Your Community

Your Community 06.30.22

Columbia High School Selects Valedictorian and Salutatorian

Columbia High School seniors Julia Hannum and Justin Sapienza were selected as the Class of 2022 valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively. Both students have had accomplished high school careers and will graduate Summa Cum Laude (with high honors). They both have weighted GPAs over 100.

Ms. Hannum is a member of Amnesty International, Mock Trial, Student Council, National Honor Society and both Science National Honor Society and Rho Kappa National Social Studies Honor Society. She will study Biology at SUNY New Paltz in the fall with the goal of becoming a high school biology teacher.

“I want to give students what my teachers gave me,” she said, “a safe place and to share knowledge of a subject with them.”

Mr. Sapienza is president of the National Honor Society, a member of the Science National Honor Society, Rho Kappa National Social Studies Honor Society and the treasurer of the senior class. He has played basketball, baseball and volleyball for Columbia High School, helping the volleyball team win the Division 1 Regional Championship this past fall and advance to the state finals.

Mr. Sapienza will attend the University of Notre Dame in the fall. Congratulations!

West Sand Lake Fire District Seeking Community Input for New Station

A beacon of the Rensselaer County community for 150 years, the West Sand Lake Fire District No. 1 remains committed to providing critical fire services that ensure the safety of the surrounding region. In an effort to better serve its dedicated volunteers, members, and community, the district is developing feasible options for an improved fire station that equally considers the needs of devoted emergency responders and its responsibility as stewards of the taxpaying community. To date, the work has included assessments of the existing facility, site, systems, and equipment to begin identifying needs for a new structure to replace the aging station. The members of the West Sand Lake Fire District No. 1 want to facilitate a transparent planning process that respects the values, needs, and sentiments of all stakeholders.

Over the coming months, the district will be gathering public input to help inform a referendum for an improved fire station. The first of these community forums will be held on June 29th, 2022 from 6pm – 8pm. All community members are welcome to come and learn what progress has been made, be included in the decision making process and keep aware of the plans as they develop.

News From Averill Park CSD

Congratulations to all of the Averill Park Central School District Class of 2022 graduates! Over the course of their high school careers, they have faced many struggles and hardships due to the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. Our students have learned how to adapt to unexpected changes and have demonstrated resilience during this challenging time. Congratulations to the Class of 2022 and good luck in all of your future endeavors!

Five members of the Class of 2022 have enlisted to serve our country in the U.S. Armed Forces. Thank you for your service Nick Griffin (Army), Edward Marcus (Army), Nathaniel Bourgault (NROTC Officer Training Program), Bryce Muldoon (Marines) and Wynn Richards (Marines).

The Averill Park Central School District won two awards from the National School Public Relations Association for excellence in school communications. The top award in each category is the Award of Excellence. Awards of Merit followed by Honorable Mentions are also given in each category. Averill Park CSD earned Awards of Excellence for the Every Student Every Day Podcast, and the Capital Project Newsletter.

As always, for the latest news from the District, please visit our website – You can also follow AP on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Submitted by Dr. James Franchini, Averill Park CSD Superintendent

Groundbreaking for new Community Mausoleums: St. Mary’s, Troy, and St. Anthony’s Glenville

Albany Diocesan Cemeteries is pleased to announce the groundbreaking for a new Community Garden Mausoleum in St. Mary’s Cemetery in Troy, and St. Anthony’s Cemetery in Glenville, NY., and St. Edward the Confessor Community Garden Mausoleum in St. Anthony’s Cemetery, 27 Glenridge Rd. Glenville, NY 12302.

The decision to build within each of these cemeteries was made to better serve families in these communities due to limited mausoleum and cemetery burial space remaining in these cemeteries. 

St. Edward the Confessor Community Garden Mausoleum in Glenville will feature 120 crypts with single and double crypt options available. This mausoleum will also feature over 300 cremation niches.

St. Nicole’s Community Garden Mausoleum in St. Mary’s Cemetery, Troy will feature 180 crypts, single and double crypt options will be available. Niche options are available in St. Francis of Assisi Community Garden Mausoleum within the same cemetery.

The new granite mausoleums will look similar to the Garden Mausoleums currently within each cemetery.

For more information, please contact (518) 350-7676 or

Rensselaer Elks Awards Scholarships

Rensselaer Elks Lodge #2073 awarded a total of $5,000 in scholarships at their recent Flag Day Ceremony in June. Eight deserving high school seniors at four local high schools were each given $625. 

The winners included:

Jacob White, Hannah Crupi; Averill Park High School.

Charles Welcome, Carly Coyne; Columbia High School.

Ethan Wilkinson, Rebecca Hall; Maple Hill High School.

Gael-Pera Reyes, Sierra Riley; Rensselaer High School.

2022 Schodack Faculty Retiree Chapter Awards

The Schodack Faculty Association Retiree Chapter (SFARC) has presented their annual awards in each of the buildings.These awards were established in 2008 to recognize students in each of the Schodackuildings who have demonstrated a tremendous effort towards learning. The students must also demonstrate respect for himself or herself as well as others. All SFARC award winners received a gift card award with a certificate.

The award winners for 2022 were: CES -Kylee Sidddon, Sarah Webb, Claire Ross and Rohan Bhatti MHJHS -Carlye Probst and Gabriel Price; MHHS-Sydney Smith.

We are very pleased to be able to continue recognizing the efforts of students as we did as active members of Schodack Faculty Association

Ryan Bielawa Memorial Scholarship

A scholarship fund was created in remembrance of my son Ryan and awarded to an Averill Park high school senior that best exhibited Ryan’s personality characteristics. 

In 2016 Ryan was killed by a drunk driver while attending college in South Carolina.

For the past six years I have been able to participate in the Senior Awards program to recognize the achievement of a selected student.

Since its inception the following students have been chosen to receive this special recognition: Noah Yearsley, Anthony Germinerio, Anthony Carucci, Ethan Simard, Vincent Carucci and Nicholas Carbone. 

I would like to take the opportunity to thank the Averill Park community for the support provided that has allowed me the opportunity to be a part of a very special and meaningful academic event. 

It has been my honor to participate in the awards ceremony and I am forever grateful to everyone that contributed to his memorial fund. 

MaryEllen Bielawa

Stephentown New Resident Welcome Reception

Are you new to Stephentown? We would like to welcome you to town! 

Join us on Friday, July 8 at 6 PM at the Stephentown Memorial Library for a casual Welcome Reception where you can learn about local resources, tour the library, and make some new friends while you enjoy some appetizers and beverages. Plus, stick around for a free Live at the Library music concert at 7 PM with local singer/songwriter Scott Connors. 

This is the first of a series of New Resident Welcome Receptions the Stephentown Memorial Library and the Stephentown Historical Society will be co-hosting with the hope of building stronger community connections. Last summer’s Stephentown Survey highlighted both the challenges new residents can face to make connections, especially in the recent years of the pandemic, as well as how much community connections contribute to overall satisfaction. 

If you have a new neighbor, or know of a new family in town, please spread the word!

Rebecca Grasso Golf Tournament for the Benefit of NF2Biosolutions –
Golfers and Sponsors Needed

Monday, August 8, 2022

Schuyler Meadows Country Club • 17 Schuyler Meadows Road, Loudonville, NY 12211

LOUDONVILLE – Neurofibromatosis 2 is a neurological disease in which tumors form on the nerves of the central nervous system and peripheral nerves throughout the body. The tumors can do significant damage. Surgery is the only treatment which can reduce the tumors, but surgery can cause serious collateral damage. NF2Biosolutions was formed to support research to find treatment options. NF2Biosolutions is a 501(c)(3) charity. Contributions are tax deductible. Information regarding NF2Biosolutions and research projects we have supported and are following is available at

Tentative Schedule 

8:00 AM – Registration

9:00 AM – Shotgun start – scramble 

3:00 PM – Awards luncheon

For more information, to donate or to reserve a sponsorship or golf registration contact:

Vito & Susan Grasso

626 Pinewoods Avenue, Troy, NY 12180, 518-469-5237 (mobile)

Please share with prospective golfers and sponsors you may know. We still need help to reach our goals of 80 golfers and $35,000. We currently have 36 golfers and about $15,000 in donations and pledges. Any help you can provide in recruiting more golfers, sponsors and donors would be appreciated.

APHS Class of ‘72 Reunión

The Averill Park Class of ‘72 is planning its 50th class reunion to be held on September 24th. If you are a class member and have not submitted your contact information please send details to to receive event information.

Volunteers are Needed as Tutors, Reading Mentors, and Special Events Workers

Literacy Volunteers of Rensselaer County needs volunteers in Albany County and Rensselaer County. Anyone who is interested can attend a free information session on Wednesday, July 13 from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. via Zoom. 

To register, contact LVORC trains volunteer tutors to be paired with adult learners; reading mentors for Everybody WINS! Power Lunch; math tutors and computer tutors. We also welcome one-time events volunteers. As a volunteer you can develop new skills, make friends, and see how your efforts make a difference in your community. For more information, visit

German-American Club Park Concerts

The German-American Club of Albany will host two free concerts by its newly formed German brass band on Thursday, June 30 and Thursday, July 28. Scheduled to take place outdoors at the Club grounds located at 32 Cherry Street, just off Fuller Road and Central Avenue in Albany, and will start at 7 pm. Guests are invited to bring lawn chairs for comfortable seating, otherwise picnic tables will be in place. German cakes and coffee will be available as well as liquid refreshments. 

The concert program will consist of a wide variety of polkas, waltzes, marches with everything from Strauss to Latin favorites mixed in. Return to a simpler time when the village band was the focal point of town life and enjoy the over 125-year tradition of German-American’s in Albany.

Poestenkill Area Food Insecurity

POESTENKILL – Any greater Poestenkill area residents currently experiencing temporary or long term food insecurity can turn to The Bread of Life Food Pantry at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Poestenkill for supplemental food assistance. 

We provide basic nutritional foods and related items the first and third Thursday of each month from 4:30 to 6:30 PM in a very discreet, nonjudgmental manner. We offer drive-thru service where each guest receives a product list to form your order, we then fill your order and bring the completed order back to your vehicle. Delivery service to Poestenkill Seniors unable to visit our Pantry is also available. 

Please try us, we are here to help. Our phone number is: 518-283-6045 to leave a message. Thank you.

Hope 7 Food Pantry

TROY – The Hope 7 Food Pantry located at 520 Pawling Avenue, Troy NY serves the East Side of Troy, Wynantskill and Northgreenbush.

Pantry Hours: Mon-Fri – 9:30am-11:45am; Thursday – 5pm-7pm. Last Saturday of each month 9:30am-11:45am

What to bring: Proof of residence (Troy’s East Side, North Greenbush, or Wynantskill) – (utility bill to your address in your name). ID’s for each person residing in household.

St. Jude the Apostle Knights of Columbus Bottle & Can Donations

Help Support Local Charities – St. Jude the Apostle Knights of Columbus has teamed up with 6 Center Redemption located at 461 Main Avenue in Wynantskill to accept bottle and can donations that have a NYS deposit.

This is to support local charities and those in need.

• Bring your clean, NYS deposit empties to 6 Center Redemption in Wynantskill.

• Say they are to support the St. Jude the Apostle Knights of Columbus.

• They do the rest, that’s it!

Thank you for your support!

The Anchor Food Pantry 

SCHODACK – The Anchor Food Pantry  in an attempt to keep the residents of the Town Of Schodack apprised during these Covid 19 times has an update regarding hours  of operation and procedures. The Pantry is open on the following days for servicing clientele and the general public.

Monday Evenings-5pm-7pm, Tuesday and Thursdays -9am-2pm, and the first saturday of each month 10am-1pm. We ask to call ahead at 518-732-4120 for food calls so staff can prepare order for delivery to your vehicle.

Donations are currently being accepted clothing wise for spring apparel preferably during business hours. As always we thank  the citizens of Schodack for their present, past, and future support of aiding those in need during these seemingly never ending difficult economic times.

Looking for ways to help The Anchor Food Pantry. Just a suggestion: 

 Return your recyclable cans and bottles to The 6  Cent Redemption Center 550 South Street-Rensselaer  – Rt9J.

Just inform the staff you are donating to the Anchor  Food Pantry account and account will be credited automatically.

8 Tips for an Informed Conversation about Domestic Abuse

Domestic abuse, also called Domestic Violence (DV), can be in one or more of these forms – emotional, verbal, financial, sexual and technology-based.

1. NEVER BLAME THE VICTIM: We tend to blame the victim by asking, “What did she/he do, to be treated that way?” We don’t ask this question to other victims. Instead, we need to ask: “why does he/she choose to abuse?”.  Let the victim know that the abuse is not their fault and they deserve safety and respect.

2. TRUST THE VICTIM’S PERSPECTIVE: Often, abusers deny their partners, the right to make their own choices. Taking a victim-centered approach by prioritizing their needs and wants, empowers them. Ask the victims what they need to feel safe and offer the desired support.

3. LET YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS KNOW THAT DV IS NOT A “PRIVATE FAMILY MATTER.” DV is a crime under the Violence Against Women Act of 1994/96 which affords equal protection to women and men. One in three women and one in four men will be a victim of severe physical violence in their lifetime. Victims of DV are in every age, economic status, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion and education. They are the family members, neighbors, coworkers or friends of some of us. 

4. CHALLENGE THE WIDELY-HELD MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT DV: “why doesn’t the victim just leave?”, “only physical violence is DV” and “it’s a private, family matter”.  We need to be aware of multiple hurdles to leaving, for example – the safety of children & pets, financial security, and reaction from the family and community.

5. HOLD THE OFFENDERS ACCOUNTABLE: If it is safe to do so, impose social consequences on the abusers, like telling them they’re not welcome for the family dinner or to hang out, until their abusive behavior stops. Stop condoning their abusive behavior by saying “boys will be boys” or “that person would never abuse.” Family, friends and community members telling the offenders that their behavior is abusive, is a powerful deterrent against DV.

6. COUNTER THE STEREOTYPES: We need to counter inequalities and rigid gender roles like sexism and racism and educate the youth to reject these ‘-isms’.

7. BE AWARE THAT ABUSE IS ROOTED IN POWER AND CONTROL: Strategically isolating the victims from family and friends is a common tactic of the abuser, to gain power and control. Abusers may trap their partners by withholding, lying about or hiding financial assets which are forms of financial abuse. 

8. WE CAN PREVENT DOMESTIC ABUSE WITH EDUCATION AND ACTION. These are some of the ways: start an informed conversation about DV with your loved ones, support the local DV agencies by donating your time and money and giving wide publicity to the 24/7 DV Hotlines, to make them as well-known as ‘911’. These agencies provide confidential and comprehensive services to the victims: empathy, guidance, counseling, legal and safe shelter support for the entire family. 

Equinox  518.432.7865

Unity House  518. 272.2370

YWCA of NENY  518.374.3386

Wellspring   518.584.8188

National Hotline  (800) 799-7233

St. Peter’s Crime Victim Services 518-271-3257

How to Prevent ‘Domestic Abuse’

Domestic abuse is also called Domestic violence (DV). It is a crime under the Violence Against the Women Act of 1994/96 which affords equal protection to women and men. DV can be emotional, financial, verbal, psychological, physical, sexual, and technology-facilitated abuse. It is affecting millions of individuals across the United States regardless of age, gender, economic status, religion and education. We can prevent DV by spreading awareness, challenging the myths and confronting the abusers.


NEVER BLAME THE VICTIM: We tend to ask “What did the victim do to deserve the abuse?”. Instead, we need to ask: “why does the abuser choose to abuse?”. 

TRUST THE VICTIM’S PERSPECTIVE: Listen to and believe the victim to empower them to make their own decisions. Tell the victim that the abuse is not their fault and they deserve safety and respect. Ask them what they need to be safe. 

TAKE A CLEAR STAND THAT DOMESTIC ABUSE IS NOT A “PRIVATE FAMILY MATTER.”: One in three women and one in four men will be a victim of severe physical violence at some point in their lifetime. Each day, an average of three women die at the hands of someone who claims or claimed to love them. Every abused person is someone’s sibling, parent, friend or co-worker. 

TELL THE VICTIMS about the DV Hotlines: Equinox 518.432.7865; Unity House 518. 272.2370; YWCA NENY 518.374.3386; Wellspring 518.584.8188 and the U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline 800.799.7233. If the victim is in immediate danger, call 911. Support your community by volunteering or donating to the DV agencies.

CONFRONT THE OFFENDERS: If it is safe, tell them that their abusive behavior is unacceptable. Impose social consequences like not welcoming for family dinner or to hang out, until they stop their abusive behavior. Study ‘bystander intervention training’ on YouTube and put it into practice. 

EDUCATE THE CHILDREN AND YOUTH about healthy, unhealthy and abusive relationships. It is some of today’s children who will become tomorrow’s abusers and victims. Discuss DV at the family table and encourage everyone to respectfully speak up without fear when something doesn’t feel right. Set a healthy example by not using coercive measures to control your children’s’ behavior under any circumstance. Be respectful to everyone, irrespective of their age and sex. Losing your ‘cool ‘, is a big “No,’. If parents have difficulty managing their emotions, they need to seek help.  


CHALLENGE THE WIDELY-HELD MYTHS ABOUT DV AT EVERY OPPORTUNITY: That ‘DV’ means only physical violence’, it’s a “private family matter’, ‘the victim is weak’ and the victims can “just leave”. In reality, the woman is at the greatest risk of being hurt or even killed when trying to leave or after leaving. She has to carefully plan her escape, to protect herself, her children and pets and ensure financial security.

CHALLENGE THE MYTH THAT THE ABUSERS “LOSE CONTROL”: Not true. They don’t “lose control” at work, with friends and other family members! Abuse is a conscious choice rooted in power and control over the partner. Challenge the inequalities and ‘isms’ like sexism, racism, classism and patriarchy on which DV thrives. 

GIVE SUSTAINED PUBLICITY TO THE DV HOTLINE NUMBERS through all the media until they are as well-known as ‘911’. Make sure DV brochures are always visible at public places like libraries, town halls, workplaces, doctor’s offices, religious places and community centers.  

ORGANIZE DV AWARENESS CAMPAIGN EVERY OCTOBER. DV agencies can provide the publicity posters, brochures and speakers. 

Hotlines of Domestic Violence Agencies: Equinox 518-432-7865; Unity House 518-272-2370; YWCA NENY 518-374-3386; Wellspring 518-584-8188; National Domestic Violence Hotline 800-799-7233; St. Peter’s Crime Victim Services 518-271-3257

St. Jude the Apostle Knights of Columbus Bottle & Can Donations

WYNANTSKILL – Help Support Local Charities – St. Jude the Apostle Knights of Columbus has teamed up with 6 Center Redemption located at 461 Main Avenue in Wynantskill to accept bottle and can donations that have a NYS deposit.

This is to support local charities and those in need.

• Bring your clean, NYS deposit empties to 6 Center Redemption in Wynantskill.

• Say they are to support the St. Jude the Apostle Knights of Columbus.

• They do the rest, that’s it!

• Thank you for your support!

Knocking out Alzheimer’s

Team “Knocking out Alzheimer’s” is partnering with the Alzheimer’s Association.

Return your bottles and cans and help the Northeastern New York Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. Through an arrangement with

Six-Center Redemption , Two Locations:

461 Main Ave Wynantskill (Corner of Sharpe and Main Ave) & 550 South Street Rensselaer.

No need to count the cans or bottles, no waiting or standing in lines to feed your cans or bottles into a machine.

If you can’t drop off, contact us we will even pick up! 

The Alzheimer’s Association will receive six cents for every container you donate to the cause. Simply drop off your containers and say:

“These are for the Alzheimer’s Association.”

The mission of the Alzheimer’s Association is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health.

The first survivor of Alzheimer’s is out there, but we won’t get there without you. 

Join the fight with your bottles & cans!

Check us out on face book : Knocking out Alzheimer’s

Hudson-Mohawk Search & Rescue is Looking for Volunteers to Join our Team

CAPITAL DISTRICT – If you enjoy being outdoors in the wilderness, working with others to help people, follow directions well and have a willingness to learn, then our SAR team might be for you! Prior knowledge is helpful, but definitely not required as we provide the training. Check out our website at: for more information.

Search and Rescue Volunteers Needed

CAPITAL DISTRICT – the Tri-State Emergency Team is recruiting volunteers to provide wildland and underwater searches within a 100 mile radius of Waterrford, NY.  This includes all aspects of field and underwater search.  The Tri-State Emergency Team responds when requested by NYS Forest Rangers and other police agencies throughout New York State, Western Vermont and Massachusetts.   

We are looking for certified scuba divers, experienced boat handlers, and people who enjoy hiking and the outdoors in general who wish to help people in need.   The team will provide training and complete support as needed.  Our headquarters is located in Waterford.  Applicants need not live in Waterford to volunteer. If interested, please call 518-237-6744 or visit our website at

You May Also Like

Your Community 03.23.23

March 22, 2023

Your Community 03.16.23

March 16, 2023

Your Community 03.09.23

March 12, 2023