A Summer Reflection: Advocating for My Community

October 14, 2020

I come from a family that has been living in the Adirondacks since the 1800s. My dad was raised here, my grandfather was raised here, my great grandmother, and so on. Growing up, I felt rooted in these mountains and surrounded by my ancestors, a connection that is hard to break. My dad is a 4th generation family business owner in Jay, NY and although I was given the opportunity to be the 5th generation, it never felt like the career path I was passionate about. That being said, I still wanted to honor my family’s commitment to the area and my home, except in a way that felt more like me. 

Originally I was drawn to Adirondack Foundation’s work with the Next Gen council because I wanted to be a voice and advocate for the young population. So many of my friends have left the area because it hasn’t sustained or supported them as the younger generation. Although I agree with them, I don’t think leaving will fix anything but instead continue the problem. Nothing can be changed if we are always running away from it. To me, staying in the Adirondacks is about facing what isn’t working and then doing something about it. Adirondack Foundation was discussing these difficult issues, such as affordable housing and access to childcare, in the hopes to better support the local community. 

Being able to work with the Adirondack Birth to Three Alliance this summer was the opportunity I’d been looking for to continue my relationship with the Foundation. A combination of community work, advocacy, and healthcare pointed me in the desired direction of a future career. One must first learn what is being done in the field in order to improve and expand it. Working with Lindsay and all the program’s partners gave me insight into the actions being taken to support our community and where more work still needs to be done, including missing assets.

Recently my grandfather passed away, and I’ve been reflecting on the impact he left. With his passing came many stories, memories, and gratitude from locals for his presence in the community. He left a legacy of giving, which is one I want to follow. Hearing this all has reassured me in my hope to stay in this area to honor his memory, but also continue and expand the work he was able to do during his time running Ward Lumber into his retirement. The work at Adirondack Foundation is similar to what I can see for me in the future and the perfect gateway to that career locally. My summer with The Birth to Three Alliance reinspired me to continue advocating for my community and this area. 

-Lucy Ward, Intern, Summer 2020

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