MECHANICVILLE, N.Y. — The Mechanicville Area Community Services Center last week held a business luncheon with the city’s largest employers.

The event highlighted its place in the community, celebrated its 50th anniversary, and seek their corporate financial support to expand and continue to serve the area’s population for another half-century.

From its building at 6 South Main Street in the city and through its off-site satellite locations MACSC offers community programming that includes domestic violence advocacy and educational outreach, family development, and emergency assistance including a food pantry.

It also offers the community assistance with enrolling in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s WIC program, New York State’s Child Health Plus, free income tax preparation, summer camps, and preschool that includes wrap-around childcare for working parents.

By its own admission, MACSC is the best-kept secret in the city, a diamond in the rough that serves more people in a year through its programs than actually live in the city.

In January, Stewart’s Shops’ pledged $50,000 to the center, if the organization could match the amount by the end of the year. The staff of MACSC has been working hard to meet the match and has collected $32,000 in pledges so far.

To help it meet the financial match, officials with MACSC reached out to 75 leaders of the city business community over a lunch of eggplant parmesan, a side of spaghetti, dessert, and coffee on June 13 at the Park Tavern at the Mechanicville Golf Course.

MACSC was created on a shoestring budget of $2,000 in 1969 and opened in an empty storefront in the city. The original intention was to have a place for high school-age students to go to give them something to do to keep them off the streets.

Fifty years on MACSC has an annual budget of nearly $900,000 and continues to develop programming which is in line with its original mission, to improve the lives of area residents through family support, empowerment, recreation, and education.

“We are the story of Mechanicville; we are the story of family and kids and community, of a rich history, and a bright future,” said MACSC’s Executive Director Megan Quillinan to the luncheon group. “But we are much more than a nice, touchy-feely group that gives out free food to kids. Statistics show that one in five Americans comes in contact with social services. Our numbers show we affect three out of five people in the Mechanicville School District. A lot of what we do is to build stronger households in this community.”

Quillinan described the organization’s building at 6 South Main Street built in 1983 as “bursting at the seams."  She narrowed her focus to the leaders’ own business’ noting that many of their future employees may very well come through MACSC’s doors for one of its programs.

Discussing two of those programs a bit more in-depth, Quillinan explained how important childcare and having a life that’s free from violence can be to families.

“Mechanicville is a childcare desert,” she said. “There are only 150 childcare spots available in Mechanicville and MACSC holds 77 percent of them,” she said. “To help change families with a life that’s free from violence, we use prevention and education. We educate people about what is a healthy relationship.”

Newly elected MACSC Board of Directors President Leah Ferrone said she is fully supportive and delighted by what the organization is doing in the community.

“It’s not just that they run these programs, but how they run them,” Ferrone said. “Every single problem they face is an opportunity to do more and to do better. We’re here to match Stewart’s offer, so we can be here another 50 years and dream a little bit better. We want to go beyond just meeting the needs; we want to make some changes.”

To make the formal “ask” of the business leaders MACSC brought up C.J. DeCrescente, the president of DeCrescente Distributing Company, a hometown firm that goes back three generations to 1948. The company pledged $10,000 to make a start on the Stewart’s match.

DeCrescente, who was not unfamiliar to most in the room, centered his request on helping the community.

“I have a very personal interest in this community. Our family is committed to being part of this community,” he said. “Why do I feel the work of the Mechanicville Area Community Services Center is so important because we both care deeply about the community and we strive to improve the lives of those who live here,” he said. “We cannot sustain a community for long without helping people. The Center is there to see people’s lives get better. You have two choices, ignore the need for help, or take time to contribute to the change that’s needed.”

Seated at the table nearest the lectern were Tony Derico and his wife Ann. The couple met while serving on an early MACSC Board of Directors. Tony Derico was one of two men who helped form the organization in 1969. He recalled the first budget was $2,000.

He was asked about seeing it turn 50.

“The Mechanicville Area Community Services Center always moves forward to help people of the area,” he said. “It’s a mover and a provider. It’s always moved forward.”

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