By Kassie Parisi
CLIFTON PARK — Two area non profits specializing in youth and family services will join forces to expand their reach.
Community Action for Parents, Teens and Interested Neighbors (CAPTAIN) and Community Human Services both focus on providing help and services to disadvantaged youths, families, and senior citizens.
The organizations worked together at their inception in the 1970s, but they branched off to service different communities and have since been operating separately. CAPTAIN, which will celebrate its 40th birthday in October, provides a multitude of services, including street outreach, employment services, and homework and family counseling programs. CAPTAIN focuses on Saratoga, Warren, Washington, Fulton, and Montgomery counties.
CHS, which focused on youth development services at its inception 41 years ago, now provides assistance for senior citizens and focuses on Northern Schenectady and Southern Saratoga. With the merger, CAPTAIN will begin to provide its services to Schenectady.
Mike Holly, board president at CHS, said at a press conference that, as funding options have changed and as CHS’s longtime executive director John Irving has started to plan for retirement, the organization has been brainstorming ways to both solidify its future and find a qualified replacement for Irving.
“With those things in mind, we began to think about alternatives,” Holly said.
Irving soon identified CAPTAIN as a possible partner and met with executive director Sue Catroppa and Andy Gilpin, CAPTAIN’s associate executive director, to discuss a partnership.
“I knew that CAPTAIN and CHS had a long history of cooperation starting in the 1970s, when they shared responsibilities for manning a hotline for teens in both the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake and Shenendehowa districts,” Irving said in a prepared statement. “To me, CAPTAIN was a logical place to start and, as it turned out, my search ended after one meeting with Sue and Andy.”
“The rest is history,” added Holly.
Belinda Kucharski, board president at CAPTAIN, said that after 40 years of separate operation, the two organizations are once again coming to together to “solidify their communities.”
Sue Catroppa, CAPTAIN’s executive director, will lead the effort to merge the two groups. As of June 1, CHS will become a subsidiary of CAPTAIN, with a goal of having the companies fully integrated by 2017.
The new organization will be called CAPTAIN Community Human Services (CCHS). The headquarters for both nonprofits — CAPTAIN’S off Route 146 in Clifton Park and CHS’s in Scotia — will remain in operation. The BFF Fund of The Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region provided a $5,000 grant to help develop programs and to assist with the merger. CCHS will offer more than 30 programs.
“Part of why this is so exciting, and good for the community, is that it’s going to bring more diversity of services to the Burnt Hills/Ballston Lake area, to the Clifton Park area, and both of our agencies are not exclusively serving those areas, but it’s going to bring a wider variety of services,” Holly said.