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Open Door Mission receives $500,000 donation

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GLENS FALLS — After a chance meeting between a staff member at Open Door Mission and a friend at a race in Saratoga Springs, wheels started turning.

One thing led to another, and the Business for Good Foundation, based in Saratoga Springs, awarded the Glens-Falls based Open Door Mission with a $500,000 grant.

“It was kind of one of those things that just happened out of the blue,” said Kim Cook, president and CEO of the Open Door Mission.

It happened quickly.

Lisa Mitzen, co-founder of the Business for Good Foundation, set up a tour shortly after the race in Saratoga. Cook said she loved what the nonprofit was doing and wanted to bring her entire team back for a tour so they could see it for themselves.

“I knew they wanted to help. I didn’t know at what level,” Cook said.

Once Mitzen and her staff took a tour of the facility, they went outside. Cook thought they had left, but they came back inside and delivered the news.

“I thought they were gone,” Cook said. “They came back in and said, ‘we met out on the sidewalk and we want to give you $500,000.’”

Cook was stunned. She said that the funds offered by the foundation came at the perfect time.

They were starting to pull parts of the renovation project due to rising costs in the market, but thanks to the grant, Open Door was able to move forward.

“We got the Federal Home Loan Bank grant, and we were trying to figure out how do we do what we need to do with the prices higher. Everything is so much more expensive,” she said.

The renovation project in question has been going on for about five or six years, according to Cook. After purchasing the 40,000-square-foot building at 226 Warren St., the Open Door staff started planning.

About four years ago, they began working on phase one of the project. Since then, they have been able to add a food pantry, clothing pantry and rooms where they have put women’s beds for the time being.

This past spring, they were able to add a new dining room, Cook said.

Phase three of the renovation project, which is what the grant funds will be used for, will complete the new 52-bed men’s shelter on the third floor of the mission’s building.

There will be additional fundraising to raise money for work on the second floor, the exterior and the chapel.

“It made it so that we can actually go forward and get a reasonable amount done,” Cook said of the grant.

For nonprofits, September through December is considered “giving season,” according to Cook. She said that most nonprofits hope to bring in 50% to 60% of their contributions during that time period.

Cook wanted to make it clear that the grant awarded by the Business for Good Foundation can be used for the renovation project, but it doesn’t go toward things such as payroll for staff members.

“That $500,000 is for brick and mortar,” she said. “That’s all we can use it for. We still need to pay staff for Code Blue and for the kitchen and all of that.”

Cook said that Open Door Mission is always looking for donations. To donate, visit https://opendoor-ny.org/ways-to-give/. For more information about the Open Door Mission and its ongoing projects, call 518-792-5900 or send an email to admin@opendoor-ny.org.

Cook thanked the community and stressed that the shelter wouldn’t be where it is without its support. Eight years ago, the community didn’t realize Glens Falls had homeless people, she said, but since then it has supported the project.

“We’ve kind of had our heads down for a few years just developing all of that, and the fact that they (the Business for Good Foundation) came in and saw our new program and saw what we were doing and believed in us enough to give us a gift at that level, it meant so much to us,” she said. “We used to be that little soup kitchen on the corner and we’re not that anymore, and we’re not yet what we’re going to be.”

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