as a member of the Troy Co-Ed Softball League.

In the coming year, Danielle hopes to further incorporate technology into daily activities at TRIP & RCHR and promote our need for continued rehab funding.  Quality programming is the corner-stone of the TRIP NeighborWorks HomeOwnership Center and the more we spread the word about our services, the greater impact TRIP & RCHR can have.

TRIP and Friends Celebrate Honorees

A great evening was enjoyed on December 3rd at TRIP & RCHR’s Annual Homecoming Dinner to recognize the achievements of – and thank -- two remarkable men.  The Honorable Ron Canestrari, who is retiring from the NYS Assembly, received the TRIP & RCHR 2012 Community Citizenship Award.  His decades of leadership and support of the Capital Region, first as Mayor of Cohoes and then as state assemblymember and Majority Leader, makes him so deserving of this award.  While we will miss him in the Capitol, we wish him a wonderful and well-earned retirement! 

Long-time Troy resident Mike Esposito received TRIP’s “Troy Treasure” award for his many years of volunteering as local historian for Troy and as an active leader of Little Italy’s events and activities.  He also is greatly appreciated for being the most prolific author of TRIP’s “Troy Treasure” columns published in The Record bi-monthly.  Mike is truly a Troy treasure. 

The evening’s Master of Ceremonies was Green Island Mayor Ellen McNulty-Ryan, who demonstrated a comedic ability that kept the audience laughing, even while she gently poked at big brother and former congressman Mike McNulty, who introduced Ron Canestrari.   It was a great evening made special by the two honorees and the many people who came out to recognize them and to support TRIP & RCHR.  

Farewell and Good Luck to TRIP VISTAs Claire Pitts and Mary Rynasko

We were so sad to say goodbye to Claire and Mary who have been stupendous VISTA volunteers at TRIP for the past year.  Their one year of service ended in November when they both moved on to other things.   Mary has moved to NYC (Queens) where she is currently interning at an arts gallery on the Lower East Side called Lu Magnus ( and looking for paid employment as well.  Claire has remained with her family in Troy temporarily and is doing retail work until she moves to Philadelphia in the near future. 

Many of you met Claire at various neighborhood meetings and community events in her role as TRIP’s community outreach worker.  She was an enthusiastic cheerleader among groups even while keeping them focused on the tasks at hand.   Mary was TRIP’s Program Support Worker where her organizational skills were welcomed and put to use streamlining systems and orchestrating progress on various projects.    They both had strong arts backgrounds and so were key in shepherding School 2’s “Paint the Boards” project with sixth graders. 
(See for terrific photos from this project).  Their graphics and social media skills will be long remembered through their artistic legacy at TRIP:  they created many of our photoboards, HomeOwnership Center palmcards, TRIP banner, revised TNAC brochure, TroyTalk editions, Facebook and website postings, and more. 

More than that, they both brought great spirits into the office every day.  We appreciate and miss their interest in and support of TRIP’s work, their ability to take on any job thrown at them and do it with good cheer, their collaboration in helping out any staff member and customer, and their fresh eyes and recommendations for improvements.  They made TRIP better every day and we will miss them for that.  We wish them well and know that these two terrific young women will go far in life. 

A New Look for 69 Middleburgh St.

Thanks to all who came to TRIP’s Open House at 69 Middleburgh on December 5th.  We were proud to  display our newly rehabbed 3-unit property at 69 Middleburgh Street in Troy.  The building was completely gutted and rebuilt through our partnership with the City of Troy, TAP and FH Alexander General Contractors.
The 19th Century row home was upgraded to the standards of the 21st century and designed to meet the needs of today’s market with larger bedrooms, new kitchens and bathrooms.  The entire property is now energy efficient with high efficient heating and water (on demand) systems.  Additionally, all the appliances and windows are ENERGY STAR products.

Formerly, the property was a source of neighborhood complaints for years.  When funding became available to rehabilitate a building, we approached the owner requesting to purchase it.  We bought it in  September 2011 and renovated the entire building to make it more appealing to today’s market.  Funding was through the federal HOME program which the City administers.  As with all of its rental properties, TRIP will pay property taxes.

All three units have been rented as of January 1st.   “I never thought I’d be able to afford to get in to a place that was made just for me,” said new tenant Mary Hill, who once lived next door and moved away due to problems at 69 Middleburgh.   The new tenants met standard income eligible requirements and will be paying $624 plus utilities for the one bedroom unit or $732 plus utilities for the two bedroom units.  The energy efficient design will minimize utility costs.

“Our goal is to create areas where people want to stay,” said TRIP Executive Director Patrick Madden.  “We want people to live here because they like it here, not because it’s the only thing they can afford.  That’s the environment we want to create, not only for our tenants but for the block as well.”

If I was born in 1989 am I an adult yet?

An AmeriCorps*VISTA reflects on her year of service.
By Mary Rynasko

Serving with AmeriCorps*VISTA was not something I knew I wanted to do until it happened.  After graduating college in May of 2011, I began my summer pretending that nothing had changed.  I knew I wasn’t going back to school, but I also wasn’t ready to openly admit that I had no idea what I was “doing with my life”.  After indulging myself with trips to Chicago and Maine, I returned home to the daunting task of résumé writing and job applications.  Anyone who has looked for a job in the past decade will tell you how frustrating it can be to spend the time writing cover letters and hearing no reply.  However, I’ve learned that if you talk to enough of your parents’ friends and friends’ parents, someone will email you a job listing that a potential employer will actually read.

After interviewing at Troy Rehabilitation and Improvement Program (TRIP), Inc. and thinking over the big life questions, I decided that AmeriCorps*VISTA was what I wanted to do for the next year of my life. 

Friends and family would probably agree that since about seventh grade I’ve been a bit of a sofa-social-commentator.  I see the problems in the world around me, but as a white, upper-middle class, college graduate, my personal experiences have been primarily those of privilege.  Working at TRIP, and serving the Troy communities, has informed my actions more than The Daily Show ever could have. 

Additionally, my time serving with AmeriCorps*VISTA has improved my professional interaction skills dramatically.  I can no longer hide under the label of “student”; every choice I make has to be done as a professional person representing a local non-profit and also a national tradition of service.

It would be wonderful if I could leave TRIP calling my year “a success”, but really success is a false ideal.  If a person does manage to achieve a true sense of success, they stop trying.  Therefore, the best people are those who tell themselves “Okay, great job!  The project went well!  Next time do it better.”  My year spent envisioning and executing projects to inspire community building has reaffirmed that a feeling of accomplishment is better than one of success.  Departing from TRIP will be another marker in my life, just as beginning here was, but I look forward to continuing to “do good” and I hope that I will always strive to “do good” better.